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Old 19th November 2014, 09:35   #1
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Default Green is the new Black: My 2014 Kawasaki Ninja 650

Being an Indian, Two-Wheelers are part and parcel of our lives. Having lived in the US for an Year now with just cars was too much. Back home, early in my career i would say to myself, in an aspirational way: i need to get a car, Kinetic Blaze is not enough. And then i got an i10 (and later a ZMA). Now 8 years down the line i started saying, i don't have a bike!, Genesis Coupe is not enough (and neither is Mazda3 Hatch, review coming soon).

I was in the dilemma, i wanted one always but did not have someone i knew to say "yeah, its not a big deal, go for it and Freeways are not too dangerous" and the likes. A big push came when a friend bought a RE Classic 500 from the Fremont dealer. That was the first time i went to a bike showroom in the US. I was like a kid in a toystore. I want them all. But heck what i need to go through the licensing process again and/or the safety course.

The first step was to convince my Wife. She took little convincing as she was still in the happy mood due to her new set of wheels. (I guess i timed her car purchase right!) . Her only condition: No riding the freeways. I said: "Yes, mam"

Next step, get licensed. I took the CMSP Basic Rider Course in Newark. I am glad i did it, coz all the tips i got there are proving useful every day. Especially, how to lean and look through a curve. Trust me this matters on a canyon curve at 50mph.

I am usually sure on what i want and this time too i was pretty sure on getting the Ninja 650 ABS. I had a brief thing for FZ-07 but decided against it purely based on looks. IMO, Ninja looks better. Dealer here did not offer any demo rides (esp when i did not even have license) but after having mounted the bike in showroom multiple times i realized Ninja 650 feels like a fatter ZMA. I felt very comfortable with the riding position. Way better than, say CBR250R which was my ride at the safety course. I would get sore wrists with the 250 every single maneuver we would practice. Ninja feels much more ergonomic for the upper body.

Safety course was done smoothly but getting the license required 3 trips to 3 DMVs before i could take the test. The first time i did not have Passport/I-94 (even though i had a CA DL it was needed) and the next time DMV systems were down all across.

Since i wanted to take delivery on Dhanteras i booked my bike and arranged for my Credit Union to send the cheque to Dealer even before i went to the DMV for the 3rd time.

I was almost buying the ABS version but the dealer did not have it in stock and i also thought if i have ABS, i will take liberties. I was considering buying the Orange one but chose what my wife liked, plus green is Kawasaki color. So i went for a green Ninja 650, 2014 model (2015's were 2-3 weeks away) for 8000/- on the road. I used Costco. I think it may have saved me few hundred bucks at max. Since the dealer is just 3 miles from my apt and 2 from office i did not shop around at other dealers. I paid about 200 to get frame sliders. That's the only accessory i have on the bike for now.

Green is the new Black: My 2014 Kawasaki Ninja 650-img_1129.jpg
Candy Burst Orange

Green is the new Black: My 2014 Kawasaki Ninja 650-img_1187.jpg
Kawasaki Green

On the delivery day i was quite nervous since i had never even started the bike before. 500 RE was the max cc i ever played with. I was afraid the bike would go out of control. But none of it happened, it was extremely tame, very much like ZMA. I had initially decided to go straight to home but few hundred meters from the dealer i decided to take it for a spin. I ended up riding it for an hour.
Green is the new Black: My 2014 Kawasaki Ninja 650-img_1195.jpg
Green is the new Black: My 2014 Kawasaki Ninja 650-img_1197.jpg
Green is the new Black: My 2014 Kawasaki Ninja 650-img_1196.jpg

I am using the bike as a commuter 3-4 times a week now and occasionally take it on the Niles Canyon road and Paseo Padre (this has some nice curves that are not too tight). Bike's power band seems to be in 3k-4k range while the post warmup RPM seems to be 1200. Bike is still in the break-in period but i am not babying it. I open the throttle once a while and have done few seconds in the 65-70mph range already.

Green is the new Black: My 2014 Kawasaki Ninja 650-img_1219.jpg
At Office

Commuting with Ninja 650

Due to it's upright seating position, the 650 makes for an excellent commuter. No sore wrists and arched backs. If there are not many traffic stops one can easily do 25-30 miles one way on this ride. I wouldn't say it is the best for Indian conditions where one foot is almost always down. I say this because the foot pegs are at the same vertical plane where the hips are. I find it uncomfortable in using the rear brake to come to stop and then keep my foot down. I have 13 traffic signals from my home to office and that is why the leg position is my biggest complain.

