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Kawasaki Announces Retro-Styled Z650RS for European Market

The official Kawasaki YouTube channel published several videos (two are below) regarding the new Z650RS model, which you can read about on the Kawasaki UK website.

Powering the Z650RS is the 649cc parallel twin found in the Z650. Although we won’t know until early October if the Z650RS will be available in the U.S. market, here is a press release from Kawasaki UK regarding the new model:

Kawasaki will start a Retrovolution in 2022 with the introduction of the new Z650RS. Augmenting its already hugely popular retro sport line, the Z650RS will open the mid-capacity class to a wide range of riders. Recognised as being at the forefront of the rapidly expanding retro sport scene, Kawasaki has the unique advantage of close to fifty years of Z heritage and this has been brought to bear on the design of the new 2022 machine.

Targeted at younger riders and those in the early stages of their riding career, the Z650RS is predicted to also appeal to those who fondly recall the launch of the iconic “son of Z1” Z650-B1 in 1977. The delicate balance of old and new, retro and current has been expertly achieved by the Kawasaki design team with clever Z references abounding.

At the heart of the new machine is an updated version of Kawasaki’s venerable 649 cm3 water-cooled, parallel twin engine used in both the current Z650 and Ninja 650 models. With a justifiable reputation for durability and performance, the assist and slipper clutch equipped engine unit has also formed the basis of machines raced to success at the gruelling Isle of Man TT races. Tuned in the case of the Z650RS for low and mid rev response, plus characteristic invigorating high rev performance, the engine is rated at 68 PS (50.2 kW) and will also be available from Kawasaki dealers with a 35kw power down kit fitted creating an A2 compliant machine.

In terms of the chassis, the frame is a tubular trellis type construction providing both lightness and agile response to aid reassuring handling capabilities. Its narrow aspect also allows riders to easily reach the ground at a standstill and manoeuvre the bike on the move with equal ease. The seat height for European models will be 820mm with a low seat accessory option at 800mm.

Focusing on suspension, the front duties are undertaken by ø41mm conventional forks with Kawasaki’s highly rated horizontal link rear suspension acting on a shock that is adjustable for pre-load. Braking is care of dual twin piston front calipers acting on retro-style 300mm round disc rotors instead of Kawasaki’s customary petal style rotors while at the rear a single piston brake acts on a 200mm rotor all assisted by Bosch advanced ABS.

Specification is one thing but the styling of the Z650RS is whole new ball game. Evoking myriad memories of the Z650-B1, the paint and pinstripes are a faithful reproduction of the green version of the earlier machine while the iconic “duck tail” cowling behind the seat and faithfully crafted side panels also play homage to the 1977 machine. Even the seat and its stitching pattern reveal a familiar fastidious attention to detail attention by Kawasaki stylists.

A round, LED headlamp lights the way while the dual analogue style “artillery shell” shaped meters include a digital centre panel for rider information. The adoption of gold multi-spoke type wheels is truly the “icing on the cake” while further embellishment is possible via a range of Kawasaki Genuine Accessories. Without doubt the new Z650RS will ensure that 2022 is the year of “Retrovolution”.

2022 Z650RS – Three Colours & Three Distinct Styles
* Metallic Spark Black – £7,549
* Candy Emerald Green – £7,699
* Metallic Moondust Gray / Ebony – £7,699

AVAILABLE FROM NOVEMBER 2021

85 Comments

  1. redbirds says:

    Wet weight is a plus at under 420 lbs. My wife had a KZ 650 in 1979 and this bike imitates the beauty of that classic well. Price is reasonable at around $9K I think. If I was looking for a new ride this would be one on my list.

