67bhp | 187kg | Seat height 790mm
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