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Discussion Starter #1
Will be test riding CBR500 and Kawi 650 early next month. Just scheduled endorsement class in the end of this month.

Reasons for considering Kawi 650 is the higher hp, rebates, Costco program, ABS is available in black - which happens to be my favorite.

Reasons for loving CBR500R: the price, the build quality and the fuel efficiency.

Price difference: Before taxes&fees AND after rebates & Costco gift card, I estimate it'll be about $900.

Mostly will be riding for commute (20-miles roundtrip) and occasional weekend fun rides.

Hoping for less cost in maintenance.

Any thoughts, considerations, advice, etc. are welcome.

PS - for the ABS option, i think $500 for additional safety option is a no-brainer
 

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Definitely agree that ABS is a no brainer for the minimal price difference.

You should also check the difference in insurance when considering which bike will cost you more. For us, it doesn't drop for 2 years when you're a new rider, so the difference could be significant.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
shwafia,
Thanks for the reply. I just emailed my insurance agent to get the Kawi quote. I have read somewhere they cost almost the same for these 2 bikes. I was quoted $370 / year for the Honda. Will update you when I get the quote for the Kawi.
 

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I went through the same dilemma before I bought my 500ABS. price difference was <1000.
I felt 500 was better for my experience level. It felt light and it felt smaller in physical size( I am only 5ft8, 150lbs). I was able to move , push 500 around easier than the 650. Ride wise, 650 is obviously more powerful. (make no mistake, 500 has plenty power if you want it to go fast)
500 is more nimble.
I personally liked the styling of the 650 better. But, the fact that 500 is more light and more forgiving to mistakes than 650 made me buy 500.
I will buy a ninja 650 some time in future(unless honda releases a 650)
simple test for me was just throw your leg over both bikes. Without holding the handle(please be ready to grab it if you need to) and try to swing, wiggle the bike both ways. I was able to rock the 500 easier than 650. also, try to push it backwards while sitting on it. all these felt much easier for me while I was on 500 than 650. so I got that. I know once I am more familiar with the bike, may be 650 will feel better.
Good luck with your decision.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
rider - thanks for the input. I am 5ft11 and 170lbs. Both of these bikes feel good when I sat on them and manually handle them. As you mentioned the Honda 500 is a little more "manageable" when I manually tried to push and lean it.
Do you have an impression that the Honda has a better build quality? IMO, it is a slight difference, but it's there.
I hear you --- If Honda releases a 600 or 650 non-supersport (non RR), that would be a perfect one for me! :)
 

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Discussion Starter #7
BTW, does anyone have experiences on the customer service, warranty support and part replacements on both Kawi and Honda? Are they both relatively reasonable?
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Fyi - i got a quote back from progressive insurance. The insurance cost difference between cbr500r and kawi 650 is about $20 per year for me... Roughly $370 vs $390. Kawi is higher
 

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i say honda cbr500r.
kawi 650 really looks low quality once you are near the bike and, it is a heavier - 17 kg - bike with a rubber mounted engine. and i do not like its high stance as well.
chasis is not as responsive as cbr500r and it is not that agile, forget the easy turn ins you will get from cbr500r.
Besides, ninja drinks petrol.
Good things about ninja 650 is its better touring abilities and better wind protection therefore easier and comfy highway rides and of course its higher power.
and overall, cbr500r is a better and more forgiving bike for beginners if you are one.
 

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I am currently having this dilemma about the 650 vs 500R.

I get my R (open) licence in two months and was thinking about getting the Ninja 650 Unrestricted as it would have a lot more power than the 500 and would be something I would not get sick of (power wise). I have taken the 500 for a test ride and absolutely loved it but I think I would like to ride the 650 and compare.

The FZ6R is another choice but you can't buy an unrestricted version in Australia which is absolutely ridiculous.
 

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I have ridden both bikes for roughly two months each - totaled the 650 (struck a branch) then I bought the CBR500R.
Price difference in Australia is $2000.00

My comparason:
1. Maneuverability: 500R is a lot more flick-able. I was thoroughly surprised when I first rode it. Given both bikes have almost identical weight, 500R is definitely one of the easiest bike to lean into a corner. I think the rake set up on 500R definitely made a great contribution here.

2. Power: I assume you are referring to the non-LAMS version of kawi 650, which has noticeable torque/power advantage over 500R. The throttle response is also a lot quicker - and so is the engine break. Depends on your riding style - I personally much prefer the throttle response of the 650. You will experience a lot of arm-stretching acceleration on the Kawi - and it is VERY addictive.

3. Vibration: buying a two cylinder bike you will need to consider this issue if it is going to be your main commuter. This is where Honda absolutely trumped the 650. there is a sweet spot around 4500 RPM where you can barely feel ANY vibration on the 500. Where as the Kawasaki...you better put loctite on all your limb joints before sitting on this thing. I know two other friends who also have the 650 ('11 and '13 model) and we all agree the vibration issue gets worse after the initial service.

