KAWASAKI W650 (1999-2006) Review

Published: 23 November 2006

"Styling is spot on – closer to a 60s Bonneville than Triumph's own latter day replica"

Kawasaki W650 motorcycle review - Riding

"Styling is spot on – closer to a 60s Bonneville than Triumph's own latter day replica"

  • At a glance
  • 675cc  -  49 bhp
  • 51 mpg  -  165 miles range
  • Insurance group: 8 of 17
    Compare insurance quotes now
  • Medium seat height (800mm)

Overall Rating 4 out of 5

Relive the 60s with the delightful Kawasaki W650. Styling is spot on – the exhausts are closer to a 60s Bonneville than Triumph’s own latter day replica. Modern handling, engine and reliability means all the joy of a classic with none of the grief. Relaxed performance unlike the Boneneville of the 1960s.

Ride Quality & Brakes 3 out of 5

Despite a dry weight of 195kg, the Kawasaki W650's small size makes it feel far lighter and more controllable. Suspension’s not sophisticated, ground clearance is far from limitless but this is no sports bike – compared to a cruiser it’s nimble and capable. The Kawasaki can feel bouncy if you press on or take a pillion.

Engine 3 out of 5

The Kawasaki W650's parallel twin is a real softy, borderline weakling. Claimed 49bhp is barely enough anywhere other than in town or bopping gently down those sunny memory-lanes – the firms own budget, 500cc twin, the  ER-5 manages more. Fine if you’re not after life in the fast (or even middle) lane.

Build Quality & Reliability 4 out of 5

Most examples of the Kawasaki W650 get a relatively easy life and few problems are reported. Engine is in such a low state of tune it should last well. If a bike is neglected, the lashings of chrome will tell the tale. The centre stand decks out with enthusiastic cornering so check if buying used.

Insurance, running costs & value 2 out of 5

Before Triumph released their Bonneville the Kawasaki W650 was a great buy for someone looking for a bike like this. The British bike is a little heavier but has a smidge more power – and has the right name on the tank. Unfortunately the W650’s only a bargain when discounted. At least insurance and running costs are low. Find a Kawasaki W650 for sale.

Insurance group: 8 of 17 – compare motorcycle insurance quotes now.

Equipment 3 out of 5

The Kawasaki W650's standard kit is fairly limited but you don’t expect an on board computer on a bike like this. A kit was available in 2002 to turn the bike into a café racer. Soft and hard panniers plus rails are available from Kawasaki as are engine bars.

Owners' Reviews

7 owners have reviewed their KAWASAKI W650 (1999-2006) and rated it in a number of areas. Read what they have to say and what they like and dislike about the bike below.

We’re currently improving the way this section works, which means we’ve had to suspend the submission of new owners’ reviews for a short period. Please check back soon.

Summary of Owners' Reviews
Overall Rating 4.7 out of 5
Ride Quality & Brakes 3.4 out of 5
Engine 4.6 out of 5
Build Quality & Reliability 4.7 out of 5
Value & Running Costs 4.7 out of 5
Equipment 3.3 out of 5
5 out of 5

Retro starts here

02 January 2009 by MAN150W

The Kawasaki W650 makes the purrfect partner on all the best roads, it bobs and weaves with ease round the A and B roads, managable, easy on the wrists, pulls at the lowest in 5th and motors away...just great. For relaxed road cruising the W650 is... Read more one of a kind - although could do with a little more on the power band - about 55-60bhp; I'd buy another...shame they stopped making them.

Overall Rating 5 out of 5
Ride Quality & Brakes 4 out of 5
Engine 5 out of 5
Build Quality & Reliability 5 out of 5
Value & Running Costs 5 out of 5
Equipment 3 out of 5
4 out of 5

Retro but Reliable

03 November 2008 by chopper07

I chose the W650 on looks and riding position. I was looking for a standard that looked like a retro crusier and found it in the W650. A dream to ride at low speeds. Thifty to maintain. Lots of comments by other riders and passers by. Hates... Read more speed; scary wobble at high speeds. Orphaned by Kawasaki USA right when it could have gotten its foothold (few aftermarket parts available in the USA). I wish that Kawasaki would bring it back to the USA with more power and less wobble. If they don't I'm buying a Triumph Thruxton... soon! Classic Vertical Twins really grow on you.

Overall Rating 4 out of 5
Ride Quality & Brakes 3 out of 5
Engine 5 out of 5
Build Quality & Reliability 5 out of 5
Value & Running Costs 5 out of 5
Equipment 4 out of 5
5 out of 5

What Biking is About!

10 October 2008 by redland4451

The W650 is a real back to basics bike - very little plastic, lots of shiny metal bits and a great sound from the exhausts (if you remove the baffles!). For cruising about on a sunny day or commuting this bike is easy to ride, cheap to insure and... Read more frugal on fuel.

Overall Rating 5 out of 5
Ride Quality & Brakes 3 out of 5
Engine 5 out of 5
Build Quality & Reliability 5 out of 5
Value & Running Costs 5 out of 5
Equipment 3 out of 5
5 out of 5

What Biking is About!

