KAWASAKI Z650 (2020 - on) Review


  • Updated Euro5 engine remains engaging and user friendly
  • Impressive handling package let down by OE tyres
  • Only bike in its class to feature a TFT dash

At a glance

Owners' reliability rating: 4.6 out of 5 (4.6/5)
Annual servicing cost: £130
Power: 67 bhp
Seat height: Medium (31.1 in / 790 mm)
Weight: Medium (415 lbs / 188 kg)


New £6,649
Used £4,600 - £6,500

Overall rating

Next up: Ride & brakes
4 out of 5 (4/5)

The latest Kawasaki Z650 is an update to the naked motorbike first introduced for 2017 as a replacement for the ageing ER-6n series. It's Kawasaki’s latest answer to Suzuki’s dependable SV650 and Yamaha’s effervescent MT-07.

Aimed at both new riders looking for their first big bike, as well as experienced motorcyclists wanting something with useable power, it boasted a lighter steel trellis chassis, modern styling and greater refinement - plus updates to its onboard tech.

For 2020, Kawasaki have given the bike its first major update; retaining the same striking frame, banana-styled swingarm and suspension components and pairing them with a Euro5-compliant engine, mature new bodywork, a TFT dash and more.

Lightweight and user-friendly, it’s a first 'big bike' to be proud of and a noticeable improvement on the outgoing model. Despite a gentle loss in peak torque in pursuit of emissions compliance, the charming twin-cylinder engine has lost none of its original character, with an enthusiastic bark capable of thrilling even the most experienced of riders.

Although an impressive package, it is slightly let down by its new Dunlop tyres and taller riders may find the standard riding position a little too cramped.

In early 2022 Kawasaki launched a new line of Z650s to celebrate 50 years of the Zed name.

Watch our 2020 Kawasaki Z650 video review below:

Ride quality & brakes

Next up: Engine
3 out of 5 (3/5)

Where Kawasaki have updated other areas of the 2020 Z650, both the original chassis and suspension components remain. This is no bad thing though, with the bike capable of soaking up the majority of ruts and crevices found on the daily urban commute, as well as putting a grin on your face at the weekend along a backroad.

Built with new riders in mind, the 41mm non-adjustable front forks and pre-load adjustable rear shock are quite softly sprung, making the bike feel comfortable and forgiving for novices. There are no power modes, or traction control (not that it needs them), with ABS being the only electronic safety intervention.

Perfectly pleasant around town, it’s only when you want to really press on that you start to notice issues, with the basic forks diving noticeably during aggressive braking manoeuvres. What’s more, heavy applications of the front lever on bumpier country roads will soon see the ABS kick in – pumping back against your fingertips – which could deter more experienced riders.

Outside of aggressive grabs though, the brakes are impressive, with the dual front two-piston calipers and 300mm petal discs offering decent power and a good level of feel - perfect for normal everyday riding scenarios.

Cornering on the 2020 Kawasaki Z650

That said, once into a corner, the bike feels planted and stable and will change direction quickly - making it a joy to behold on the many Spanish coastal switchbacks experienced at its launch.

Away from the suspension, Kawasaki have also swapped out the original bike’s Dunlop Sportmax D214 tyres for a set of Dunlop Sportmax Roadsport 2s.

Although providing enough grip in the dry for new riders and non-aggressive commuters, they offer very little feedback over wet tarmac, feeling vague on corner entry and occasionally braking traction at the rear under hard acceleration in the lower gears.

As the temperatures increased, so did my confidence, however they spoil what is an otherwise brilliantly handling motorcycle. This could be easily remedied with a new set of rubber though, with plenty of sport and road-focussed choices available for the standard 17in dimensions.

The same chassis, brakes and suspension remain from the 2017 Kawasaki Z650


Next up: Reliability
4 out of 5 (4/5)

To comply with Euro5, Kawasaki have lightly tickled the 649cc parallel-twin engine; increasing the volume of the catalyser and altering the exhaust silencer layout for greater efficiency. They also claim to have improved midrange torque by altering the duct between the airbox and throttle bodies.

