KawasakkiW650: Nosstal ia with ammodern touchh or wo
OLD IS THE new future and nostalgia is much more vivid than it used to be. If you don’t quiteq get it check out how many traaditional twins Hinckley Triumphh punts out everyy year.y If the modernn,, faux Bonneville and its analoogues aren’t your scene then there’s a real and viable alternativee out there... Kawasaki’sW6500.
On sale in Blighty from1990 through to 2006 itt offered a genuine alternative to the reborn Triumphs and, quiteq possibly,py, loooksmuchmore like the original’s proffile. Check out the swoopy seat; just like the one in grandad’ss album. Those silencers? Pure British styling.
The petrrol tankwith its chrome badge, contrasting colours and rubber knee padss is pureMeriden circa 1959; it could havve come off the drawing board of JackWiickes (go look himup). The side panels look like old-fashioned oil tanks, gaittered forksmaintain the illusion annd, for crying out loud, even the disc brake carrier looks like one of those devvilishly dangerous single leading shhoe drumbrakes. Arguably Kawasaki did a better jobwith Meriden’ss legacy thanHinckley did.
And thee good news is that it’s not all show andd bluster. Kawasaki’s bestever retroo is something of a tour de force in thhe engine department. Althoughh smallish by modern standardss the 676cc motor knocks out fairly creditable 50bhp at a not too frantiic 7000rpm.
If youwaant a non-sportsbikewith some ggenuine styley that doesn’t demand tot be ridden like a racetrack refugee thheW650maywell beworth considerinng. Tucked away in that compact parallelp twin is an eight-valve motor thaat runs a balance shaft to reduce thee fabled vibrations associated with the enginee layout.
The longg strokemotor allows the power to beb delivered in lopingmanner andmakees themost of the 21lb-ft of torque onn offer. In terms of bragging rights the W650 aces any of its direct competitopors in terms of the camdrive system. Foorget flailingmetalfl cam chains or toothed rubber beltswith
thheir attendant longevity issue; the Kaawasaki does it properly.
RunningR up the right-hand side of thhe motorm is a tunnel containing a bevel drrivemechanism. Ask any proper enngineer themost accurateway to drrive a camand theywill say gears. Knnowthat the original V-twinDucatiss ussed exactly the same systemand be suuitably impressed. Oh and inworld ofo hoomogeneity the bike still has a kickstaarter to back up its electric foot. Thiss feaature alonemakes it a real bike in soome people’s book.
InI terms of handling the bike is neveer gooing to embarrass an EN-6R but it coorners a lot better thanmanymight exxpect. With lower bars, some decent rear shocks and possibly stiffer fork spprings it’ll go around bends farmoree caapably thanmany of its ilk and can makem a very enjoyable B road hustler.
TheT KawasakiW650 is one of those machinesm that some see as a blank caanvas for tweaking,g tuningg and modifyingm and it seems towork ratherr weell. Flat trackers, scramblers and caffe raacers have all been very successfully prroduced fromthis bike. And if you waanted to add a little gravitas and kuudos to ownership look out for exraacer JamesWitham’s take on the bikee.
HeH and amate have created a pair of stuunning street scramblers that paroddy thheW650’s progenitorwhile taking thheir aesthetic cues fromearly 70s Kaawasaki strokers.
NotN so longg agog the JJapanesep factories were, rightly, accused of not beeing in touch with their heritage. Thhe
Japanesemindset was that yeesterday had already gone and in ordeer to generate profit and develop motorcycles they needed to loook to the future. With the demographicc getting older, manufacturers have suddenly seen that the futuremay lie inn the past. TheW650 apes the company’s earliest four stroke twins; the long runnningW1 andW2 series.
These bikes came courtesy ofo Kawasaki’s takeover of the ailiing Meguro company. With suitabble revisions and a capacity hike from500f to 650cc Kawasaki had a potenntial Brit beater that soldwell in Japan butb failed tomake significantgn inroads into Europe or the USA. By the end of themmodel’s run it was sporting forks, brakkes, clocks and sundry running gear origiinally destined for the legendary Z1 900.
Quite why the JapaneseMeguro factory would consider produucing a 500cc push rod parallel twinmmight seemodd in the extreme untiil youy pick up on one key point. It wasw licensed the design by themiighty BSA empire which had no further need to produce the A7 500 twin. So, theW650 has asmuch historic authenticity as themodern Triumphs... or poossibly evenmore!
Get joining If you fancy joinning a great band of vintage Japanese motorrcycle enthusiasts then check out membership_vjjmc@yahoo. coo. uk or 01634 361825/07948 563280