Jun 9, 2011

26 Kawasaki Ninja 650R for India, Ride Review

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.

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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.


Aamir J said...

Is it just me or does this bike really look like a bigger sibling to the Yamaha Fazer?

Sajal said...

A very wholesome review I must say.

Wonder what's going wrong with the brakes... because going by international reviews, the brakes on the Ninja 650R should be top notch in it's class, but here, everyone is finding it not upto the mark... pretty strange I would say :)

bennythegreat said...

If i want to upgrade my ride from Ninja 250R, do you personally recommend this twin engine bike?

or should I choose other inline four bikes?

S.P - Biker Next Door said...

@Benny, for a avid tourer like yourself, the Ninja 650R is a very sensible and worthy upgrade.

@Sajal, maybe it was a one off issue with the bike that I was riding.

tauseef said...

just purchased the ninja 250r 3 mnths bck!i dont understand the ninja 250r being priced 3 lck n the 650r for 5 lcks on road.this is very insensible pricing done by bajaj can anyone explain why?

S.P - Biker Next Door said...


that's how even internationaly are the Ninja 250R and 650R priced.

By the way congrats on your Ninja 250R.. its a gem of a motorcycle. Personally I like the Ninja 250R more than the 650R.

tauseef said...

@s.p u mean to say u like a 33 bhp bike more than a 72 bhp really?how do u justify tht.i find the 650r far more superior than the 250.
n i would also like to knw if u have 5 lcks in hand will u buy a 650r or the 250r.

S.P - Biker Next Door said...

@Tauseef, there is more to bikes than just bhp. Only after riding both the bikes can one appreciate them.

The Ninja 250R did not scare me with its power delivery. It was powerful but did its business with a calm and composed manner. The Ninja 650R is powerful and makes it obvious too.

Both the bikes can do 140 kmph with ease (the Ninja 650R can do much more), but i liked the stability and poise exhibited by the Ninja 250R.

But then that's just my opinion. For other's might love the neck jerking acceleration of the Ninja 650R compared to the sedate power delivery of the Ninja 250R.

If I had 5 lakhs, I personally would have bought the Ninja 250R. . but then that's just me. Other's should make their own decision and not be worried about what I think.

tauseef said...

@s.p uve nt reviewed the cbr 250r?
wot do u say comparing it to the ninja 250r considering here the price too!

S.P - Biker Next Door said...


I have yet to ride the CBR250R.. in terms of price the CBR250R seems like a no brainer compared to the Ninja 250R.

Hope can get to ride the CBR250R soon

tauseef said...

@s.p wot do u mean by no brainer here?

S.P - Biker Next Door said...

India is a very price sensitive market. The CBR250R comes at HALF the price tag of the Ninja 250R.

Even though I haven't taken the ride of the CBR250R, its obvious that there will be clearly more takers for the CBR250R because of its price tag.

Swaps said...


tauseef said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
tauseef said...

the ninja is sold!

Anonymous said...

the bike dsnt hav much sporty look (as compared to ninja 250r)..specially d seat sux man..n i wonder where would one ride this bike...i hav 250r n at 190km/h its quiet freaky...dis would b alot more then that..where r d roads to do so huh?

tauseef said...

dude u r mistaken the ninja 650r can do top speed of 220 kmph n 250r can do just 170 kmph.so the diff in both the bikes is too much tough 250r is better handler thn the 650r!

tauseef said...

@sp u said that this bike doent look good n it wont be molested in owners absence!do u really mean tht. i beleive it will attract ppl definately!

S.P - Biker Next Door said...


that comment of mine would be applicable in Cities/Places where sighting an R1/CBR1000RR/GSX-R 1000 or even the Ninja 250R is not too difficult.

in other places the Ninja 650R would surely attract attention very easily

tauseef said...

@ sp well in tht case these bikes are rare in any city of india! :P

Jiten said...

Fabulous is really great.

Anonymous said...

agreed, the back styling is a bit soo sedate. and even feels incomplete to an extend. split seats would have done wonders here.
if i had the money, i would still purchase the bike.
by the time i have the moolah, i hope to see bigger badder bikes make its way to India.

Anonymous said...

Hi This is a great website. I grew up in India and always dreamed about riding nice bikes in India. I now live in LA and used to have the 650R bike until I upgraded to a Yamaha R1. I'm interested in exporting bikes to India to help boost the second hand market there. The used bike market is pretty large in the US and there are plenty of bikes available. Which bikes do you think would be in demand in India. Eg. GSXR 600, 750, 1000 or R1,R6 or the CBR 600, 1000 and at what price point? Any thoughts.

For example would a 2003 GSXR 750 in excellent condition with less than 11,000 km on the odometer sell for around 5 lakhs in India? How much would one of you be willing to pay? Thanks for the helpful suggestions.

A Kiwi Biker said...

I can't believe you guys are saying the Ninja 250 is better than the 650. I wonder if it is because you may be struggling to handle its bulk (170kg)? Because the 650 is extremely stable at all speeds and it offers virtually everything the 250 offers plus the extra grunt and solid angles. The only thing that needs changing is the handlebar cause it is a bit too high for my liking but everything else is great. And remember this is actually destined to the roads not the race tracks, that is why it has a double-seater. The 650 beats the 250 by million miles

Anonymous said...

the 650r is a real killer....it rips the road apart........

manish said...

Really it is the fantastic bike
and and i want to buy this bike
because It's my dream

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