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Kawasaki Z650 First Ride

16 June 2017, 05:50 PM Vikrant Singh

What is it?

Why I would buy one: It's a near perfect street bike. Easy and comfortable to ride, good handling, and exciting when you need it to be.

Why I wouldn't buy one: If you are tall or hefty or both, there just isn't enough room. And yes, it doesn’t give you much to brag about.

This, the Kawasaki Z650, is the non-fared, cheaper and a lighter version of the bike we quite liked - the Ninja 650. You can read more about it HERE.

As for the Z650, unlike its provocative name, it's quite simple in terms of design. This isn't a bike you would look at and admire for hours; if at all. And it also isn't something your riding buddies would drool over.

Now it is a smart looking bike, no two ways about that. It has this tiny peak that covers the straightforward instrumentation, a bulky tank with a few cuts and creases, and a sharp tail, which is smart looking but in the most generic sort of way. So, like we said, if it's attention you want on the road, this just won't do it. And by the way, you can only have it in green.

How does it ride?

Now when you swing a leg over and get going, all that talk about the Z650 being more Gracy Singh than Katrina Kaif, disappears. If you are wondering who Gracy Singh is, just Google it.

Kawasaki Z650 [2018-2019]

Kawasaki Z650 [2018-2019]

  • Displacement649 cc
  • Max Power(bhp)67.2 bhp
  • Kerb Weight186 kg
  • ;

Last known Avg. Ex-showroom price

₹ 5,85,614

For a start, with nearly 70bhp and 65Nm of torque, the 649cc parallel twin is anything but short on performance. The bike won't stand up on you or burn up its rear tyre every time you give it a wrist full of gas, but it does shorten the distance to the horizon in a hurry. Okay, that doesn't make sense because the horizon is an imaginary thingy, but you get the point. The 650 especially comes into its own in the mid range. But, even at a more pedestrian 2,000-3,000rpm, it is never lacking. Add to it a linear but alert throttle response along with a comfortable ride quality, good flickability and sharp and progressive brakes, and the Z650 makes for an easy to ride and easy to exploit middle-weight motorcycle particularly if you are looking at commuting on it.


But, here's the lovely part about the Z650 - it's tremendous fun on a twisty road as well. Once you are rolling at a decent speed, the otherwise heavy steering feels well weighted. Also, the wide handlebar gives you good leverage to change directions. And once turned in, the Z650 settles beautifully into the corner. There's accurate feel of what both the front and the rear are up to; the suspension goes about absorbing the corner undulations and bumps with poise; and those tyres have great levels of grip. The overall setup allows you to ride the Z650 a lot harder than one would expect of a 200kg plus, sit-up street bike.

Anything else I should know?

For all its great dynamic and commuting abilities, the Z650 could have done with lesser vibrations. It isn't so much of a bother around winding roads, but while commuting and especially if you decide to tour on it, the vibes are bound to get irritating.

There's also not much in terms of electronics on this Kawasaki. It gets ABS, which wasn't the case with its predecessor, the Er6n. But given the price of the Z650 and how the market has progressed, ride-by-wire throttle and the option to turn off the ABS (for the hooligans amongst us), would have been great additions. And though I never felt the need for a traction control system, it's a great safety net to have when you throw in near 70bhp and a wet road into the mix.

Not surprisingly, the Z650 also has a short feature list. An all-digital console with readings for range, average and instant fuel efficiency, time and the gear selected; hazard lights; and adjustable clutch and brake levers, is all it gets.

Should I buy one?

If you aren't chasing manic speeds or daydreaming about setting fast lap times, or doing a round-the-world trip, the Kawasaki Z650 should make for a great bike to have. It's ideal for those moving up from CBR250Rs or Ninja 300s. But, even for 390 Duke owners - who like me love nice handling, comfortable motorcycles that can also double up as a daily commute partner - the Z650 with its added performance, would be a worthy upgrade.

Where does it fit in?

The Kawasaki Z650 retails for Rs 6.3 lakh on the road in Mumbai. The only other 600cc street bike on sale in India is the Benelli TNT 600i. It costs around Rs 60,000 more. Then there's the Ninja 650. For an additional Rs 30,000 or thereabouts you get a fully faired motorcycle with much better wind protection.

Gear Check

1. Arai Vector Helmet Vector might be Arai’s entry-level helmet but it still has top notch fit, quality and safety. Wish it had a removal headliner though. Price: ₹ 30,000

2. TrackBreed One Piece Riding Suit The suit comes with great protection and offers a good fit. And one can customise it too. The only real downside is that it’s a little heavy. Price: ₹ 39,500

3. Ixon RS Circuit HP Gloves Not the best full-glautlet gloves I have used but the Ixons do a fair job be it comfort or protection. Price: ₹ 8,000

4. TCX S-Speed boots Not exactly track focused, but the S-Speed still work well on both track and street. Not the best to spend a day in, though. Price: ₹ 19,500


Pictures by Kapil Angane