Kawasaki Z650RS Test Ride Review
Detailed test ride review of the retro modern Kawasaki, the Z650RS
Bike Tested: Kawasaki Z650RS; Road Test No. 1388; Test Location: Pune – Mumbai
Price OTR Mumbai: Rs. 7,93,057/-
The Z650RS is the uber retro middle-weight motorcycle from Kawasaki in India
The first time we ever saw the RS badge on a motorcycle from Kawasaki, it was for the Z900RS. About 3 years back the Z900RS was launched and everyone was in awe but the price was exponentially high which didn’t fetch many customers. Kawasaki understood the love for retro-modern motorcycle design and introduced the RS styling in the Z650 badge. While underneath the modern-retro-classic charm of the Z650RS, there is the standard Z650 but it does make a ton of a difference. In our road test, we have ridden the bike for over 400 km and here’s what we have to say.
MotorQuest: The first generation of the Kawasaki Z650 in the late 70s had an inline-4 engine which existed till the early 80s. After which the 650 badges came with the Kawasaki W series motorcycle until 2007. In 2006, the ER-6F and ER-6N came into existence which was later renamed Ninja 650 and Z650 respectively. The RS badge on the 650 line-ups has come for the first time in 2021.
Styling – The Kawasaki Z650RS looks subtly satisfying. It has all the modern design bits and lines going around the retro-classic appeal. Round LED headlight with a chrome cover, followed by a teardrop tank design and a single-piece seat ending with an oval taillight. While it has two standard colour options and a special anniversary edition in Red, I personally like the Candy Emerald Green. It was the same colour as our test bike and it looks quite different from the standard green followed by Kawasaki. The most attractive part of the Z650RS for me was really the pair of 20-spoke golden rims. Blacked out hanging parts, with a bit of chrome around while the top is in green and the bottom half has a golden glow.
The Kawasaki Z650RS has a subtle, simple yet a very attractive design language that grabs attention of many
The Z650RS is definitely a looker and justifies the RS badge. Although there are a few bits like the rear grabrail where the design could’ve been improved to match with the retro styling. However, the most hideous part of the motorcycle is the saree guard. It is a purposeful piece but the barbeque grill feel hasn’t gone and it is still the first thing I will get rid of. Other than that the dimensions of the motorcycle also make it quite big in person. It does look proportionate in the pictures but it is overall a fairly big motorcycle and does feel like a middle-weight. Even though it does not have a fairing it feels more spacious than the Ninja 650.
Instrument Cluster and Switchgear – I personally like an analogue tachometer over a digital unit but on the Z650RS it feels like a step-down. If we compare it with its closest siblings it misses out on a colourful TFT cluster and even the Bluetooth connectivity. However, the setup is analogue-digital and most of the information is provided by a tiny digital LCD sitting right in-between the speedo and the tachometer. The standard data includes a fuel gauge, gear position indicator, temperature gauge and a clock. While one can switch between the range, mileage, odometer and twin trip meters with the last section using the switchgear.
Dual-pod analogue instrument cluster adds to the retro appeal of the Kawasaki Z650RS with a modern touch of a digital LCD in the center
While the switchgear is at a thumb reach, it is quite simple too. The right side unit only has a starter button with a kill switch. Although the left one has the standard pass light, indicator and horn button additionally it has an up-down switch for the digital meter and a hazard light button. The buttons have a good tactile feel and overall the build quality is very premium. There is however one single disappointment and that is the horn. It isn’t really loud for a middle-weight and has a single tone to it. Even the LCD is difficult to read in bright sunlight but at night time the complete cluster looks dope.
Ergonomics – The Kawasaki Z650 had the most accessible seat height of 790 mm while the Z650RS takes it up a notch by 10 mm. Although the 800 mm seat height isn’t much but the single-piece seat design makes a lot. The seat has better cushioning for the rider while the space for the pillion is reduced. There is greater thigh support and the overall riding triangle is way comfortable yet keeps it engaging. Since the tank design is also changed, gripping the tank is comfortable but not as sporty. The handlebar is also wide enough to give a good stance while the centre-set footpegs don’t make it uncomfortable. Rider comfort is up to the mark, pillion comfort however could’ve been better.
