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Kawasaki Z650 - first riding impressions

By BikeSocial

Bennetts BikeSocial was launched in autumn 2012



Kawasaki Z650

The new Kawasaki Z650 is a nimble, lightweight naked twin with a Euro 4-friendly 649cc motor making a claimed 67 British horsepowers and weighing in at 187.1kg with ABS.

It has a job to beat the faithful and much- loved Kawasaki ER6-n that it replaces. That bike made 71 of your finest British horsepowers, this makes 67.07bhp, as Euro 4 meddling means we’ve lost a few peak horses and the whole motor has been redesigned and refined.

But, the parallel twin has gained a tiny bit more low-down torque at 48.45ft-lb at 6500rpm, compared to the ER6n’s 47.2ft-lb some 500rpm higher at 7000rpm. It makes a claimed 55mpg too.

That’s good news, because this bike is all about strong low and mid-range performance for real world everyday riding.  Using new cams, a new slimmer airbox, 36mm throttle bodies, new injectors, a new transmission, new cooling system and new exhausts and headers all contribute to a new, smoother and more refined engine. There’s also a slipper clutch.

The styling has been through the Kawasaki Z-styling department and echoes the Sugomi styling of the bigger Z900 and Z1000. It certainly looks sharp, and compared to the brilliant Suzuki SV650, it already makes that feel a little dated even though it was only updated last year.

The low 790mm seat height is noticeable as soon as you get on the bike, and in general it feels sharper, even easier to ride and a lot spritely than the ER6-n. The whole bike has been redesigned to become the Z650 and the biggest noticeable difference is the rear shock now sits in the middle of the bike, rather than on the side like the older ER6-n.

We'll bring you a full review of the Z650 in the coming days but for now, here are our experienced tester Marc Potter's first impressions, after around 60 miles in the saddle.

He says: "We’ve ridden 100km through the Spanish countryside near Seville on the new Kawasaki Z650. It may have lost a little bit of top end power but in the real world that doesn’t really matter as what you get is loads more bottom and mid-range, and that’s exactly where this bike is going to be ridden. The handling is sweet and it feels a lot lighter, and it is 17kg lighter (than the outgoing ER-6n) the brakes are adequate and the suspension is a little bit softly sprung for my weight, but then it is no sportsbike. It is fun. It’s nimble, it’s accurate and it’s light. The motor is friendlier and more responsive and it’s going to be a great bike for new riders and experienced guys alike."

Check back at BikeSocial for a full review soon.

2017 Kawasaki Z650

Kawasaki Z650


Engine type

Liquid-cooled, 4-stroke Parallel Twin


649 cm³

Bore x stroke

83 x 60 mm

Compression ratio


Valve system

DOHC, 8 valves

Fuel system

Fuel injection: Ø 36 mm x 2 with dual throttle valves


Forced lubrication, semidry sump


Front: Dual semi-floating 300 mm petal discs. Caliper: Dual piston

Rear: Single 220 mm petal disc. Caliper: Single-piston


Front: 41 mm telescopic fork

Rear: Horizontal Back-link with preload adjustment

Maximum power

67.07bhp at 8,000 rpm

Maximum torque

48.45ft-lb at 6500rpm

Fuel consumption (claimed)

4.3l/100 km



Frame type

Trellis, high-tensile steel

Wheel travel/tyres

Front: 125 mm / 120/70ZR17M/C (58W)

Rear: 130 mm / 160/60ZR17M/C (69W)


100 mm


L: 2055mm

W: 775mm

H: 1080mm

Ground clearance




Fuel capacity

15 litres

Seat height


Wet weight




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