  2. joe b says:

    I am not in the market to buy a new bike, but i like this. the wheels look like they have wire spokes, a good looking wheel for something retro. Overall it has a lot going for it. Some things, like the Z shape headers, and big cat under the whole bike, the flat sided engine with the cam chain looking pizza pan like on one side, would be easy to live with. The whole idea of a mid size twin, much like the old 650 Triumph Bonneville, is an likable combination. Not too big to be giant of the bike and real heavy, but still have the oomph to move along when you want it. The styling with the individual instruments, small seat, tail cover, and fuel tank shape looking like what was a “normal” fuel tank for so long, high handlebars of the old original normal motorcycles, what we call Naked bikes today. I would like to see other manufacturers pick up on this, and give us more of this type of bike.

  3. pPrasseur says:

    Nice little bike, makes plenty of sense these days!

    Don’t know about you but in my area of the world speed limits are coming down everywhere, and new speed radars are appearing all the time.

  4. Spoone says:

    I like it.
    Price will be a consideration, if it comes to the US.
    Hell, bring a cafe’ version and I’d happily line up for one.

  5. michael white says:

    for those going on about the Radian: I had one and loved the hell out of it. The point of that engine was not the hp; it was an air-cooled two-valve design that made pretty good torque for a four-banger. Nice flowing design, I found it attractive, dependable, versatile, and comfortable. This 650 seems pretty nice. I don’t really want a tribute bike though, which is what some of the styling touches suggest. I like a clean simple design that makes sense for the time: some of these details, like the gauge housings and stupid grey plastic side panels are more faux than a cheap blonde wig.

    • Motoman says:

      I did not mean to demean the Radian when I originally commented on the HP someone mentioned. Definitely a great bike at the time and I would have no problem riding a clean example of one now. Probably have a hard time finding a nice example though.

    • Gary in NJ says:

      I love the YX600 when it came out and wanted one. But around the same time the EX500 came out and while it had less horsepower, it had liquid cooling (very advanced for the time) and the upper fairing. If my memory is correct, it was also less expensive.

  6. M. Johnson says:

    The new Moto Guzzi 850 is almost perfection on two wheels

  7. BOB says:

    Credit to Kawasaki for building a nice 650 that looks like a traditional motorcycle, but with modern suspension, tires, engine and electrics. This should be a winner. However, at $9k this will be at the same price point as Honda’s lovely CB650R, which is a much better contemporary interpretation of a classic mid-sized roadster. Not to mention that the Honda is a 4 cylinder with those gorgeous head pipes. To me, there is no comparison, the Honda is aesthetically and mechanically superior.

    • fred says:

      If I’m reading the websites correctly, the Z650 ABS is $7749, the Trident is $8195, and the CB650R ABS is $9199. IMHO, the biggest competition is the Trident. If Big K prices the Z650RS @ $9K, it will struggle. If they keep it @ Trident pricing, or at worst no more than $8399, they should dominate the segment. For me, at even money, it would be hard to choose between the Trident and the RS.

      At $9k, lots of people would pick the Honda.

      • bob says:

        I just looked up the price of the 2022 SV650, which is $7,299 (non-ABS). I think the SV is miles better looking. Gorgeous frame, beautiful engine, great proportions. It looks like a motorcycle should without being “retro”. Not to mention that a v-twin feels better than a droning twin. The Trident is nice, but is it $1000 nicer than an SV? A little more horsepower but not as pretty. It seems that the SV is the value statement.

        • Stuki Moi says:

          The new SV has a surprisingly tight rider triangle. The seat is slanted forward and thin, so you end up sitting more forward and down than you’d expect. It’s a bit of a bummer, since that engine really is the “best MC engine ever” if such a thing could exist. And the rest of the bike is perfectly balanced as well. But it does seem as if Suzuki deliberately targeted shorter riders with this edition.

          The regular Z650 is tight as well. But if this is anything like the 900, the RS version is more spacious and comfortable for those slightly taller.

