Kawasaki is a company with two personalities in my opinion. One is responsible for Kawasaki’s bread-and-butter bikes, and the other has free rein to do anything, practical or not. Bikes like Kawasaki’s supercharged H2 make almost no sense, and yet it sits on the showroom floor alongside a bike like the Z650RS, Kawasaki’s latest retro-inspired bike.
In 2017, Kawasaki made major changes to its model range. The model ranges were the 400 cc, 650 cc and 900 cc class bikes. Each bike is carefully designed so that multiple variants can be developed on the same platform. Although Kawasaki was still conservative with their designs, the new bikes shed a lot of weight.
A new frame, lighter swingarm and lighter engine components resulted in the 650 cc class bikes being made around 19 kg lighter. The Z650 and 650 Ninja have benefited from these weight savings and offer good performance in a compact bike. Now Kawasaki has further extended their Z900RS retro concept to the 650 platform.
The Z650RS has an extremely minimalistic design. Just like with the Z900RS, Kawasaki has put a lot of effort into making the design a strong nod to bikes from the 70s and 80s. The round front light is reminiscent of bikes from yesteryear, although it houses the latest LED technology. The RS has two analog dials that indicate speed and revs, although the numbers on them look more modern. There is a small liquid crystal unit between the two instruments, and the information contained in it only covers the essentials: gear position, fuel level, time, engine temperature and trip information. Also, forget about trying to connect your mobile phone.
The Z650RS is not a big, intimidating bike. The saddle is only 80 cm high, and is soft and extremely comfortable. Just like in the 70s, there is a band across the hall. Safe for the passenger to hold on to. The suspension is also set up for comfort, rather than performance. The RS is clearly aimed at people who want to use the bike as a commuter bike.
The test bike was finished in Candy Emerald Green. I wasn’t impressed with the color at first, but the more time I spent with the bike, the better it started to look. Together with the gold rims, the RS is not too inconspicuous at all.
The engine is Kawasaki’s proven 649 cc twin-cylinder engine. The unit produces 67 hp, but sounds a bit hollow when idling. The clutch is feather-light, and the RS surprised me with its performance. I certainly didn’t expect the bike to pull as well as it did. This bike is more than fast enough to get you deep into trouble. The sensation of speed is only emphasized even more by the fact that the bike has no wind protection.
If you are a beginner rider, the RS will be the ideal place to start. This is not a track bike, you buy this bike because of how it looks, and for those long rides to nowhere on a Sunday morning.
|Engine capacity||649 cc‑parallel‑twin cylinder|
|Weight (Wet)||187 kg|
|Power delivery||50,2 kW|
|Ten capacity||12 ℓ|
|Saddle height||800 mm|
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