Kawasaki 2017 Ninja 650 Review: Updated for Comfort and Convenience


  • Kawasaki 2017 Ninja 650 ABS
  • Previous model redesigned for 2017
  • Engine type: 649 cc, four-stroke, two-cylinder, DOHC, water-cooled
  • Available in two colors: Candy Burnt Orange, Metallic Spark Black and Pearl Blizzard White
  • Suggested Retail: $7,399 without ABS, $7,799 with ABS, or $7,999 for the KRT edition

Photo courtesy kawasaki.com.


Kawasaki introduced the first Ninja 650 to the market way back in 2006, and since that time it’s undergone a number of changes. The Ninja 650 was originally viewed as an entry-level bike, perfect for introducing a new rider to sport bikes. However since then, the bike as evolved, and with it its reputation. The Kawasaki Ninja 650 eventually became a popular choice for a wide variety of riders. Keeping with that trend, the latest 2017 version is likely to attract some new riders as well.

According to Kawasaki, the 2017 Ninja 650 stays true to the Ninja roots by offering the classic sporty handling and aggressive styling. However, the latest updates have improved the comfort and convenience of the bike, making the Ninja 650 now suitable as an everyday ride. Basically, the new model reins true as a sporty, mid-sized, Ninja-engineered bike, only now with a bit more comfort.

Two significant changes make the 2017 Ninja 650 the easily maneuvered and relaxed ride that it is: the weight and the ergonomics. This new model weighs a significant 42 pounds less than the previous version, not a difference that can be easily dismissed. In addition to the lighter weight, the 2017 model has also come with a lower seat height and more forward handlebars, allowing for a more upright seating position and making for a slightly more casual ride.

Marketed by Kawasaki as a “new, easygoing sportbike”, the 2017 Ninja 650 is ready for “riding through the canyons on the weekend or to work on Monday”, making it possibly the most versatile version of the Ninja to date.


Here’s a summary of some notable features on the Kawasaki 2017 NINJA 650 ABS, as well as how it differs from the previous model:

  • Displacement: 649 cc
  • Engine: four-stroke, two-cylinder, DOHC, water-cooled
  • Compression ratio: 10.8:1
  • Ignition: TCBI with digital advance
  • Six-speed transmission
  • Assist and slipper clutch
  • Antilock braking system available
  • Front suspension/wheel travel: 41 mm hydraulic telescopic fork/4.9 in
  • Rear suspension/wheel travel: horizontal back-link with adjustable spring preload/5.1 in
  • Fuel capacity: four gal
  • Frame: trellis style with high tensile steel
  • 42 lb lighter than previous model with a weight of 419 lb or 426 lb (with ABS)
  • Lower seat with a height of 31.1 in
  • More forward bars
  • Revised, more relaxed and upright ergonomics
  • Analog style needle tach with digital MPH read out
  • Gear position indicator and read outs for mileage, fuel consumption, temp, and clock


I mentioned before that the 42 pound decrease in weight from the previous model is not something to take lightly, and at no point is this more evident than when riding it. The missing weight makes for a bike that’s more easily maneuvered both at around town speeds and on winding highways. For new riders, the lighter weight is much easier to handle, and for experienced riders, it means increased flexibility to work your bike exactly the way you like.

All of the changes made to the engine on the 2017 Ninja 650 add up to one smooth ride, with improved low-to-mid range power. Even the torque curve is noticeably smoother and more consistent. New riders will appreciate the new assist and slipper clutch, resulting in a lighter clutch pull and allowing them to relax a bit while still learning. Despite the improved performance, Kawasaki says this model’s fuel consumption is superior as well.

Lastly, the changes related to the chassis and ergonomics round out the riding experience on the 2017 Ninja 650. In addition to the lighter weight, the new model boasts a slimmer and lighter frame, with the new horizontal back-link rear suspension improving traction and response. The new upright seating position, while still maintaining the sporty vibe, is noticeably more relaxed, while the lower seat height provides stability.

To sum up the 2017 Ninja 650, Kawasaki says the bike “tows the line between racy sportbike and comfortable commuter”–and this seems to be the best possible description for the latest model. Fans of the previous version as well as a new set of riders that need a bit more comfort, are all likely to be satisfied. The 2017 Ninja 650 stays true to its roots–just with a bit more versatility.