Kawasaki Z650 RS: Retro middleweight breaks cover in Europe

The Kawasaki Z650 RS has surfaced in Europe, as the spearhead of Kawasaki’s new “Retrovolution.”

Kawasaki started teasing this bike in August, but rumours were circulating for months before that. It’s a very simple formula. It’s pretty much a Z650 with a new set off clothes—a very nice-looking suit, really.

Checking out the Z650’s lines, you see a rear ducktail bodywork section, just like Kawasaki’s most famous roadsters of the 1970s. The other plastics and tank have the curvaceous lines of the mid-’70s as well, and that round headlight is far removed from the praying mantis looks that have typified Kawasaki’s naked bike in recent years.

Kawasaki didn’t go full retro with a set of spoked wheels—they’re expensive and heavy, when compared to cast wheels, and require more maintenance. We do see the wheels are styled to sort of look like spokes, though.

The engine itself is the latest-generation liquid-cooled parallel twin that Kawasaki has used since it kicked the old EX500/Vulcan 500 platform to the curb. This 649 cc engine puts out about 67 hp at 8,000 rpm and 47 lb-ft of torque at 6,700 rpm. That powerband looks a lot more like the real world-friendly bikes of old. Updates like an assist-slipper clutch and EFI make it feel a lot more modern, though.

The chassis is also basically identical to the standard Z650, with the same steel frame and suspension as the Ninja 650 as well. The brakes appear to use slightly different discs, but with the same 300 mm diameter. ABS will be available in some markets, and will be standard in the EU at least.

The Z650 RS also gets all-round LED lights, and a new set of gauges that combine digital and analogue elements.

At this point we have not seen Canadian pricing or availability for this machine, but we expect it here for 2022. Hopefully, when it gets here, the marketing is less cringey than the video we see above …


  1. …And the award for Best Bold New Plastics goes to …Kawasaki
    ~ 6 yr old frame and an engine that dates back to ~ 2008
    At least they didn’t hype too much,they must had a surplus of frames and engines
    Then the marketing Dept. said …

  2. A different swingarm and exhaust would go a long way to improve the looks, but then again I would have preferred a retuned 636 engine in this bike.

    • Couldn’t agree more. If Kawasaki was hoping to resurrect the ghost of its KZ650 then the inline 4 engine would have been the way to go.

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