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New Kawasaki Ninja 650 Gets Huge Weight Loss and Revised Styling

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Kawasaki Europe has unveiled the new 2017 Ninja 650 at Intermot earlier today. New styling is more aggressive, but still paired with the relaxed ergonomics found on the current model.

The Euro 4 compliant 649 cc engine has roughly the same power output, but is 6.8% more fuel efficient, according to Kawasaki.

The big news is a huge weight loss for the bike. An entirely new frame and swingarm combine with other changes to reduce curb weight by 42 pounds! ย This should bring the Kawasaki middleweight into the same ballpark as Yamaha’s svelte FZ-07.

Although technically a European model at this point, we expect it to be part of the U.S. lineup when Kawasaki makes that announcement on November 13.

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45 Comments

  1. Pat Kittle says:

    This year’s 42lb. weight reduction is so popular that Kawasaki just announced its intention to continue that process each year for the next decade.

  2. PN says:

    I like it.

  3. Tom R says:

    A 42-pound reduction is a suspiciously large number on a bike like this. Where did it come from? What components are smaller, thinner, weaker, etc.? Does the load capacity shrink, as well as long-term durability? Is the bike now physically smaller?

    Physics is unforgiving, and there is no Free Lunch available (liberal politicians’ promises notwithstanding). What’s the catch here?

    • xLaYN says:

      +1
      I would say they did observe market acceptance on designs as the head to head monocoque frame on the panigale or the FZ7 design and took a similar approach.

      It’s my impression that the Z900 took a similar approach too.

      Maybe more worrisome it’s the pattern on the recently announced CBR… a machine with way more power.

    • Dave says:

      Economics. Exchange rate. The notion that the benefit can go back to the people who paid for it, instead of those who lobbied for it. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    • Jeremy in TX says:

      It is a lot of weight. The frame tubes are noticeably smaller, structure now being provided by a trellis (and possibly a higher grade of steel) rather than being made flimsier. I wouldn’t be surprised if the frame is better than the previous. That is also an aluminum swingarm (unrelated side note – notice how it is asymmetrical to clear the exhaust on the right side? Just noticed that.) Most of the weight can be accounted for by those two items alone.

  4. Randy in Ridgecrest says:

    Black or silver, or black and silver I think would look much better than these hideous colors. But YEAH! for Kawasaki for advancing. So this bike weighs way less than a Honda 500. Now if Suzuki would dust off their porky old SV…

    And doesn’t the bike without the body work look like it could be made into about anything, like for instance, a scrambler?

    • GearDrivenCam says:

      Way less than a Honda 500!?! The wet weight for the CBR500R is 423 lbs (measured in an online magazine comparo) whereas the wet weight for this lighter Ninja 650 should be about 423 lbs (previous version is listed at 465 lbs wet) as well if it truly is 42 lbs lighter. Not sure where the “this bike weighs way less” comes from. With that said – this is still impressive for the Ninja 650 and to me a huge step in the right direction for the bike. I can’t wait to ride one.

      Also, this still makes the new Ninja 650 a full 24 lbs HEAVIER than a Yamaha FZ-07, so despite what the description says above, it’s still not quite in the same ballpark as the FZ-07. I side with Jeremy in TX in saying “Thank-you Yamaha for making the Ninja 650 42 lbs lighter!”

      • Randy in Ridgecrest says:

        My mistake, thought the actual Honda weights reported were higher, must have been thinking of the X.
        For a faired bargain bike this isn’t bad, and at the price of 25 pounds the wind protection will be superior to the FZ-07.

        For comparison, my Street Triple weighs 410 full tank (I weighed it).

    • steveinsandiego says:

      i doubled checked curb weights. the new 650 comes in at 423: 465-42. the honda cb500f tips at 414.i replied only cuz i’ve been looking seriously at the honda, though i’ve thoroughly enjoyed my first year on my 2015 v strom 650.

      and the suzi sv650 has been re-innerdoost for 2017.

      • John says:

        Keep in mind that the F isn’t the target, it would be the R, which weighs also 423lbs. I didn’t realize how much of a pig the 650R was, nor how easily it could drop 42 lbs. The wheels look pretty flimsy though. They look like something off a 125.

