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Old 16th April 2013, 15:22   #1
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Default My 2012 Ninja 650. The all-rounder

For over a year and a half, I had been eyeing the various ~600cc motorcycles on offer here in India, and was saving up cash to get one. My heart wanted the Ducati Monster, but for various reasons, dealer issues, registration trouble, endless delays for delivery etc, the ducati dream disappeared and I went back to hunting. I would be lying if I said the Ninja 650 was my first choice, it wasn't, but it was definitely my second choice. In this couple of years I managed to attend the Indimotard trackday school held at Kari motor speedway at coimbatore. Fun, lots of learning and an incredible confidence booster. Perfect for jumping the vast gap between the single cylinder engines I'm used to and the bigger 650. Best decision of my life was to enrol in the track school. I believe every rider who is serious about his time on the motorcycle must take it to the track often.

In October 2012 when I decided to take the plunge, I hit a roadblock. Bajaj refused to sell me the bike! I visited/called up all the showrooms on the West coast from gujarat to goa and bangalore, nobody had even a display bike, let alone test ride. I was told that bookings would only open up in January of 2013, which I just could not digest. Fortunately, I have many rider friends with 650's, the 2011 and 2012 versions, so I was all set for test rides. And a couple of heated emails/calls to the Bajaj guys later, I was informed of the availability of one 650, on the condition that I had to pick up the bike from the Belgaum dealer and arrange transportation to Mumbai on my own. In the first weekend of November, I planned to take the bus down to Belgaum and ride back on a brand new Nnja 650. A few days before, when I told a friend (also a 2011 650 owner) of my plans, he decided to ride down to Belgaum too. He got his bike serviced on the Friday before the ride, met another 2011 650 owner and shared our plans. Guess what, this guy decided to join the entourage as well! My other friends weren't far behind. They decided to drive down with their better halves in my Ford Figo Titanium Tdci and make a weekend drive of it. Then my brother (gsferrari) and his wife decided to drive down to Belgaum from Bangalore in their Xylo to make it a grand total of 9 people hitting Belgaum to take delivery. Not to forget another rider friend who lives in Belgaum, who graciously kept me updated with pics etc of my bike as it reached the showroom. 10 people, one epic weekend, two superb buddies for company on the ride back. And to think I had originally planned to take a bus to belgaum and ride back alone!

The ride back from Belgaum to Thane (550kms) was my running-in ride. Stops every hour for cooling off, revving through the range to run in the engine, careful monitoring of the coolant/oil/air levels. And in about 7.5 hours we made it back to Thane. The next week was spent in getting the first oil change/service, registration and octroi formalities etc. For most of December I was out of town and could not ride. But I've since made up for it, and my odo now reads around 6000 kms of fun riding. Initial impressions of the bike are
a. Extremely comfortable riding position and seats
b. Full blown sports tourer, with excellent stock tyres and superb levels of build quality.
c. Excellent lower and mid range power delivery making city rides fun. Good enough top end to keep things interesting.
d. Bad stock brake performance
e. Poor headlights
f. Vibrations felt below 5k rpm

Regular weekend rides to popular breakfast destinations around Mumbai are fun. Some longer rides to Mahabaleshwar, Malshej etc are even more fun. Even longer tours to Bangalore, Coimbatore are coming up.
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Old 16th April 2013, 15:26   #2
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Default re: My 2012 Ninja 650. The all-rounder

Lets get some clipons and brakes!
So I've ridden about 6000 kms on my entirely stock 2012 Ninja 650, with no modifications except for frame sliders. With a trackday coming up in a month, I decided it was time to make the bike slightly more track friendly than its current sports touring avatar. This (for me) meant installing clipons and levers for a more committed, cornering friendly riding position, HEL steel braided brake lines and EBC Extreme Pro brake pads for the front. The stock brake lines are not steel braided, and the stock pads, though HH are quite inadequate for even city commuting situations. Some may disagree, but I believe the stock brake setup leaves a lot to be desired. The suspension is also a pretty basic, non-adjustable front, and preload adjustable rear shock absorber. But I can still live with the stock suspension. It may be of the el cheapo variety, but it works, unlike the brakes, which simply do not do their job. The stock handlebar is supremely comfortable for touring, wide, high and easy to reach. However, for some spirited cornering, sports bars or clipons are a much needed upgrade.
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My 2012 Ninja 650. The all-rounder-img_20130331_110143.jpg  

