Is The Kawasaki Ninja 650 A Good Starter Bike? (Explained!)

The Kawasaki Ninja is among the most highly rated and regarded members of the eclectic Ninja sportbike family.

It sports a 649cc engine, signature Kawasaki Ninja “edgy” styling, full-color TFT instrument panels, Bluetooth connectivity, and more in its newest form.

This article answers the question: “Is The Kawasaki Ninja 650 A Good Starter Bike?”…

Is The Kawasaki Ninja 650 A Good Starter Bike?

It may look like a racing superbike, but the Kawasaki Ninja often surprises people as a very good starter bike. The engine size, of the Kawasaki Ninja 650, is surprisingly manageable, as is the ride height. The responsive but not over-sensitive steering also works well with the rookie rider.

Its 649cc engine manages 67hp and 48lb-ft of torque, which like a kid’s t-shirt that’s a little bit big at first, riders grow into their powerful Kawasaki Ninja 650.

What Makes A Bike A Good Starter Bike?

Engine Size

The power and torque delivered by the Kawasaki Ninja 650 engine make it a fun ride for beginners, but without making it too much to handle.

It can be challenging in the very beginning, but riders quickly learn and adapt, and the result is a bike they can learn to master in a more comprehensive way.

The smaller engine options offered by the Ninja 250 and Ninja 400 are too limiting.

New riders quickly outgrow the bikes and need something bigger for a challenge.

Furthermore, the Ninja 650 tops out at 10,000rpm, which actually makes it more suitable than the Ninja 600cc model, even though the engine on the latter is smaller.

The 600cc engine tops out at 13,000rpm, which makes it less suitable for beginners to handle.


The seat height on the Ninja 650 is 31 inches, which is pretty accessible for most beginner riders, but riders of less-than-average height might struggle a little with it.

As bikes of this size go, however, it is an accessible ride height that allows comfort and control, two of the most important things for beginner riders.


Another great feature that makes the Ninja 650 so accessible for beginners is its excellent steering capabilities.

This is created both by the tires and the chassis, especially on the latest models.

The Ninja 650 comes with Dunlop Sportmax Roadsport 2 tires as standard, which give great traction and contact with the road, offering great stability and a feeling of security.

On top of that, the light chassis comes with a trellis frame and horizontal back-link rear suspension.

This makes the handling truly agile with keen responsiveness that doesn’t become over-sensitive.

Beginners need steering that will react to turns even when perhaps they come slightly late, but also that won’t create any discomfort or loss of control for the rider.

What Is Too Much Power, For A Beginner?

There is a lot of disagreement on this question.

Some experts say quite simply that anything above 90hp is too much for any beginner to handle safely.

Others argue that the horsepower isn’t as relevant as the bike’s ride height, rider-control ergonomics, mechanical reliability, and the weight of the bike.

For example, for ride height and ergonomics.

It wouldn’t matter if a bike was 250cc or 650cc, if the rider can’t comfortably and securely sit in a position from which they can access the controls, then the bike simply isn’t safe.

What Maintenance Are Crucial To Keep Your Bike In Good Shape?

There are many tasks that riders will have to ensure happen to their motorcycle if they want to keep it in good health.

The first one is to change the oil when necessary. This is usually every 2,000 miles or twice a year.

If the bike uses semi-synthetic oil, then that could be extended to every 5,000-6,000 miles.

The next thing is to replace the air filter that traps dirt and other contaminants and stops them from getting into your engine.

This needs changing about 10,000-15,000 miles.

Another key maintenance item is to maintain proper tire tread and tire pressure.

Check your motorcycle owner’s manual to see the recommended pressure levels from the manufacturer. Stick as close to those as you can.

Next, you have to ensure a good supply of fresh and working coolant in your bike.

It will most likely need changing every 24,000 miles or two years.

Look at the coolant to ensure the color is still as it was when you put it in.

If it looks dark or brownish, then it’s time to flush.

Finally, you need to keep the bike chain clean and well-lubricated.

If you fail to do this, it will shorten the life of your O-rings and risk damaging the sprockets.

All of this could lead to the chain snapping.

Is Ninja 650 Too Big For A Beginner?

While some people look at the Ninja 650 and automatically think that a 650cc bike would be far too large for a beginner rider, they will surprise themselves to learn that this bike is definitely not too big for a beginner.

First of all, the Kawasaki Ninja 650 may have a 649cc engine, but the horsepower rating is 67hp, with 48ln-ft of torque.

This is well within the range of the typical bikes less than 90hp that are considered safe even for beginners to handle safely.

Second, the bike’s engine may still seem so large at 649cc, but in fact the RPM’s red line at 10,000, which is lower than some other models, including some 600cc bikes.

The Ninja 650 is therefore powerful but easier to control.

Next, the bike looks large and muscular in style, but the seat height is just 31 inches, which is a good height for most riders of average height or above to sit comfortably with easy and safe access to the controls.

Finally, the better way to look at the Ninja 650 is as a bike that beginner riders can “grow into.”

They start out finding the 650 a little challenging, but that’s ok and it passes quickly.

The Ninja 250 and 400 may seem more reasonable, but even a novice rider will quickly outgrow that bike and the challenge of riding will be lost.

If the object is for a beginner to learn more, develop skills and real abilities, then the Ninja 650 offers better balance.

In other words, it’s not “too big,” but rather it’s “challenging enough.”

650 Ninja Vs. 400 Ninja (The Real Test)

Many beginners who have had even some limited experience with bikes might want to skip over the Kawasaki Ninja 250, leaving them to decide between the Ninja 400 and the Ninja 650.

The Ninja 400 is a solid and very affordable bike.

It has a compact 399cc twin-cylinder engine and enjoys the same lightweight trellis frame that the Ninja 650 uses.

In fact, it shares other technologies with the 650 too, such as agile handling, confident acceleration, 31-inch ride height, and mostly digital instrumentation on the newest models.

The Ninja 650 offers more power, with 67hp and 48lb-ft of torque.

The Ninja 400 only manages 47hp and 28lb-ft respectively.

It also gets a better rear suspension option with an adjustable preload.

The 400 is certainly lighter in weight at just 173kg (381lbs) compared to 196kg (432lbs) on the 650.

The 650 has the advantage of coming with mobile app connectivity. The 400 doesn’t (yet) enjoy this feature.

Other exclusive features for the 650 include automatic headlights and a digital tachometer.

When considering these two, the biggest difference comes in scope for learning.

The 400 is a safe and easy bike for beginners, but it is very likely that they will quickly outgrow it and find it “too easy.”

The 650 offers continuous challenge, and therefore growth as a rider.

It is challenging without being overwhelming to a new rider and then becomes a great bike to use as an intermediate and even more expert rider.

The bike seems to grow along with you as you unlock its capabilities.

How Much Experience Do You Need To Drive 650 Ninja?

The basic knowledge of how to operate a motorcycle is the most fundamental knowledge you need to drive the Kawasaki Ninja 650.

Beyond that, some test driving of the bike to gain some familiarity with its controls, acceleration, and handling at lower speeds would also be a good start.

The fact is that you don’t need a lot of experience to ride this excellent motorcycle.

This is surprising news for some riders who see a 650cc bike as too big of a challenge for a beginner.

This isn’t the case.

The Ninja 650 is among the most accessible and enjoyable rides that Kawasaki has to offer.