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2022 Kawasaki Z650RS

It’s an unassuming timeless retro sport

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Kawasaki brings back the mid-size seventies-style UJM cruiser look with a new addition to its naked-sport family, the 2022 Z650RS. Classic design elements join with a modern engine and chassis plus a handful of electronic safety systems to round out the package. This new Z650RS can serve as an entry-level machine, but should be entertaining enough for riders with some smaller-displacement experience.

  • 2022 Kawasaki Z650RS
  • Year:
    2022
  • Make:
  • Model:
  • Engine:
    Parallel Twin
  • Displacement:
    649 cc
  • Top Speed:
    119 mph
  • Price:
    8999
  • Price:

2022 Kawasaki Z650RS Design

  • Classic retro styling
  • Upright, casual riding position
  • LED lighting
  • Analogue-dial speedo & tach with LCD display
2022 Kawasaki Z650RS
- image 1022888
2022 Kawasaki Z650RS
- image 1022878
Light and casual design points on the Z650RS lend this {{middleweight cruiser}} a whimsical air that just begs to be ridden.

Light and casual design points on the Z650RS lend this middleweight cruiser a whimsical air that just begs to be ridden. The early café racers were built on UJM platforms such as this, so it stands to reason that the Z650RS projects a bit of a café-tastic vibe, and could easily be set up as a proper homejob CR if you’re into that sort of thing. Generous blackout treatment darkens just about everything except the actual sheet-metal bits for another connection to the homebuilt-custom world.

A cyclops headlight splits the night with LED projectors with dual symmetrical instruments in bullet housings that lend it a sporty mien to boot. The dial gauges display speed and rpm respectively, and there’s an LCD multiscreen that serves as a rider interface for the other important metrics.

A classic teardrop shape defines the 4-gallon fuel tank with a bench-like seat to finish out the flyline. The taillight is tucked up into the tip of the tail, well out of harm’s way, while the plateholder, taglight and back blinkers ride on the short mudguard. A swingarm-mount hugger completes the fling containment out back.

A relaxed rider’s triangle places the pilot’s heels low below the hips for comfort with an upright riding posture that takes the load off your arms and shoulders. Flip-out, subframe-mount footpegs join a p-pad for your passenger, but the rear end is nice and clean, so the usual J.C. handles didn’t make the final cut.

2022 Kawasaki Z650RS Chassis

  • Lightweight chassis
  • Easy maneuvering
  • Bosch 9.1 M ABS
  • Steel-tube frame
2022 Kawasaki Z650RS
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2022 Kawasaki Z650RS
- image 1022873
With handling at the nimble end of the spectrum, it's fun and responsive to ride.

High tensile-strength steel tubing makes up the Trellis frame on the Z650RS, but the best parts aren’t visible. I’m talking about the variable tubing-wall thickness the factory uses to tune the standing structure for flexion and rigidity. As you’d expect, the engine serves as a stressed member along with the footpeg stays to complete the structure and lend it it’s final bit of strength, all while trimming a significant chunk of frame and its associated weight.

Rake and trail measure in at 24 degrees and 3.9 inches respectively, to put the Z650RS firmly at the nimble end of the spectrum, but honestly, that’s to be expected. It’s fun and responsive to ride, but at the usual expense of some tracking stability. It is what it is, and for the rider group that would be interested in this bike, it’s what you want and expect.

Right-way-up forks float the front end on fixed damping- and rebound-rates. The only adjustment in the suspension is coil-over rear shock in the form of the obligatory spring-preload tweak for the gull-wing yoke. Suspension travel measures at 4.9 inches up front and 5.1 inches out back, which really ain’t bad for a streetbike. Cast 17-inch wheels mount Dunlop Sportmax Roadsport II hoops in a 120/70 ahead of a 160/60 with a street tread suited for civilized paths.

In spite of its 412.3-pound curb weight, the factory doubled down on the front anchors with dual 300 mm discs and twin-piston calipers taking care of business. Out back, a single-pot binder and 220 mm, petal-cut disc delivers warp-resistance performance to keep the rear end behind you where it belongs. Both ends benefit from the Bosch 9.1 M ABS feature that’ll let you safely get the most out of the anchors.

Frame: Trellis, high tensile steel
Front Suspension / Wheel Travel: Telescopic fork/4.9 in
Rear Suspension / Wheel Trave: Horizontal back-link with adjustable spring preload/5.1 in
Rake/Trail: 24.0°/3.9 in
Front Tire: 120/70 ZR17
Rear Tire: 160/60 ZR17
Front Brakes: Dual 300 mm discs with two-piston calipers, ABS
Rear Brakes: Single 220 mm disc, ABS

2022 Kawasaki Z650RS Drivetrain

  • 649 cc parallel-twin engine
  • 67 hp & 48.5 lb-ft of torque
  • Assist and slipper clutch
  • Under-engine muffler
2022 Kawasaki Z650RS
- image 1022879
2022 Kawasaki Z650RS
- image 1022848
Engine response is sharp and precise and comes tuned for low-to-mid range power.

Power for the Z650RS comes from Kawi’s proven mid-range parallel twin to the tune of 67 ponies at eight grand and 48.5 pounds o’ grunt at 6,500 rpm. A balancer shaft and 180-out crankshaft cancels out much of the engine’s vibration for smooth power delivery and quick revs.

Dual over-head cams time the four-valve heads for efficient aspiration with dual, 36 mm throttle bodies to feed it and control the induction. Plus, they mount Kawi’s computer-controlled Dual Throttle system that actuates a second set of butterflies in the bores to fair out transitions and reconcile the difference between rider demand and what the engine can smoothly dish out in response.

It’s liquid cooled for extra temperature stability in stop-and-go conditions and a measure of sound attenuation from the water jacket that damps down the mechanical noises from the mill. The coolant flows internally through the cases to the jugs and heads to eliminate external piping for a cleaner-looking powerplant overall. Comfort wasn’t neglected in the engine compartment. The radiator fan pulls hot air from the radiators and vents it down and away from the pilot to reduce the apparent heat wash.

A slip-and-assist clutch couples engine power to the six-speed transmixxer for some extra traction protection and a light lever pull. Power makes it to the rear wheel via a tough sealed chain-and-sprocket final drive with a final-drive ratio that turns out a top speed of 119 mph.

Engine: 4-stroke, 2-cylinder, DOHC, liquid-cooled
Displacement: 649 cc
Bore x Stroke: 83.0 mm x 60.0 mm
Maximum Torque: 48.5 lb-ft @ 6,500 rpm
Compression Ratio: 10.8:1
Fuel System: DFI® with Keihin 36 mm throttle bodies
Ignition: TCBI with electronic advance
Transmission: 6-speed, return shift
Final Drive: Sealed chain

2022 Kawasaki Z650RS Price

2022 Kawasaki Z650RS
- image 1022876
2022 Kawasaki Z650RS
- image 1022877
MSRP is $9k for the new Z650RS in a classy Candy Emerald Green or a mostly-monochromatic Moondust Gray with extra graphics on the fuel tank.

The new Z650 RS rolls for $8,999 here in its inaugural year. It comes in a classy Candy Emerald Green that I like a lot, or you can go for the mostly-monochromatic Moondust Gray with extra graphics on the fuel tank.

Engine Management Technology: Assist & Slipper Clutch, Dual Throttle Valves, Economical Riding Indicator
Chassis Management Technology: ABS (Anti-lock Brake System), Horizontal Back-link Rear Suspension
Warranty: 12 Month Limited Warranty with optional Kawasaki Protection Plus™ 12, 24, 26 or 48 month
Colors: Candy Emerald Green, Metallic Moondust Gray/Ebony
Price: $8,999

2022 Kawasaki Z650RS Competitors

2017 - 2022 Suzuki SV650
- image 753779
2022 Kawasaki Z650RS
- image 1022875

Kawi’s entry steps onto the stage with plenty of built-in competition, and as usual, the threats come from domestic competitors, so I choose the Suzuki SV650 ABS for the head-to-head.

Suzuki SV650 ABS

2017 - 2022 Suzuki SV650
- image 1036352
No clear winner, but the Suzuki has none of that old-school charm that the Z650RS wears so well, and I expect that to weigh the equation in Kawi's favor.

Lookswise, the Suzuki is more typical of a Japanese naked-sport, I think, due to the contemporary design points and deep swale for the pilot’s seat. Blackout treatment runs through both brands for equal parts of homegrown yummygoodness and a sinister finish. Speaking of paint, Suzuki offers its SV650 ABS in Metallic Matte Black No. 2 alone, though it sports some splashes of blue at the Trellis frame and rims.

Suzuki also beefs up the brakes with four-pot, opposed-piston, dual front calipers and the ABS support to make them safe to use with authority. The SV650 carries a 90-degree V-twin, or L-twin if you prefer, that boasts dual spark plugs over each barrel for better flame-front propagation.

Like the Kawi, the Suzuki runs with dual throttle plates as well, and for the same reasons, but Suzuki throws in a handful of engine-control features with its Idle Speed Control, Easy Start System, and Low-rpm Assist that further ease operation. Suzuki’s engine clocks in somewhere in the neighborhood of 75 horsepower with 47 pound-feet of torque for a razor-thin advantage, but Suzuki adds to the package with a $7,749 MSRP that undercuts Kawi. However, it has none of that old-school charm that the Z650RS wears so well, and I expect that to weigh the equation in Kawi’s favor, but just barely.

Read our full review of the Suzuki SV650.

He Said

“Ya know, I just love me some retro-tastic machinery, and I think Kawasaki got just the right amount, enough to pay homage, but not so much that it looks like it’s trying too hard. I bet the aftermarket will have a bullet fairing and tail piece if you want to go full-on café with it and complete the ensemble. If not, it still has that air about it all the same.”

She Said

My wife and fellow motorcycle writer, Allyn Hinton, says, “I really like this retro UJM look for being “just a bike.” It’s not trying to be a sportbike, it’s not trying to be a cruiser, it’s not trying to be anything but a standard UJM-style bike so there’s no expectations around who you think you are by riding it. The bike is also complete. Well, okay, as with any UJM, it can be a platform for your personalizations, but you don’t have to hit the accessories catalog or pump it up with pricey options to ’finish’ it. Engine response is sharp and precise and comes tuned for low-to-mid range power, so top-end is a little blah, but honestly if top-end performance is a concern for you, move up to the Z900. This bike is my cup o’ tea. I like the look, and I like the performance.”

2022 Kawasaki Z650RS Specifications

Engine & Drivetrain:
Engine: 4-stroke, 2-cylinder, DOHC, liquid-cooled
Displacement: 649 cc
Bore x Stroke: 83.0 mm x 60.0 mm
Maximum Torque: 48.5 lb-ft @ 6,500 rpm
Compression Ratio: 10.8:1
Fuel System: DFI® with Keihin 36 mm throttle bodies
Ignition: TCBI with electronic advance
Transmission: 6-speed, return shift
Final Drive: Sealed chain
Chassis:
Frame: Trellis, high tensile steel
Front Suspension / Wheel Travel: Telescopic fork/4.9 in
Rear Suspension / Wheel Trave: Horizontal back-link with adjustable spring preload/5.1 in
Rake/Trail: 24.0°/3.9 in
Front Tire: 120/70 ZR17
Rear Tire: 160/60 ZR17
Front Brakes: Dual 300 mm discs with two-piston calipers, ABS
Rear Brakes: Single 220 mm disc, ABS
Dimensions & Capacities:
Overall Length: 81.3 in
Overall Width: 31.5 in
Overall Height: 43.9 in
Ground Clearance: 4.9 in
Seat Height: 31.5 in
Curb Weight: 412.3 lb
Fuel Capacity: 3.2 gal
Wheelbase: 55.3 in
Details:
Engine Management Technology: Assist & Slipper Clutch, Dual Throttle Valves, Economical Riding Indicator
Chassis Management Technology: ABS (Anti-lock Brake System), Horizontal Back-link Rear Suspension
Warranty: 12 Month Limited Warranty with optional Kawasaki Protection Plus™ 12, 24, 26 or 48 month
Colors: Candy Emerald Green, Metallic Moondust Gray/Ebony
Price: $8,999

Further Reading

Kawasaki

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Read more Kawasaki news.

Source: All-New 2022 Kawasaki Z650RS | The Retrovolution Begins

TJ Hinton
TJ Hinton
T.J got an early start from his father and other family members who owned and rode motorcycles, and by helping with various mechanical repairs throughout childhood. That planted a seed that grew into a well-rounded appreciation of all things mechanical, and eventually, into a formal education of same. Though primarily a Harley rider, he has an appreciation for all sorts of bikes and doesn't discriminate against any particular brand or region of origin. He currently holds an Associate's degree in applied mechanical science from his time at the M.M.I.  Read full bio
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