        • Grover says:

          Good call on the SV650. If you’ve never experienced the nature of that little V-twin, you’re missing out on one of motorcycling greatest engines. I’ve ridden the Kawasaki 650 and no way it compares to the Suzuki SV650 in smoothness or tractability.
          Now, I’m guessing that most people prefer the looks of the retro Kawi and will pay quite a premium for it over the SV650. That’s fine, just keep in mind that you are paying an extra $2,000 for an inferior machine.

          • Reginald Van Blunt says:

            Your last sentence is dead nuts on. The SV650 is the benchmark for this class. Owned a V Strom 650, was a perfect engine.

          • fred says:

            The 2006 SV650 was my re-entry motorcycle. Terrific bike. Some days I regret swapping it for a 2003 SV1000, but that also was a terrific bike. I’ve owned a total of four 90-degree V-twins, and loved them all.

      • Dave says:

        I think lots of people also pick Yamaha’s MT07/XSR700. Has the feel of a v-twin but simplicity of a P2. Light, best in class power, good enough at everything.

        I think all of these P2’s having success will bring a reckoning for Suzuki and Honda, both of whom are competing in this space with more complicated & expensive engines but not necessarily being rewarded for it. I believe the Honda is in a class above these others but the asking prices may be a little too dear to really make a dent in this class.

        • todd says:

          Unfortunately recently discontinued, the Duke 690 was the king of the class for weight, power, performance, handling and simplicity. The Yamaha’s motor is nice but one ride aboard the 690 was enough to convince me that the MT-07 didn’t have much of a chance and KTM got my money. I think where the Yamaha engine does well is in the Tenere’ 7. Though the 690 enduro / 701 rips it apart, I do admit to the T-7 being a bit more civilized for street duty while apparently still acceptable off road (Yamaha didn’t let me try out the dirt on my test ride!). I really wanted to like the MT-07 and was even willing to look past its unusual styling but the 690 was just too good to pass up.

  8. MikeG says:

    I miss good looking engines. To my eye, this and the Yamaha 700 retro thing and most of the others are just sitting there, hoping no one notices the industrial pump mounted in the industrial tubing (ugly frame.)

  9. Hide in Mexico says:

    Really Nice job Kawasaki, Old enough to remember the Original, and it is close enough minus two cylinders!

  10. Mrpokey says:

    Real gauges are nice. It will probably be around $9000 in the US if it comes here at all. Personally, if I was in the “retro” market, I would choose the W800.

    • joe b says:

      Looking at the UK pricing, and converting that, plus tax and registration, totals to about 12k. its 2021. soon to be 2022. its not 1970 anymore.

      • Tim says:

        I don’t see why it would be much different in price to the regular Z650. I’m guessing ABS at around $8k. It rarely works out to simply take the UK price and convert to US Dollars from shekels or farthings, or whatever they use for money over there.

      • John S says:

        Pricing between different markets doesn’t work like that – it isn’t a linear, one-for-one relationship. US MSRPs are typically lower than other markets’ prices adjusted per the exchange rates. If Kawasaki keeps the pricing relationship between the Z650 and the RS similar to the Z900 and it’s RS counterpart the US price should be in the $8700-9000 range – though I won’t be surprised to see the non-ABS version close to the Triumph Trident’s $8200.

    • Relic says:

      The cable operated tach never worked. The motor could rev to the moon anyway. The original was a fantastic bike but overshadowed by the kz1000, gs etc.

  11. paquo says:

    screw that….needs a 4cyl , not some weedy ptwin
    i learned to ride on a 1989 yamaha radian . That was a smooth 70 hp screamer

    • Motoman says:

      Think your hp is a little high. Just like me, the older I get the faster I was.

      • todd says:

        I believe the 70hp claim. My 82 Seca 650 was 74hp. I could just barely out-accelerate my buddies on their SV650 and Ninja 650s, even with shaft drive. That was one smooth, high-revving engine.

        • Provologna says:

          Same as most I-4s of that era, I would not particularly categorize the engine in the XJ650 as smooth; ditto the Radian 600. The Seca’s pilot triangle was and still is superb.

