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Digital Subscriptions > Fast Bikes > Issue 325 April 2017 > KAWASAKI NINJA 650


Say hello to the ER-6’s replacement: the entry-level happy shopper that thinks it’s a sportsbike…
The trip to Tesco was a lively one on the Ninja…

I’ve always had a love/hate relationship with Kawasaki’s ER-6 –loveforitsno frills, undiluted kicks on the road, and hate for getting a battering against its racing monopoly. The do-it-all happy-shopper middleweight has been a stalwart of the class for longer than Jimmy Savile got away with it, so the Big K has gone full Ninja for 2017 with a scrupulous replacement.

And, by Jove, does it look dapper. There’s a certain amount of substance needed to carry the Ninja crest with authority, something that Kawasaki’s puny 300 failed to provide. Aside from the sharp KRT graphics, some shrewd cosmetic tweaks (ZX-10R lookalike front and rear ends) and a smattering of clever design (to hide the sparrow-limbed components) ensure the Ninja 650 conveys near-authentic big-bike presence, until you’re sat on it, but we’ll get to that later on.

When a manufacturer claims more power, lighter weight and further gizmos to a new model, and sticks two fingers up to Euro4 complications in the process, you know you’re onto a winner. Kawasaki nearly managed to pull off this incredible feat, save for losing 3bhp at the top, but the Ninja 650 is a perfect example of why peak numbers mean nothing and compensates with supplementary midrange instead for 2017.

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Fast Bikes is home to the best sportsbike tests on the planet and is packed with new bike launches, technical insight, hardcore action, masterclasses, racing, reviews and loads more.