Skip to content

Kawasaki W650 Retro Motorbike Review

Find By Make/Model

1 of 15
Kawasaki W650 motorcycle review - Riding
Click to enlarge
Previous image Next image

MCN overall verdict rating is 4

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.

Engine

MCN rating rating is 3
Owners' rating rating is 4.5

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.

Ride and Handling

MCN rating rating is 3
Owners' rating rating is 3

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.

Equipment

MCN rating rating is 3
Owners' rating rating is 3

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.

Kawasaki W650 (1999-2006)

Detail Value
Used price range View Kawasaki W650 bikes for sale to see current asking prices
Engine size 675 cc
Power 49 bhp
Top speed 110 mph
Insurance group 8 of 17
  MCN ratings Owners' ratings
Overall rating is 4 rating is 4.5
Engine rating is 3 rating is 4.5
Ride & Handling rating is 3 rating is 3
Equipment rating is 3 rating is 3
Quality & Reliability rating is 4 rating is 4.5
Value rating is 2 rating is 4.5

Quality and Reliability

MCN rating rating is 4
Owners' rating rating is 4.5

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.

Value

MCN rating rating is 2
Owners' rating rating is 4.5

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

Insurance group: 8 of 17

Compare motorcycle insurance quotes now

Model History

1999: Kawasaki W650 launched.
2006: Model deleted.

Other Versions

None.

Specifications

Top speed 110 mph
1/4-mile acceleration 14.2 secs
Max power 49 bhp
Max torque 41 ft-lb
Weight 195 kg
Seat height 800 mm
Fuel capacity 15 litres
Average fuel consumption 51 mpg
Tank range 165 miles
Annual road tax
Insurance group 8 of 17
Engine size 675 cc
Engine specification 8v parallel twin, 6 gears
Frame Steel double cradle
Front suspension adjustment None
Rear suspension adjustment Preload
Front brakes Single 300mm disc
Rear brake Drum
Front tyre size 100/90 x 19
Rear tyre size 130/80 x 18

See all Kawasaki W650 motorcycles for sale

Kawasaki
W650

8000 miles

£5,000

Kawasaki
W650

9000 miles

£3,995

Kawasaki
W650

11254 miles

£3,795

Owners' Overall Rating rating is 4(7 reviews)

  • Retro starts here

    MAN150W

    Average rating rating is 4.5

    Show Details

    Overall
    Ride and Handling
    Equipment
    Quality and Reliabilty
    Value
    Engine

    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 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.

    02 January 2009

  • Retro but Reliable

    chopper07

    Average rating rating is 4

    Show Details

    Overall
    Ride and Handling
    Equipment
    Quality and Reliabilty
    Value
    Engine

    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 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.

    03 November 2008

  • What Biking is About!

    redland4451

    Average rating rating is 4

    Show Details

    Overall
    Ride and Handling
    Equipment
    Quality and Reliabilty
    Value
    Engine

    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 frugal on fuel.

    10 October 2008

  • What Biking is About!

    redland4451

    Average rating rating is 4

    Show Details

    Overall
    Ride and Handling
    Equipment
    Quality and Reliabilty
    Value
    Engine

    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 frugal on fuel.

    10 October 2008

  • Cool-Bike

    Roy Angell

    Bexleyheath , UK

    Average rating rating is 4.5

    Show Details

    Overall
    Ride and Handling
    Equipment
    Quality and Reliabilty
    Value
    Engine

    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, 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

    22 February 2008

  • W650

    keithh

    Average rating rating is 3

    Show Details

    Overall
    Ride and Handling
    Equipment
    Quality and Reliabilty
    Value
    Engine

    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 overtakes. Its also rather rewarding to work a bike hard sometimes - much easier on this than on bigger bike.

    24 August 2007

  • First mid sized/bigger bike

    philtreefrog

    Average rating rating is 4

    Show Details

    Overall
    Ride and Handling
    Equipment
    Quality and Reliabilty
    Value
    Engine

    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 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.

    18 March 2007

Page

Discuss this

Add your comment
deanix

deanixsays

First big bike

I live in Kobe, Japan and before I could countenance getting my W, I had to pass their 'ohgata' (large size) test which makes it qualify as a 'big 'un' in my book. As I am now 58, 40 years ago when I was 'lad the 650 BSA Lightning was my object of desire, but the ready money was a big problem (as well as a licence). Ten years ago I finally got my 'Lightning' in the form of the W as the original W series were based on BSA designs upgraded a bit. I call her Black Mariah and it has been a great time with her for 38000 km or so. Just right for the switchback mountain roads but able to cruise at the legal limit and deliver 75mpg is my kind of machine. The missus likes her too and loves to go out on a fine day. The Kawasaki factory is just down the road so spares are no problem. Not that she's needed any apart from plugs, oil filters etc. I don't think I'll ever sell her...

08 October 2012 12:10

nooby

noobysays

Love my W650..

I bought my Kawasaki 2004 W650 in April 08 and am having a love affair with the bike. It looks fantastic, rides like a dream and puts a smile on peoples faces.
I've added a small Dart flyscreen, a rear rack, replaced the slightly ugly tail light and indicators with cooler smaller ones and put Beston style grips on and now it is my dream bike. Cleaning it has to be some big part of the hobbie mind you, but it's like looking at a girlie mag the thing is so good looking.

15 November 2008 02:53

sprag

User's Badge

spragsays

too right..... fantastic bike

I bought one when they first came into the country in '99 and kept it for 3 years. It brought back memories of my old Bonnie from the 1960's but without the oil leak.

If I had the money I'd buy another, no question. Triumph have at last made 'their' Bonneville a bit more like the original but Kawasaki got it right first time.

14 December 2007 19:43

Most popular

Rate my bike

Related News