Peak power remains the same 67.1bhp as the first model, however peak torque is now down by 1.3ftlb. That said, it has lost none of its charm and remains an utter delight in both urban and rural settings; delivering a gravelly gurgle from tick-over all the way to its 10,000rpm redline and an addictive pop on the overrun.

The 2020 Kawasaki Z650 engine is Euro5 compliant

For days when you don’t want to chase the rev counter, there’s also plenty of meat in the middle, allowing you to be lazy with the gears around town and during relaxed overtakes.

As well as being impressive in its full power setting, for just £31 plus labour, the Z650 can also be restricted to be A2-compliant. Producing 47bhp (35kW), full power can then be unlocked once on a full category A licence - delivering that big bike feel, without having to purchase another motorcycle.

Reliability & build quality

Next up: Value
4 out of 5 (4/5)

Available with either a two-or-four-year warranty, the latest generation Z650 feels like a well-built, premium motorcycle, despite its competitive, wallet-friendly pricing. Our 2020 Kawasaki Z650 owners' reviews show no prevailing reliability issues.

What’s more, MCN owners' reviews of the previous model show nothing but praise for reliability. There are no reasons to believe it will be anything other than a dependable steed.

Value vs rivals

Next up: Equipment

The Z650 sports a premium look that wouldn’t seem out of place on a larger capacity machine, far outstretching its sub-seven-grand price tag. Alongside the equivalent Yamaha and Suzuki, it’s a breath of fresh air and you can’t help but steal glances of yourself in shopfronts as you glide by.

With LED lighting at the front and rear, a more angular front cowling and greater pronounced radiator shrouds, practical revisions also include a new pillion perch, which is 5mm thicker in the middle and 10mm fatter at the sides for increased comfort.

Although arguably better looking and better equipped than both the Suzuki SV650 and Yamaha MT-07 at its launch, the Kawasaki’s 2020 base price of £6649 was a whole £650 more than the V-Twin Suzuki, which, although more basic, produces slightly more power, at 74.9bhp.

For 2021, the SV climbs to £6599, with the Z650 starting at £6849. Yamaha also revealed a new £6902 MT-07 for this year - which is just under £50 cheaper than the Zed in its more premium colour schemes.

Watch a video review of the rival Yamaha MT-07 below:


4 out of 5 (4/5)

Keen to appeal to younger tech-savvy riders looking for a first big bike, the Z650 now features a 4.3in colour TFT dash. The sophisticated unit displays all of the key information you want in a simplistic design that’s easy to read on the move in all light conditions.

Altering settings is also easily done at a standstill, thanks to an intuitive two-button operating system. Setting it apart from its LCD-clad direct competition, the device can also be paired to your mobile phone, via Bluetooth, using the brand’s Rideology app.

Recording details like your top speed, fuel gauge, odometer, servicing schedule and more, the device also allows for text and call alerts on the bike’s dashboard. What’s more, details shown on the dash can also be configured through the app, including units of measurements, dates and times. Whether or not you would continue to use it once the novelty had worn off remains to be seen…

The Kawasaki Z650 now features a TFT dash

As well as a fancy dash, you can also truly make the new Z650 your own, thanks to a raft of optional extra, ranging from soft luggage, to fly screens and from tank pads, to frame sliders. Those wanting the bike in either white or black will have to pay an additional £100 over the £6649 lime green base model, too.

Although we were unable to test many extras at the launch, we were able to sample the optional taller rider’s seat, which boosts the standard 790mm height by a further 30mm. Costing an additional £139.95, this is a worthwhile option for any rider taller than around 5ft4in, with the standard riding position feeling slightly cramped for even this 5ft6in tester.

Perched higher, you feel less like you’re sat inside the bike, with the extra leg room and cushioning for your backside making it a nicer place to be during longer stints in the saddle. What’s more, the cut of the optional seat, also forces you further over the bars, without putting any extra strain on your wrists – adding to the already engaging riding experience.

