Yamaha R1 2007 or Kawasaki Ninja 650R 2010


Sep 4, 2007
Maybe this seems a strange comparison, but I have had a new toy in the garage for a few days, courtesy of Brian who needed the Ninja 650R, for a relative to try for a few days to see if suited. When he suggested I take his hardly run in R1, how could I refuse.
First problem was the flat battery, second problem was to find out how to take off the riders seat to access the battery. The pillion seat is easily removable using the ignition key, but a lot of fishing about did not find any hidden levers to release the main seat.

A little exploration revealed that lifting the back corners of the seat cushion allows access to a couple of Allen screws, so off with the seat, battery charged a while but still needed assistance of jump leads to get her going.
Off on a 3 hour ride with Brian on his Fireblade. Country roads including the lovely reservoir road from the No 12 to Ubonrat Dam.
I found the bike easy to ride, more weight than I am used to on the wrists but not a problem if you are moving at speeds above 100kph, which is all to easy if you are in more than 2nd gear. The bike has a bright white light on the dashboard which apparently indicates when you are in the engines maximum power range, I found it difficult to get into this range if in more than 3rd gear, the acceleration is phenomenal, the brakes fantastic and a great feeling riding the bike. I had no discomfort in my back which suprised me and the lower body seemed quite a natural position.
Had a great ride, the almost deserted Khon Kaen ring road allowed some excursions at higher speed, but I found that anything over 240 needed virtually lying on the tank to avoid tremendous wind buffeting, that was not comfortable for me. In fact my FZ1 is more comfortable at very high speeds..

Leaving Brian and heading down the dual carriageway to Khon Kaen I enjoyed the power and easy movement of the bike in and out of the traffic, I did not need to change down more than one or two gears for swift overtaking, although the white light was not on there was plenty of power for me.
The situation changed a bit once I got into heavy traffic, the bike is still easy to turn in and out of lines of cars, but the weight really starts to get heavy on the wrists and the high level exhausts start to roast the thighs.
By the time I wound my way through 2 km of prechristmas traffic I was sweating heavily, and this is so called winter.
I must say I enjoyed the way people turn round when they hear the bike coming in town and the admiring looks you get, not able to avoid the odd throttle blip to amuse them, or alert the slower scooters ahead.

Going out for a few journeys in Khon Kaen since it is the same story.
One journey with my wife on the back, the first and last time she will get on one. Very high seating position, again exhausts heating the lower part of the body and nowhere to hold onto apart from the rider or the small strap on the seat holding on like a bucking bronco. Also very hot for the rider in town, no storage space on the bike.

So will I be holding on to it and leaving the Ninja for Brian to keep.
No, If I was rich enough to use the bike only when the SSR boys from Bangkok came up to ride around Lomsak and Loei, day rides from Khon Kaen when I felt the need to experience some real acceleration and speed, or if as an ageing adolescent I felt a regular need to impress the young lads in Khon Kaen, then maybe.

But in reality the Ninja is a much more suitable bike for using all around Khon Kaen, already 5000km in a couple of months. Has good storage potential, fine for the wife on the back, economical, and adequate acceleration and braking for all local conditions, even sounds OK with the Akrapovic. Not too hot in town and better wind protection than the R1.

I got on much better with the R1 than I thought I would, its more comfortable than I expected when moving fast, but as bad as I thought it might be in town. Its like a growling beast that just begs you to open that throttle up and enjoy the feelings and sound.
Its a very pretty beast, but unfortunately not room in my stable with its other occupants.
For anyone interested with more room in their stable, Brian is considering selling as even he has rather too many bikes at the moment to use regularly.