10 October 2008 by redland4451

The W650 is a real back to basics bike - very little plastic, lots of shiny metal bits and a great sound from the exhausts (if you remove the baffles!). For cruising about on a sunny day or commuting this bike is easy to ride, cheap to insure and... Read more frugal on fuel.

Overall Rating 5 out of 5
Ride Quality & Brakes 3 out of 5
Engine 5 out of 5
Build Quality & Reliability 5 out of 5
Value & Running Costs 5 out of 5
Equipment 3 out of 5
5 out of 5

Cool-Bike

22 February 2008 by crasherboyRoy

I have been luck enough too have had two W650's and have had the pure retro pleasure of blasting 30,000miles. Top bike great looks, almost the power of the CB500 top-end more bottem-end, handling could be better but i can still get the pegs down,... Read more equipment wise just enough for a air-cooled rev counter lovely exhaust sound over 4.5k. Value good as i been luck the first one i had put 15k on it and sold for the same money. Finally the old-women loves it, flat seat been 110 two-up in the sun looking good & feeling great, as well as super in town Wide bars rule. Treat yourself

Overall Rating 5 out of 5
Ride Quality & Brakes 4 out of 5
Engine 5 out of 5
Build Quality & Reliability 4 out of 5
Value & Running Costs 5 out of 5
Equipment 4 out of 5
4 out of 5

W650

24 August 2007 by keithh

If you want something retro, this is a great bike to consider. It's my second bike and I try only to take it out in the dry cos its not the easiest to clean - but I commute on it (72 mpg) and do Sunday rides. The limited power means planning... Read more overtakes. Its also rather rewarding to work a bike hard sometimes - much easier on this than on bigger bike.

Overall Rating 4 out of 5
Ride Quality & Brakes 3 out of 5
Engine 3 out of 5
Build Quality & Reliability 4 out of 5
Value & Running Costs 3 out of 5
Equipment 3 out of 5
5 out of 5

First mid sized/bigger bike

18 March 2007 by philtreefrog

What can i say, the W650 is a fantastic bike, used as a commuter and took me through europe last year fully laden cruising at an average of 70-80mph. Looks good and I get lots of questions from people when I park up. I'm a short arse so the seat... Read more height suits me fine. What more can you ask for, a bike that commutes, draws admiring looks, cheap to buy and run, easy to maintain, less common that the bonneville and tours europe with ease (with a fly screen!). Bloody great and well recommended.

Overall Rating 5 out of 5
Ride Quality & Brakes 4 out of 5
Engine 4 out of 5
Build Quality & Reliability 5 out of 5
Value & Running Costs 5 out of 5
Equipment 3 out of 5
Read all 7 owners' reviews in full

Facts & Figures

Model info
Year introduced 1999
Year discontinued 2006
Original price -
Warranty term (when new) Two year unlimited mileage
Running costs
Insurance group 8 of 17
Annual road tax £80
Annual service cost -
Performance
Max power 49 bhp
Max torque 41 ft-lb
Top speed 110 mph
1/4-mile acceleration 14.2 secs
Average fuel consumption 51 mpg
Tank range 165 miles
Specification
Engine size 675cc
Engine type 8v parallel twin, 6 gears
Frame type Steel double cradle
Fuel capacity 15 litres
Seat height 800mm
Bike weight 195kg
Front suspension None
Rear suspension Preload
Front brake Single 300mm disc
Rear brake Drum
Front tyre size 100/90 x 19
Rear tyre size 130/80 x 18

History & Versions

Model history

1999: Kawasaki W650 launched.
2006: Model deleted.

Other versions

None.

Photo Gallery

  • Kawasaki W650 motorcycle review - Riding
  • Kawasaki W650 motorcycle review - Side view
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  • Kawasaki W650 motorcycle review - Instruments
  • Kawasaki W650 motorcycle review - Riding
  • Kawasaki W650 motorcycle review - Riding
  • Kawasaki W650 motorcycle review - Brakes
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  • Kawasaki W650 motorcycle review - Rear view
  • Kawasaki W650 motorcycle review - Instruments
  • Kawasaki W650 motorcycle review - Engine
  • Kawasaki W650 motorcycle review - Riding
  • Kawasaki W650 motorcycle review - Side view
  • Kawasaki W650 motorcycle review - Side view
  • Kawasaki W650 motorcycle review - Riding
  • Kawasaki W650 motorcycle review - Side view
  • Kawasaki W650 motorcycle review - Side view
  • Kawasaki W650 motorcycle review - Side view
  • Kawasaki W650 motorcycle review - Instruments
  • Kawasaki W650 motorcycle review - Riding
  • Kawasaki W650 motorcycle review - Riding
  • Kawasaki W650 motorcycle review - Brakes
  • Kawasaki W650 motorcycle review - Engine
  • Kawasaki W650 motorcycle review - Rear view
  • Kawasaki W650 motorcycle review - Instruments
  • Kawasaki W650 motorcycle review - Engine
  • Kawasaki W650 motorcycle review - Riding
  • Kawasaki W650 motorcycle review - Side view
  • Kawasaki W650 motorcycle review - Side view