Already an appealingly practical, basic motorcycle, the 2009 Kawasaki Ninja 650R adapts a ZX-6R-style fairing for better looks and chassis, suspension and engine refinements to make it a better all-rounder. The key to the little Ninja’s appeal is its 650cc parallel-twin engine — essentially one half of a ZX-12R’s — with 72bhp and 48.5lb/ft; it’s both punchy and characterful. For 2009 its fuel-injection system has been revised for more low-down torque and greater smoothness, which is really what it needed most as the previous generation’s snatchy throttle made it intimidating to novices; the market to which it’s targeted.
The engine also gets most of its cooling moved inside the cases (rather
than through external hoses) and a new catalyzer capable of removing
more harmful emissions. All this brings it in line with Euro-III
To reduce vibrations, the chassis’ rigidity balance has been revised
and new rubber mounts attach the frame to the rear of the engine. The
handlebars are now rubber-mounted too, while the foot pegs get rubber
treads. The seat has also been made slimmer and lower to make the bike less intimidating to new riders.
Kawasaki also claim other changes have been made to the suspension and swingarm to make the 650R lighter handling, but at this point don’t offer specifics. It’s priced at $6,799 in the US.
The company isn't quoting a revised weight, but we don't see any reason why it should climb above the previous model's novice-friendly 178kg / 392lb dry weight.