The parallel twin engine offers an almost smooth power delivery. The cruising RPM is around 3500 at 45 mph in 6th gear. I can ease off the throttle at 50 mph down to 30mph and then with a gentle twist come back to 50 in few seconds. There is slight lugging but manageable. I have also managed to pull the bike from stop in 2nd and 3rd gears too. Bike has ample amount of torque but it does not have crazy acceleration. That said, if someone wants to do a wheelie this seems to be a good platform. I tried turning off the throttle in 2nd and giving a quick twist. It felt like i was hit by a brick in my guts. This is not the general nature of the bike but if someone wants to get crazy the bike will oblige. Gas mileage seems to be around 50 mpg. Filling the tank for under 10 dollars keeps me happy for a week. Since my commute is just 4 miles one way i did not notice engine heat around my legs (even on longer rides), probably in a warmer weather it would be more noticeable.

Due to its weight, Freeway commuting seems to be doable. Its quite windy here and i feel that the bike handles moderate winds well at speeds of about 60 mph. Its my head that starts catching the wind and causes me to slow down. I guess i need more experience in driving at high speeds.

The sore point in commuting are the brakes. I have to brake early than i would like to (compared to my car at same speed) and have to press down on the front fork to make it more effective. I doubt if it will improve after the first service. Because, there is no ABS, i don't take chances with the brakes, i am more cautious in using them and avoid being in a situation which will warrant sudden breaking (read zig-zag driving and crazy 0-40s). Strange it may seem: No-Abs + Bad Brakes == Safe Riding.


A plus point is that finding neutral is very easy. Kawasaki calls it the positive neutral finder. What it does is that above 5mph (or some set speed) transition happens only between 1 and 2. Under that the bike first shifts into N first. I really like this feature because in ZMA i had a tough time finding N. However, compared to ZMA (i know its like apple to oranges but that's the only bike i have owned) gear shifts among 1,2 and 3 are rough. I can really hear the shift through my helmet, is it me or the bike ?

Cornering

Fremont roads have some tight curves thrown in here and there. I was told that the tyres will get the grip after 100 miles of riding so i would approach these curves at below the posted speed. Gradually, as my experience with the 650 grew (and the tyres became stickier) i found myself at ease tackling these curves. I feel now that the bike is very stable and cornering at medium speeds is actually fun. I have taken this bike to Niles Canyon Road few times and with every ride i am able to handle a particular curve more confidently. Since i don't have any track experience i cant speak for high speed cornering. I can say one thing for sure, the tyres seem to be doing a good job. I have handled curves on wet roads at 50 mph and i never had the feeling that i am losing grip.

Green is the new Black: My 2014 Kawasaki Ninja 650-img_1248.jpg
Green is the new Black: My 2014 Kawasaki Ninja 650-img_1247.jpg
Green is the new Black: My 2014 Kawasaki Ninja 650-img_1252.jpg
Green is the new Black: My 2014 Kawasaki Ninja 650-img_1250.jpg


Summary
To sum it up here are few points on why someone should by a Ninja 650
  1. Value for Money: At 8000 USD on the road and 50mpg fuel consumption. This bike is both cheap to get and cheap to run compared to other bikes of its class.
  2. Looks: Even though i am personally a fan of all things naked, yet one cannot say much against the looks of this ride (at this price point i.e.). Full-fairing does make the bike look more like a SBK and the wind shield is not just for looks. It does offer decent wind protection. Mono-shock and a short stubby silencer add to its character. IMO, Kawasaki finish looks better than both Suzuki and Yamaha and at par with Honda (among the Japs). Overall the bike looks more expensive than it is.
  3. Easy to ride: Yes, i believe this can be someone's first ride. 650 is appears more forgiving than other bikes of the same class. And there is plenty of room to grow too. An upright seating position does help in making the ride a tad more comfortable.
  4. Resale: Even though 650 is a very common bike (in US), i have noticed that it loses its value less than other middle weight bikes and selling this, should one chose to, should not be a problem.
I hope my modest attempt at penning down what i think about my latest toy proves useful to some members. Hope you guys enjoy this. If you are in Bay Area and a biker, lets catchup!


