Kawasaki is bringing back both the Ninja 650 and Z650 for 2023 with one significant update – traction control. Formerly a rider aid only for the most powerful sportbikes on the planet, the safety benefits of traction control reach far beyond trying to go quickly around a racetrack. The two-step KTRC system does not feature the exotic IMUs that flagship sportbikes use, but a more modest system. In mode 1, KTRC allows the rear tire to slip a little more and doesn’t intervene as early. It’s a sport setting designed to allow the rider maximum drive and acceleration off a corner.
With the calendar flipping over to July, we are now officially in the second half of 2022. That also means motorcycle manufacturers are starting to make their model announcements for 2023. Around this time of year, we typically hear about updated models returning with the always-popular “Bold New Graphics,” such as last week’s news of 2023 BMW paint options.
“There is no such thing as a new idea. It is impossible. We simply take a lot of old ideas and put them into a sort of mental kaleidoscope. We give them a turn and they make new and curious combinations. We keep on turning and making new combinations indefinitely; but they are the same old pieces of colored glass that have been in use through all the ages.” – Mark Twain
In the wake of declining sportbike sales, we’ve seen manufacturers drop supersport models or leave them untouched for years on end. For the more versatile, upright sporty bikes, the industry as a whole has not given up. For Honda and Kawasaki, models like the Ninja 650 and CBR650R offer sportbike looks with practical ergonomics and performance that riders can grow with. With both models receiving updates within the last year – including seriously stepping up their game in the looks department – these everyday sportbikes are even more enticing than ever.
Last week, Kawasaki presented an electric motorcycle concept at EICMA, but did no reveal many details about it during the show. Today, Kawasaki finally released more information, confirming that the company has been researching electric vehicles for quite some time, including testing both on a race track and in urban environments. Unfortunately, Kawasaki says it remains purely a research project with no plans of releasing an electric motorcycle in the near future.
Earlier this month, Kawasaki announced an updated Ninja 650 for 2020, along with a number of street bike models returning unchanged except for new graphics. One model that was conspicuously left out was the 650’s larger sibling, the Ninja 1000. We now think we know why, as the California Air Resources Board released an executive order certifying an updated 2020 Kawasaki Ninja 1000.
Up until now Kawasaki’s Ninja 650 has been recognized as a genteel gateway drug to the company’s true supersport model, the ZX-6R. For 2017 Kawasaki has further distilled more performance from the beginner-ish Ninja while maintaining the bike’s streetable mannerisms. In other words, the 2017 Ninja 650 is a more potent sportbike capable of shredding a twisty canyon road or closed course race track on the weekends, while performing commuter duty during the weekdays.
Here’s a number to consider: 382. Kawasaki says that’s the percentage the naked motorcycle market has increased since 2011. For comparison, the sportbike market has stayed relatively stagnant during the same time period. With that kind of popularity in a particular segment, it’s no wonder motorcycle manufacturers like Kawasaki are trying to grab a piece of that pie.
EICMA and Intermot have come and gone and the question on most American consumers’ minds is which of the wonderful new models will be making their way to the U.S.? Today, Kawasaki answered their part of the question, confirming the ZX-10RR, Ninja 1000, Ninja 650, Z900, Z650 and the Versys-X 300 for the U.S. market.
Kawasaki tipped its cap at Intermot last month about its upcoming Z650 and Z900 nakeds. It was an odd strategy, releasing a couple of images and what looks to be an early draft of its EICMA press release. Well, now the Milan show is finally here and Kawasaki has officially confirmed the two models.
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.
Taiwanese manufacturer Kymco has filed a design patent for a motorcycle based on Kawasaki‘s ER-6n. The design, filed with the European Union Intellectual Property Office, shows a motorcycle with a similar engine, swingarm and offset lay-down shock as the ER-6n and its faired sibling, the Ninja 650. The Kymco design has a different frame and bodywork than Kawasaki’s naked Twin.