    • Randy in Ridgecrest says:

      My mistake, thought the actual Honda weights reported were higher, must have been thinking of the X. None the less, power to weight is way more. So for bargain bikes this isn’t bad, and the wind protection is superior to the FZ-07. For comparison, my Street Triple weighs 410 full tank ( I weighed it).

    • KenHoward says:

      “So this bike weighs way less than a Honda 500.”

      Well, the POWER-to-weight will be much better!

    • Pat Kittle says:

      Copper is a color people seem to love or hate.

      I’m a fan — I’d be much more likely to buy a copper-colored bike if I was undecided.

  5. Jeremy in TX says:

    I really like Kawasaki’s P-Twin. It can chug on from just about any rpm, has a stout midrange and even has a little zing on top. It is a really fun engine to play with on a twisty road with. I’m glad to see Kawasaki upping its game in the category.

    Thank you, Yamaha, for making the Ninja 650 42 lbs. lighter.

    • VEGA says:

      Jeremy, apparently, you’ve never ridden The 650R…

      This thing has a severe ‘head-shake’… Rocking couple if I may, which is Pretty common in 180 Degree P-Twins…

      A 90-Degree V-Twin is a much superior design, and hence I’d prefer an SV any day! That 270 on the FZ07 isn’t too bad either cause pistons are not going the complete opposite but its still pretty ‘shaky’ for my taste… (P.S Coming from FZ6R).

      REAL V-TWIN over a ‘fake’ V-Twin any day!

      • Jeremy in TX says:

        The Ninja 650R specifically, no I haven’t ridden any model year of it. But I have spent quite a bit of time on an ER-6N that my brother owned as well as a rented Versys, 2010 model IIRC. Probably 1000+ miles in total between the two bikes.

        The seat on the ER-6N sucked bad, but I was never bothered by vibration on either bike. I’d say the SV650 (a bike I am intimately familiar with) actually vibrated a little more, not that it bothered me either. I don’t know if that would be true of the newest versions of these bikes. I haven’t ridden the FZ-07.

      • Tim says:

        I had a Versys 650 with essentially the same motor, and wasn’t bothered at all by the shake. I rode it from Kansas City to Yellowstone and back, Kansas City to California and back, and on several other week long trips, and never got off the bike feeling remotely fatigued by shake or vibration. It would run 85 comfortably on the highway all day long.

  6. John says:

    Wow. I hope this carries over into other 650 models.

    • mickey says:

      would be nice if it did on the Versys 650 wouldn’t it?

      • Jeremy in TX says:

        A Versys with 42 fewer lbs. would make for a nice bike indeed.

        • Dave says:

          Suzuki just rev’d the V-Strom and Kawasaki has regularly updated the Versys. I think there’s a pretty good chance.

          I wish the FJ-07 would come to the US.

    • WSHart says:

      If not, why not patronize the company that gives you what you say you want? In this case, Kawasaki.

      It looks to be a great ride.

  7. Mick says:

    Funny how a little effort from one company suddenly makes it possible for another to lighten their entry level middleweight by 42 pounds. All in a world where people keep telling me that it can’t be done.

    Dig how the undressed motorcycle looks a lot like a big trials bike.

    • VEGA says:

      No wonder Kawaski dealers are giving a HUGE discount over 650Rs…

      I knew something was coming…! A replacement…!

      Too bad, i was hoping for a ‘tamed’ inline-4 ala CBR650R…

      I don’t like Twins unless its a V…! Never ridden a Boxer so can’t comment on those though…

  8. Curly says:

    Looks pretty good. The frame is way different from the old bike and is very similar to the FZ07. I believe that’s where they found a lot of the weight savings. Those cast wheel spokes are the only thing that gives me pause.

  9. John F says:

    Now, if only Yamaha could get a similar weight loss with the Super Tenere. It would be a VAST improvement.