Last edited by shubhamAT : 20th November 2014 at 12:41.
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Old 20th November 2014, 15:12   #2
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Default Re: Green is the new Black: My 2014 Kawasaki Ninja 650

Thread moved from the Assembly Line (The "Assembly Line" Forum section) to the Motorbikes Section. Thanks for sharing!
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Old 20th November 2014, 15:34   #3
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Default Re: Green is the new Black: My 2014 Kawasaki Ninja 650

Congratulations Shubham and wishing you many happy and safe rides.

I hope you've invested in a full set of riding gears. There is a lot of choice and variety both online and in traditional brick-and-mortar shops. Do visit one and you'll see it's actually tough to decide on what brand to buy

I'm curious if you considered any other bikes since you have a plethora of options in the US. Sorry to ask, but this is a genuine query - didn't consider an inline four? They sound sweet and are hard to ignore at least while in the checklist.

Ride safe.
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Old 20th November 2014, 15:37   #4
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Default Re: Green is the new Black: My 2014 Kawasaki Ninja 650

Congrats Shubham!

Buy decent boots and pants buddy. You would need them in the cold there. Obviously the protection is prime.

Loved the red N650. Also, am surprised you did not go for ABS especially when you had the option (which we do not back home).
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Old 20th November 2014, 23:04   #5
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Default Re: Green is the new Black: My 2014 Kawasaki Ninja 650

Thanks Aditya,

For riding gear i have Alpinestars M1 Gloves and GP-R Jacket and an IV2 Dual Visor Helmet (Shown in pic). I don't have dedicated riding boots or pants yet but i have few pairs of shoes/boots that offer ankle protection. The only reason i have not bought the bottom half protection is that my commute is less than 10 mins. I will definitely get them once i start taking the bike on longer trips beyond Fremont city limits.

Yes Aditya, i was quite keen on getting the FZ-07 (and also Z1000) but i was not sure if i could handle a wild machine. FZ-07, i figured has a higher power-to-weight ratio and i was unsure of my capabilities (honestly, my skills are not there yet). Z1000 looks intimidating in real and again it seemed too heavy. I do like the sound of I4 but i decided to go for a tamer bike as the first one. Another reason, although it may sound weird, was that i also considered resale ease/value of the bike. I am on a work visa that may or may not get extended. I want to minimize my loses. Also, Ninja is classified as Standard/Sport so the insurance runs bit cheaper than something classified as Sport/Supersport.

ebonho: Yes i was very keen on getting the ABS myself, but i guess i got a bit impatient (excited) in getting whatever i can immediately. (God, give me patience, Now!) However, the plus side is that knowing that i don't have ABS forces me to drive safe. The weather has become cooler these days, but due to short distances it does not bother me. My only woe is that my spects start fogging up.
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Old 20th November 2014, 23:22   #6
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Default Re: Green is the new Black: My 2014 Kawasaki Ninja 650

Congrats Shubham! It's interesting that you chose a bike with less power and weaker brakes than some other contenders and the rationale for doing so ! I always thought getting a fast bike is better because you can ride a fast bike slow, but making a slow(er) bike fast(er) is harder. Nuff said, the 650 is a great all rounder and its popularity and resale value are proof enough!

For fogging, does your helmet have a pin-lock feature? If so, try it, it's not 100% effective but does reduce fogging enough.

Keep the rubber side down !
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Old 20th November 2014, 23:59   #7
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Default Re: Green is the new Black: My 2014 Kawasaki Ninja 650

Thanks Ricci. Yes, my rationale is not very scientific but i did not want to bite more than i could chew. I did not know that the brakes are inadequate until i started riding it!. Money is another thing. I am already paying 350 USD p.m for insurance of 3 vehicles, did not want to get a faster bike and pay more on that front. One, can always upgrade! If its not sacrilege, i can say Ninja 650 is the Splendor of Sports Bikes.

What is a pin lock ? As of now, the only thing that works is to keep the visor slightly open. My helmet has two vents at the top and one near the chin. I keep them both open but that does not help.

