Motorcycle Review

The Kawasaki Ninja 650 Sheds 40 Pounds for 2017 (with video)

2017 Kawasaki Ninja 650

Courtesy of Kawasaki

The updated 2017 Kawasaki Ninja 650 in KRT Edition colors. The new bike is significantly lighter than the previous version, with more low-end and midrange power.

Kawasaki has updated the Ninja 650 for 2017 with a new, lighter frame, revisions to the engine for improved low-end power, a more relaxed riding position, and styling borrowed from the latest Ninja ZX-10R. The 2017 model is nearly 40 pounds lighter than its predecessor, and “built for the street rider who wants the performance of the Ninja family, but with more street-focused ergonomics and control.

The new steel-tube trellis frame is just part of the chassis updates, which are mostly shared with the all-new 2017 Z650 naked bike. A lighter and more stylish gull-arm swingarm works with a horizontal back-link rear suspension for improved traction, response and ride comfort (the previous model’s rear shock was directly mounted to the frame with no link). The new swingarm and shock mounting allows more room for the centrally mounted exhaust, which is tucked in for better mass centralization. The rear section of the frame is a twin-tube design, for more rigidity and added carrying capacity. New Nissin brake calipers offer improved feel, while new five-spoke wheels also help to shed weight. Ergonomics have been adjusted with a slightly reduced seat height, a new adjustable windscreen, and an overall slightly more relaxed (but still sporty) riding position.

2017 Kawasaki Ninja 650

Courtesy of Kawasaki

The steel-tube trellis frame is all new, as are the gull-wing swingarm, linkage-type rear suspension, wheels and brake calipers.

The vertical-twin powerplant has been revised with slimmer intake and throttle body ports, for finer atomization of fuel and improved airflow. The camshafts have reduced overlap and less duration, and the exhaust pipe length has been shortened. The updates result in improved low-end and midrange power and a smoother power delivery with a more consistent torque output to redline. A new slipper/assist clutch reduces lever effort and helps reduce rear-wheel hop during downshifts.

The updated Ninja 650 is available in Metallic Spark Black, Pearl Blizzard White, Candy Burnt Orange, or in the KRT Edition Lime Green/Ebony. MSRP is $7399 for non-ABS models, $7799 for ABS versions, and $7999 for the KRT Edition.

Scroll through our gallery below for more images of the 2017 Kawasaki NInja 650, a video of the new bike in action, and for the complete text of Kawasaki’s press material.

See all the 2017 Kawasaki sport bikes in our 2017 Sportbike Buyer’s Guide

Video: See the 2017 Kawasaki Ninja 650 in action

2017 KAWASAKI NINJA® 650 ABS

A NEW SPORTY, COMFORTABLE, MIDSIZED MOTORCYCLE BUILT WITH NINJA ENGINEERING.
A lone sportbike is heard gliding through the turns of a two-lane mountain road. A casual Sunday, with the sun falling behind the peaks, and the light fading. Through one corner and onto the next, each mile bringing a new adventure. Carving out your own line, you daydream of the racetrack. The race may be on TV, but at home your couch is empty. Instead, you replay the race in your head as you roll into the next corner and out to a long straight. You blast past the local biker-hangout café. The parking lot is full, riders stand and talk in their full-race leathers. But you have no time for standing.

Your bike isn’t meant for a parking lot.

Riding through the canyons on the weekend or to work on Monday, introducing the new, easy-going sportbike, the Ninja® 650 motorcycle.

2017 Kawasaki Ninja 650

Courtesy of Kawasaki

Updates to the engine include smaller throttle bodies and intake ports, and camshafts with less duration and overlap. The result is more low-end and midrange power, with a smoother torque delivery across the rev range.

The 2017 Kawasaki Ninja 650:

  • NEW Stronger, lighter frame
  • NEW Rear suspension and redesigned gull-arm swingarm
  • UPDATED Parallel twin 650cc engine
  • NEW Sportbike cowling, headlight and design elements.

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 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® ZX™-6R.

The Ninja 650 is truly a member of the Ninja family, with a new front cowling that takes styling cues from the Ninja ZX™-10R motorcycle, but with comfortable ergonomics so riders can enjoy this ride for more miles. The Ninja 650 will also be available without ABS.

2017 Kawasaki Ninja 650

Courtesy of Kawasaki

The new LED tail light.

STYLE

  • Racing inspired fairing and bodywork style

  • NEW Sporty front cowling
  • NEW X-pattern LED taillight
  • NEW Trellis frame and centrally positioned rear shock

The Ninja 650’s new upper cowling fits with the Ninja family identity. The chin spoiler below the headlight emulates the design theme from the Ninja® ZX™-10R. Accompanying the new front cowling is a sharply redesigned headlight.

New mirrors contribute to the stylish look and enhance visibility. Further adding to the sporty look is a X-shaped LED taillight.

