Carole Nash
Content Writer
Published: 10th October 2019

Kawasaki’s popular entry level sportsbike, the Ninja 650, is to receive a series of updates for 2020, including the introduction of modern TFT instrumentation, LED lights and uprated Dunlop tyres.

Despite styling that echoes the ZX-10R superbike and ZX-6R supersport machine, the Ninja 650 has always had its underpinnings in the ER-6 commuter bike. Along with the unfaired Z650, the model was introduced for 2017 and gave the dowdy old ER a sharp new suit, even though the 649cc parallel twin remained largely the same.

Kawasaki have not announced any significant mechanical or chassis changes to the 2020 Ninja 650. That means the same 67bhp, A2 friendly, motor wrapped up in a steel trellis frame and running basic 41mm right way up forks and with a twin brake disc set-up up front.

While the suspension remains basic, Kawasaki have swapped the budget Dunlop Sportmax D214s of the outgoing model for Dunlop’s new Sportmax Roadsport 2s. The Roadsport 2s were introduced at the start of this year and should go a long way to transforming the Ninja 650’s handling characteristics, especially in wet weather.

Kawasaki say that the pillion seat has been redesigned for more comfort too, and there are LED lights, but the headline change is the 10.9cm colour LCD TFT dashboard, which replaces the rather old fashioned set-up that saw a large analogue tacho and LED gauges. The new set-up includes a gear indicator, shift light and an economy gauge, and there’s Bluetooth connectivity for the first time, to allow connection to what Kawasaki call its ‘Rideology’ app.

screen on motorbike

Rideology allows the rider to connect their phone to the bike, and change the way the dashboard is displayed. The app helps riders log details of their ride, such as route, timings and speed, as well as to check the maintenance schedule for their bike.

Classy metallic black or metallic white colour schemes are available, however we’d expect most to come in the ever popular lime green ‘KRT’ colours, which are inspired by the Kawasaki Racing Team livery of Jonathan Rea’s world superbike winning ZX-10R.

Overall, it doesn’t look like a massive update for the Ninja 650, but that’s not the point. The middleweight Kawasakis have always been hugely competent bikes for riders looking for a great all-rounder and the 2020 version builds on that. In a highly competitive sector that includes models like the Honda CB650R, Suzuki SV650 and Yamaha MT-07, the faired Ninja has always had something of a unique selling point. Kawasaki haven’t yet announced if the related Z650 will receive the same upgrades, or if there will be any Euro5 engine changes, but we’d expect this all to be revealed at the Milan show early next month.