          The CB750 SOHC was smooth as was Suzuki’s 1st and 2nd gen GS750 DOHC (the 2nd gen smoother than the 1st.) Of course one of the smoothest I-4s of that era was the GS850 shaft (a bored 750 engine.) The GS1000 DOHC 2-Vs were OK but less smooth than the 750s.

          The smaller XJ550 Seca was pretty smooth and made decent peak power but severely lacked torque.

          The engine in Yamaha’s 2-year only V-twin XZ550 Vision was one of the smoothest ever built. In a roll-on contest a Vision would outpull the Seca 650.

    • Marcus says:

      That 650 twin ain’t weedy. I owned one. It has nice torque.
      And it has a cassette type gearbox!
      Overall this is a nice bike.

    • Dave says:

      Claimed hp on the Radian ranges from 53-66hp, depending on where you look. Great little bike for sure (my brother had one) but was this bike’s equivalent, almost 35 years ago. It will seem quite old compared to this to ride.

      If Todd was out accelerating his buddy’s SV650’s, they may not have known they were in a race. SV’s weigh close to 100lb less than the Seca650. Even the 65hp 1st gen should out-accelerate (almost 1 sec faster in 1/4 mile) a Seca with equivalent riders aboard.

      • Jeremy says:

        I actually owned a gen 1 SV650 and Seca 650, even simultaneously for a short time. There was no situation in which the SV650 didn’t offer up a significant performance advantage. While I don’t doubt Todd’s story, I had a different experience with respect to the acceleration between those particular bikes.

        • todd says:

          interesting. I did have pods 🙂 Maybe they were short shifting, I don’t know, but it was the sort of long stretch hooliganism that everyone does at some point with their friends. We were wringing them out, throttle pinned. The two newer first-gen bikes definitely got the jump off the line but the Seca would catch up and walk slowly past them at higher speeds. I would ignore shifting before the “redline” marking on the tach because the engine would easily pull hard up to 12k. It was a lovely bike. Years ago, I borrowed a SecaII thinking it was an upgrade. Boy, was I wrong. Maybe that’s what everyone is thinking of?

          • Jeremy says:

            The Seca II was a 600 and a bit of a dog. No, mine was the 650, same vintage as yours, and in great mechanical condition at the time. Though come to think about it… I think I may have had the slightly taller gearing installed on the SV at the time which allowed me to hold 3rd and 4th a good bit longer than stock at pretty ideal speeds for hooliganism before needing to click into the pretty tall 5th and 6th gears.

        • Provologna says:

          I rode several samples of both those bikes; my results were the same as yours.

          Yamaha’s 2-year only ’82 and ’83 XZ-550 Vision: The ’82 was naked, had a bad mid-band carburetion hiccup, single front disc, and no mono-shock tuning. The ’83 had a moderate to large frame mounted fairing w/switchable leg vents (atmospheric or engine heat,) capable dual-front discs, improved fork damping, among the best and most seamless mechanical carburetion (larger diameter) of any motorcycle stock or modified, variable intake runners in the airbox, etc.) and tunable rear shock damping.

          I owned multiple versions of both vintage Visions.
          One of my all time most fun rides was the ’83 bone stock except without the fairing.

          If Yamaha had just skipped the ’82, waited for the ’83 upgrades, kept it naked and made it chain drive instead of shaft, that would have been one of the most iconic bikes of the decade. The world recession hit mid-80s. Rumor says Yamaha motorcycles may have gone belly up if the CEO did not bow to Soichiro Honda whom granted Yamaha a loan to keep it afloat. Needless to say the Vision disappeared after ’83.

          I also briefly owned an ’84 GPz550 I-4 air-cooled. My naked ’83 liquid cooled Vision was infinitely more smooth, refined and drivable, with about 25% more torque.

