The old side-mounted rear shock has been discarded in favour of a conventional centrally- mounted horizontal shock with linkage. This reduces the load on the spring and improves the ride quality at both high and low speeds. The rear shock has preload adjustment, but the front 41mm forks are non-adjustable. Both the front and rear suspension are more than adequate out of the box. The Z650 is light, flickable and fun once you’ve managed to build some heat into the aging Dunlop Sportmax tyres which come as standard.
While there is provision for a pillion passenger, the rear seat is pretty small and the pegs quite high. so anyone riding on the back needs to be brave or very small, or both!
The 649cc DOHC engine is based on the old ER-6n but now meets tight Euro4 regulations. Kawasaki have actually lost a few peak bhp compared to the old model - 67.3bhp compared to the 71bhp of the previous model; this is probably due to having to meet new emissions and noise levels which has seen certain exhuast restrictions effect peak power, although the truth is, few will notice the missing four bhp. However, the new engine has a greater spread of torque in the low to mid-range. Peak torque is now 48.5ftlb at 6500rpm.
The new trellis frame is made using similar technology to that of Kawasaki’s flagship H2 sports-tourer. The finish is really impressive considering how competitively-priced priced the bike is. The new clocks are neater as is the overall styling. There are also a whole host of accessories if you wish to personalise your Zed; from an Akrapovic exhaust to soft panniers for touring. Vibrations from the parallel twin are only just noticeable at high speeds unlike the vibey original ER-6n that first appeared in 2005.
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At £6349 the Zed is excellent value for money and is priced similarly to Suzuki’s new SV650 and Yamaha’s award winning and hugely capable MT-07.
The MT-07 has certainly proved a firm favourite over the last few years, but the Z650 has a certain style to it and it's more of an all-rounder than the lively Yamaha. The SV650 has had a recent makeover, but is a little straight-laced in the looks department.
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As expected and in accordance with Euro4 regulations ABS comes as standard. Kawasaki has also fitted an assisted and slipper clutch for the first time which makes for light lever action when changing gears. The Slip and Assist clutch also prevents the rear wheel locking up if you stamp down through the gears. The new digital clocks are an added bonus.