Kawasaki Z650

67bhp | 187kg | Seat height 790mm

Motorcycle News (UK) - - New Bikes Special -

All-new Zed fam­ily styling 17kg lighter than ER-6N 15mm lower seat height

The new Zed Six-fiddy is the di­rect de­scen­dant of the old ER-6N, and you canõt help but no­tice the sim­i­lar­i­ties, with both the out­go­ing and in­com­ing bikes us­ing what is fun­da­men­tally the same 649cc par­al­lel-twin, and fill­ing the same spot in Kawasak­iõs line-up. But the trans­for­ma­tion is to­tal. Un­sur­pris­ingly itõs also ef­fec­tively a naked ver­sion of the new Ninja 650, but that name has a lot of weight to it. The story is still the same as it was in 1976 when we re­vealed in the scream­ing Z650 B1 Ð nim­ble, rel­a­tively light, and ac­ces­si­ble Ð mak­ing it more fun than it has any right to be.

The styling un­der­lines the move from ER fam­ily to Zed. Ride past one at 60mph and youõd strug­gle to dif­fer­en­ti­ate it from the Z800, or new Z900 Ð it cer­tainly does­nõt look like the old ER.

The 649cc en­gine was not Euro4 in ER guise, but has had the same tickle as the Ninja 650 to make it so, with the fo­cus on keep­ing low-to-midrange torque, rather than top-end power. It also gets the fir­mõs As­sist & Slip­per clutch, which makes town work a cramp-free dod­dle, and the smooth gear­box works ef­fort­lessly when youõre push­ing on, the slip­per func­tion tak­ing care of any ag­gres­sive down­shifts.

It tips the scales at 187kg, while the at­trac­tive Ninja H2-like green trel­lis frame is new, and lighter than its pre­de­ces­sorõs, con­tribut­ing a mas­sive 10kg weight loss to the 17kg to­tal, while the new swingarm loses an­other 2.7kg.

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 Zedõs 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 14l pan­niers and 30l top box.

The Z650 is a big im­prove­ment over the dis­con­tin­ued ER-6N Ð which in it­self was­nõt a bad bike, with im­proved low to mid-range power, has made it even more fun.

Fully-ad­justable Öh­lins sus­pen­sion (S) Bosch cor­ner­ing ABS En­hanced elec­tron­ics pack­age

Du­cati have given the big Mon­ster a se­ri­ously thought­ful re­fresh for 2017. It gets an ex­tra shot of power, re­designed tank and chas­sis, styling tweaks and posh elec­tron­ics.

It might not sound earth-shat­ter­ing – but when you con­sider how good the out­go­ing model is al­ready, it’s ex­tra treats like this that push the bar even higher.

In terms of de­sign this up­dated ver­sion is head­ing closer to­wards the orig­i­nal bike, and even gets lit­tle de­tails like the steel tank once again be­ing fit­ted with an at­tach­ment clip – just like on the orig­i­nal.

Still avail­able in two ver­sions, a stan­dard 1200 and a 1200S, both re­tain the lat­est ver­sion of the Tes­tas­tretta 11° DS en­gine, which is now knock­ing out a rather healthy claimed 150bhp at 9250rpm – a con­sid­er­able

15bhp boost over the out­go­ing model in stock guise, and a cheeky 5bhp more than the out­go­ing S vari­ant.

Still in place be­hind the se­lec­tor but­tons on the bars is a com­pre­hen­sive elec­tron­ics pack­age with three dif­fer­ent Rid­ing Modes (Sport, Tour­ing and Ur­ban) and there’s also the In­er­tial Mea­sure­ment Unit that feeds in­for­ma­tion to the Bosch Cor­ner­ing ABS and Du­cati Wheelie Con­trol sys­tems.

The rid­ing po­si­tion feels near-per­fect, and de­spite the power in­crease this Mon­ster is well-tamed and smooth, es­pe­cially lower down in the rev range. The throt­tle re­sponse is re­fined, mak­ing it an eas­ier bike to ride than the out­go­ing model.

The S gets a bit more re­fine­ment from the 48mm Öh­lins fork and monoshock, both of which are fully ad­justable, and it also gets a brak­ing up­grade to a set of beefy Brembo M50 calipers and 330mm discs. Its three Y-spoke wheels fea­ture ex­clu­sive S graph­ics, and it gets the Day­time Run­ning Light sys­tem and LED in­di­ca­tors.

The 1200 S is more re­fined than ever

Cute car­bon mud­guard for the Mon­ster 1200 S

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