Performance – Powering the Z650RS is the same 649cc parallel-twin motor that we have seen on the Z650 as well as the Ninja 650. It even produces the same numbers, 68 PS at 8000 RPM and 64 Nm at 6700 RPM. While we have always loved the refinement of the parallel-twin motor from Kawasaki, the powerplant of the RS feels even smoother. There are some vibrations creeping in close to the redline but the motor feels solid. There is a very linear blend of power and torque throughout the rev range. With a surefooted low-end, wide mid-range and a usable top-end too. Whack open the throttle and there’s immediate power delivery while one will have to keep some control as there are no extra electronic aids like traction control.
The parallel-twin motor of the Kawasaki Z650RS is very refined and has a very linear power delivery throughout the rev range
There are no riding modes on offer either while the throttle is ride-by-wire and that is the most amount of electronics on the Z650RS. Even though the motor is refined and linear it does heat up in stop-go traffic. There’s a decent amount of heat that dissipates towards the legs making it uncomfortable for the rider in slow riding situations but not extremely bothersome. The clutch is decently heavy and the 6-speed gearbox is slick-shifting while it hits the ton in under 5 seconds and tops out at 170 km/hr. The sweet spot, however, is at 100-110 km/hr where the Z650RS returned over 26 km/l. The worst mileage on our test was 20 km/l and with just a 12-litre fuel tank it seems a bit concerning to go long-distance riding.
Riding Dynamics – The chassis as well as the suspension setup are identical to the Z650 but due to the riding triangle being a bit different, the Z650RS has a more comfortable ride. The trellis frame doesn’t flex as much and with a wider handlebar, there is a good amount of feedback. Tipping into corners and switching sides quickly, the Z650RS does not feel lethargic. It responds quickly but the overall softer suspension setup makes it a bit less dynamic. While the overall balance is maintained well as the wheelbase is 5 mm less than the Z650. It does feel like a perfect and comfortable middle-weight bike.
The Kawasaki Z650RS has a very comfortable ride while the chassis and suspension balance maintains the dynamics too
The dynamics are focused on comfort but the overall braking setup is still the same and sharp. Dual discs at the front have had astounding braking feedback throughout our test. The Z650RS stops at your command while the rear helps too. The only gripe here is the grip from the Dunlop tyres as they aren’t suited for the motorcycle. These are the same tyres as we have seen on the Ninja and Z650 and they are a sheer disappointment. They take time to get up to the perfect temperature and even once there they lose grip as soon as we hit some dirt or any wet surface. One will always have to keep a tab on the throttle to keep things under control.
Verdict – At ₹ 7,93,057/- (on-road, Mumbai), the Kawasaki Z650RS is ₹ 42,000/- more than the standard Z650 while it misses out on Bluetooth connectivity with a fully digital meter. But then the RS badge for Kawasaki is for the uniqueness. It brings back the connection to the heritage as the test bike colour scheme is similar to the one from 1977. However, the Kawasaki Z650RS has a very likeable design, it rides well with good comfort and has a potent heart too. There are some shortcomings like the tyres and pillion space isn’t really apt but as an overall package, it is a collector’s item and a perfect pick for a retro-modern admirer.
* Design and styling have a simple yet retro charm
* It is a very comfortable motorcycle with easy riding dynamics
* Parallel-twin motor is very refined and has a very linear power throughout
What’s Not So Cool
* Pillion space and comfort could have been better
* Misses out on current generation tech for the retro appeal
* Priced higher than the siblings makes it less appealing
* Engine: 649cc, Liquid-Cooled, Parallel-Twin
* Power: 68 PS @ 8000 RPM,
* Torque: 64 Nm @ 6700 RPM
* Fuel Type: Petrol
* Fuel Consumption: 22-27 km/l
* Frame: Steel Trellis
* Gearbox: 6-Speed
* Tyres: 120/70/17 (Front), 160/60/17 (Rear)
* Suspension: 41 mm Telescopic Forks (Front), Monoshock (Rear)
* Brakes: Dual 300 mm Discs (Front), 220 mm Disc (Rear)
* Length x Width x Height: 2065 mm x 800 mm x 1115 mm
* Wheelbase: 1405 mm
* Seat Height: 800 mm
* Fuel Tank Capacity: 12-litres
* Kerb weight: 192 Kgs