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REVIEWED: The new Kawasaki Ninja 650R!

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Think green. If you’re a motorcyclist, the only thing that comes to mind will be Kawasaki - the Ninja, to be more precise. The Ninja 650R is the latest greenie to arrive in India and we give you 12 all-important pointers before you take on the Ninja.


1. I probably don’t need to tell you this, but this is a good-looking motorcycle. A rakish full fairing, substantial fuel tank and a minimalistic tail section give this Ninja a sporty personality. The tall fairing, however, gives it a mile-munching air - you know that this is no supersports machine. But it’s a big bike and there’s no mistaking that.

2. Then there are the details. This Ninja’s face is defined by a pair of headlamps that look oh-so-evil. It certainly grabs your attention and almost keeps you from checking out the rest of the bike. And that’s not a bad thing at all. Especially not when you’ll find yourself gazing fondly into those sneering eyes.

 

3. That offset rear monoshock attached to the tubular-section swingarm is another standout feature - very unique. That said, it does look a bit lost among all that black paint - differentiating paint would’ve looked way better.

4. The rest of the design is superb too. The exhaust nestles under the fairing and makes all the right noises. The thin tail lamp is at once sophisticated and old-school, a detail that I like immensely. And the MotoGP-inspired meter looks awesome too.

 

5. But this Ninja’s not just about looks - it’s got the firepower too. The 649cc parallel twin develops 71.1 bhp@8500 rpm and 6.73 kgm@7000 rpm that delivers thrilling propulsion via a smooth-shifting six-speed gearbox.  

6. The Ninja hits 100 kph in about 5 seconds and continues to cut through air well over 200 kph. Going flat out from standstill is an adrenaline-pumping experience - not scary like the 1000cc superbikes, but with a character that is eminently enjoyable and fun. It feels gruff, powerful and every bit a green-blooded hooligan. A true Ninja, then.

 

7. Since this is a middleweight with no extreme sporting pretensions, the Ninja 650R is a very comfortable motorcycle with a near-perfect riding position that is suited for covering long distances. And that tall fairing keeps you protected from windblast fairly well too.  Day-long Mumbai-Bangalore runs will never be the same again. Just make sure you find yourself a gel seat.

8. The Ninja’s a superb handler too. Again, it’s not a razor-sharp handling tool, but it’s very stable and flickable enough to put more than a few smiles inside your helmet. Between that chassis and that motor, you’ll develop enough confidence to ride through anything that you face on our roads. 

 

9. The tyres, 120/70 front and 160/60 rear, give the Ninja a surefooted feel, even though the rear chirrups quite often as you use the gearbox to shed massive amounts of speed. Overall though, the Ninja feels light on its feet and aims itself at apexes just as well as it shoots through gaps in traffic. Manageable and fun.

10. The specs might show a kerb weight of 204 kg, but you’d be hard pressed to tell that when you’re riding it. It holds three-digit speeds with ease and absorbs most undulations very well. However, as I mentioned earlier, the seat is a bit hard, ostensibly to keep the seat height low and make it a more friendly proposition around town.

 

11. What’s more, those twin 300 mm petal discs at the front work as good as they look. Feel at the adjustable lever is excellent and you soon build enough confidence to explore the higher reaches of that motor’s capabilities.

12. Rs 4.57 lakh, ex-showroom, Delhi - even though we Indians are paying way more than the rest of the world, it looks like a good deal. What you see is what you get - an honest, good looking motorcycle. The Ninja decal on the side makes the deal that much more sweet. If you’ve got the greenbacks, go for it.