The 2019 Kawasaki Ninja 650 Review and Test Ride: All About Power and Comfort
Written by The Duke of DC.
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Table of Contents
Overview of the 2019 Kawasaki Ninja 650
The 2019 Kawasaki Ninja 650 combines two of the greatest things a motorcycle can possess, in my opinion. Power and comfort. As you may know from my video and/or past articles, my first streetbike was a 2009 Yamaha FZ-06, and was chosen for this very reason. The balancing act between power and comfort is not an easy one to achieve and although many manufacturers are focusing on how to accomplish this, only few do it with as much grace as Kawasaki. The Ninja 650 feels more capable than most sport-focused motorcycles, yet would be a first pick for most Iron Butt challengers. In 2019 you can, in fact, have your cake and eat it too, thanks to Kawasaki. Looks like I might have to rewrite my 10 Best Motorcycles Ever Ridden article, because models like this have been blowing me away.
Watch my full ride and review here:
When I was 13 years old, my parents were preparing to go on a relatively rare date night. With my 11-year-old brother and I becoming more independent and life returning to what I imagine was normal for my parents, I decided it was my time to step up. It was a cold Friday evening in October in the greater Washington D.C. area and I saw the opportunity of a lifetime ahead of me. This was the moment I could prove to them that I was no longer a “kid”… no, no. I was a teenager now, hell, damn near a full-blown adult by my book.
I went to talk to my Mom, as I knew this to be the path of least resistance from years of beta testing both parental units. I began with “Mom, I’m happy you and Dad are going out this evening, and hope you have a lovely time” (I’m paraphrasing). After buttering her up, I very smoothly (or so I thought) threw out the idea that I would be well-suited to watch myself and my brother that evening. See, the key to negotiating is to make statements, not ask questions – even at 13 I knew this.
Some of you might be wondering, Duke, “13 years old is plenty old enough to look after yourself”… trust me, you’re preaching to the choir. My Mother, however, was not a member of this choir. She shot me down faster than I could spell r-e-s-p-o-n-z-b-l…. I was never a good speller. Regardless, this was the moment she informed me that a babysitter would be watching us that evening, and in her words, it wasn’t for me… it was just to make sure my younger brother was looked after. This is where shit hits the proverbial fan, my dudes, so strap in and hang on tight.
A few hours of angsty sulking, I heard the pre-destined knock at the door… The babysitter was here (insert massive eye roll). After exchanging pleasantries, my Mom and Dad called my brother and I downstairs to meet them. There are some moments in life that shape you… mold you into the person you are today. This particular moment goes beyond that – this moment alone could warrant the funding for research and development of time travel.
As I turned the corner into the living room, my heart sank. Standing before me, two girls from my science class stood tall… my babysitter(s)!! Let me paint a picture here… I wasn’t a cool kid in middle school, and to be honest, who was. Oh wait, these two girls. As we locked eyes, I saw my future crumble beneath my feet. Any dream of making it through the gauntlet that was middle school, unscathed, had been firebombed by the evil smirk on both of their faces. My parents, oblivious of their blunder, introduced me to them, kissed us goodbye, told us to “be good”, and left. To this day, I believe the remainder of that evening has been scrubbed from my memory through Cold War-era spy tactics. It took years to recover from this moment, yet I am proud to have recovered fully, if not been made stronger. Inspector Gadget would have been proud.
The above has literally nothing to do with the 2019 Kawasaki Ninja 650, but as someone who’s written many of these articles, I feel it’s important to “get to know” the author every once in a while.
Now back to the beautiful 2019 Kawasaki Ninja 650.
The 2019 Kawasaki Ninja 650 Top Speed, Engine, and HP
The 2019 Kawasaki Ninja 650 sports a 649cc 4-stroke, 2-cylinder, DOHC, liquid-cooled engine (shared with the cruiser focused 2019 Kawasaki Vulcan S), which at first-twist makes you literally say, “gotta love a twin”. This is, in fact, one of my favorite standouts from the Ninja 650 Japanese competitors with in-line 4 cylinder units. The parallel twin provides the rider with abundant torque from every corner of the rev range. Very similar in power and engine configuration to that of the universally loved Yamaha MT-07. You’ll be hard-pressed to miss the powerband while the combination of horsepower and torque do the tango between your legs. You’re looking at roughly 67 bhp and 48.5 lb-ft of torque, capable of getting you to a top speed just over 130 miles per hour. Having just ridden a direct competitor in the 2019 Honda CBR650R, I can say the Kawi may be lacking just over 30 horses, but torque is what you’ll be missing on the Honda, and you’ll get it in spades on the Ninja 650.
