Kawasaki’s Ninjas have always been adrenaline machines. The outstanding 649cc parallel twin in the Ninja 650 has gained a lot of respect in dirt-track circles, demonstrating how well it responds to smart tuning. Now the 2023 Ninja 650 adds competitive pricing to the line’s sharp, sporty styling and strong performance potential.
The Ninja 650 remains basically unchanged in its general layout for 2023, still using a steel-tubing cradle frame with the engine acting as a semi-stressed element, with added upper triangulation for further rigidity. Wheelbase spans a sporty 55.5 inches, the front-end geometry has 100mm (3.9 inches) of trail, and the seat height is a comfortable 31 inches.
The engine uses highly oversquare bore and stroke measurements (83mm by 60mm), a medium 10.8:1 compression ratio, and a digitally managed fuel-injection system with twin 36mm throttle bodies to produce 68 peak horsepower at 8,000 rpm and 47.2 lb.-ft. of torque at 6,750 rpm. A six-speed transmission with a slipper clutch completes the compact powertrain.
The major technological novelties this year are in the bike’s electronics package. Riders now get an advanced, selectable two-mode traction control. Brakes are twin 300mm petal discs at the front with a single 220mm petal disc at the rear; the fronts feature two-piston calipers and the rear a single-piston caliper. The electronics suite is accessed through a new TFT instrumentation display with Bluetooth connectivity to the rider’s personal smartphone.
Also new for 2023 is a full-LED lighting package, along with a fairing featuring a more protective windscreen and sharper overall styling. For those who want a naked version, Kawasaki’s 650 is also available in the non-Ninja Z650. Conversely, those who want even more bling should check out the Kawasaki Racing Team KRT edition, which includes ABS and eye-catching graphics.