Kawasaki’s pulls the wraps off its updated-for-2020 Ninja 650 ABS. Featuring sharper and racier body panels, in line with the rest of the Ninja family, this parallel twin 650 is a kinder, more gentle sportbike for everyday street riders.
Viewed from the front, it's apparent the styling direction Kawasaki gravitates toward, with the 650's front end borrowing cues from the Ninja 400 and ZX-6R. Specifically its snout is wider with a more pronounced slant evoking a greater sense of speed. A pair of LED headlamps sit inside, each featuring individual low and high beam circuits and aesthetically pleasing position lamps. This helps the NInja rider stand out on the road.
The windscreen fits flush with the upper fairing and the external fasteners that traditionally secure the bodywork have been eliminated for a modern, streamlined look. A colorful iPhone 6-sized TFT-type instrument panel keeps tabs on the motorcycle’s vitals. The 4.3-inch display incorporates Bluetooth functionality so the rider can pair their smartphone via Kawasaki’s new proprietary Rideology app.
This allows the rider to access features including GPS-enabled route logging and machine vitals. When paired, it also displays telephone alerts while riding. Ride settings and history are automatically saved to the smartphone app so the rider can view this information away from the motorcycle.
Kawaski didn’t forget about the passenger either, fitting a wider and more well-padded seat that also incorporates a larger hip support lip for the person in front.
Like before, the Ninja 650 is powered by a liquid-cooled 649cc parallel-twin that’s mated to a six-speed transmission. It puts power back to the new and lighter Dunlop Sportmax RoadSport 2 160/60-series tire via a chain final drive. The engine delivers nearly 58 hp and 42 pound-feet torque the last time we ran it on the dyno.
The motor is hung in a recently upgraded (for the 2017 model year) steel trellis frame with well-damped suspenders that offer a pleasant balance between around-town comfort and sport handling.
A variety of add-ons including a 30-liter top case, tank pad, seat cowl, radiator trim frame slider set, and TFT display screen protector can be purchased as OE accessories. MSRP remains unchanged with the base Ninja starting at $7,399 and an ABS brake-equipped version available for a $400 upcharge.