          The only riders who ever beat me on that naked ’83 Vision on Lucas Valley Road (Marin County) were both on Superbikes, one a gen-1 R1 w/many upgrades the other on a ca. gen-3 GSXR750 (both infinitely better riders than me too.) That Vision routinely sucked Superbikes of every stripe off that road, include Ducatis (admittedly I knew the road infinitely better than all or most of them.) Two persons crashed behind me trying to keep up, one on a gen-2 white VFR-750.

    • Curly says:

      I have to disappoint you on the 70hp. The 1989 Radian made 63hp at 9,500rpm. That’s the factory spec. It would have around 53-54 at the rear wheel on a dyno.

  12. Mark says:

    My first real bike I ever rode was a 1981 KZ650. That bike had a wonderful 4 cylinder engine. I was really hoping to see an updated 4 cylinder version of the old KZ. I recall the bike made 72 HP but sure seemed more powerful.

  13. Frank W says:

    Did not notice any vibes on a 650 Ninja, in fact thought the motor was a bit bland. Be interested to know the wet weight of this one and UK pricing is a total rip-off (as always) and those high bars are something only Americans will enjoy.

  14. fred says:

    I like it. Price will be an issue. Hopefully they don’t over-price it and lose sales. The chrome/polished instrument bezels may be “retro”, but they weren’t a particularly good idea back in the day. Also, I question why so many mfg’s push open-face helmets in their ads. That is one retro affectation that should go away (IMHO).

    Sadly for Kawi, I’m not in the market. This would definitely be on my short list.

  15. todd says:

    Did anyone see in the video, “Round type brake discs”?

    • Jeremy says:

      I never watch the videos, but I had to see it upon reading your comment to learn more about this exotic feature. I always knew there had to be something better than polygon-type. Leave it to the clever engineers at Kawasaki. Makes one wonder what part they played in bringing round-type wheels to market.

    • fred says:

      Yep. Those experimental square disks and triangle disks didn’t work out that well for them. LOL

      (Yes, we all know they mean “non-petal”/”non-wave” disks, but we like a good laugh.)

    • Mark R says:

      I am sure they mention it because of Kawasakis love for petal disk brakes they put on so many of their bikes.

  16. todd says:

    This appeals to me more than the bulbous 900 and definitely better styled than the Yamaha. Problem is I’ve been riding full time for over 30 years so Kawasaki doesn’t think I would want one.

  17. TP says:

    It’s not bad, though the retro look is getting kind of old-timey to me. It looks better than Triumph’s new 660 at least and it’s more attractive that the standard Z650. The green version has the striping of the original KZ650, which was a fine bike that later became the legendary GpZ550. I wish Kawasaki would bring THAT bike back!

  18. Lawrence says:

    Retro-shmetro, just glad to see a real-world standard ergonomics normal-looking street bike. Like my Z900RS. I could be persuaded…

  19. ABQ says:

    It was back in the mid-1970’s in high school. There was a girl with a 650 twin motorcycle. Her blue eyes, and blonde hair, and fit body on a motorcycle to match. That’s what this motorcycle is. Beauty and power and all that in one ride. Without that kind of memory you just wouldn’t understand what this bike is about. So they posted a picture of a blonde girl on the bike. Do you get it now?

  20. Neal says:

    I was hoping the suspension and brakes would be updated. The only thing the Kawasaki 650 platform has on the Yamaha CP2 platform is the slick TFT and app tech stuff, and a fairing on the Ninja. This bike doesn’t have any of that. You have to really want a “retro” middleweight and really like the looks here.

  21. Tank says:

    I love that 650 motor, but at 66 I don’t really want a Ninja. I just can’t believe it took so long. Hopefully the US version will have better looking mufflers.

  22. Jeremy says:

    I think they did a nice job, and unlike some others’ comments, I like the modern exhaust and think it works well with the rest of the bike.

  23. Grover says:

    Needs two more cylinders to be authentic.

  24. ScotocS says:

    “delicate balance of old and new, retro and current has been expertly achieved by the Kawasaki design team”

    Eh. I guess. Like a couple of people have mentioned, the exhaust could have used a more retro makeover.