My 2012 Ninja 650. The all-rounder-img_20130331_110202.jpg  

My 2012 Ninja 650. The all-rounder-img_20130331_110209.jpg  

My 2012 Ninja 650. The all-rounder-img_20130331_110252.jpg  

My 2012 Ninja 650. The all-rounder-img_20130331_110323.jpg  

My 2012 Ninja 650. The all-rounder-img_20130331_110334.jpg  

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Old 16th April 2013, 15:27   #3
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Default re: My 2012 Ninja 650. The all-rounder

Congos sriku! Did you upgrade the brakes? if yes, which brand brake lines and which brand pads did you get?
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Old 16th April 2013, 15:35   #4
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Default re: My 2012 Ninja 650. The all-rounder

Loud pipes save lives!
I could have left it at that, as with just the clipon bars and upgraded brakes, the bike's handling and braking have improved significantly, much more than I'd expected, and well worth the money. However, since my first ride on the bike, I've had one major annoyance in that the stock exhaust is just too quiet. There are several reasons why a quiet exhaust is great. Long tours are headache-free, the stock exhaust is built to last, cops and dogs will not chase you, neighbours won't complain and you can keep a relatively low profile. But for someone with a history of owning and riding two stroke singles/twins and four stroke big singles, each with distinctive exhaust notes that titillate the senses, a quiet exhaust just doesn't cut it. For one thing, the exhaust note tells me when I should be shifting up, something I miss to such an extent that for the first few days I had no sense of when to shift on the Ninja without looking at the tacho. Also, who doesn't like a growling exhaust? It adds a sense of drama to the exercise of twisting the throttle. Your own custom soundtrack signalling your entry, so to speak. When my 20 year old bikes and modern 200cc single (duke) sound so much better than my premium-priced, higher capacity motorcycle, I knew I had a problem that has to be fixed! Right then, loud pipes save lives, so I got myself a Leo Vince Underbody Evo II full system exhaust. Why the Leo's? well I like their sound (deep bassy growler without being obscenely loud), the fact that the can is discreet, retro-ish and fits very well on the bike, also the price didn't punch a big hole in my pocket. Plus they sound great with the baffles in, and even better without them. Not a common trait among most aftermarket exhausts, most of which only come alive sans baffles. Some exhaust brands are easily available here, like the IXIL, but the Akrapovics would have been my number one choice. It is difficult getting them into the country without having to shell out a lot of money on duties etc. Also to make things more difficult, the 2012 stock exhaust and headers are a single welded unit (Why Kawasaki Why!), so you cannot use slipon exhausts without butchering the stock header pipes. A full system exhaust is the way to go, and it comes in a larger box, attracting more duties making it difficult to persuade friends and relatives to hand carry it down for you from outside the country. Not to mention the hassle of dealing with customs, who tend to salivate freely when they spot any automotive parts in a flyer's baggage. A dealer brought the Leo's in, and I'll pay him a little more than the MRP for his trouble. There are people who say that the 09-11 OEM headers fit directly to the 2012, and open up all the slipon options, but I'm yet to see a bike with this kind of setup, and did not want to take any chances.
Installing the exhausts is a simple enough job, and the bike literally will thank you for it. Engine braking when rolling off the throttle reduces very significantly, and revving through the band is a lot more fun than it used to be! There will be a drop in fuel economy, but mostly because you'll tend to rev a lot more and stay in lower gears just to enjoy all the noise. I've filled 2 tankfulls, and received about 230kms per tank on average. Not much less than what I used to get with the stock exhaust, but all that will change soon I guess.
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My 2012 Ninja 650. The all-rounder-img_20130414_094522.jpg  

My 2012 Ninja 650. The all-rounder-img_20130414_094535.jpg  

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Old 16th April 2013, 15:35   #5
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Default re: My 2012 Ninja 650. The all-rounder

From Bajaj refusing you to sell their bike to the 10 people taking its delivery and a beautiful ride to follow that sounds great! I have been thinking of doing track training too but just haven't been able to sort out a plan. We should catch up for a ride some day. Great riding brother! Will be following this thread.
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Old 16th April 2013, 15:41   #6
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Default re: My 2012 Ninja 650. The all-rounder

So I have kept a list of the stuff I have added to the Ninja, along with their prices, vendors etc. It may interest you guys too.
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Old 16th April 2013, 15:46   #7
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Default re: My 2012 Ninja 650. The all-rounder

Quote:
Originally Posted by ba$h View Post
From Bajaj refusing you to sell their bike to the 10 people taking its delivery and a beautiful ride to follow that sounds great! I have been thinking of doing track training too but just haven't been able to sort out a plan. We should catch up for a ride some day. Great riding brother! Will be following this thread.
Thanks buddy, always ready for a ride. Just PM a day before, and we can head out.