2019 Kawasaki Ninja 650 Price
The 2019 Ninja 650 Base starts at $7,399, with the upgraded ABS Ninja 650 coming in at $400 more with a price of $7,799. The Ninja bikes can get pricey quickly, with the most expensive model, the 2019 Ninja H2-R, coming in at $55,000. You might be wondering what a $47,000 price increase gets you with the Ninja. The H2-R has a horizontal in-line 4 cylinder 999cc engine, while the Ninja 650 has a 649cc 4-stroke, 2-cylinder, DOHC, liquid-cooled engine. This basically means the H2-R has a SuperCharger, which essentially connects directly to the engine via a belt to increases the pressure of the fuel-air mixture whereas the Ninja 650 has a turbocharger pressurized exhaust gases to spin to the turbine to increase the air/fuel mixture. The difference, in my opinion, is certainly not worth $47,000. The Ninja 650 had more than enough speed, power and get-up for me so I will be keeping that $47,000 thank you very much.
The 2019 Kawasaki Ninja 650 Specs, Transmission, Tech, and Features
As technology creeps into all aspect of our daily lives, motorcycles are no different. With trick electronic suspension, cornering rider aids, TFT displays, and mobile connectivity coming standard on the industry’s flagship bikes, it’s been interesting to see what trickles down to midsize bikes like the Kawasaki Ninja 650. Unfortunately in this case, that list is slim. The 2019 Ninja 650 comes with optional anti-lock braking, but really that’s it. For some, this lack of tech will be a negative. For others, they will see this as a pure rider’s bike, no-frills, just (wo)man and machine. I fall into the latter headspace.
The 6-speed manual transmission, Nissin brakes, and fixed hydraulic telescopic suspension come together to provide a great rider experience and feel. It’s minorly noticeable that you’re on a more standard motorcycle when you begin pushing it in the turns and straights, but for 80% of riding and 100% of commuting, this would never be an issue.
The 2019 Kawasaki Ninja 650 Seat Height, Weight, and MPG
Ergonomics are where these relatively simple motorcycle shine and the Ninja 650 is no different. With a more upright riding position, higher handlebars, lower footpegs, and a real pillion seat, you’ll find this to be leaps and bounds more comfortable than a true supersport bike. The 31.1-inch seat height, although a little high, is accompanied by a narrow forward seating position that makes getting your feet down much easier. At 425.6 pounds, the Ninja 650 is right about where its competitors are and due to superior balancing, it never felt it’s true weight. The 4-gallon gas tank and estimated 48 mpg rating mean you’ll be saving at the pump yet again. Kawasaki has always done a great job at never sacrificing power for efficiency.
Simplicity makes the 2019 Kawasaki Ninja 650 a great riders’ bike, whether it’s your first plunge into motorcycle riding or your 17th two-wheeled purchase, you’ll be sure to have a great ride. I do imagine Kawasaki will be updating this motorcycle in the next year to compete with their direct competitors like the Honda CBR650R that comes standard with Showa suspension and a digital display, albeit coming in at over $1200 more expensive than the current Kawi, but only time will tell. Until then, just get out there and ride, and please, always check if the babysitters you booked are in your son’s class.
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About the Duke of DC
You know, my father tells me that one of my first words was “carburetor” and after my 8th car and 5th motorcycle in my relatively short time on this earth, I’m starting to believe him. I’ve been riding motorcycles since I was 15 years old, and when I started DukeOfDC it was during a really difficult time in my life. I’m just an average Joe that loves anything on two wheels and wants to share that passion with the world. Check out my YouTube channel and follow me on Twitter.