    I rented a 2019 Ninja 650 through Twisted Road when I was getting back into riding after 4 years off. I actually really enjoyed its engine as far as motivating power. On the downside, vibration was just a hair short of being annoying in certain circumstances, and the on/off throttle smoothness left something to be desired compared to my previous two bikes (an FZ6R and a race-prepped carbed SV650S).

  25. Reginald Van Blunt says:

    Well, – OK, it looks like a motorcycle, and has pretty colors ( gold and green ), however the pipes look funny in the front. A long time ago designers did not put hot exhausts under engines and transmissions to heat soak the oel. Guess that is not, or never was a problem. I would prefer a lower engine/trans unit with the muffs pointed out back on each side. Oh well.

  26. Dave says:

    I like it. I think it looks much more “natural” as a retro adaptation than the Yamaha, though I believe that bike’s engine and running hardware to be a little better. Looking forward to the reviews.

  27. Todd says:

    Nice bike, love the colors and rims (the green and gold). Fix all the things that bother you with the aftermarket (when it arrives). Well done Kawasaki.

  28. mickey says:

    Nice, very reminiscent of the late 70’s early 80’s KZ 650 four cyl, especially the green one. Same tank and tail cover, instruments shape and mirrors (only not in chrome).

  29. Gary in NJ says:

    I like the looks of modern bikes, but I was born in the early 1960’s so I am drawn to bikes with “classic” styling. And I’m also of an age where I am happy to have survived the drive for ever increasing horsepower and displacement. The current mid-displacement bikes are of the most interest to me. This Z650RS checks many of my approval boxes – but the budget suspension is a real (REAL) disappointment. But then again, I’m apparently not the target for this bike; in Kawasaki’s own words “Targeted at younger riders and those in the early stages of their riding career” With 50 years of riding experience, that ain’t me. I’m getting very close to buying a Triumph, Aprilia or KTM.

    • todd says:

      The suspension does not put me off one bit. The basic suspension on my 2018 Duke 690 is leagues better handling, control and comfort than my Ohlins equipped Ducati. Some times, things are just set up right but there was no amount of knob twisting that would fix the harshness and bad handling of that Ducati.

      • Nick says:

        Which Ducati was that, for interest? I’ve heard it said that Ohlins doesn’t equal comfort…

        • Gary in NJ says:

          With the correct rate spring and shim-stack, any rebuildable fork/shock can be adjusted to suit the owner of the machine. When used as OEM suspension, Ohlins (like any reputable suspension company)builds the components to the OEM specifications. The OEM doesn’t always get it right.

      • Motoman says:

        More to handling than suspension. Chassis geometry, front to rear weight bias, tire profile, construction and compound to name a few. And as Gary in NJ mentions above, you can valve and spring any suspension to perform badly.

        Just need to look at the bagger road racing to see what can be accomplished by dialing a bike in to suit a purpose.

  30. cw says:

    Um, feels a bit odd to be saying this about Kawasaki…but have they already missed the boat with this?

    It’s certainly a nice bike…it just feels like it should have come out at the same time as the 900…

    Or maybe do a 400.

    Dunno. Weird.

  31. walter mark boulware says:

    If going for the Retro Look, why not keep the muffler “retro” as well. I have never been a fan of that Versys tucked-under system. Maybe I’m Old Skool in my thinking……but probably exactly the kind of person who would be buying a Retro Bike.

    • cw says:

      Because that would add production costs. Though it is a retro design, it is built on a modern one. By making it a sidemount (peashooter, trumpet, etc.). new design, engineering, tooling has to take place. Simply making a new shield for the same exhaust (as they appear to have) doesn’t induce quite so much cost.

      So goes my expected explanation for the choice.

    • TimC says:

      Because Euro 5 sucks and it’s only going to get worse.

  32. David says:

    I will take one

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