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Originally Posted by kingofmyworld View Post
Congos sriku! Did you upgrade the brakes? if yes, which brand brake lines and which brand pads did you get?
Thanks dude, HEL braided lines and EBC Extreme PRO brake pads. Got your sliders yet? I would not ride without sliders, the risk of damaging your fairings so early in the ownership is high.
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Old 16th April 2013, 15:50   #8
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Default re: My 2012 Ninja 650. The all-rounder

AFR PCV and other TLA's
Again, I could have left it at that, but hey, in for a penny, in for a pound. So with an exhaust that breathes and sounds better, the stock ECU needs a little help in adjusting the AFR, as the new exhaust will in all probability make the bike run leaner than it should. Which is not a bad thing in the higher rev band, where I believe the stock ECU map is extremely rich, but not so good for the sub 5k rpm's where the stock map is already lean. Which is where devices like the Power Commander, Auto Tune etc come in. There are a whole host of juice boxes, flash tunes etc available to support this, but the community prefers Dynojet Research's PCV, and so shall I. I'm no expert at tuning modern motorcycles, so I will attempt my best to lay out the meat and bones of the matter. The Autotune module uses a wide band O2 sensor in the exhaust to monitor the fuel mixture, based on which it provides readings to help tweak the fuel map, called trims. The fueling for each level of throttle input, in each gear can be adjusted, and used to build/tweak a map that can be uploaded to the PCV which, as it is plugged inline with the FI system, alters the AFR as per the new fuel table. So you can have a go at a pre-existing map for the setup on your bike, or start with one and tweak it either manually or using the Autotune's trims to build custom maps. Without a dyno to accurately measure and calibrate all this, you're basically using the seat of your pants method to arrive at a map that works for your bike, aided by the autotune's sensor and brain of course. In theory, you will arrive at a map that helps getting rid of any flat spots in the rev range, keeps the throttle response crisp, and improves the bike's power delivery across the rev range. You will gain some power with the right aftermarket exhaust, but without the right map, none of that power will arrive when you want it, or worse, it will surge in some places and be flat at others. None of the fueling changes made by the PCV are permanent though. Removing it will revert everything back to the stock settings, which is useful when you want to sell the bike without the aftermarket bits. Installing the PCV and autotune is not for the technically or mechanically challenged among us. There are a bunch of sensors, harnesses, connectors and bits and pieces that if improperly installed, will wreak havoc on any tuning exercise you attempt. There are a lot of documents and tutorials to help out though, and even custom maps made by people who are kind enough to upload them. Plugging the pair valve is also useful to keep the O2 sensor reading accurate, and eliminate any popping/crackling when you roll off the throttle, although some riders like the popping, I cannot stand it. It reeks of an incomplete job, and ruins an otherwise crisp exhaust note. Once all these bits are properly installed you'll need to find a route that is free from traffic, has nice long straights and gentle bends to iteratively tweak your maps and test. You'll be carrying around a Windows laptop (android/iOS apps with bluetooth/wifi connectivity to the PCV module are still unavailable) to periodically accept trims and upload them. Quite a leap from the old carburettor jetting/air filter/sprocketing mods most of us are familiar with on our yesteryear bikes. The results justify the effort, I guess. And if it means many hundreds of kms and a few used up O2 sensors for testing/mapping/retesting, then so be it. After all, your bike deserves it, and so do you.

I have yet to install the PC5 and Autotune, but should receive them in a week or so, and have them installed and in use by the end of the month. Thanks for reading, I'll figure out a way to shrink the larger jpegs and upload them soon. A sound clip of the exhaust should also be up in a few days.

