‘What’s it like, mister?’
3000 miles and eight weeks later, James answers your Ninja queries
I’ve done just shy of 3000miles on the Kawasaki Ninja 650 in the last eight weeks. I’ve used it for everything from short commutes, to long trips, to sunny(ish) Sunday blasts. So now I’m building up quite a good idea of what the bike is like to live with.
The Ninja has been getting quite a lot of interest with MCN readers and people have been in touch with questions, so I thought I’d post some of the common ones I’ve been asked.
Do you find the suspension a bit wallowy and can you adjust it? Heidi Smith As a budget orientated bike, the suspension is pretty basic on the 650. The forks have no adjustment at all and the rear has preload adjustment only – which is awkward to change and involves taking off a sidepanel.
I was pleasantly surprised to find that the suspension is actually more effective than some units I’ve tried on bikes that cost more, which I think says quite a lot for the bike given that it only costs £6500. When pushing on, it starts to struggle on entertaining back roads and I plan on replacing the rear shock and the fork internals later in the year to see what improvements can be made.
In everyday riding scenarios and for commuting though, it is perfectly adequate. Overall, I think Kawasaki have done OK with the suspension.
How are you finding the Ninja overall and how is it on the motorway? John Allen It might not have the grunt of a proper ZX-6R but I’m finding that it’s enough for everyday scenarios and does the job of offering heaps of fun on twisty roads. Also, its semi-sporting feel is great for helping egg you on when you get on some belting B-roads.
Thankfully there’s not as much weight on your wrists as on a normal sportsbike, making it comfortable for motorway miles too. I’ve done a few bigger trips on it now with a trip to
Dartmouth being the longest so far. It was about four and a half hours and I was comfortable for the whole ride.
It’ll easily sit at 70mph at about 6000rpm, and will top out at about 120mph. And its torque offers enough grunt to get you there with ease. How far will a full tank of petrol get you? Nitish Nair Good question! In theory the 15-litre tank ought to return a range of 163 miles based on the 49.41 average mpg the bike has been returning – which isn’t too bad.
What’s less welcome is that the fuel light starts winking at me after as little as 100-120 miles. If I pull over and fill up at this point the tank will only take between ten and 13 litres, meaning there is plenty left before I am forced to start pushing!
What I don’t really understand is how a reserve tank should last 50-60 miles, in my mind it should surely be used for maybe half of that range as I find it quite unnerving to find that the reserve light is flashing at me, even if it is doing so unnecessarily.
I’ll have to strap a ready can on the back and do a proper test of the range.
How good is the bike at stop-go traffic speeds? Does the engine feel jerky and heavy? Joshua Ryan The Ninja 650 makes a brilliant commuter bike. The motor is frugal and very easy to live with. It’s very forgiving and friendly when you are using the bike in slow moving traffic, making it a doddle to get on with when negotiating four-wheeled obstacles in the city.
The clutch action is light which makes it easy to feather without putting too much strain on your forearms – the relaxed seating position helps too. It’s also a nice bike to filter on. The profile of the Ninja is pretty narrow, meaning that its simple to thread between cars.
‘The sporty feel is great for egging you on when you find belting B-roads’
‘That corner was so good, I’ll do it again’
Ped’s sitting on his fettling stool… UPDATE 3 2943 MILES