2017 Kawasaki Ninja 650

Courtesy of Kawasaki

The updated dash now includes a gear position indicator and has improved visibility.

ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION

  • Modern, parallel-twin cylinder 649cc engine

  • Smooth and responsive performance with improved low-to-mid range for easy starts and stronger acceleration on the street
  • NEW Assist and slipper clutch for lighter clutch pull and reduced wheel hop during downshifts
  • NEW Short under-engine exhaust contributes to mass centralization and light handling

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.

2017 Kawasaki Ninja 650

Courtesy of Kawasaki

Kawasaki claims that in addition to better performance from the engine updates, fuel economy has also been improved.

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.

A new assist and slipper clutch allows for a lighter clutch pull and reduces rear-wheel hop during downshifting. This is ideal for new riders learning and for those wanting a carefree ride.

2017 Kawasaki Ninja 650

Courtesy of Kawasaki

The new Nissin brake calipers offer improved feel, while the five-spoke wheels are lighter than the previous units. Together, the brakes and wheels contribute almost four pounds the the overall weight loss and help to improve handling.

CHASSIS

  • NEW lighter weight
  • NEW slimmer and lighter frame
  • NEW lighter and more stylish gull-arm design swingarm

  • NEW Horizontal back-link rear suspension for improved traction, response and ride comfort

An new high-tensile steel, trellis frame uses the engine as a stress-member, bringing engineering development from performance bikes like the Ninja H2™ to a 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.

2017 Kawasaki Ninja 650

Courtesy of Kawasaki

The riding position has been adjusted to be more relaxed yet still sporty.

ERGONOMICS

  • NEW Upright riding position has been adjusted to be more relaxed yet sporty

  • NEW Slightly reduced seat height for lower center of gravity and stable foot placement
  • NEW Adjustable windscreen provides improved wind protection and facilitates highway riding/touring
  • NEW Digital display meter adds a gear position indicator and improved visibility

The Ninja 650 tows the line between 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 features a newly designed adjustable windscreen for added wind protection.

2017 Kawasaki Ninja 650

Courtesy of Kawasaki

The seat height has been lowered by 15mm for 2017.

WHEELS, TIRES AND BRAKES

  • NEW Nissin brake calipers for improved braking feel
  • NEW Brakes and 5-spoke wheels are lighter (3.96 pounds) contributing to light handling

Colors:

  • Ninja 650 – Metallic Spark Black
  • Ninja 650 – Pearl Blizzard White
  • Ninja 650 – Candy Burnt Orange
  • Ninja 650 – Lime Green/Ebony (KRT Edition)

MSRP:

  • 2017 Kawasaki Ninja 650 – $7,399
  • 2017 Kawasaki Ninja 650 ABS – $7,799
  • 2017 Kawasaki Ninja 650 KRT Edition – $7,999

2017 Kawasaki Ninja 650

Courtesy of Kawasaki

The muffler is shorter than previously, and the new swingarm and centrally located suspension allow it to be tucked in closer to the bike’s center of gravity for improved mass centralization.

2017 Kawasaki Ninja 650

Courtesy of Kawasaki

The 2017 Ninja 650 in Metallic Spark Black.

2017 Kawasaki Ninja 650

Courtesy of Kawasaki

The new steel-tube trellis frame has a double-tube rear section for increased payload and better rigidity.

2017 Kawasaki Ninja 650

Courtesy of Kawasaki

The clip-ons are new top-mount units, mounted higher than before but also slightly forward; combined with the lower seat height, the overall riding position is still upright and with relaxed hand positioning.

2017 Kawasaki Ninja 650

Courtesy of Kawasaki

The new, shorter exhaust of the Ninja 650.

2017 Kawasaki Ninja 650

Courtesy of Kawasaki

The 2017 Kawasaki Ninja 650 in Candy Burnt Orange.

2017 Kawasaki Ninja 650

Courtesy of Kawasaki

The windscreen is now adjustable, offering improved wind protection to facilitate highway riding and touring. The mirrors are new, and the upper cowling matches other bikes in the Ninja family.

2017 Kawasaki Ninja 650

Courtesy of Kawasaki

A linkage-type rear suspension replaces the old model’s side-mounted shock.

2017 Kawasaki Ninja 650

Courtesy of Kawasaki

The engine is a stressed member of the new high-tensile steel frame; the design incorporates elements from the NInja H2 and H2R chassis, with minimized bends to cut down on stress points in the frame.

2017 Kawasaki Ninja 650

Courtesy of Kawasaki

The new assist/slipper clutch reduces lever effort to help new riders, and also limits wheel hop when downshifting.

2017 Kawasaki Ninja 650

Courtesy of Kawasaki

The 2017 Kawasaki Ninja 650 in Pearl Blizzard White.