KawasakkiW650: Nosstal ia with am­mod­ern touchh or wo

Motorcycle Monthly - - Classified -

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

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