As predicted, Kawasaki’s brought out a new Z650, based on the company’s middleweight parallel twin design.
It’s Kawasaki’s way of coming full circle with its retro lineup. In the heady 1970s, the KZ650 was a cornerstone of Kawasaki’s lineup. Not as fast as the KZ900 and KZ1000 models, but certainly capable of ripping up a back road and generating a lot of giggles along the way.
Flash forward 35 years, and we see the Z650 RS complementing the Z900 RS in much the same way, as a more budget-friendly take on a flagship model. While the Z900 RS is based on the Z900 naked bike, with high-tech electonics and suspension and a powerful four-cylinder engine, the Z650 RS uses the same liquid-cooled twin that Kawasaki’s been issuing in the Versys 650, Z650 and ER-6n for a long time. It’s not a premier motorcycle, but it’s reliable, fast and affordable. Reportedly, the latest version of this engine will make 68 horsepower in the RS version.
Looking at the bike, the obvious change from the standard Z650 model is the retro bodywork, including a classic “ducktail” behind the seat, a common feature on 1970s Kawasakis. The seat is slightly lower, and there’s some slight differences with the suspension and brakes. The frame is the same as the standard Z650 model. The RS gets retro-tastic wheels (but not spoked rims!). LED headlights are standard, and the round gauges mix analog and digital readouts.
At this point, we haven’t seen Canadian or US pricing for the newest entry in the RS series, but would expect it to reflect Kawasaki’s positioning of the Z650 in its budget-friendly section of the lineup. No doubt we’ll see more details very soon.