Finally, we’re starting to see a big sign that the motorcycle industry is returning to business as usual. Ahead of the 2021 motorcycle show season, we’re seeing teaser campaigns for new-for-2022 bikes. Now, a Kawasaki advert is promising a “Retrovolution” … but what does that mean?
It likely means some sort of retro motorcycle model in the near future. Somewhat improbably, Kawasaki has pivoted in recent years to nail this segment. Kawi has long focused on performance models, and even these days, it seems to be the manufacturer who best realizes that motorcycles are supposed to be fun (see also: The supercharged H2 lineup).
However, we’ve also seen the W800 series of air-cooled parallel twins revived in recent years, as well as the new Z900RS retro naked. The RS mixes classic 1970s Z-series Kawasaki lines with the modern liquid-cooled Z-series technology. And, it’s been a big success.
With this new teaser, the general consensus is that Kawasaki is planning to bring the retro look to its budget lineup, with a new Z650RS. Indeed, there have been rumours of this bike for at least a couple of years, and if Kawasaki built it, there would be demand.
It’s also possible Kawasaki plans to build some sort of retro around its Z400 series, as that would allow more sales in overseas markets, where 650-class bikes are banned or considered too big or too expensive.
Finally, there’s a chance this could actually signal a move to set up Meguro as a Kawasaki sub-brand. Kawi has hinted it’s interested in this, pumping money into keeping the Meguro brand name around in-house. Maybe it’s setting up Meguro as the name for its retro models? That would indeed be a Retrovolution, but it seems like a silly waste of money.
Vehicle manufacturers do this all the time, though (see also: “Ram” trucks and “Star” motorcycles). Whatever the story, we’ll see it all revealed in weeks, probably at EICMA.