MILAN SHOW: Kawasaki Z650 and Z900

Published: 08 November 2016

Hurriedly revealed at the Cologne show last month, despite no bikes being on show, after details of these new Zeds leaked out – Kawasaki have now unveiled them properly in Milan.

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Back to the Seventies

The Z650 name is well known to anyone with a knowledge of 1970s bikes, and this new namesake descendant kicks out not dissimilar power at 68bhp – although it achieves that with two fewer cylinders.

Actually the direct descendant of the ER-6n, it’s effectively a naked version of the new Ninja 650 (itself the ER-6f replacement). Kawasaki claim nimble handling, relatively light weight, and wide-ranging appeal, everything its predecessor managed, too. 

Z650 facts

  • 68bhp
  • 185kg
  • Seat height 790mm

The styling underlines the move away from ER family to Zed, with the new bike being almost indistinguishable from the current Z800.

The 649cc engine was not Euro4 in ER guise, but has had the same revisions as the Ninja 650 to make it so, with the focus on keeping low-to-mid-range torque, rather than top-end power. It also gets the firm’s Assist & Slipper clutch, which reduces lever pressure, but increases clutch pressure, and offers slipper functionality.

It tips the scales at 185kg, with its tubular chassis on show, and painted to resemble the Ninja H2’s. The reasonably low 790mm seat position is shared with the Ninja version, while the flat bars mean a more upright riding position, better suited to urban riding. Just like its clothed cousin, the Zed also gets a repositioned rear shock, removing it from the right flank to sit more conventionally up between the swingarm and back of the engine.

Those wanting a sportier look can fit an accessory seat cowl, while those seeking practicality will be pleased by the official accessory 14 litre panniers and 30 litre topbox.

The Z900 is back

The new Zed boasts a 948cc inline-four engine – nicked from the Z1000 – packed into an all-new trellis frame. At 210.5kg it’s hardly a lightweight, but Kawasaki claim the low seat height (794mm) and lightweight swingarm increase its flickability. Power is 123.6bhp, and Kawasaki say it’s happiest higher in the rev range, partly thanks to its lightweight crankshaft, suggesting that it’ll be the thrasher’s choice.

Z900 facts 

  • 123.5bhp
  • 210.5kg
  • Seat height 794mm

Gears one to five are close and short, with sixth being an overdrive (something the Z800 needed), while it also uses a 525 chain to reduce drive losses – all engaged and released by the Assist & Slipper clutch.

The 41mm inverted fork features stepless rebound damping and spring preload adjustability in the left tube, with the adjusters located on the fork top cap, while the rear monoshock is also rebound and preload adjustable.

The spec doesn’t make it sound like a naked icon, but it ought to be a very fine roadster.

 

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