Kawasaki Z650 updated for 2021

A side view of the 2021 Kawasaki Z650

Kawasaki announced minor colour changes to the Z650 back in October 2020. Available from December onwards, the first of these mimics a livery available for the 2021 four-cylinder Z900; finished in white with a lime green trellis chassis and wheels. Also available is a black and lime green option, plus a stealthy black alternative.


Engine size 649cc
Engine type Liquid-cooled, 8v DOHC parallel twin
Frame type Steel trellis
Fuel capacity 15 litres
Seat height 790mm
Bike weight 188kg
Front suspension 41mm telescopic fork, non-adjustable
Rear suspension Single shock, pre-load adjustable
Front brake Dual 300mm semi-floating petal discs, two-piston calipers
Rear brake 220mm single disc, one-piston caliper
Front tyre size 120/70 x 17
Rear tyre size 160/60 x 17

Mpg, costs & insurance

Average fuel consumption -
Annual road tax £117
Annual service cost £130
New price £6,649
Used price £4,600 - £6,500
Insurance group -
How much to insure?
Warranty term Two years

Top speed & performance

Max power 67 bhp
Max torque 47.2 ft-lb
Top speed -
1/4 mile acceleration -
Tank range -

Model history & versions

Model history

2017: Kawasaki launch the Z650. Taking over from the popular ER-6n, which first appeared in 2005, the first-generation twin-cylinder Zed got a Euro4-friendly parallel 649cc 8v twin.

Although a similar recipe to the final version of the '6n, the first Z650 actually weighed 17kg less; thanks to things like a new steel trellis chassis and banana swingarm (which both remain for 2020).

Watch MCN's 2017 Kawasaki Z650 video review here:

Other versions

Kawasaki Ninja 650Also updated for 2020, the middleweight Ninja shares the same basic engine and chassis as the Zed, however, is wrapped in a new full fairing, reminiscent of Kawasaki’s supersport models. Although more aggressive than the Z650, it remains a practical bike, with comfortable upright bars.

Like the naked, there is also the same TFT screen, extra-comfy pillion seat, LED headlights, tyres and mobile phone connectivity.

Owners' reviews for the KAWASAKI Z650 (2020 - on)

5 owners have reviewed their KAWASAKI Z650 (2020 - on) and rated it in a number of areas. Read what they have to say and what they like and dislike about the bike below.

Review your KAWASAKI Z650 (2020 - on)

Summary of owners' reviews

Overall rating: 3.8 out of 5 (3.8/5)
Ride quality & brakes: 4 out of 5 (4/5)
Engine: 4.2 out of 5 (4.2/5)
Reliability & build quality: 4.6 out of 5 (4.6/5)
Value vs rivals: 4.6 out of 5 (4.6/5)
Equipment: 4 out of 5 (4/5)
Annual servicing cost: £130
4 out of 5 Excellent Middle Weight Bike!
31 July 2023 by redz59

Version: ABS SE

Year: 2020

Annual servicing cost: £200

Best features - ergonomics! perfect fit for a smaller rider. great linear power delivery, reliable = low maintenance costs. Weak points = Dunlop tires. I replace the OEM with Metzeler Sportec M7 ... noticeable improvement in handling, and the OEM handlebar ... least favourite part on the bike. Yes! I would recommend this bike to a friend. As riders we make a choice between under-utilizing a bike with 100+BHP or riding a middle weight 70 BHP to 2/3rd of its capabilities. With the cost of insurance, I chose the latter

Ride quality & brakes 5 out of 5

Sweet spot is between 80-110kms and is comfortable enough to ride out a tank of gas or the need for a coffee

Engine 4 out of 5

Engine performance is linear and predictable ... first gear is adequate. I'll preface this as I previously owned a Triumph Street Triple 675R with 105 BPH

Reliability & build quality 5 out of 5

no repairs to date ... regular servicing only ... oil change, brake fluid and minor adjustments to cables

Value vs rivals 5 out of 5
Equipment 4 out of 5

I've added Koso heated grips (controller is built into the grip, keeps the look clean, upgraded tires to Metzeler Sportec M7=better handling and Akropovic Titanium Exhaust (add 3+ BPH) and improved the performance just enough

Buying experience: Purchased from an excellent Kawasaki dealer - Niagara Race Crafters, wonderful service and bike was sold as a demo plus Kawasaki incentives. Paid slightly less than MSRP

4 out of 5
03 January 2023 by Gibby

Year: 2022

Still running in , Brakes excellent.