  10. Craig says:

    Yeah… I agree… give us an R model like my Triumph Street Triple that has the suspension from the Sport bike version the Daytona…

    In this case take off the full adjustable front and shock from the rear of the 636 or even and older model. Add 1k for the suspension and radial brakes and then it’s all set for use that do track days and believe in better suspension.

    Common!!!!

  11. Tom R says:

    “The Euro 4 compliant 649 cc engine has roughly the same power output, but is 6.8% more fuel efficient…”

    Fuel efficiency increase measured to within 1/10 of a percent, yet the sentence also states that the engine has “roughly” the same power output. Kawasaki is great at being vague and specific at the same time.

  12. George says:

    Looks great and I like the lower weight and the low cost suspension, as long as it helps bring the cost of the bike down as well.
    Those that want more suspension can add aftermarket (racetech or traxxion dynamics) internals to the fork and an aftermarket shock. Those that don’t want to pay for expensive suspension, probably do not understand how to use it anyway so it is mostly a waste of $ for them to pay more for a bike with better suspension components.
    The 650 twin is an excellent engine!

    • Jeremy in TX says:

      I don’t mind tweaking the suspension. I typically have to have work done even on expensive OEM pogos to get it just right. But I would prefer to see better brakes on some of the midrange bikes. They don’t have to be the latest and greatest Brembos or anything like that, but a modern motorcycle deserves better than what some of these bikes are still getting.

  13. Vrooom says:

    42 lbs. is incredible. Wish all bikes went on a 42 lbs. diet, but then I’d have to buy more.

  14. Tank says:

    Everybody should test ride a Ninja 650 before buying a bike. This is all the bike most people will need. One of the best bikes Kawasaki has ever made.

    • Gary says:

      I just can’t get past the non-adjustable low-tech damping-rod forks. This bike has a lot going for it, but the suspension isn’t among it’s key attributes. Granted it seems to be the standard for the 650 class (SV & FZ) but the OEM’s should offer an “S” version that provides a modern suspension.

      • matt says:

        The OEMs have a LONG list of bikes they either quit selling recently or could easily scavenge out of the parts bin that run cartridges, albeit in true Japanese fashion will be valved by a dunce (nee the abomination that is the FZ09).

        The cost to the factory is 200 maybe. The FZ07 could have annihilated the entire segment just by installing YZF600R (Thundercat, not R6) forks and a decent shim stack.

    • Selecter says:

      I’m with Gary here. Our roads suck (MN/WI). Mid-corner ripples, pot-holes, and bumps are the norm. And damper rod forks and linkless shocks suck something fierce on them… I know because most of my bikes have had them.

      The suspension and brake upgrades usually only offered on the “bigger” bikes (more expensive ones) have proven well worth my while. Can’t speak for everyone, of course, but budget bikes with suspension like this do cease to be much fun once the going gets rough.

    • MGNorge says:

      “Everybody should test ride a Ninja 650 before..” Perhaps, if it was in a class I was interested in and the fact that I’m 6’8″ tall and north of 200 lbs. kinda says no.

      • mickey says:

        Wow 6’8″? That’s 14″ taller than I am. How are manufacturers supposed to make a bike that fit’s us both ergonomically? You probably think they are all built for me and it seems to me they are all built for you. That’s why I say not every bike is meant for every person.

        I’d take some of your height if that would help, but I have enough tonnage of my own, so you’re going to have to find someone else to take some of that lol

        • MGNorge says:

          You’re about my wife’s height. What I can easily straddle she has to climb up on!
          Throughout my life I’ve had to conform to more “normally” sized ergos. Luckily, it never was too much trouble or painful. ๐Ÿ™‚ But at this stage in my life contorting to aggressive ergos on bikes doesn’t excite me. Even on my Norge I must contend with Italian ergos which I deal with but probably aren’t ideal for me.
          One thing though, with my size I can hop on most any large bike and not feel intimidated.

          • Max says:

            Reminds me of the time a guy did one of our dealer group rides on a BMW GS Adventure. He was so tall he could flat foot it on both sides. Neither of my feet would be anywhere near the ground if that thing was standing up and I was on its seat.

  15. Dave says:

    Great updates (weight, etc.) but isn’t that seat a little uh, small?