Last edited by shubhamAT : 21st November 2014 at 00:01.
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Old 21st November 2014, 00:25   #8
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Default Re: Green is the new Black: My 2014 Kawasaki Ninja 650

Shubham - a pin lock system is another internal visor that fits on the main visor with a small air gap to put a temperature buffer zone between inside air and outside colder air.

http://www.webbikeworld.com/anti-fog-visor/

You need the visor to be compatible though - not all helmets/visors have this , it's a pair of pins of proprietary dimensions, to which the inner visor fits.
So if your helmet visor doesn't come with these, you have to buy a new helmet model (or visor for the same helmet, if the option of pin-lock is available).

Last edited by Ricci : 21st November 2014 at 00:46.
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Old 21st November 2014, 00:43   #9
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Default Re: Green is the new Black: My 2014 Kawasaki Ninja 650

Thanks Ricci. I don't think there is room for this because my helmet has a retractable sun visor under the main one.
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Old 21st November 2014, 07:39   #10
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Default Re: Green is the new Black: My 2014 Kawasaki Ninja 650

@shubhamAT

Congrats on the new bike.

I have seen the 650 used as a pretty good 1 up tour bike in the US. Lots of nice luggage accessories available, I believe.

Dunno if it will have the grunt for 2-up.

Have fun commuting and getting used to the bike.

Ride Safe.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ricci View Post
You need the visor to be compatible though - not all helmets/visors have this , it's a pair of pins of proprietary dimensions, to which the inner visor fits.
So if your helmet visor doesn't come with these, you have to buy a new helmet model (or visor for the same helmet, if the option of pin-lock is available).
There are pin-less insert options available.

http://www.fogcity.nl/html/hyper_optiks.html

Have been using these last couple of years now. Works good, and I have changed it between helmets with no issues.

It's photo-chromatic. How cool is that?

Cheers

Ride Safe.

Last edited by gthang : 21st November 2014 at 07:44. Reason: Edit
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Old 21st November 2014, 08:23   #11
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Default Re: Green is the new Black: My 2014 Kawasaki Ninja 650

Thanks gthang. I already have an anti-fogging visor from IV2 but the problem is not the helmet visor but my eyeglasses. I used few antifog vipes but they dont seem to work on glasses with Anti-glare coating.
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Old 21st November 2014, 09:29   #12
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Default Re: Green is the new Black: My 2014 Kawasaki Ninja 650

I don't wear prescription glasses, but the few times that the sunglasses I always wear got fogged up, cracking open the visor for a bit always solved it.

It's a venting issue, you should try adjusting vents to see if it makes a difference.

But, it never gets that cold here and I avoid riding in the wet, so can't comment much.

Cheers

Ride Safe
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Old 24th November 2014, 09:12   #13
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Default Re: Green is the new Black: My 2014 Kawasaki Ninja 650

Went for my first Freeway ride today. I was gradually practicing driving at speeds of 50-60 mph on city roads for past few days, finally i had courage to take the plunge. Here is a succinct note on how the bike felt on freeway.

Freeway Riding

1. Even though it is a middleweight bike, Ninja 650 has enough juice to cruise at 75 mph without a sweat. Tacho was close to the 6000 Mark at 75 mph. I did a soft roll-on from 50 to 75 in 6th gear and the engine felt very relaxed all through.

2. Mirrors are a sore point. I can only see 1-3 car length behind me (in the adjacent lanes) if i adjust them for blind spots (so that a car that is coming from behind is at my shoulder level as soon as it disappears from the mirror). The mirror arm is quite small and does not reach out enough.

3. Fuel economy improved to 54.0 MPG. This means more than 200 Miles range with a full tank (at least).

4. Since i did not have to change gears or brake i felt more comfortable today and it seems that i could ride easily for an hour with out fatigue.

I hope this bit helps riders who are deciding to get a 650.
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Old 24th November 2014, 09:30   #14
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Default Re: Green is the new Black: My 2014 Kawasaki Ninja 650

Congratulations Subham from an ex-650 owner. The Kwacker 650 is a do-it-all bike and I was pretty impressed with it even after 15000 miles of riding. Wish you many miles of happiness.
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Old 24th November 2014, 10:06   #15
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Default Re: Green is the new Black: My 2014 Kawasaki Ninja 650

Thanks BlackPearl. What do you ride now and why did you sell yours ? Any tips on maintaining the 650 ?
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