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2022 Kawasaki Ninja 650

2022 Kawasaki Ninja 650.

2022 Kawasaki Ninja 650. (Kawasaki/)

Ups

  • Solid bang-for-the-buck choice
  • Still available with or without ABS
  • Updates in 2020 make it even better

Downs

  • Engine power and exhaust note a bit flat
  • A little short on legroom for taller riders

Verdict

One of the original entry-level sportbikes when it debuted in 2006, Kawasaki’s Ninja 650 continues its long run as a solid choice for new riders who need a larger-size motorcycle. The engine really hasn’t changed much since that time, though, and it’s due for an upgrade.

2022 Kawasaki Ninja 650.

2022 Kawasaki Ninja 650. (Kawasaki/)

Overview

When Kawasaki decided to make a larger and improved version of its long-running EX500, the result was another sales hit for the company, and 16 years later, the Ninja 650 has demonstrated the same long shelf life as its predecessor (in addition to spawning several other models using the same engine such as the Versys 650 and Z650). With sprightly performance aided by around 65 rear wheel horsepower pushing a sporty chassis with low seat height and a list price in the $7K range, it’s not difficult to see why it appeals to both new entry-level and experienced riders alike.

Updates for 2022

There are no changes to the 2022 Kawasaki Ninja 650, other than new colorways. The available color motifs are Pearl Robotic White/Metallic Carbon Gray and Metallic Matte Graphenesteel Gray, as well as a special KRT Edition model in Lime Green/Ebony/Pearl Blizzard White Kawasaki Racing Team graphics.

Pricing and Variants

The 2022 Kawasaki Ninja 650 has a list price of $7,899 for the non-ABS version and $8,299 for the ABS edition in the Metallic Matte Graphenesteel Gray colorway; the Pearl Robotic White/Metallic Carbon Gray motif has an MSRP of $8,099 for the non-ABS model, and $8,499 for the ABS version. The KRT Edition model lists for $8,099 for the non-ABS version, and $8,499 for the ABS model.

Competition

Competition in this category has definitely heated up lately, and entries like the stalwart Suzuki SV650 as well as the Honda CB650R have now been joined by newcomers such as the Yamaha YZF-R7, Aprilia RS 660, Ducati Panigale V2,  and Triumph Tiger Sport 660.

Powertrain: Engine, Transmission, and Performance

The Ninja 650′s 649cc DOHC vertical-twin engine is claimed by Kawasaki to put out 67 hp at 8,000 rpm and 47 pound-feet of torque at 6,700 rpm. The engine received some internal updates in 2017 aimed at increasing midrange and low-end power, providing “spunky performance” according to Kent Kunitsugu in his First Ride Review. The Ninja is definitely down on power compared to its competition, however. The six-speed transmission is equipped with a slipper/assist clutch.

2022 Kawasaki Ninja 650.

2022 Kawasaki Ninja 650. (Kawasaki/)

Handling

A major weight reduction program in 2017 sliced more than 40 pounds off the Ninja 650, which helps its overall handling manners over the previous version immensely. Overall steering manners are light and neutral, and the nonadjustable (except for spring preload in the rear) suspension strikes a nice balance between comfort soft and sport firm as long as you don’t try to get too aggressive in the turns, as Morgan Gales noted in his 2020 Ninja 650 First Ride Review. For the majority of riders in the market for this bike, though, the stock suspension will do just fine.

Brakes

The combination of 300mm petal-type rotors and twin-piston slide-pin Nissin calipers up front provide strong stopping power with good feel in the middle of the pull, without being aggressive enough to overstep the limits too easily.

2022 Kawasaki Ninja 650.

2022 Kawasaki Ninja 650. (Kawasaki/)

Fuel Economy and Real-World MPG

There are no CW test miles-per-gallon figures or claimed mpg figures from Kawasaki for the 2022 Ninja 650.

Ergonomics: Comfort and Utility

Being the sporty brother to the Z650, the Ninja 650′s ergos are expectedly a little more aggressive. The same comfy seat (and somewhat sparse legroom for taller riders) as the Z650 is on the Ninja 650, but the reach to the slightly more aggressively angled bars is a bit longer, canting your torso forward a little more. Passenger accommodations are as you’d expect for a sportbike: fairly spartan.

2022 Kawasaki Ninja 650.

2022 Kawasaki Ninja 650. (Kawasaki/)

Electronics

Other than ABS with the ABS-specific models, there are no electronic rider aids on the Ninja 650. The upgrade in 2020 to a full-color 4.3-inch TFT dash display brings Bluetooth connectivity to your smartphone via Kawasaki’s Rideology app, tracking various riding facts such as time riding, distance ridden, fuel mileage, etc. Headlights were also updated to LED units in 2020.

Warranty and Maintenance Coverage

The Ninja 650 comes with Kawasaki’s 12-month limited warranty, with optional extended warranty up to 48 months via Kawasaki’s Protection Plus program.

Quality

Despite its somewhat budget/entry-level intentions, the Ninja 650 is equipped with much of the latest tech and higher-quality components that you’d normally find on pricier motorcycles. Fit and finish is excellent.

2022 Kawasaki Ninja 650.

2022 Kawasaki Ninja 650. (Kawasaki/)

2022 Kawasaki Ninja 650 Claimed Specifications

MSRP: $7,899–$8,099 (non-ABS version); $8,299–$8,499 (ABS version); $8,099—$8,499 (KRT Edition)
Engine: 649cc, DOHC, liquid-cooled parallel twin; 8 valves
Bore x Stroke: 83.0 x 60.0mm
Transmission/Final Drive: 6-speed/chain
Fuel Delivery: Electronic fuel injection w/ 36mm throttle bodies
Clutch: Wet, slipper/power assist, cable operation
Engine Management/Ignition: TCBI w/ electronic advance
Frame: Tubular steel-trellis chassis
Front Suspension: 41mm KYB conventional fork, nonadjustable; 4.9-in. travel
Rear Suspension: KYB shock, spring preload adjustable; 5.1 in. travel
Front Brake: Nissin 2-piston slide-pin caliper, dual 300mm petal-type discs w/ ABS (on ABS versions)
Rear Brake: 1-piston slide-pin caliper, 220mm disc w/ ABS (on ABS versions)
Wheels, Front/Rear: Cast aluminum; 17 x 3.50 in. / 17 x 4.50 in.
Tires, Front/Rear: 120/70ZR-17 / 160/60ZR-17
Rake/Trail: 24.0°/3.9 in.
Wheelbase: 55.5 in.
Ground Clearance: 5.1 in.
Seat Height: 31.1 in.
Fuel Capacity: 4.0 gal.
Wet Weight: 423 lb.
Contact: kawasaki.com

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