Real Classic



'I've owned two of these Kawasakis.the first one I bought in 2009. I set out to buy a second hand Hinckley Bonneville and tried two of them, a 790cc one and a later

865cc version. Both of these were nice bikes, but the engines were so smooth and quiet, with linear torque and accelerati­on, that they felt like a modern four, not a traditiona­l twin.

'I then found a 2005 W650 being sold by a local bike shop for a customer. It looked a little more retro than the Triumphs, with its spoked wheels, fork gaiters, centrestan­d, tank kneepads, kickstart, rod operated rear drum brake and fully chromed headlamp. I had to start it on the kicker asthe battery was flat, but it started second kick. It felt a lot lighter on the test ride than the Triumph, although it's only 201bdiffer­ence. The engine was not as smooth as the Triumph's but with a little kick up the pants at about 35004000rp­m, and a bark in the exhaust note. It felt much closer to the parallel twins of old. The Kawasaki's brakes were not as good as the Bonnie's and I thought the tank badges were a rip off of the old Triumph eyebrow ones (I'm glad to see they have addressed this on the WSOO).

'So the Hinckley twin is a very good new bike that looks old, and the W650 is an updated version of what parallel twins once were. I sold my Kawasaki in 2013 due to my circumstan­ces, knowing at the time that it was probably a mistake. In 2019 I wanted another one. I saw a 2001 model, fitted with higher factory handlebars. It was high mileage but at a reasonable price.

'On the first W650 I replaced the battery and a pair of Avon Roadriders. The forks were slightly bent on the second one, so that's been rectified. There is some corrosion on the rear mudguard and the exhaust collector box has been patched underneath. The high bars contribute to a lot of wind pressure; the lower ones are more comfortabl­e but the high ones look better. I have heard that the overhead cam bevel drive can give trouble if not set up right. The brightwork and exhaust can corrode, and the brakes are not brilliant.

'On the plus side, the W650 cruises nicely at 70mph and 4000 revs. It's comfortabl­e for me and handles OK. It regularly returns over 70mpg and I think anyone used to older bikes would feel at home on it. I clocked up 3000 miles on mine before the lockdown:

Roger Leversuch


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