News 2012 Kawasaki Ninja 650 R | Preview

2012 Kawasaki Ninja 650 R | Preview

2012 Kawasaki Motorcycle

Multiple personalities are sometimes frowned upon in humanity, but the total opposite is true when discussing a motorcycle, especially sportbikes.

And since its debut back in 2006, the Ninja 650 R has catered to the rider that craves a well-balanced street machine that is equally at home carving a canyon or commuting.

Although well rewarded with merit throughout the motorcycle industry, the mid-weight 650 R was totally redesigned for 2012.

Kawasaki took the already popular design, and revamped it with the latest technology, the 2012 650 R featuring a "totally new perimeter-style frame, revised suspension, more angular bodywork, new instrumentation, improved engine performance, a more comfortable saddle, lower seat height and much more."

Kawasaki says: "The new-and-massively-improved version promises even more of the all-around capability that suits beginners and veterans alike."

Kawasaki began with the liquid-cooled, 649cc vertical twin engine; the motor features smooth throttle response due to a digital fuel injection system with twin, 38mm throttle bodies.

Much technology is designed into the Ninja 650 R’s motor, including double-overhead camshafts that act on eight lightweight valves, and lightweight pistons installed in linerless cylinders.

For additional midrange power, Kawasaki redesigned the 2012 Ninja 650 R’s exhaust system, which includes a header-section connector pipe and a three-chamber muffler. This adds more torque for around-town situations, and helps the Ninja 650 R achieve a wallet-friendly 50 mpg.

Gone is the trellis frame. For 2012, the Ninja 650 R features a twin-pipe perimeter frame that offers increased rigidity.

Kawasaki says: "The new frame is slim, light, compact and aesthetically pleasing, while a swingarm with forged axle holders lets the rear wheel arc through its suspension travel in style. The new backbone-type subframe also offers a 10-percent increase in maximum carrying capacity."

The suspension was also revamped for 2012 for additional rider comfort; it now consists of a 41mm fork and single lay-down shock design out back. The brakes were also enhanced for 2012, stopping power arriving via dual 300mm petal discs with two piston calipers up front, and a single 220mm petal disc with single piston caliper out back.

And with refinements made in the engine, chassis, suspension and brakes, Kawasaki also updated the 2012 Kawasaki Ninja 650 R for more comfortable ergos. The 650 R features a 20mm-wider handlebar, and a two-piece seat assembly with thicker and wider foam.

The 650 R’s fairings were also restyled for a more aggressive look, the instrument panel has been upgraded and it features a new windscreen that’s adjustable in three positions.

A bike of many personalities just got better for 2012, with enhanced styling and performance aspects. From back roads to commuting downtown to longer two-up travels, the 2012 Ninja 650 R will respond correctly, efficiently showing characteristics of more than one motorcycle for under $7500.

2012 Kawasaki Ninja 650 R Specs:

  • Engine: Four-stroke, liquid-cooled, DOHC, four-valve, parallel twin
  • Displacement: 649cc
  • Bore x stroke: 83.0 x 60.0mm
  • Compression ratio: 10.8:1
  • Cooling: Liquid
  • Fuel injection: Digital fuel injection with two 38mm Keihin throttle bodies
  • Ignition: TCBI with electronic advance
  • Transmission: Six-speed
  • Final drive: O-ring chain
  • Frame: Twin-pipe perimeter design, high-tensile steel
  • Rake / trail: 25 degrees / 4.3 in.
  • Wheelbase: 55.5 in.
  • Front suspension / wheel travel: 41mm hydraulic telescopic fork / 4.9 in.
  • Rear suspension / wheel travel: Single offset laydown shock with adjustable spring preload / 5.1 in.
  • Front tire: 120/70×17
  • Rear tire: 160/60×17
  • Front brake: Dual 300mm petal discs with two-piston calipers
  • Rear brake: Single 220mm petal disc with single piston caliper
  • Overall length: 83.1 in.
  • Overall width: 30.3 in.
  • Overall height: 46.5 in.
  • Seat height: 31.7 in.
  • Curb weight: 460.8 lbs.
  • Fuel capacity: 4.2 gal.
  • Warranty: 12 months

2012 Kawasaki Ninja 650 R Color Options/MSRP:

  • Metallic Spark Black / $7,499
  • Candy Lime Green / $7,499
  • Passion Red / $7,499


Ron Lieback
Ron Lieback
One of the few moto journalists based on the East Coast, Ron Lieback joined the motorcycle industry as a freelancer in 2007, and is currently Online Editor at Ultimate Motorcycling. He is also the author of "365 to Vision: Modern Writer's Guide (How to Produce More Quality Writing in Less Time).

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