Bike-scooters/ First-drive/ Kawasaki Ninja 650 | A Saint In Ninja’s Clothing

Kawasaki Ninja 650 | A Saint In Ninja’s Clothing

Rather than intimidating newer riders with growling teeth, the Ninja 650 welcomes them with a friendly bear hug


Accessibility, Versatility and Mile Munching Capabilities


Below-par tyres, Lack of suspension adjustability


Have you ever come across a saint named Ninja? In a parallel universe, this could be a reality but we don’t necessarily need to change the course of time and space, jump through a portal and all that multiverse bullshit to find one. It has been around, in our very own homeland, for over a decade. The Kawasaki Ninja 650. But over the past few years, this saint clad in green clothes has dropped its holy attire and has taken a sportier approach, leaving behind the image of being a boring and bland motorcycle. Last year, this Ninja also received a more technologically-advanced body armour in the form of two-level traction control. Apart from this, it also received a new 4.3-inch TFT instrument cluster and revised graphics for the bodywork. After spending a week riding the 2023 Ninja 650, clocking almost 900 kilometres, here’s what I think of this Japanese middleweight brawler!

A saint that can do it all? Well. Almost!

The Ninja 650 has been around since more than a decade and it continues to be one of the most formidable packages under 10 Lakh. A decade and still ruling the segment? That certainly describes the sort of package that the Ninja 650 is. In its current form, it looks downright mean, has ample performance, is versatile enough to almost do it all and accessible enough for newer riders as well. If you can look past the sort-of-bland engine (still capable enough!), average tyres and lack of suspension adjustability, I cannot think of any reason why you wouldn’t be happy with the Ninja 650 parked in your garage. Despite boasting of a sportier attire, the Ninja 650 is still a saint nonetheless, who cannot do anything wrong. And I mean it in a good way.

But what if you don’t want to deal with a noble man of god? What if your intentions aren’t pious and wish to shake hands with the devil? What if thrilling performance is what you crave more than versatility? Arch rivalry is oftentimes born within the family. How will the Ninja 650 behave once you invite another member from Team Green? A less-expensive, more thrilling kin of the Ninja 650? Flip the pages to find out! 


Photography - Sundesh Kumar

TopGear Magazine June 2024