Posted by in About Richard

2012 Kawasaki Ninja 650

Motorcyclist magazine has named the 2012 Ninja 650 “best bang for the buck” in their 100th Anniversary Collector’s Edition that I received in the mail today. That’s highly gratifying, since I just traded my 2009 V-Star 650 cruiser for one last Thursday. I had my parameters and desires, did my research, made my selection based on all of that, cut a deal, and rode that candy green beauty 100 miles yesterday, to Palmer Lake and back to Roxborough by way of Sedalia.

I had owned the blacked-out V-Star for just over one year, and it being my first bike, enjoyed it immensely. Just having a motorcycle in the garage made me happy. However, there were some things along the way that I wished were different about it. I wanted to sit a few inches higher. The low seat height is confidence inspiring for a novice, being able to place both feet firmly on the ground at stops, but my old hip flexors didn’t care. They cramped. Sometimes a lot. I sat hunched over with my legs spread out in front of me, and that body position began to wear on me. It had tube tires and spoke wheels, with no after-market option available. I wanted tubeless tires and cast wheels. It had carburetors; I wanted fuel-injection. It was air-cooled; I wanted, if possible, liquid-cooled. I wanted disc brakes in front and back for a more responsive feel and surer stopping power.

Most of all, I wanted a shallower rake, a different, more bicycle-like geometry, rather that the long, low, stretched-out cruiser design. The wheelbase of the Ninja is almost twelve inches shorter than the V-Star. The rake is 10 degrees less. That makes it much easier to turn (to “flick” as they say in the sportbike mags). It weighs about 70 pounds less, with almost twice the horsepower, which makes it much more nimble and manuverable than a cruiser-type bike. The only other thing I wanted was a more unified design, rather than a frame with lots of different pieces bolted on to it and cables and lines hanging out all over. I also wanted a bike with a narrower waist, in contrast to splaying my legs around a big, wide, gas tank. The V-Star’s controls are foward, putting my knees up level with my hips, while the Ninja’s controls are under my feet, and I sit with my back straight, like I sit in my office chair at home.

The Ninja fulfills all those desires, wants, and needs. I have a more comfortable body position, and it is much easier to handle. Some folks say that sportbikes are more dangerous than cruisers, but I believe it is all a matter of whose wrist is twisting the particular throttle. After a year of riding, I think I’ve found the bike that fits me. I believe that I got a lot of motorcycle for the money, and to make things even better, Motorcyclist Magazine agrees with me.

My brother says that wearing a helmet is a good thing because no one can tell how old you are. Makes sense. At least to us older guys.

2009 Yamaha V-Star 650 Custom

Goodbye V-Star 650 Custom. I appreciate what you taught me. We had some laughs. We had some moments. But there’s a new girl in town (second only to Samantha, of course. And to Sophia, so the bike is third, but number one as far as motorcycles go).

 

650changes2

Yoshimura tail kit, Zero Gravity windscreen, Graphix rim tape and Kawi decal