The new Kawasaki Z650 is light, nimble, good looking and adequately powerful. It's a bit basic, yes, but should still be good fun for newer, younger riders
Kawasaki recently unveiled the new-for-2017 Z650 at the EICMA, in Milan. The naked streetbike is powered by a Euro 4-compliant 649cc DOHC 8-valve liquid-cooled parallel-twin that produces 68bhp and 66Nm of torque, which is probably just about adequate for a machine that weighs 187 kilos. "Like the 1976 Kawasaki Z650, whose torquey engine and compact chassis offered a lighter, nimbler alternative to the larger, more powerful Z1, the all-new 2017 Z650 is ideal for discerning customers who prefer agile, sporty riding," says a press note from the Japanese company.
According to Kawasaki, their new parallel-twin has been optimised for excellent low- to mid-rpm throttle response and revs up quickly for "a gratifying rush of acceleration in the lower rpm ranges." And at 23kpl, the fuel economy is not too bad either. The Z650 also gets a new steel-tube trellis frame (which itself weighs just 15kg!) that is designed to provide nimble handling and very good manoeuvrability. In terms of ergonomics, the Z650's wide, flat handlebars, relatively low seat height, and relaxed yet sporty riding position puts the rider in full control of the machine, while providing all-day riding comfort.
Interesting bits on the new Kawasaki Z650 include a multi-function LCD instrument panel, LED taillamp, rubber-mounted handlebars for reduced vibration, 5-way adjustable brake and clutch levers, assist & slipper clutch and a steep caster angle of 24 degrees (which contributes to the sharp handling). A 41mm telescopic fork up front and horizontal back-link rear suspension provide a handy combination of ride comfort and sporty handling. The baby Z rolls on 17-inch alloy wheels and braking duties are handled by twin 300mm brake discs with 2-piston calipers at the front and a 220mm disc at the back. Bosch 9.1M ABS is standard.
A range of official accessories are available for the Z650, including a single-seat cover, 14-litre semi-soft panniers, top case, tank bag, radiator screen, frame sliders and tank pad etc. This is certainly an interesting bike and we believe it has the potential to do very well indeed. Should be in Kawasaki showrooms early next year.