Kawasaki has updated its twin-cylinder Ninja 650, introducing a new trellis frame, assist and slipper clutch and ZX-inspired styling. Offering a blend of sporty performance and practical versatility, the 2017 Ninja 650 sits in that sweet spot for new riders looking at upgrading from their beginner bikes to more experienced riders looking for a more practical middleweight option.
The biggest difference between the new and old Ninja 650 is the steel trellis frame. The previous-generation Ninja 650 stood out with a steel double-tube perimeter frame with a matching twin-tube swingarm. The new trellis frame is said to weigh just 33 pounds, and combined with the aluminum gull-wing swingarm, the new chassis is much lighter-handling, with Kawasaki claiming a 42-pound weight reduction compared to the outgoing model’s chassis.
The engine remains a 649cc Twin, tuned for mid-range performance from 3000-6000 rpm, with a peak output of 68 hp. Kawasaki claims a 6.8% improvement in fuel efficiency, claiming 55 mpg from the new Ninja 650.
The previous Ninja 650 used a laydown rear shock that extended the line from the frame to the swingarm along the left side. The new rear shock follows a similar line but now lined up inside the subframe above the swingarm. The shock is mounted in a horizontal back-link configuration similar to the ZX-10R.
Other features include Nissin calipers, a Bosch 9.1M ABS, 31.1-inch seat height, adjustable levers and multi-function instrumentation including a gear position indicator and a shift indicator lamp. The shift indicator lights when the engine and the white tachometer needle will begin flashing red when the engine approaches a selected speed.