Kawasaki Ninja 650 & 1000 Problems: 7 Known Issues (Explained)

The Ninja 650 and Ninja 1000 are both models from Kawasaki’s popular Ninja lineup.

The Ninja 1000 is a ‘sport tourer that offers sportbike-esque performance yet is comfortable for long-distance rides. The Ninja 650 is a versatile middleweight motorcycle that can handle everyday commuting and the occasional canyon-carving run.

Both bikes are excellent options, but they have some flaws, which we’ll outline in this article.

Here are the most common problems associated with the Ninja 650 and Ninja 100:

Kawasaki 650

The following are common problems owners experience with the Kawasaki 650:

1. Handlebar Buzzes During Acceleration

Owners report feeling pronounced vibrations from their bike’s handlebars.

According to them, the issue occurs mostly at high RPMs (4000 RPMs – 8000 RPMs). While it doesn’t pose much of a threat to safety, one could find riding such a machine an uncomfortable experience.

Per multiple diagnoses, the problem is because of the fairing rattling while the bike is moving. This problem is widespread among Ninja 650 owners.

Kawasaki once issued a recall for the bikes affected at one time, hoping to fix the problem. What they did was to remove the fairing and place foam pads in strategic places to reduce the vibration.

From the continued complaints, it’s obvious this “fix” didn’t solve the problem completely.

While there is a dearth of confirmed fixes for this problem, here are some suggested DIY solutions:

  1. Keep the fairing bracket bolts tight
  2. Get weighted ends for handlebars
  3. Buy foam grips (to reduce numbness caused by the vibration)

2. Repeated Cases of Backfiring and Surging

Engine backfiring is a fairly common issue on many Kawasaki Ninja bikes.

Many owners have reported experiences with the problem.

Backfiring usually occurs when something is wrong with the engine’s air-fuel mixture. Either the bike is running too lean (excess air) or too rich (excess fuel).

Ninja 650 owners report cases of their bike stalling because of an engine backfire. Surging is a different problem. Typically, your bike’s speed should only decrease or increase when you change gears.

However, Ninja 650 owners report that their bike’s speed fluctuates (“surges”) even when they keep the speed steady.

Apart from the jerking motion, you may see the tachometer showing different RPMs.

From reports of mechanics, the backfiring and surging problems are caused by similar factors namely, leaky vacuums, restricted fuel injectors, and faulty air filters.

A malfunctioning intake system could also be responsible for the erratic engine performance.

3. Gear Shift Problems

The transmission is among the most important components of a bike.

Per reports from Ninja 650 owners, the transmission on this motorcycle is prone to several issues. Hence, riders tend to experience problems with the gear-shift process.

Some of these include:

  1. Difficulty in shifting: The gears get stuck in one position and the rider cannot up-shift or downshift i.e. change gears.
  2. Dropping out of gear: The rider changes gears, only for the transmission to pop back into the previous gear. Say, you attempt to switch from 4th to 5th gear and the transmission pops back into 4th gear, instead of 5th gear.

Other times, the tranny literally “drops” out of gear. In such cases, the transmission cannot engage when you switch gears, akin to the bike hitting a ‘false neutral’.

A bike dropping out of gear will lose speed rapidly and puts you at significant risk.

As said earlier, this problem is usually the result of a malfunctioning transmission. Worn clutch plates can also be responsible, especially for the slipping transmission.

Still, we’d advise that you have your motorcycle looked over by a trained technician. That way, you’d be able to get an accurate diagnosis of the issue.

Here is a link to our article that talks on 5 Most-Common Problems With Kawasaki Motorcycles

Kawasaki Ninja 1000:

The following are widespread issues with the Kawasaki Ninja 1000:

1. Multiple Electrical Problems

Electrical problems can affect how a bike runs.

Some Ninja 1000 owners have not had good luck with the electrical systems on their bikes.

From their complaints, it’s obvious that the Ninja 1000 is plagued with electrical issues of its own.

Some of these include:

  1. Bike refuses to start: According to some users, their bikes only start after multiple attempts or don’t run at all. In particular, some owners say the lights on the bike come up, yet the bike doesn’t start.
  2. Bike battery doesn’t hold charge: Per reports, the Ninja 1000’s battery sometimes drains too quickly, causing the bike not to start. In some cases, the bike’s battery drains overnight, after a full charge. At other times, the battery drains after sitting unused for an extended period. Both instances aren’t normal, as a battery should hold power for a long period, not drain off rapidly.

Possible causes include:

  1. Defective battery
  2. Faulty electrical components, e.g., stator, regulator, rectifier, starter relay, etcetera.

2. Gasket Leaks Oil

Oil leaks are every bike owner’s nightmare.

Many Ninja 1000 owners say they experience oil leaks on their bikes. This problem is most common with the 2016 model year bikes and is likely caused by a faulty oil/water pump seal.

