THE GLOVES ARE OFF

With the first ser­vice done, James is get­ting to grips with the Ninja 650

Motorcycle News (UK) - - GARAGE - james.archibald@mo­tor­cy­cle­news.com

Af­ter a week of gen­tle rid­ing, the Ninja 650 reached its first ser­vice in­ter­val, and with the bike checked over and the oil and fil­ter changed, it was time for some proper fun.

The 650 is prov­ing to be a great ma­chine. And, while it won’t give you the per­for­mance or spec­i­fi­ca­tion of a full-on sports­bike, I’m find­ing it more than enough for ev­ery­day rid­ing with plenty left in re­serve for some de­cent thrills on the back­roads.

I de­cided to take a blast over to Don­ing­ton via the ex­cel­lent A6006 for the open­ing MCE British Su­per­bike races. The weather was glo­ri­ous and the roads empty enough to en­cour­age a heavy-handed ap­proach to the throt­tle. Per­fect.

I found the sus­pen­sion a lit­tle wal­lowy, es­pe­cially when press­ing on. The lack of ad­just­ment on the forks and the sim­ple-but-awk­wardto-get-to, preload-ad­justable rear shock high­light the Kawasaki’s bud­get at­ti­tude.

It’s to be ex­pected and cer­tainly doesn’t de­tract from what is a very ca­pa­ble bike. For city rid­ing and my com­mute, it’s per­fectly ad­e­quate and doesn’t feel like a bike that costs just £6.5k. It still feels bet­ter than the sus­pen­sion on some more ex­pen­sive machines.

One area that high­lights the cost sav­ing most though is the Dun­lop Sport­max D214 rub­ber that come as stan­dard on the Ninja. The tyres re­ally don’t suit the ma­chine very well at all, giv­ing poor feed­back on dry days and even less when rid­ing in the wet.

To see if I could im­prove mat­ters, I’ve re­placed them with a set of Met­zeler Road­tec 01s (£261.75) and

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