Kawasaki W650 676cc
Having passed my driving test on
a motorcycle 36 years ago, I have had a number of bikes, the first being a 1965 Honda C200
which was second hand and cost me £50 in 1968. From this I progressed to a car
and then had a Honda CD175, before purchasing a new Honda CB250RS in 1980. This
being my first new bike I lovingly kept it for about five years. I then had 14
years without a bike, before returning to motorcycling with a 1971 BSA B50 in
1999, which I renovated and sold in 2004. This was a beautiful bike, but! With
vibration, oil leaks and constant repairs, it was impracticable for commuting, and
so to my second brand new bike, a Kawasaki W650. I had always desired a Triumph
Bonneville, but without the vibration and oil leaks, and here was the bike that
has the style and reliability without the discomfort.
The Kawasaki W650 was introduced in 1999 as a
modern retro motorcycle not only styled, but also bearing a remarkable
resemblance to the Triumph Bonneville of the mid 1960's. The 1960's Triumph
represents the epitome of development from the original Turner 500cc Speed
Twin, which broke all the boundaries in it's introduction. The unit twin had
been stretched to 650cc with twin carbs and a chassis that enhanced it's
reputation. A beautiful model with delightful curves and for many the perfect
bike, but still prone to vibration, oil leaks and lacking refinement. This
then was the ideal on which Kawasaki would base their re-incarnation with the
refinements of superior technology gained with the passage of time.
Looks are not
everything, but they go a long way, and the W650 certainly has good looks. In
an age when smoothly faired super-bikes rule the roads, the W650 turns the
heads of the onlookers as it passes by. Turner and Triumph got it right, the
looks, the technology and the performance. Add the counter-balance
shaft to reduce vibration to an aberration, front disc brake to make stopping
electronic ignition for reliability and performance, a five speed gearbox with
positive selection, electronic speedo & tacho for smooth feedback to the
eye, oil-tight seams on the engine unit with and oil filter, shaft driven
single overhead camshaft with four valves per cylinder to give better
breathing, a well tuned chassis with alloy rims and modern tyres and an electric starter for
the modern generation and you have for some the perfect bike.
power plant has basically the same features that the original Turner engine
design incorporated, a long stroke twin cylinder with 360deg firing which
means the pistons rise and fall together. Instead of the cast iron barrels, aluminium
alloy has been used to save weight. A contra-rotating counterbalance shaft has
been mounted in the front to smooth out those vibrations. This engine is a wet
sump as opposed to the dry sump of the Triumph and the casings are split
horizontally in typical Japanese style making assembly easier. An oil filter
is mounted at the front where it is easy to change the cartridge. The primary
drive chain of the Triumph has been replaced by gears to provide smooth,
quiet, maintenance free transmission of power from the crank. The most radical
departure was the introduction of the single overhead camshaft
driven by a hypoid gear with an offset bevel drive shaft so familiar to Ducati
owners and early Norton racing engines. Quiet in operation, accurate in
performance and maintenance free, this is mounted in a tunnel on the right of
the engine, as was common with this type of mechanism, and stops the novice
totally believing this to be a Triumph Bonneville. The four valves per
cylinder are adjusted by shims and the rockers slide on their shafts to allow
this operation to take place. The big-ends are of the split type giving easy
access to the shells. This is no high revving Japanese screamer, but a
smooth torquey power unit pulling from 200rpm right up to it's 7500rpm limit.
original Bonneville frame was a disappointment and many riders fitted the engine
into the Norton featherbed to create the ultimate bike of it's time, the
Triton. No such problems here, the frame takes modern manufacturing
techniques, materials and the old design principle from the Norton Featherbed
frame, designed during the 1950s, to give a stiff twin loop cradle in
traditional tubular steel. The main departure being a square box section top
tube. The swinging arm again is traditional, but with square sided oval
tubing, which again stiffens up the chassis and gives the taught handling
required for this type of bike. Traditional 39mm front stanchions are oil damped and
fitted with rubber gaiters, being matched by the old twin shock design with
the shrouded springs for originality and adjustable pre-load. This package
with the rubber mountings for the engine provides an excellent ride which the
1960's Bonnie rider would have died for. To complement this package an
efficient 300mm disc brake with twin-piston caliper has been fitted to the
front wheel instead of the single or twin shoe drum brakes of the 60's.
Altogether making a very enjoyable package.
winner for the modern motorcyclist who enjoys the 60's styling and also values the
comfort and reliability of a modern bike. This bike just keeps going, mile
after mile. Gone are the days of having to get out the spanners after every
ride. If you want sheer speed then pickup a Honda Fireblade, but this bike
will pile on the smile and give back the real enjoyment of a motorcycle on the
open road. No mess, this is a clean machine, which can stand on the garage
floor without embarrassment and will have passers by wondering if they didn't
own one like it when they were young lads in the sixties. Beware, people will
stop and talk to you about this bike, so be patient.
alloy transverse vertical twin, counterbalanced vibration
|| 675 cc
|| bore x stroke: 72 x 83mm
|| 8 valves, single overhead camshaft
driven by a hypoid gear with an offset bevel drive shaft
|| 46.6 hp at 6900 rpm
multi-plate clutch; 5 speeds
|| 2 x Keihin 34mm
|| Electronic, with Kawasaki
Throttle Responsive Ignition Control system (K-TRIC)
|| Double cradle, high tensile steel
|| Rake / trail: 24° / 4.0 in
|| 39 mm stanchions tele forks,
5.1 in. travel
|| twin rear shock absorbers with adjustable preload,
4.1 in. travel
|| Alloy rims with spokes , 19.0 x 3.0 in. front, 18.0 x 4.0 in. rear
|| 100/90-19 Bridgestone
|| 130/80-18 Bridgestone
|| Single 300mm disc with twin-piston caliper
|| Single 160mm drum
mpg Urban Driving
|| 0-60 time of 5.6 seconds
|| 115 mph
|| 429 lb
is split horizontally which makes bottom-end overhaul easier and makes oil
Balancer Shaft reduces vibrations from the engine.
Camshaft give better valve timing.
valve per cylinder improves engine breathing
sump lubrication reduces oil leakage
disc brake gives better stopping power.
speed gearbox with smooth changes makes driving more enjoyable.
start giving easy and rapid starting.
ignition produces the spark accurately for excellent combustion.
1st gear finder, useful when coming to a rest.
mounted engine damps out the transmission of primary vibes.
frame construction gives supreme handling.
carbs give accurate balanced mixture of fuel.
sparkplug location enhancing the burning process.
Speedo and Tachometer producing an accurate and steady display.
steering with ignition key giving an improved level of security.
Wheel Rims for lightness.
swinging arm member improving rear suspension and handling.
cylinder barrels reducing weight.
display for Odometer, Trip mileage and time.
activated petrol tap reduces the possibility of flooding the carbs
mechanism which is much more efficient than the old method of flooding the carbs.
Primary Drive provides quiet and smooth transmission of power.