Years sold: 2006-present
MSRP new: $6299 (2006) to $7599 (2013)
Blue Book retail value: $3095 (2006) to $6005 (2012)
Basic specs: A dohc, counterbalanced, 649cc parallel-Twin that, despite its 11,000-rpm redline, is tuned for low-end and midrange torque. It powers a sport-styled standard that has an upright riding position, a protective fairing, triple disc brakes and weighs just 414 pounds dry.
Why it’s desirable: The Ninja 650R (the “R” was dropped in 2012 as part of an upgrade of the engine, chassis and basic styling) is a very affordable, highly capable and exceptionally user-friendly middleweight. It’s so versatile and practical, in fact, that in our 2006 Buyer’s Guide, we proclaimed that “you may never need another bike.” Whether you’re a seasoned rider or a newbie; no matter if you just commute to school or work or take scenic rides on the weekends; and even if you want to occasionally play around on the backroads, the Ninja 650R can deliver the goods. The engine is snappy, the ride is pleasant, the ergonomics are non-tiring and the chassis provides both excellent straight-line stability and agile cornering.
Useful resources: You’ll find lots of worthwhile information about the Ninja 650R in several Kawasaki-themed forums, including www.kawasakiforums.com and www.kawiforums.com. There also is a separate 650R section in www.riderforums.com. At any point in time, quite a few 650Rs are listed for sale on the ’Net. It’s also not hard to find sites that offer a variety of 650R accessories and even some that deal with a bit of hot-rodding and other modifications for these practical, no-nonsense motorcycles.