Test ride: Power to surprise – Kawasaki Ninja 650

Motorbikes are not just about polished looks, poise, power and performance… they also have to appeal to the senses.

Some bikes have the power to surprise. They fire the imagination and feel special to ride with a real fun factor.

One such motorbike is Kawasaki’s Ninja 650 – a faired middleweight sports bike which complements the naked Z650.

But what a difference that sharp, chiselled fairing, which really sets off the twin headlights, makes to the look and feel of the bike, really bringing out the Ninja heritage.

It wears the Ninja badge but this 650 is more all-rounder than sports bike.

Climb aboard and, apart from the wide antenna-like mirrors, you would not feel out of place on the race track but this Ninja is very at home on the road.

It holds its own on the open road but find a favourite, twisty road and your smile will grow as the revs rise.

The Ninja 650 is composed and confident through the bends with the agile feel making it easy to flick through corners and good levels of grip.

The front forks have no adjustment but the rear shock has adjustable preload. The ride is on the firm side, although generally comfortable, but the backend feels a little unsettled on poor, rippled surfaces but it’s not unnerving.

The well-proven 649cc, parallel twin engine has only 68PS at 8,000rpm, and 64Nm or torque at 6,700rpm, but that’s enough in a bike weighing just 193kg. It can also be detuned to be A2 licence friendly.

It pulls strongly from low revs, packs good mid-range punch and revs freely with the throaty exhaust note also appealing to the senses.

Stopping power is more than a match for the performance with twin 300mm dual piston petal discs up front giving lots of bite and feel.

The riding position is more upright than I expected, and more comfortable, with the raised bars taking the strain off the back but the downside is that the screen is more for show than wind protection.

The low 790mm seat means short riders will have no trouble getting both feet on the ground but taller riders might find the riding position a bit cramped and contorted on longer trips.

It also benefits from a clear, simple-to-navigate TFT colour instrument cluster which adds to the grown-up feel.

The Ninja 650, priced from £7,449, is a great all-rounder – capable of long trips, blasting along B-roads and tackling the cut and thrust of commuting.

It will appeal to novice riders as a stepping stone to a more powerful bike but this willing workhorse will not leave those wanting to downsize feeling short-changed.

This is a bike that appeals to the senses, and is sensible, and ticks so many boxes for so many riders.

Find out more about the Ninja 650 at orwell.co.uk/kawasaki/new-kawasaki-motorcycle-range/supersport-and-sports/ninja-650