Back in ’08, a good friend of ours bought a Ninja 650 as his first bike. While we tried like hell to get him to do more than swap out the stock levers for a set of Pazzos, he kept it mostly stock. Then he sold it for a bigger bike…and, of course, to this day he wishes he would have kept it.

We got curious and decided to see if there had been much change in this mid-class Ninja in the ensuing years. Turns out, not much other than ABS and a few tenths of an inch in height (the 2015 is a bit taller at 31.7 inches vs. 31.1 inches for the ’08 model), and another tenth of a gallon larger tank for the newer year.

Much of the improvements have to do with overall engine responsiveness. While the older Ninjas were better handling in the mid-range, they were a bit a sluggish off the line. They also had a seat that would put your butt to sleep within 30 minutes. Your testicles soon followed. Kawasaki eventually corrected that with a seat that’s a lot more plush for both rider and passenger.

This is still an easy bike to ride with ergonomics that won’t put your back in traction later, but will let you drop into corners in comfort. Just don’t plan on beating the similar sized Triumph Daytona. This isn’t a race ready bike, and it doesn’t bill itself as such. But it does a damn good job of putting a smile on your face for a pretty small price considering.

Brand new the ’08 was just south of $6800. The 2015 has bumped up to a buck under $7600 before taxes and the dealer add ons. Worth checking out.