The Ninja 650 does 0-60 mph in 3.53 and 0-100 km/h in 3.92 seconds
Kawasaki’s Ninja 650 has been around for a while now in various forms. The engine also has to be one of the most used engines on the road as it powers many motorcycles in its various incarnations currently and over the years.
Kawasaki seems to have the entry level motorcycle class completely covered at all engine sizes with the Ninja 250, Ninja 300, and Ninja 400, as well as the naked counterparts and the many other offerings over the years.
Powered by the very popular parallel two-cylinder configuration which is an engine that seems to be used in a very many entry level motorcycles. Parallel two-cylinder engines are just simply very reliable and cheap to produce which no doubt makes them favourable engine choices for manufactures and their many lower to mid-sized motorcycle offerings.
Parallel twins have L-twin like easy power and torque deliveries but arguably minus the nice sound of any 90-degree twin cylinder engine.
The latest Ninja 650 goes up against many class alternatives including Kawasaki’s very own Ninja 400, as well as the MT-07, SV650 and the class performance leader the Honda CBR650R. There are also many other motorcycles current and discontinued that the Ninja 650 must compete with.
How does the Ninja 650 compare to the other competitors we have already tested?
Kawasaki Ninja 650 Power and TorqueNinja 650 Dyno Chart
The Ninja 650’s 62 hp at the wheels is kind of what is to be expected in the class and at this engine size and configuration. Though if looking at Aprilia’s new RS660, it really does show us what can be done with this configuration and engine size.
To be fair on Kawasaki the RS 660 is totally new, and is almost twice the price, and while an entry level sportbike the RS660 is more focused and will likely go up against be compared four-cylinder Supersports bikes seeing as the Aprilia makes similar power.
Kawasaki have made incremental improvements and the latest version of the engine makes a little more power at peak and has a better spread of power and torque than previous versions of this engine. It’s actually a very good engine and is exactly what you need on the road and has the power and acceleration where your tachometer needle mostly lives – which is the bottom and middle half of the rpm range.
The engine offers plenty of instant drive from as little as 2500 rpm. There is a little flat spot around 3500 rpm but is barely noticeable on the road. From there on and up until around 7000 rpm you have very similar engine performance to the Suzuki SV650 which we tested only recently.
It’s only after 7000 rpm where the Ninja 650 does not rev with as much enthusiasm as an SV650 or some other competitors and is left in the dust by the CBR650R.
While the Ninja 650 will rev beyond 9000 rpm it seems that the sweet spot is most definitely between 4-9000 rpm. Revving beyond that it’s just making noise and not really the nicest noise either so it’s a sure sign that you should hook the next gear.
It’s a good engine and pretty similar in character to the MT-07 but just less power and torque everywhere and none of the attitude or wheelies.
Also, the MT-07 despite also being a parallel two-cylinder engine sounds much better due to Yamaha’s crossplane crankshaft as does the new YZF-R7
The engine does a stellar job on the road though and is fast enough to have fun.
Kawasaki Ninja 650 Acceleration and Top SpeedNinja 650 Acceleration 0-60 0-100
|Kawasaki Ninja 650 Acceleration|
The Kawasaki Ninja 650 can move, as any vehicle that can do a sub four second time from 0-60 mph is objectively fast. And the 0-60 mph for the Ninja 650 is a very respectable and fast 3.53 seconds and 0-100 km/h is 3.92 seconds.
The Ninja will charge on to 100 mph in 9.5 seconds and the quarter mile benchmark time for the Ninja 650 is a very respectable 12.3 seconds @ 110 mph.
These are close to optimum times. The average rider who is decently skilled will hitting 4 seconds flat to 60 mph and be mid to high 12’s on the quarter mile with a terminal of around 105 mph. The Ninja can do 0-200 km/h for you metric peeps in 18.5 seconds.
When we ‘go for it’ on a motorcycle it is always tempting to take the rpm’s right to the redline. But this is not always the fastest way, nor the best way to achieve the effective elapsed times as it all depends on the engine delivery characteristics and gear ratios.
The Ninja 650 is a motorcycle best short shifted to make efficient progress. Shifting at around 8500-9000 rpm is the most effective way to get good times.
If you scream the engine to the redline for each gear you could lose up-to 0.3-4 in the quarter mile. Riding the Ninja 650 a little bit more like a revvy single is how this engine likes to play ball and will reward you as a result.
As the Ninja 650 is fully faired, despite being a little down on power compared to some of its rivals it still manages to achieve a decent top speed of 130 mph, elbows in and full-on race tuck. For most average size and weight riders that are less committed, this number would be closer to 120/125 mph. Factor in a headwind and you’ll struggle to do 110/115 mph.
While this bike is quick its engine is clearly more suited to bursts of acceleration in-gear and at lower speeds rather than screaming her like a two-stroke. You can play with your other classmates and be on their heels, but the Ninja will show its weakness as the speeds go above 100 mph.
If we compare the Ninja 650 to sports cars it has many of them beat, and its acceleration to 100 mph is like that of a BMW M2 or M4.
So, you can be happy knowing that your Ninja can play with cars many times more expensive.
If we exclude the ZX-6R, the Ninja 650 is the quickest entry level motorcycle that Kawasaki offer and it does also have the legs on the more rev hungry and smaller Ninja 400 sibling. The Ninja 650 will also convincingly put the ‘beatdown’ on the CBR500 and Yamaha R3.
If you do not like the full fairing the Z650 is the naked version.