Sharp On Looks, Light On The Wallet - The Ninja 650

Carving canyons and the exhilaration of performance is not only affordable for 2017, but Kawasaki has given it a sharp look with its new Ninja 650.

Designed to take on canyon roads on the weekend and ride to work through the week, the 2017 Kawasaki Ninja 650 not only looks different, but also features new stronger, lighter frame, the rear suspension and redesigned gull-arm swingarm are new as well. Its parallel twin 650cc engine has been updated along with a new sportbike cowling, headlight and design elements.

We have a closer look at the new Ninja 650.

The mid-sized member in the Ninja lineup, the Ninja 650 is built to satisfy the needs of riders who want to step up from a Ninja 300, but don’t want the high technology, cost and high performance of the Ninja® ZX6R.

With improved styling resembling that of its bigger siblings, the stylish 2017 Ninja 650 features new components. Built for the street rider who wants the performance of the Ninja family, but with more street-focused ergonomics and control, the Ninja 650 is new with a twin-spar frame and the redesigned, race-proven 650cc parallel twin.

The most obvious change for 2017 is the sharp contours of the Ninja 650 due in no small part to new upper cowling which fits with the Ninja family identity. The chin spoiler below the headlight emulates the design theme from the Ninja ZX-10R and accompanying the new front cowling is a sharply redesigned headlight. New mirrors contribute to the stylish look and enhance visibility and adding to the sporty feel is a X-shaped LED taillight. 

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Engine and transmission

Kawasaki’s 650cc parallel twin has been a winner on the race track in the AMA PRO Flat Track series, and is also a proven street engine. Designed with a steady and smooth torque curve and progressive clutch, the power plant for the Ninja 650 is great for riders of all experience levels, making for a fun and easy ride for riders gaining experience and for those with thousands of miles under their belts.

The engine of the 2017 Ninja 650 features a new, slimmer intake and throttle body ports which allow for finer atomization of fuel and improved engine air-flow. These changes result in improved, smoother power down-low. Camshafts also now feature reduced overlap and less duration. The exhaust pipe length has also been shortened.

These changes result in an engine that’s smooth and progressive with better low-to-mid range power. The engine retains its smooth off-throttle power delivery, with a steady climb to max output. The torque curve is now smoother and more consistent to redline. Along with more performance and better emissions the 650cc engine also has improved fuel consumption.

This all adds up to a smooth and responsive performance with improved low-to-mid range for easy starts and stronger acceleration on the street

A new assist and slipper clutch allows for a lighter clutch pull and reduces rear-wheel hop during downshifting.  The 2017 Ninja 650’s short under-engine exhaust contributes to mass centralization and light handling making the motorcycle ideal for new riders learning and for those wanting a carefree ride.

Style and handling

The 2017 Ninja 650 enjoys a light weight from its new, slimmer and lighter frame as well as the lighter and more stylish gull-arm design swingarm.


The new high-tensile steel, trellis frame uses the engine as a stress-member, bringing engineering development from performance bikes like the Ninja H2 to this lightweight, entry-level platform. Minimized bends cut down on stress-points in the frame and result in a lighter overall weight by nearly 40 pounds. The rear section of the frame is twin-tube, for added rigidity and improved carrying capacity. 

The new gull-arm swingarm provides space for the central mounted exhaust, while creating a strong mount from the frame pivot point to axle. The new horizontal back-link suspension design features a linkage with progressive ratio, creating better suspension action and improves the rider’s feel of the road.

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New to 2017, its upright riding position has been adjusted to be more relaxed yet sporty along with a slightly reduced seat height for lower center of gravity and stable foot placement. These allow the Ninja 650 to weave through the lines of racy sportbike and comfortable commuter.

New top-mount clip-on handlebars further showcase its sportbike heritage, but the slightly higher positioning, combined with the new, lower seat height, allows the rider to sit upright with relaxed hand positioning. The grips are mounted slightly forward, to aid in the slightly aggressive stance, making the Ninja 650 a great motorcycle on the weekend canyon ride or on the Monday commute.

This year the Ninja 650 seat height has been lowered 15mm, for a more stable foot placement when stopped and lower center of gravity. This year’s model features a newly designed adjustable windscreen for added wind protection, making it easier to lay down more miles.

Finally, adding to the motorcycle’s light handling the 2017 model’s brakes and 5-spoke wheels are lighter, by a whopping 3.96 pounds.

The colors for 2017;

Ninja 650 - Metallic Spark Black

Ninja 650 - Pearl Blizzard White

Ninja 650 - Candy Burnt Orange

Ninja 650 - Lime Green/Ebony (KRT Edition)

The Ninja 650 comes in three favors, without ABS $7,399, with ABS $7,799 and the KRT version carries a MSRP $7,999.

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