A shoutout to the India Kawasaki Ninja Owners group on facebook for all the group buys, knowledge etc.
Another shoutout to the boys at Seventh Gear customs in Mumbai for helping customize my bike.
Sriku

Last edited by sriku : 16th April 2013 at 16:11.
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Old 16th April 2013, 16:02   #9
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Default re: My 2012 Ninja 650. The all-rounder

Quote:
Originally Posted by sriku View Post
Thanks buddy, always ready for a ride. Just PM a day before, and we can head out.



Thanks dude, HEL braided lines and EBC Extreme PRO brake pads. Got your sliders yet? I would not ride without sliders, the risk of damaging your fairings so early in the ownership is high.
Couldn't get time to talk to him. Will do in a couple of day's time. I was checking the kawi forums and the clipons caught my eye. I was unsure whether to get them or not. Riding position/touring dilemma! I would like to ride your bike with the clipons and the full exhaust system before I take a call on my n650. If you permit that is
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Old 16th April 2013, 16:14   #10
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Default re: My 2012 Ninja 650. The all-rounder

Hey Sriku,

Congrats on the Kwacker. Nice and crisp update on your plan of action for the Ninja. This would definitely help other Ninja Owners / budding owners to decide or even seek your help based on your experiences. Waiting for a lot of pics now

Ride Safe.
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Old 16th April 2013, 16:19   #11
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Default re: My 2012 Ninja 650. The all-rounder

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Originally Posted by kingofmyworld View Post
Couldn't get time to talk to him. Will do in a couple of day's time. I was checking the kawi forums and the clipons caught my eye. I was unsure whether to get them or not. Riding position/touring dilemma! I would like to ride your bike with the clipons and the full exhaust system before I take a call on my n650. If you permit that is
Anytime you want a ride, bring your helmet and take the bike. The riding position is still comfortable for touring, the clipons have only lowered the bars by about 2 inches, nowhere as committed as supersports, but way more usable than stock. The stock bars made the bike a bit unwieldy around bends.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Desmosedici View Post
Hey Sriku,

Congrats on the Kwacker. Nice and crisp update on your plan of action for the Ninja. This would definitely help other Ninja Owners / budding owners to decide or even seek your help based on your experiences. Waiting for a lot of pics now

Ride Safe.
Thanks Desmo !
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Old 16th April 2013, 16:26   #12
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Default re: My 2012 Ninja 650. The all-rounder

Quote:
Originally Posted by sriku View Post
Anytime you want a ride, bring your helmet and take the bike. The riding position is still comfortable for touring, the clipons have only lowered the bars by about 2 inches, nowhere as committed as supersports, but way more usable than stock. The stock bars made the bike a bit unwieldy around bends.


Thanks Desmo !

Thanks for the offer sriku. I'm considering driving down one weekend just to ride your 650 It's always good to try before you go for it when it comes to aftermarket stuff aint it?
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Old 16th April 2013, 19:57   #13
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Default re: My 2012 Ninja 650. The all-rounder

Ninja's line up at Hotel Sankam residency, Belgaum. Ready for the ride home.
The ride back was action packed
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My 2012 Ninja 650. The all-rounder-318939_10152249453630521_639236031_n.jpg

My 2012 Ninja 650. The all-rounder-182594_10152249448035521_1099806042_n.jpg

Have I mentioned how much I love my Ninja?

My 2012 Ninja 650. The all-rounder-img_20130414_094543.jpg
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Old 17th April 2013, 00:39   #14
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Default re: My 2012 Ninja 650. The all-rounder

Thanks for a great ownership review Sriku, I've always felt that the 650 offers stunning looks and the quintessential Ninja charm at a decent price, good to hear you managed to snag the last bike in the western region!

Your review was a unique one because its both a traveloque and an initial ownership report, double the worth of reading it.

Did you get the modifications to the exhaust, ECU remap etc. done at the Pro-biking showroom in Thane? While it's good to see you in riding jacket and helmet, part of the upgrade from rat bikes like the Ninja 250 or the Duke means the rider has to pamper himself to a good set of full riding gear as well, which I'm sure you have acquired for track days. A list of your riding gear would be very helpful.
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Old 17th April 2013, 08:28   #15
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Default re: My 2012 Ninja 650. The all-rounder

Hey Sriku

I see the leo Vince is on too! Congratulations.

Its great to see a guy fully enjoying his bike. Will catch up sometime soon.

Rgds
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