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First Ride: 2006 Kawasaki Ninja® 650R

79917 Views 86 Replies 43 Participants Last post by  dougmo
Might get me to trade my bandit.
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Nice Review. Nice bike. Wish it would of been around when I started...
A few things bother me about this bike. Many posts have already alluded to the lack of availability of the standard version in this market. I'm sure that Kawasaki did due diligence with their market research, but I just have to wonder, why on earth would this bike be sold with a full fairing and marketed as a Ninja? I think Kawasaki dropped the ball on this one. For one it's a bloody parallel twin entry level bike, let's stop with the racetrack pretensions. The fairing completely detracts from the purity of the design. Simple, efficient yet stylish transportation. Why cloak it as anything else? The hardware is barely up to backroad standards nevermind racetrack. There was a real opportunity for Kawasaki to attract riders to motorcycling without the racer boy bling mentality. Might have even carved a niche for more interesting designs from KHI in the future, based on alternative engine and chassis layouts. C'mon Kawasaki, quit listening so obsessively to your marketing types, and you just might be surprised at the following a machine with real originality and fresh thinking built in, might acquire.
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Ego BandAides!!

Because in the US people buy these bikes as ego bandaids that's why it say's Ninja on it!!!
Re: Ego BandAides!!

So, since I want some wind protection and standard ergos at an affordable price is in some way me needing an ego boost?
Nice. Can I expect to see a full-fairing kit on the Geezer Glide in the in the P&A catalog this year? Oh, wait...they did that already, and called it "Goldwing."
Re: Need an SV comparison

Europe also gets the ER-6s (faired) as well as teh ER-6n (naked). The ER-6s is the Ninja 650, but WITH a ~$500 ABS option and grabrails.

"Americans only buy cruisers and 'Ninja' sportbikes"
Nice bike.

Now if they got a designer who wasn't color blind..... where did they pick up that color scheme?
My wife is 5'1" and has a 29in inseam. 0.9in is not negligible considering it is 0.1in off of being a full inch which in short(no pun intended) doesn't seem like much but when you are tip-toeing a bike, it is quite a bit. Unfortunately, we believed what Kawi had said since September and my wife had been lusting after this since she first saw it on this website and so now it is up to OUR drawing board to get it to fit. I am sure she will love the bike but Kawi's answers to her calls were dismissive and downright rude(one Customer service rep told her the "suspension would settle up to 3in after being ridden for a few months"!!! She may be a woman but she is NOT stupid. If that were the case, she could ride my 04 R1 as I have been riding it for nearly 2 years and trust me, suspension doesn't settle THAT much. LOL
Good point about the fairing/windshield combined with raised handlebars. That does set the Ninja 650R apart from the Suzuki 650 options. I'm beginning to think, though, that the Yamaha FZ-6 or whatevers its called has gotten short shrift in various reviews (not sure how MO rated it, but I'll check later). With the FZ-6 you get a fairing/windshield, more or less upright handlebars, and a great deal more horsepower and top-end excitement. But the FZ-6 is not a beginners bike, either, IMHO.
Have you tried a 270 degree vertical twin? Less vibration with V twin sound. Anyone know the crank layout on the 650R?
The main mark agains the FZ6 is that everyone that has reviewed the bike has complained about the engine being really buzzy. MO rated it in the back of the pack (not last. but back there).

I really like the looks and it seems to offer wind protection and good ergos, but this bike appeals to me more since it seems to have more wind protection with more of a standard seating position...and a few bucks cheaper.

I'm pretty sure the Yamahamaha has more power, but the reported 72 horses that the Euro naked version has sounds fine to me.
Right, I just read or reread the MO comparo review of an 04 FZ-6. I've seen similar comments elsewhere. Too bad because the FZ-6 reportedly has good upright ergos and I've always liked its looks. Being the fastest in a straight line counts for something too.

The Ninja 650R is a clean/sleek looking bike, especially from the front. And it might have just the right amount of usuable power for most riders. Just wish the ergos werent a little tight for taller riders. Maybe an adjustable seat next year....
Interesting. Although she stands 5'1" her inseam is only a couple of inches shorter than mine, yet I was adequately planted on the ground. Women typically have longer legs and shorter torsos than men. Guys are the other way around; longer upper body but shorter legs. Maybe that's why a woman's legs are so important to us men =)

I would speculate that her over all height seems like a disadvantage on this bike due to her upper body length. I'm guessing that this creates a bit of a stretch to the bars for her which would in turn pull her farther over the tank, effectively pulling her legs and feet back and up from the ground. Just a guess here.--Pete
"180-degree crankshaft plus balancer shaft for extremely smooth engine operation. "

Straight from Kawi's materials.--Pete

You can go here to find out what new owners of the 650 say about the bike:

It seems that Kawi suggests the use of regular gas, and the average mileage is about 50 MPG, which is quite good for a brand new bike at 650cc displacement.
I currently ride a 2004 Suzuki VStrom 650 and don't think I'll be persuaded to buy the new ninja. Tank is to small and there is no luggage rack on the back. What good is that? I commute about 90 miles each way on my Vstrom and have 44,000 troublefree miles on it so far. Range is king in my book.
I am delighted to see more information on this new model. I love the bike's styling and riding position. Also, it is injected, so it will start easily in cold weather. However, this bike will face some serious competition from Kawa's own sportbikes.

As an absolute beginner bike, the Ninja 500r may be a better value. It is cheaper and has a more docile powerplant. I don't think that an absolute beginner needs 66hp.

As a second bike, the ZZR-600 may be superior to the new ninja. It has MUCH better brakes, and GOBS of aftermarket support (because it is a rebadged 1999 Ninja Zx-6r).

It is great to see Kawa producing so many sportbikes for budget-minded buyers. They are providing consumers with some great products. I look forward to seeing this bike on the showroom floor.
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I saw one today! It was black, and it was BEAUTIFUL. [email protected], this bike is sleek, curvy and sexy.

I have not seen an '06 ZZR 600 yet, but it also looks cool in pictures. The ZZR has much better brakes, and adjustable suspension. I still think that the ZZR may be a better value overall.

Either bike would be a big improvement on my GS500F. I am outgrowing it.
It doesn't look as hot as the Euro version...

I think the bodywork on the US spec bike is a snoozer. Boring. Plain. The looks are those of a late 90's bike at best. The un-faired Euro version looks terrific. This generic looking bike won't get my cash. It's 2006. I demand style to match the technology now....
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