They added ABS to the 2013 Kawasaki Ninja 650

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A note from the department of It Didn’t Have ABS Already? For 2013, the Kawasaki Ninja 650 gains optional anti-lock brakes. That’s particularly good news, because this thing is a great (and great-looking) option for less experienced riders moving up to their first big bike or for people looking for a practical, economical all-rounder.

In a rare occurrence of a Japanese OEM actually fitting the tires that belong on the bike, to the bike from new, the Ninja 650 also comes with Dunlop RoadSmart IIs, which are among the grippiest, fastest to warm, most reassuring in the wet road tires we’ve ever used.

Another impressive feat? The Ninja 650 comes in genuinely appealing colors — white, blue, black — and there’s not a tribal flame, ghost skull or any other graphic retardation to be seen anywhere. Yes, you can actually buy a bike from Kawasaki that you won’t be ashamed to be seen on without first spending an entire day with a can of Goo-B-Gone and a hairdryer.

Sadly, ABS does come at a premium. The regular bike is $7,599, the ABS model is $8,099. Trust us, being able to whack on your brakes without worrying about locking them is worth $500, no matter how much experience you have.

  • Devin

    And the Versys gets ABS… when? I love the idea of the right tires from the factory, though. I normally just assume I’m going to need to replace the tires as part of the purchase cost.

  • Jesse

    Sort of surprised Retina Melting Kawasaki Green isn’t on the available color list. The 650 + ABS is practically a no brainer for a commuter scoot.

  • Mihovil Anic

    In Europe the old model too had ABS as an option.

    • Mr.Paynter

      Thailand/ SE Asia too.

    • James Legg

      yup, my 2005 ER6-F has ABS, problem is that now I’ve never ridden a bike without ABS.

    • Peter

      I found the ABS very mechanical though. New ER6F looks nice.

  • jpenney

    Excellent. I’ll be glad when ABS is just standard on all bikes. It’s the one thing missing from my Street Triple. If Triumph sees fit to add it in 2013 I may have to upgrade.

    • HammSammich

      Hmmm…never ridden a bike with ABS. Guess, I just don’t know what I’m missing…

      • Gene

        Nothing much until that moment when stupid shit happens.

        It saved my ass when a woman came across 3 lanes to STOP right in front of me in the rain. I was doing 40 (5 below the limit) and there wasn’t much time except to grab and pray.

        If my ABS SV-650 bites the dust, this’ll be the replacement. I do have to say the SV’s ABS is a knucklebuster. You have NO doubt it’s firing off.

      • jpenney

        Gene’s response is exactly why I like it. My previous BMW had it and the one time I had it activate (on front, the rear activated all the time) was enough for me.

        It’s such a non-invasive thing that I can’t believe the fervor that the anti-ABS crowd has. They’ll then start looking at braking tests where a test rider was eventually able to out brake the ABS system. On the road, that’s not how it works! You don’t get multiple passes on the same bit of pavement. Shit jumps out and you have to react.

  • 2ndderivative

    To quote Zanta: “Yesyesyes”. I wonder what Suzuki’s got cooking for the SV/Gladius replacement.

  • Jeromy

    I have to ask, how do the Dunlop RoadSmart IIs compare to the Michelin Pilot Road 3? I have been told that the road piolot’s are the end all be all for grip and wet traction, is that true? You guys should start reviewing tires…

    • JMcMahon


      I replaced the ancient Pirelli diablos on a Ducati M620 with Pilot Road 3′s. The diablos had low miles but were well past their shelf life. Even with the modest power of the M620 the diablos would get squirmy. The Road 3′s were a huge improvement. They only took a few miles to “feel scrubbed in,” and really improved the bikes composure.

      I cant speak to the rain handling, it has been a dry year in the midwest.

  • stempere

    Those tires may not be as good as they sound.

    It’s not yet confirmed but first buyers (some already did 4000km with them) here in france seem to think they did what they did with the previous years, they share the same name but these may not be “real” dunlop roadsmart II.
    Previous models came with dunlop roadsmart sportmax, but the regular tires were not bad and double compound, the one that were factory installed were single compound and were crap, especially on the wet (the difference was confirmed by kawasaki).

    (my source is, a french forum of versys and Er6 owners with 10k members)

    • Tony T.

      Not all single compound tires are crap in the rain. I’ve been running a set of Pirelli Angels for the last 7 months and while they’re crap in the warmer weather they did wonderfully here in the wettest June we’ve ever had. These are the only rain tires I’ve used though so my confirmation bias is strong and not to be trusted.

      • stempere

        The point. You missed it.

        • Tony T.

          You are correct.

    • Campisi

      This is an important point. Having worked for a tire company in the past, it was made clear to us over and over again that OEM-spec automotive tires are not the same as the “normal” version of that same tire, complete with separate part numbers and production dates. I would imagine motorcycle tire manufacturers have something similar going on.

      • stempere

        I made that point because i thought this was the exception, not the rule.
        How can this be legal? Isn’t this akin to false advertising?

        • Campisi

          It’s kind of an open secret. The car manufacturers ask the tire companies to make a cheaper tire for OE rolling stock, and the tire companies respond. The customers that immediately buy better tires probably would have done so whether or not the stock tires were normal-spec, most customers don’t know the difference, and a few customers end up liking the tires and then being surprised how much better their “exact replacement” tires are twenty thousand miles later.

          This dynamic changes somewhat when you start getting into the higher end of the automotive spectrum; sports tires, grand-touring tires, and high-end off-road tires tend to be the halo products of a tire company’s range, and when a car company elects to use your products you definitely want to put your best foot forward. A tire company will usually allow themselves razor-thin margins if it means being the OE-spec tire for something like a Porsche or a Corvette.

          Again, this is all automotive stuff. I’ve never worked with motorcycle tires before.

  • Michael

    The first generation of 650R was my first bike I learned to ride and had it for 4 years, god I miss that bike. And the redesign and new features are fantastic. Great to know Kawi is still thinking about the middle-of-the-pack riders and beginners. It’s not all about the massive horsepower all the time.

  • aristurtle

    If it’s not available in “bright fuckoff green” it’s not a real Kawisaki.

    Although, thumbs up on the ABS. My next bike will have that for sure; I know the hard way that locking up the front brake in a panic stop is a quick way to test out the efficacy of your gear and/or health insurance coverage.

    • Mark D [EX500]

      Agreed, love me some mutant green. That color scheme looks like its cribbing from Triumph.

      Although I guess that’s a great style to copy, and they figured they’d save the team green for the ZX6…

      This bike would make a great cheap, lightweight sports tourer.