Ride Review of the Kawasaki Ninja 650R..!!
Foreword: I am not someone who regularly rides the so called exotic “big bikes”.
This review therefore is basically from the point of view of an Indian “Biker Next Door”. Someone who has been so far limited to riding basically the so called “sporty” commuter bikes.
Couple of day’s back, just before the Kawasaki Ninja 650R was being launched in India; I received an invitation to ride the bike. Unfortunately I could not match my schedule with the ride experience that Bajaj was providing to a couple of prominent Indian auto related sites. However on the day of its official launch, I did get the opportunity to take a couple of laps on the Ninja 650R at the Test Track of Bajaj Auto at Chakan, Pune.
I’d like to thank MG_Biker from xBhp.Com for taking a couple of snaps (posted here) as I rode the bike around the track.
(+) “Neck jerking” Torque
(+) Refined engine
(+) Top notch Quality
(+) Comfortable ergonomics
(+) Low seat height
(+) Value for Money
Styling/Looks: "Sharp, Edgy, Aggressive from the front & sides, bit incomplete at the rear"
Usually the styling of a motorcycle gives away what kind/category it belongs to. A glimpse of the Ninja 650R in the flesh will clear all doubts that it is not another bike in the Super Sports mould. Unlike the crouching stance of a Super Sports motorcycle, the stance of the Ninja 650R is relatively upright.
The Ninja 650R (or ER-6F as it is branded in a few countries) is basically a fast street bike which can also be used for long highway rides and therefore the upright stance. The Ninja 650R is a decent sized bike. Bigger than our “desi” Karizma ZMR in terms of bulk. The front end is impressive with sharp edges and lines and the aggressive looking twin headlamps.
The distinctive styling continues to the sides which features a prominent horizontally laid exposed monoshock which adds to the funky appeal of this motorcycle.
(-) Scope for improvement in styling
(-) High speed handling
(-) Bit too powerful and heavy for me
(-) Still can’t afford it
It is just the rear portion where the styling loses its flow. Compared to the front of the bike, the seat and the tail piece can be said to be relatively bland. With a slight redesign of the rear, Kawasaki can create a bike which would be perfect from all angles.
The Ninja 650R would not attract glares at a traffic signal like Super Sports bike would, but for a biker who is more interested in riding his vehicle rather than posing on it, it is not a bad thing. For he can peacefully park his bike at a public place and be rest assured that it won’t be molested in his absence.
Top Notch Quality: "Looks and feels like a premium product"
The quality of the material used on the Ninja 650R is top notch. The tactile feel of the switches, the fit and finish of the body panels, the quality and texture of the plastic used, the paint quality, the weld joints.. Everything on the Ninja 650R that you can see and touch exude a plush feel.. which is naturally expected from a vehicle which costs almost at par a B+ segment hatch in India.
The LED Tail light of the Ninja 650R even though not that aggressive in shape is quite bright and does its job quite well. The speedometer console is all digital including the tachometer. Most would love the all digital display but I somehow still prefer the old school needle for the tachometer.
The rear gets a welcome grab rail which is handy for the pillion to grab on and also to strap on any luggage meant for touring.
Riding Stance/Ergonomics: "Ideal for Street riding as well as for long highway rides"
Similar to the stance of the Ninja 650R even the rider sits on the bike in a comfortable upright stance. As clear from the photos, the stance on the Ninja 650R is comfortable yet sporty due to the rear set foot pegs.
The Ninja 650R is a generous sized motorcycle, much bigger and bulkier than the Karizma ZMR (the current desi benchmark for bulk). But even then thanks to a sub 800 mm seat height and a seat which narrows at the front, a 5 ft 5 inch small guy like me was still comfortable on it.
The only issue for me was the 200 Plus Kg of kerb weight of the bike. I had to be specially careful while taking slow corners with one foot down.
Engine Performance: "Truly Super Refined Aggression"
Boy o Boy..!! The moment I cracked opened the throttle of the Ninja 650R I was in for a big surprise. The acceleration was neck jerking. The low and mid range performance of the Ninja 650R is very strong. Most of the 66 Nm of torque seems to be spread thickly at the low and mid rpm range.
Only on a Boeing or on an Airbus have I experienced better acceleration from standstill. Despite the 200 plus Kgs of Kerb weight, the 72 Ps of Peak Power and 66 Nm of Torque is overwhelming for a “Biker Next Door” like me. I am sure that the Ninja 650R will be easily able to out accelerate most C-D segment Indian cars in the initial 0-100 kmph dash.
The 1.5 km long straight at the Chakan test track provided the opportunity to test the top whack of the Ninja 650R. I could see around 180 Kmph on the speedo just before the straight ended. With a longer stretch and someone with guts I am sure that clocking 200 kmph on the bike isn’t impossible. Now this is seriously fast by Indian standards.
Unlike the Ninja 250R where the power and torque is evenly spread across the entire rev range in a linear manner, the Ninja 650R is tuned like a torque monster. With generous amount of torque available from low rpm, the bike would definitely be a breeze to ride on our streets and for long distance touring as well.
Another aspect of the Ninja 650R’s engine was the refinement with which it goes about doing it job. Even when revved to its redline, vibrations are hardly felt
There would be a few who would not like the throbbing exhaust note of the Ninja 650R. But once on the move, the note hardly makes a difference to the ride experience.
Handling: "Not exactly a track bike, but adequate for every where else"
Having ridden on the test track, it became clear that the race track is not the natural habitat for the Ninja 650R. The Ninja 650R would handle decently under normal riding but it is not the ideal tool to go knee scraping on the race track. Confidence while taking fast corners on the Ninja 650R is not in the same league as on the Ninja 250R.
The front brakes of the Ninja 650R also seemed to lack the kind of bite which the Ninja 250R and even my Pulsar 220 possess. Maybe it was just an issue with the particular model that I was riding. The higher seating and relatively softer (compared to the Ninja 250R) suspension setting makes the Ninja 650R clearly a highway tourer more than a track tool.
Final impression of the Ninja 650R:
For someone like me the Ninja 650R is a bit too much power to handle, plus at 200 kgs it will be difficult for me to lift up the bike without any assistance in case of a spill.
Also my better half would be scared to death at the kind of low and mid range acceleration that the Ninja 650R has.
Most importantly, I can't afford it. But for those can cough up the Rs. 5 lakh (+), and plan to really use the motorcycle and not just limit it to a posing tool, the Ninja 650R is a very sensible option.
This is to remind that the Views or Opinions in the blog are entirely mine unless explicitly stated. The Views and Opinions published in this blog should in no way be related to any other person or organization associated -- directly or indirectly -- with me.