As the latest superbike and hyper naked technology trickle down to the smaller classes, today’s middleweight sportbikes and naked bikes continue to gain advanced features. Up to this point, Kawasaki’s Ninja 650 and Z650 have gone without such rider aids, but both models will gain one industry standard in 2023: traction control.
The two twins will offer riders three different KTRC (Kawasaki TRaction Control) settings to suit changing road and weather conditions. In mode 1, the system preserves purchase by measuring wheel spin. Without an IMU, the function isn’t lean-sensitive, but it should still enhance safety while optimizing corner-exit drive.
Kawasaki reserves mode 2 for slightly slicker conditions involving “poorly surfaced roads, wet manhole covers, and cobblestones.” The setting offers earlier intervention to deal with lower-traction situations, but users can also turn off the system entirely. The Bluetooth-enabled TFT dash enables riders to dial in their preferred KTRC settings with ease.
Aside from the new rider aid, the Ninja 650 and Z650 return with the same winning formula. Both bikes boast a liquid-cooled, 649cc parallel twin producing 67 horsepower (at 6,700 rpm) and 47.2 lb-ft of torque (at 8,000 rpm). That tried-and-true twin resides in a high-tensile steel trellis frame suspended by a non-adjustable 41mm telescopic fork and a preload-adjustable, horizontal back-link rear shock.
Thanks to its 55.5-inch wheelbase, that chassis helps the Z650 and Ninja 650 carve corners with absolute ease, while the dual-disc front braking system sheds speed with power and accuracy. A 31.1-inch seat height keeps both bikes accessible to shorter riders as well.
For 2023, Kawasaki Europe will offer the Ninja 650 in Metallic Matte Graphenesteel Gray/Ebony and Lime Green/Ebony colorways. The Z650 favors the darker side with Metallic Spark Black/Metallic Flat Spark Black, Metallic Phantom Silver/Metallic Carbon Gray, and Metallic Matte Graphenesteel Gray/Ebony color combinations.
Unfortunately for neo-retro fans, it doesn’t look like the 2023 Z650RS will receive the same KTRC treatment, but we’re keeping our fingers crossed for next year.