2012 Motorcycle of the Year | Best Bang for the Buck

Kawasaki Ninja 650
Freshened-Up Favorite

Manufacturers typically let their budget bikes simmer on the backburner for far too long, but Kawasaki isn’t resting on its laurels with the Ninja 650. For 2012 the midi-Ninja was thoroughly revamped with a new frame and swingarm, ZX-10R superbike-inspired bodywork, a cushier seat, fresh dash, adjustable windscreen and optimized engine state-oftune, among other things. The seat height is lower and the frame is narrower, making the bike a little easier for shorter riders to enjoy while the suspension has been retuned to offer even better ride quality. For the $7499 entry price, you get a lot of motorcycle for your money. The fuel-injected 650cc vertical-twin is nimble, reasonably quick, ridiculously fuel-effcient and versatile enough to excel at any number of activities, from commuting to the occasional track-day soirée. Cutting-edge technology and outrageous horsepower are exciting, but when you need a kickass bike and you’re on a budget, the Ninja 650 is too legit to quit.

ALTERNATIVE TAKE

Suzuki V-strom 650 Adventure
Suzuki’s new V-Strom 650 Adventure does it all, and all for under $10,000. It comes with ABS, robust aluminum side cases, crash bars and an adjustable windshield. It’s an excellent urban performer that’s happy to take you of the grid on the weekends, and will leave you with a smile on your face and gas money in your wallet.

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