Ride quality & brakes 4 out of 5
Engine 4 out of 5
Reliability & build quality 4 out of 5
Value vs rivals 4 out of 5
Equipment 5 out of 5

Buying experience: Dealer great service. 7650 paid £7500

4 out of 5
12 December 2022 by Gibby

Year: 2022

Very light

Ride quality & brakes 4 out of 5
Engine 4 out of 5
Reliability & build quality 4 out of 5
Value vs rivals 4 out of 5
Equipment 4 out of 5

Buying experience: Dealer Ad price £7650,Paid £7500

4 out of 5
31 October 2022 by thairider

Year: 2020

Annual servicing cost: £60

A well built lightweight naked, with enough usable power to have lots of fun.

Ride quality & brakes 4 out of 5

The front forks in original form are too softly sprung for any kind of performance riding. I replaced the springs with some from an Ohlins kit and that firmed the forks up. Stock Dunlop Roadsport 2 tires are not good. They can't handle the torque from this twin and the rear tire would frequently lose traction in lower gears. Handling was not confidence inspiring either. I replaced the tires with a set of Michelin Power 5 tires and that vastly improved traction and handling. Brakes do a good job of bringing the speed down quickly.

Engine 5 out of 5

The engine pulls strongly from the lower rpm range. The throttle is very jerky, especially in lower gears. I had a flash tune done which significantly improved the smoothness, although some throttle jerking is still there. It is a very usable engine around town and on the highway.

Reliability & build quality 5 out of 5

After more than a year of ownership, I am impressed with the design and build quality. Paintwork and general fit and finish are excellent. So far no reliability issues after 4,500 kilometers of riding.

Value vs rivals 5 out of 5

I had an oil change done for the one year servicing and the cost with full synthetic oil is not high, partly because the oil capacity of these engines only requires less than 2 liters. Replacement part cost in Thailand is very reasonable as I found after replacing a couple of parts to fix some minor cosmetic damage. Petrol usage is about 22.5 kilometers per liter.

Equipment 4 out of 5

Aside from ABS, it's a very basic motorcycle as far as equipment goes. The TFT display is a great feature - easy to read and good amount of information. Traction control would have been a beneficial feature, but you'll have to buy a 2023 Z650 to get that.

Buying experience: The buying experience in Thailand was not the best. The dealer was not up front about the year of manufacture for my Z650. It turns out mine was made in late 2019, but built to 2020 specs. The way vehicle documentation works in Thailand, they usually consider the year of manufacture as the year of the motorcycle and this can cause insurance valuation issues.

3 out of 5
01 November 2020 by Joseph Stalin

Year: 2020

I've had this bike for about 12 hours of testing, Really light flicky bike, very predictable and will allow novice riders to build up alot of confidence. For the average rider... a bit dull i much preferred the MT, SV i think they have more to offer

Ride quality & brakes 3 out of 5

The susspension is on the soft side but not to say it cant be adjusted. i really cant get on with the riding position leaves my back aching after anymore then 2 hours constant riding, The tail has a slight kick with a pretty hard seat.

Engine 4 out of 5

A little on the ropey side down the revs, pretty gutless engine but thats not what this bike is really about it does what it says on the tin.

Reliability & build quality 5 out of 5

Can't really comment the bike was new and and showed no issues.

Value vs rivals 5 out of 5

I must admit really good mpg around town especially. its a pretty standard Jap bike with nothing really special about it so i can't imagine being supprised with anything on servicing

Equipment 3 out of 5

Comes with ABS, I don't poticulally like driving aids or driving modes so for me this isnt an issue, The Dash is really nice, i also find it really reallllyyy annoying and distracting, As soon as you get to 3500rpm the fun begins of the dash turning into a flashing christmas tree. if ive got the throttle wide open close to the rev limiter im clearly not intersted at that point in economy.

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