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2012 Kawasaki Ninja 650 First Look

Monday, October 10, 2011
2012 Kawasaki Ninja 650
The Kawasaki Ninja 650 updates for 2012 include sporting new looks and a brand new frame.
A true workhorse in the middleweight field today, the Kawasaki Ninja 650 has earned a lasting reputation among riders and the media. While lacking the tire-smoking antics of its bigger siblings, the Ninja 650 has fallen into an elite category since its inception back in 2006. Whether commuting, hitting the twisties or logging miles on the highway, the design has proven itself repeatedly. In 2009 it saw its first overhaul, eliminating some of the nagging qualities which held it back. MotoUSA had a chance to sample the changes while conducting the 2009 Kawasaki Ninja 650R Review, which made us fond of the mid-displacement Twin. In 2012, however, the multi-talented Ninja 650 will see some of the biggest changes since its creation.
One of the most visible changes is the redesigned exhaust system. The Ninja 650’s stubby, low-slung exhaust has become a trademark with the design and for 2012 the system receives a new connector pipe as well as a higher-volume three-chamber muffler assembly. Engineers claim this improvement alone provides better mid-
2012 Kawasaki Ninja 650
The new design features a two-piece seat with thicker foam for more comfort.
range torque on the 650. The fuel-injected 649cc liquid-cooled Parallel Twin 
remains relatively unchanged for the new year, keeping its status as a terrific streetbike powerplant with torquey pull and impressive top end.
Improvements continue with an all-new twin-pipe perimeter frame that’s been installed for more rigidity. While providing more strength overall to the design, the trellis layout keeps its narrow-waisted profile that helps keep its seat height lower. Even with the narrow frame, however, sticklers will be quick to point out the 2012 Ninja 650 is 0.6 inches taller than previous models. The 41mm front fork and single shock rear out back include new settings along with increased wheel travel, with a new backbone-type subframe offering a 10% increase in maximum carrying capacity. The clutch cable design is also reworked for easier pull and better control. The twin-pipe swingarm is another major stylistic change from the previous edition, which featured only a single tubular structure. Braking has also been improved with new pads, and Dunlop’s new Roadsmart II tires are standard on the new edition.
2012 Kawasaki Ninja 650
Revisions also include a new three-position windscreen (above) and new instrument layout (below) with the addition of an analog tachometer.2012 Kawasaki Ninja 650
The ’12 Ninja 650 includes a number of aesthetic changes. Perhaps the most eye-catching is a new instrument panel featuring an analog tachometer above an LCD readout. The bodywork has also been upgraded with more sharp angles that are on par with Kawasaki’s Supersport lineup. Improved aerodynamics are in the design as well, with a three-position windscreen added for more comfort. Bodywork has also been adjusted to allow for better engine heat removal.
One of the flaws with the past Ninja 650 was its seat. Often cited for being uncomfortable, Kawasaki took note of this in their updates by changing to a two-piece seat assembly with wider and thicker foam padding. Handlebars have also been widened by 20mm, which Kawi claims offers more control and overall comfort. To keep vibrations down the bars and seat are rubber-mounted as well as the footpegs.
In addition to revamping its middleweight design, Kawasaki has also included an added ABS feature on its bigger sibling – the 2012 Ninja 1000.
The new Ninja 650 is set to launch with an MSRP of $7499. Check out more photos in our 2012 Kawasaki Ninja 650 Photo Gallery.

2012 Kawasaki Ninja 650 Photo Gallery
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2012 Kawasaki Ninja 650
Engine: Four-stroke, liquid-cooled, DOHC, four-valve, Parallel Twin
Bore x Stroke: 83.0 x 60.0mm
Compression Ratio: 10.8:1
Fuel Delivery: Digital fuel injection with two 38mm Keihin throttle bodies
Transmission: 6-speed
Final Drive: O-ring chain
Front Suspension: 41mm hydraulic telescopic fork; 4.9 in. travel
Rear Suspension: Single offset laydown shock with adjustable spring preload; 5.1 in. travel
Front Brakes: Dual 300mm petal discs with two-piston calipers
Rear Brake: Single 220mm petal disc with single piston caliper
Front Wheel: 120/70x17
Rear Wheel: 160/60x17
Curb Weight: 460.8 lbs.
Wheelbase: 55.5 in.
Length: 83.1 in.
Rake: 25 deg. Trail: 4.3 in.
Seat Height: 31.7 in.
Fuel Capacity: 4.2 gal.
MSRP: $7499
Colors: Metallic Spark Black, Candy Lime Green, Passion Red
Warranty: 12 Months

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Piglet2010   October 11, 2011 07:23 PM
-neo1piv014- Agree about the analog tach, by what about an analog speedometer also? The old dual round gauge setup has not been bettered for actual use.
Piglet2010   October 11, 2011 07:19 PM
Does anyone know how to actually get a test ride on one of these before buying?
Piglet2010   October 11, 2011 04:48 PM
Wish they made a 450-500cc version also to replace the discontinued Ninja 500. My insurance for a Ninja 650 would be about half again more than I pay for NT700V, despite the NT700V having 30cc more displacement and a $3K higher replacement cost. :(
kawatwo   October 11, 2011 09:30 AM
I had the first gen 650. This one looks just about perfect. Standard passenger grab rails on a "Standard" would be nice though. That seat looks amazing! Can't wait to sit on it. It better handle "lighter" seeing as how it gained 10 pounds. The first gen I had actually felt lighter then the specs though and I am sure the new one is no different. My FZ6 feels about 50 pounds heavier than the scales say. Argh, I miss my 650 Ninja. Didn't realize how good it was until I got rid of it.
thespifury   October 11, 2011 08:12 AM
You're definitely not alone neo1piv014. I recently bought a '09 model and the two-piece seat on the new design sure looks comfortable right now!
neo1piv014   October 11, 2011 06:37 AM
Am I the only 650 owner out there getting a little bit of envy? That looks like everything I would want to upgrade in my bike right there. I'm especially digging the return to the analog tachometer.