When the seal is broken, oil leaks and passes through the weep hole (near the pump) and onto the floor. You may discover that the oil leak is coming from the left side of the bike.

The reason for this is that your bike leans to the left on its side-stand.

As such, the oil from the weep hole runs down and spills on the left side of the motorcycle.

3. Sticky Clutch Issue

If you own a Kawasaki Ninja 1000, especially a 2011-2013 model, you may experience what’s called a “sticky clutch”.

Typically, when you press the clutch lever, the clutch should disengage, allowing you to change gears.

If the clutch delays before it disengage, then you have a sticky clutch problem on your hands. This problem is likely to affect your Ninja 1000 bike if your clutch plates aren’t getting enough lubrication.

Hence, check if the oil is worn or burned.

We advise checking the clutch plates to see if they are getting lubrication at all. This is because many owners traced the issue to dry clutches.

Other causes of this problem include worn/bent clutch plates. The clutch plates may need replacement. This would explain the hard shifts that often come with the sticky clutch issue.

Some mechanics have also suggested that using an aftermarket clutch lever can cause this problem.

If that’s the case, replacing the aftermarket clutch lever with an OEM variant should solve the issue.

4. The Bike Stalls Repeatedly

Per complaints from customers, the Ninja 1000 seems to have a tendency to stall.

However, the details of this problem vary across different individuals. Some report that the bike stalls mostly when it is idling, such as during pre-ride warm-up.

On the other hand, some say the stalling occurs when the engine reaches a certain temperature.

Here are some possible causes for this problem:

  1. Lean air-fuel ratio
  2. Engine idle level set too low
  3. Low fuel pressure
  4. Malfunctioning throttle position sensor (TPS)
  5. High engine temperature

Pros of The Kawasaki 650 & 1000:

Kawasaki Ninja 650:

Here are some pros of the Ninja 650:

1. Suitable for Use in Hot Weather

Riding bikes in summer can be an uncomfortable experience.

The engine’s temperature will rise and the hot air that comes out from it will make your riding less-than-comfortable.

Luckily, Kawasaki designed the Ninja 650 with large side radiator cutouts. This feature helps redirect hot engine air away from the rider.

With this design, you can ride in comfort even in the hottest summer.

2. Beginners Can Ride With Ease

With its 649cc twin-cylinder engine, it’s clear the Ninja 650 offers considerable performance.

However, what separates the motorcycle from its bigger Kawasaki cousins is its street-focused ergonomics and control, which makes it easy to ride for beginners.

You should also be reading our article which talks about 7 Most Common Problems with Kawasaki Ninja 250, 300 & 400

Kawasaki Ninja 1000:

The following are merits of the Ninja 1000

1. Impressive Versatility

The Ninja 1000 is a bike that wears many hats.

Thanks to its sportbike spirit and speed-minded technology, it offers enough performance for canyon-carving runs. Still, it features improved rider ergonomics that make it suitable for long-distance touring.

All these combine to make the Ninja 1000 a versatile bike.

Cons of The Kawasaki 650 & 1000:

Kawasaki Ninja 650:

  1. Handlebar buzzes under acceleration
  2. Multiple gear-shift problems
  3. Engine backfires and surges

Kawasaki Ninja 1000:

  1. Intermittent electrical problems
  2. Bike stalls on occasions
  3. Sticky clutch problems

What Do the Reviews Say?

“Kawasaki has improved Ninja 1000 on several fronts to make this a very accomplished sport-tourer…The neat luggage system and factory accessories such as grip warmers and 12V on the dash make it even more capable of comfortable sporty touring.”

[Source: Motorbikewriter.com]

“If you’re after a fun, light, versatile middleweight sport machine, the Ninja 650 should be on your shortlist…The Ninja 650 kicks it up a notch with a TFT display and other updates that please our visual sense, while still satisfying our performance needs in the class.”

[Source: Ultimatemotorcycling.com]

What Is the Resale Value On the Kawasaki 650 & 1000?

Here are resale figures for the Kawasaki 650 and 1000:

Model Year Mileage Price
Ninja 650R 2018 2,126 $6,195
Ninja 650R 2013 2,347 $4,492
Ninja 650R 2007 38,267 $3,999
Ninja 650R 2016 25,006 $6,495
Ninja 1000 2012 8,029 $6,900
Ninja 1000 2013 37,077 $5,999
Ninja 1000 2019 3,720 $8,995
Ninja 1000 2015 5,886 $9,999
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ⓘ  The information in this article is based on data from National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recall reports, consumer complaints submitted to the NHTSA, reliability ratings from J.D. Power, auto review and rating sites such as Edmunds, specialist forums, etc. We analyzed this data to provide insights into the best and worst years for these vehicle models.