Kawasaki Z650RS first ride review
Has a retro-style makeover enhanced the Z650s ride dynamics overall or is the new Z650RS just eye-candy? Read on to find out.
Ever since I got wind of the Kawasaki Z650RS gracing Indian shores last year, I couldn't have been more thrilled. And chances are if you're the sort who favours bike designs from simpler times in the past, you'd be equally excited as well. Man, just looking at this machine takes me back to a time when I found some posters of the Yamaha XS650S and Kawasaki B1 in one of my uncles houses. I couldn't take my eyes of them. Both were gorgeous bikes back in the day. And now, seeing a bike that pays homage to the bike from that old poster of the old B1 is quite trippy. This machine looks very much on point.
Like the Z900RS which the Green Team have on offer in markets abroad, the Z650RS is a modernistic machine that pays tribute to the B1 of yore, and e, Kawasaki appears to have really got this bike spot on in terms of balancing its new-age/old-world charm. If you've just fallen out of a melted glacier, you won't know that the Z650RS is a retro-styled middle-weight motorcycle that's based on Kawasaki's 650 platform. It shares much of its underpinnings with the Z650 like the engine, chassis, gearbox and suspension. It's pretty much the same bike, but it's different.
Firstly, the Z650RS comes filled to the brim with retro-styled goodness. All the sharp bits like the leadlight, mirrors, tank shrouds, panels and even the all-digital instrumentation of the regular Z650 have been replaced by simple-looking rounded-off parts and other modern/ old-fashioned bits like the analogue twin-pod speedo- and tacho- meters and those gorgeous spoke-style alloy wheels which will leave old-timers standing in puddles of their own drool.
Unlike the Z650, the Z650RS is a motorcycle that steers clear from any modern Bluetooth connectivity functions, in fact, the only rider assist you get with the bike is ASB, so you almost instantly connect with the mechanics of the bike through your senses once astride. It's powered by the same parallel-twin motor as the regular naked Z650 which produces the same amount of power and torque, and while some might find that the sporty naked seemed to be lacking vitality in the power department, with the RS the 68PS of max power delivery just seems to compliment this bike's retro character all the better. Just like before, the motor loves to be revved and it goes about it in a very clean, smooth and pure manner. Of course it's not as powerful as something like the Triumph Trident 660 but it has its own unique set of traits that are palpable nonetheless.
The fuelling system of the Z650RS, as with all modern Kawasaki's, keeps things nice and smooth and right off the bat, there's enough shove to put a smile on your face without proving too intimidating. Although power delivery isn't explosive, even minor throttle inputs do feel pleasantly rewarding. . Short-shift through the six-speeder at low revs and the gear lever feels a bit clunky while the liquid-cooled 649cc twin itself does grumble a bit initially, but this is short-lived and things quickly smoothen out once the motor winds up and the needles on its twin analogue cluster head north of 4,000 revs. The Z650RS is heaps of fun to ride. It's based on the same chassis as the naked Z650 which keeps it light to turn in and flick around, but the more upright handlebar and the single bench seat that's padded well and it sits higher in comparison to the sporty naked, which in turn changes the ergo to a more rider-friendly setup that will welcome some relative long stints in the saddle. The 12-litre tank on the RS is a lot smaller and narrower in comparison to the 15-litre reservoir on the street naked too, so you'll visit the pump mode, and you won't be able to grip the bike with your knees as nicely as you would the Z650 when you pick up the pace or even while taking on a quick succession of bends. But that's all well and good, considering the fact that this is a bike that's not particularly meant to excel in the performance department and more in tune with a relaxed riding experience. In terms of ride quality, the 'older' Z650 came across as a very comfy bike to ride, and having carried over the same suspension over to the RS could never have been a bad thing. Whether you're riding at a leisurely pace or briskly the suspension works bang on to keep sharp bumps at bay. Also, if anything, you'll feel even less of your body-weight being transferred to your palms, another quality that compliments the RS's simple, no-nonsense character. Those gorgeous golden spoke-style alloys come clad with grippy Dunlop running shoes and the RS has more than enough stopping power in the form of the ABS assisted round discs, which replace the Z650's petal discs. There wasn't any alarming difference to be felt with the round discs to be honest, and I also appreciate the fact that the RS comes with the brake and clutch levers that can be adjusted for span, while only the brake can be adjusted on the Z650. Just that tiny bit extra that lets you do your thing a little easier.
Priced at Rs 6.72 lakh, the Z650RS is around 40k more expensive than the naked Z650 and some might find the list of equipment on the Z650RS to be a bit short, but in all honesty, for a retro-themed bike it really isn't missing out on anything. It's a modern motorcycle that keeps everything nice and simple without complicating matters too much, and that's just the way I like it. Just like the bikes from the good ol' days, but with a modern twist. While the retro-themed makeover to the Z650 might come across as a form of change that the bike needed, I say that it's a change that the bike pretty much deserved.
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