You could argue that the middleweight segment is the hottest it’s ever been. The sweet spot between 600cc to 800cc has ushered in a wide selection of motorcycles over the years, all of which designed to fulfill the needs of a wide range of riders. Kawasaki has been playing in this segment for nearly two decades now, since the launch of the Kawasaki Ninja 650, and unsurprisingly, the platform has given birth to quite a big number of motorcycles.
Fast forward to today, and the Kawasaki 650 platform not only includes the Ninja, but also the Versys, Vulcan S, Z650, and Z650RS. That being said, for the 2024 model-year, Kawasaki has refreshed the Z650 and Z650RS, most notably, with new colorways and a traction control system of the Z650RS. It’s worth noting that the Z650 already received traction control for the 2023 model-year, and now, its retro-inspired sibling is getting the safety feature for the 2024 model-year. Let’s dive right into the specifics.
Kicking things off with the Z650RS, the neo-retro roadster retains its barebones underpinnings and boasts a very premium fit and finish, just like its premium sibling, the Z900RS. For 2024, the Z650RS retains its tried and tested engine, a 649cc, liquid-cooled, fuel-injected, parallel-twin engine. It still has the same 180-degree crankshaft configuration, with no signs from Kawasaki pointing to them shifting to the ever popular 270-degree, or crossplane, configuration anytime soon.
The Z650RS is underpinned by a lightweight steel trellis frame, and a standard telescopic fork with no adjustability whatsoever. The rear shock, however, features preload adjustability. Over on the cockpit, the rider is treated to a thoroughly retro dual-dial instrument cluster with a simple multi-function LCD screen in the middle. It gets a round LED headlight and cast aluminum wheels molded to look like spoked wheels, just like its bigger Z900RS sibling. It shares the same electronic suite as the modern-style Z650, with dual-channel ABS, and KTRC for extra safety offering two riding modes.
In terms of pricing and availability, the Z650RS is offered in Ebony / Metallic Matte Carbon Gray, and carries an MSRP of $9,599 – almost $1,000 more than the modern-style Z650. Yes, the retro tax is real.
Speaking of the Z650, it also gets a mild refresh for 2024, but still very much embodies the Sugomi styling first introduced in the Z1000 a decade ago. It flaunts the exact same underpinnings as the Z650RS, so there’s really no need to go through them in detail. It is, however, worth noting that the Z650 gets a full-color TFT instrument cluster with smartphone pairing compatibility via the Kawasaki Rideology app. The wheels are also different, as the Z650 makes use of the lightweight cast aluminum wheels we find on the Ninja 650, adding to its athletic and sporty stance.
When it comes to pricing and availability, Kawasaki offers the Z650 in Metallic Matte Dark Gray / Metallic Spark Black for the regular version, and Candy Persimmon Red / Ebony in the ABS variant. MSRP is $8,149 and $8,649 respectively.