I think I am in love with this motorcycle, so much so that I wish I could keep it. Why? Because it’s so damned fun to ride! The funny thing is, I’ve never had such a strong inclination towards Kwackers. Maybe Kawasakis weren’t that easily available back then or maybe, despite the few occasions that I did get to ride a few, I didn’t ride them how they are meant to be ridden. All of that doesn’t matter anymore because this middleweight street naked has made a place for itself in the list of my favourite bikes.
The Z650 is a motorcycle that you are bound to fall in love with at first sight. The main attraction is the striking all-LED headlamp unit followed by the edgy lines across the length of the motorcycle that gives it an intimidating character. However, the Z650’s evolution comes from the not-too-old-but-forgotten ER-6n, a motorcycle that was great to ride but was never taken seriously when it came to looks. All of that has changed ever since the Z650 was baptised with the Sugomi design language that is present on most of the other bikes in Kawasaki’s portfolio.
Now in its fourth year of production, the Z650 retains a lot from its predecessor. One reason for that is that the setup has been popular amongst novice riders while also being no bore to experienced riders. It carries over the same trellis frame and 649cc powertrain and is now BS6 compliant. Now, the spec sheet does mention a slight drop in performance figures, but in the real world, it makes no significant difference to the fun factor of this motorcycle.
Speaking of fun, one of the main reasons why this bike appealed so much to me was because of how compact, nimble and light it is. And yes, the front end just loves to take off like nobody’s business. I mean, when was the last time a middleweight motorcycle managed to lift its front wheel on the throttle alone? Yes, it does that. What is even more rewarding is that feeling where the front is only a few inches off the ground while the bike is accelerating ahead at full steam. To put it in a sentence, the Z650 brings out your inner child that loves the thrill of speed and allows you to exploit all the power that’s on offer comfortably without getting intimidated. The butter-smooth parallel-twin mated to the slick 6-speed gearbox is an absolute delight.
The motor has a healthy chunk of torque concentrated at the middle of its rev range, which is perfect for puttering around city roads in the third or even fourth gear in absolute peace. The clutch action is super light as it can be operated even with one finger, absolute bliss in sticky traffic situations. While you are in such situations, the Z650 is extremely nimble through traffic thanks to its compact dimensions and tight turning radius.
As for the other cycle parts, the suspension has been set up well with an inclination towards the stiffer side. Ironing out road undulations with your spine within city speeds can get a bit annoying, but once you pick up speed out on the highway, the stiff setup aids the Z650’s in attacking corners with precision and confidence. To go along with the damping duties, the brakes on the Z650 are simply phenomenal. The dual rotors up front paired with the Nissin calipers can bite in hard when the need arises to drop the anchors. In my opinion, regardless of how much power a motorcycle produces or how well it handles, if the brakes are not up to the mark, it doesn’t inspire confidence to push it to its capabilities.
To sum up things, the Z650 is a mid-sized fun-to-ride motorcycle that’s one of the best options in the market for motorcyclists who are looking to upgrade to higher capacity motorcycles. It looks fantastic, sounds great, handles well, packs a good punch and lastly brakes with a strong bite. And yes, you will only stop popping wheelies when you run out of fuel. Kawasaki, can I have it back gain, please?
Displacement: 649cc, parallel-twin
Max power: 67.3 bhp@8000 rpm
Max torque: 6.52 kgm@6700 rpm
Type: Steel trellis frame
F/R: 300-mm disc /220-mm disc
F/R: 120/70 R17 / 160/60 R17
L/W/H (mm): 2115/765/1065
Wheelbase: 1410 mm
Ground clearance: 130 mm
Seat height: 790 mm
Kerb weight: 191 kg
Fuel capacity: 15 litres
PRICE: Rs 6.04 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi)