While its design and ergos might tell a tale of an easy-going and relaxed motorcycle, the performance that the Z650 offers is quite thrilling. Even as the 649cc comes to life, it sings the song of a true-blue Kawasaki parallel-twin sportbike rather than the typical bassy flutter retro motorcycles are known for.
Right from the start, the engine comes across as smooth and refined. But more importantly, it is extremely tractable for a high-capacity motor and can tread along in 6th gear as low as 2200rpm without any shudder. And when you wring the throttle, the Z650 RS reaches triple-digit speeds in no time and with no strain even as the needle hits 10,000rpm. There is a bit of a buzz at around 5000rpm on the handlebars, but that’s hardly noticeable.
What makes the ride even pleasant is the way the Z650 puts down its 68bhp. It isn’t exactly explosive but still manages to plaster a smile without threatening to soil your pants. Although as you shift through the six-speed gearbox and manage to cross 150kmph, the lack of wind protection makes it a task to hold on to the Z650 RS. Tone it down a bit and the motorcycle can manage a cruising speed of a good 120-130kmph all day. That said, the Nissin calipers come with slow things down at a drop of a hat. Offering incredible feel and sharp bite at both ends, the setup showed no sign of fade even after extensive use.
And its somewhat sports bike-like performance also complements its somewhat sportbike-like handling. It might not feel sharp to turn in, but the Z650 is fun around corners. Although the Dunlop Sportmax RoadSport tyres fail to provide enough grip and confidence, keeping the Z650 RS from its full potential. In the city, the Z650 RS feels right at home. It is easily maneuverable thanks to its compact size, low kerb weight, and punchy engine that allows for quick overtakes. Moreover, even after being stuck in Mumbai’s infamous traffic for an hour, the Z650 RS didn’t heat much.