For the 50th anniversary of the Z family, Kawasaki offers us two models with the style of yesteryear with the modern reliability that we know them, the Z650RS and the Z900RS. As soon as you see the new Z650RS, there is no doubt about the homage to the classic retro. Today, I have the opportunity to try the latter thanks to the collaboration of Kawasaki.
For my part, it will have been a Suzuki GS 1000 1980, and then a Honda CB750 1982 that I would have had the pleasure of riding decades ago!
The line of the Z650RS is beautiful and in keeping with the original spirit of Kawasaki. For a perfect retro look, two round needle dials to tell us Speed & RPM. In the center, we can see, a discreet display for the mileage, consumption and the gear engaged to name only these.
The round mirrors, the elongated seat as well as the front indicators complete the silhouette so appreciated by classic motorcycle enthusiasts. The narrow 12-liter water drop tank in high gloss colors also adds to the nod to the past.
That said, from here, we let go of the retro and we enter modernity and its second personality!
Kawasaki offers the Z650RS with a 649 CC twin cylinder and a 6-speed transmission unlike an inline 4-cylinder with a 5-speed transmission at the time. This engine is found on the Z650 and Ninja 650 models as well. Good power and torque for the category @ 67HP / 47.5 lb-ft.
When you take the time to look at it a little closer, you notice the choice of rims and tires. In the seventies, they used spoke wheels with very sober road tires. For this special edition, Kawasaki has decided to fit the Z650RS with alloy wheels and sportier tires… Far more ready to ride twisties than 50 years ago!
The Z650RS is quite small and low. The seat is at a height of 31.5 inches with a wheelbase of about fifty-five inches, making this a very accessible bike for all experience levels.
A classic upright and natural riding position. The seat is also a bit old-fashioned, in its size and shape. It is not uncomfortable but not designed for big outings either… it is probably only a matter of habit and nothing that cannot be corrected if necessary either.
When I first rode it, I was in town and instinctively rode very smoothly, like I was really riding an old-timer motorcycle. That’s when I said to myself;
“It’s time to see what it is capable of…”
When you decide to twist the throttle a little, you wake up the modern version of this Kawasaki. The bike behaves differently, the engine starts to roar, and, at that moment, I instantly understand that there is much more than the “look” to discover. From 5000 rpm and up, we completely forget the retro and ride in sport mode…
“I would say that it is a motorcycle that hides its abilities well and that will surprise many. A timeless, high-performance motorcycle.”
I enjoyed riding the Z650RS both around town and on the highway. It takes curves well, offers interesting geometry and precise and predictable behavior. Its small size and its light weight make it a pleasant and easy to control motorcycle.
A remarkable success for Kawasaki who knew how to balance heritage and technology. For our review, we had the candy emerald, green color with golden rims inspired by the 1976 Z650. Note that it is also available in all black as well as the special 50th candy diamond brown paint.
Thanks to Canadian Kawasaki Motors for allowing us this test drive.
And you? Are you more modern or retro? Leave us your comments!
Knuckle / LeCarnetMoto.com