Kawasaki has been building the retro-flavored upright sport machine known as the Z900RS for a few years now, and it is packed with an impressive 109 horsepower and 72 ft-lb of torque. It’s extremely cool and fun, but it is hardly a -package aimed at novice riders. As it turns out, beginners often want an old-school bike, but don’t want to deal with the headaches of carburetors and tired parts, but the 900 was just too hardcore for many of those riders. Enter the Z650RS, which is still gorgeously throwback styled, but fitted with the more manageable 67 horsepower and 47 ft-lb of torque 649cc parallel-twin from the Ninja 650 and Z650.
Oh yeah, that’s the sweet spot right there. Available in a grey with green striping colorway, or the gorgeous green with gold wheels style, it’s easy to see the Z650RS will be an instant classic. Honestly, if you don’t go for the gold wheels, you’re instantly wrong. It’s among the best looking motorcycles to launch in the last decade. Tidy up the rear plate up under the tail, screw in some chrome mirrors, and find yourself a nice terra-cotta-colored leather jacket and a bass-boat flake three-quarter helmet, and you’ll look like you rolled straight out of the mid-1970s.
That’s appropriate, because this bike clearly harkens back to Kawasaki’s original Z650 which debuted in 1976 in the same green over gold colorway. When you can not only run a retro bike, but call back to a previous design from the same company, you know you’ve got a straight up banger.
And to make matters all the better, this bike doesn’t even ride like it’s from the 1970s. It’s based on the same high-tensile trellis frame and suspension with the Ninja 650 and Z650! You still have all the modern handling and amenities from those mid-weight zippy machines, including the dual front rotor and ABS, and all the fuel injection tech you can shake a stick at. Power is about the same as it was in the 1970s, too, but with better fuel economy.
Kawasaki hasn’t yet announced this bike for the American market yet, as the company is launching nine new bikes (!!!!) between now and the end of November. The cover, however, was blown when the UK marketing team dropped the new materials a week or so early. There’s no news on exactly what the price will be when it gets here, but a brand new Ninja 650 will run you $7,699, so figure a little over 8 grand. The Z900RS costs about $1500 more than the Z900 it is based on, so the retro look comes at a premium. From what I’m seeing here, it’s probably worth it, though.