2021 Kawasaki Z650 Test Ride Review
We do a detailed review of the new 2021 Kawasaki Z650.
Bike tested: Kawasaki Z650; Road Test No. 1272; Test Location: Mumbai
Price OTR Mumbai: Rs. 6,99,057/-
The new Z650 looks and feels like a proper ‘Z’ category motorcycle by Kawasaki
The Kawasaki Z650 came to India in 2017 as a replacement to the ER-6n and has remained an impressive blend of performance, versatility, and features all at an impressive price since then. For 2020, the Z650 is now BS6 compliant and has undergone a physical makeover and even gets some modern equipment. Consequently, it has also gotten slightly more expensive but it still remains one of the most affordable middle-weight in the market nevertheless. But should this be your first big-bike? We tell you everything about it in our test ride review of the BS6 Kawasaki Z650, so you can decide exactly that.
MotorQuest: Back in 2017, Kawasaki replaced the not-so-impressive ER-6n with the Z650. The Z650 was a better-looking, more capable, lighter, and more feature-rich offering in comparison, but with the same engine spec. Kawasaki had launched the Z650 for roughly Rs. 5.2 lakhs back then and in 2020, it costs around Rs. 1 lakh more than that. With an all-new styling, more features, and improved versatility, the bike has definitely aged.
Styling: The Z650 looks pretty distinct from the previous model because it has undergone a thorough makeover. At the front, the bike has ditched the old oval halogen headlamp, and it gets a new full-LED one. The new headlamp clearly takes inspiration from the bigger naked offerings like the Z900, and it makes the Z650 look a whole lot better than before. From the side, the bike looks much sharper than before and there’s a hint of the super-charged ZH2 here as well. LEDs for the headlight and tail light work out really well but LED indicators would have added a bit more appeal.
The Sugomy design language gives the youngest Z in India a very aggressive stance
The green trellis frame plays hide and seek throughout the bike and enhances the appearance for sure. The only thing that reminds us of the previous motorcycle is the tail section as it gets the same ‘Z’ patterned light. The grabrail is a huge piped unit for the pillion and along with that we get a huge saree guard. The angular design of the same might try and fit it but the barbeque grill does grab attention. Overall, the Z650 is definitely a treat to the eyes but we think an engine cowl would’ve further enhanced it.
Instrument Cluster and Switchgear: The new Kawasaki Z650 bids farewell to the LCD instrument cluster from the older model and welcomes a new 4.3-inch fully digital coloured TFT display. It feels a little small, but it looks crisp and is easy-to-read. The display gets features like a gear position indicator, twin trip meters, engine temperature, fuel economy, smartphone connectivity via Rideology app, average speed and a battery voltage indicator along with all the basic information.
The fully-digital instrument cluster is good to read and goes well with the motorcycle update
Coming to the switchgear, it remains pretty basic and gets an additional hazard switch other than all basic switches. With a fully-digital meter coming into place, we would have liked if we could control the information from the switchgear itself. However as expected, the quality is impressive and the buttons are handy too. Everything is top-notch overall, but call notifications are missing, which is a slight miss.
Ergonomics: The Z650 being a naked motorcycle has a slightly forward but upright riding posture. It is comfortable as the handlebar is straight, the pegs are centre-set and the rider sits pretty low, thanks to the seat height of just 790 mm. The bike retains the split seat setup from before, and both seats are fairly comfortable. The pillion seat is bigger now and offers more room. However, we felt that the rider’s seat was a tad too soft for long-distance riding. Moving on, the Z650 comes with adjustable levers, which is a likeable touch and lets you tune the bike to your liking. The mirrors are decent as well but vibrate at high revs, diminishing the view. Overall, the bike offers comfortable ergonomics and there isn’t much to complain here.
Performance: As usual, the 2021 Kawasaki Z650 sees some tweaks to the engine which has made it BS6 complaint. The 649cc twin-cylinder motor with liquid-cooling makes 68 PS of power at 8000 RPM and 64 Nm of torque at 6700 RPM. The power output has remained exactly the same as before, while the torque output has dropped by around 1.5 Nm following the update. The 6-speed gearbox has remained the same as before. How is it to ride? Pretty amazing. The torque comes in early and is spread well around the rev range, which makes the bike ideal for city duties.
While the torque has dropped, the Z650 still feels super punchy
Once you get to the mid-range, it gets even better as the punch hits you right in the face and the bike isn’t shy of lifting a wheel in the first two gears. All this makes the Z650 pretty tractable, and one can easily keep it in high gears even at lower speeds. Further, the gearbox feels smooth, and the clutch is light too, thanks to the slipper clutch. The motor isn’t exactly smooth, though, as you can feel the vibes creep in from everywhere, once you start pushing even a little bit. Lastly, fuel-efficiency figures for the Z650 are 22 km/l which rounds up the range to 300 km for the big 15-litre fuel tank.
Riding Dynamics: The Z650 is a naked offering, and it rides like one too. The front end is light, and the bike is pretty manoeuvrable, even though it weighs around 200 kgs. The suspension duties are performed by 41 mm telescopic forks at the front and an adjustable mono-shock at the rear, which are both softly sprung. The overall ride quality is decent and close to plush. The front-end is confidence-inspiring too and the bike tips well into corners. However, telescopic forks for a bike of this calibre is a tad disappointing as we’re used to seeing chunky USD ones in the segment.
Riding the Z650 feels effortless, which is exactly how an entry-level big-bike should be
Coming to brakes, the stopping power is strong, thanks to the dual 300 mm petal discs upfront. Dual-channel ABS is present too, but it feels a little too intrusive for our liking. Being a naked bike, there is significant windblast on offer and it hinders the fun riding experience at high speeds. Kawasaki has also updated the tyres and the new Dunlop rubber is pretty grippy in almost all conditions. Lastly, the ground clearance of the Z650 is just 130 mm, which means you’ll have to be cautious on bumps.
Verdict: At Rs. 6,99,057/- (on-road, Mumbai), the Kawasaki Z650 is an excellent offering. The new LED headlamp, full TFT display, improved riding dynamics, and the already brilliant 650cc motor easily justify the price tag. It is one of the easiest motorcycles to ride and live-with, especially for a newbie looking to enter into the world of big-bikes. There isn’t really a competition for it too, especially at this price point, and the closest bike to the Z650 is its faired counterpart, the Ninja 650. All in all, the Kawasaki Z650 gets a big thumbs up from our end, and anyone wanting to upgrade to a big-bike should definitely consider it.
* The bike looks extremely appealing
* New TFT display is a step up from the previous setup
* Front end feel and riding dynamics are excellent and engaging
What’s Not So Cool
* Ground clearance is low for Indian roads
* Windblast causes problems at high speed
* Price difference between the Ninja 650 is not too much
* Engine: 649cc, Liquid-Cooling, Parallel-Twin
* Power: 68 PS @ 8000 RPM
* Torque: 64 Nm @ 6700 RPM
* Fuel Type: Petrol
* Fuel Consumption: 22 km/l
* Frame: Steel Trellis Frame
* Gearbox: 6-Speed
* Tyres: 120/70/17 (Front), 160/60/17 (Rear)
* Suspension: 41 mm Telescopic Forks (Front), Adjustable Monoshock (Rear)
* Brakes: 300 mm Twin-Disc (Front), 220 mm Disc (Rear); Dual-Channel ABS
* Length x Width x Height: 2115 mm x 765 mm x 1065 mm
* Wheelbase: 1410 mm
* Ground Clearance: 130 mm
* Fuel Tank Capacity: 15-litres
* Kerb weight: 191 Kgs