4. Suspension: if the 500's front suspension can get any softer, it will start lactating. Having said that, if you are not going to lean too hard on this bike and the road condition is top notch where you live, then the comfort it brings you might actually be a plus for you. From my experience though, most riders will out-grow the capability (and safety) of this Honda's suspension. If you like to gas hard, break hard and lean hard, either re-spring / oil the 500 or pick the 650.

5. Brakes: twin disc on the 650 Vs single large disc on 500. Given both bikes have similar weight, 650 stops shorter than 500 from my experience but not by that much. I have had a couple of emergency break on the 650 and i was quite impressed by it (with ABS).

6. Build quality: Both appear to be fairly well built. But if you remove both their seats and take a look - you will realize the difference between the two brands. Right away.

7. Ongoing cost: you will need to service twice on a Kawasaki for each Honda service. Plus the parts for 500 are made in Thailand so maintenance wise Honda definitely wins out (it's a Honda). Fuel economy wise, the 500 consumes ~15% less fuel, but both have decent MPG.

Hope this helps
 

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Anyone considering the Kawa 650 needs to look at the frame welds especially the top
front engine mounts and if going second hand check the right hand one for cracks just
were the weld meets the frame, haveing said that I ran one for 3 years and 20,000 miles
without doing anything but oil and filter changes
 

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Discussion Starter #14
THANKS for all the inputs!!

Sandmantis - Thanks for the suggestion: Spec-wise FZ6R is a good bike to consider, however I like the double headlights and have decided on ABS .. (I don't think FZ6R comes with ABS) ... so FZ6R is out for me..

Heinrich - "if the 500's front suspension can get any softer, it will start lactating." --- ROFL LMFAO ... this made my day. Thank you for the thorough comparison between the 2 bikes! I have been leaning more towards 500R and your review makes me lean a little more. My purpose for the bike is commute and occasional weekend rides. I love fast acceleration and high top speed, but I don't plan to break speed limit much.. lol. Where I live (Washington State), the police force is quite strict on speeding (unlike California, Europe, most Asian countries, etc.). From what I have learned 500R is more than capable of breaking these speed limits within seconds .. I am good with that .. LOL ..

THANKS again everyone. Totally appreciate your inputs!
 

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THANKS for all the inputs!!
Sandmantis - Thanks for the suggestion: Spec-wise FZ6R is a good bike to consider, however I like the double headlights and have decided on ABS .. (I don't think FZ6R comes with ABS) ... so FZ6R is out for me..
Yeah, I don't like the single headlight on the FZ6 either.
( And it's more expensive. )
 

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I was very close to buying the 650, but it is 2K more then the 500 in Oz.

I test rode both. I found the gearing and general pace of the 500 more suited to my learner noob sensibilities. If I was an experienced rider, and i had the cash. 650 easy.

Don't listen to a fella on the Internet. Go test ride them.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
I was very close to buying the 650, but it is 2K more then the 500 in Oz.
I test rode both. I found the gearing and general pace of the 500 more suited to my learner noob sensibilities. If I was an experienced rider, and i had the cash. 650 easy.
Don't listen to a fella on the Internet. Go test ride them.
Rowan - Thanks! I plan to test ride both. I am gathering all facts, reviews, opinions beforehand, so I can make the purchase right after test ride.

If the price difference is 2K, I would go with the 500R. For US buyers, the price difference is relatively small (less than $1K) to go from a 47-hp to a 72-hp engine. That's 53% hp increase for 15% price increase!!

Obviously, as many riders have pointed out, there many other considerations besides mere horsepower, such as: build quality, fuel consumption, handling, ongoing cost --- which from what I gathered, the 500R kicks ass in all counts :)

All facts considered, still leaning toward 500R ... will update my sentiment after test riding both.
 

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I have ridden both bikes for roughly two months each - totaled the 650 (struck a branch) then I bought the CBR500R.
Price difference in Australia is $2000.00

My comparason:

4. Suspension: if the 500's front suspension can get any softer, it will start lactating.

6. Build quality: Both appear to be fairly well built. But if you remove both their seats and take a look - you will realize the difference between the two brands. Right away.
Thanks for that great comparison!

re 4. Suspension. That's easily fixed for about $250 with new springs at the front, or even just setting the sag right as described on the Suspension threads for $40 DIY for pre-load adjusters or new spacers :). I'll probably get new springs and adjusters fitted at Christmas.

re 6. Can you explain? I assumed the Honda was the better one, but I'd like you to explain please :)

Dave
 

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Didn't read the whole thread so this might have already been said.
What is the main purpose of the bike?
The Honda is smooth and accelerates evenly through the lower gears, whereas the ninja 650 I rode (albeit for a few 100 meters) has the power a lot further up the power band, making it annoying to commute on imho.
That said, the ninja will suit the smaller rider and the cbr is excellent for taller riders.
In the end it all comes down to personal preference.

p.s: I see hp mentioned, please look at torque instead!
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Thanks for input, Bodessia. I am 180cm, 75kg and didn't feel the 650 to be cramped. I will check that again when I test ride
 
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