Hey, everyone. Peter here, and I have to say that I'm excited about the new Kawasaki Z650RS. It's the perfect bike for almost anyone. Whether you're a beginner or an experienced rider, this bike can do it all. So check it out and see for yourself why the Kawasaki Z650RS is so popular.
Today we're gonna take a look at the 2023 Kawasaki Z650 RS . I say Z cuz I'm filming here in Canada. If you're from the states, you might call it a Z. This is a bike that I've reviewed before in the 50th anniversary edition, which was the 2022 model. But this one has all different styling and frankly there's other things that I need to say about this bike that I haven't said in a previous video. So we're gonna go through this bike in detail and I'm gonna be right up front from the start. I'm a fan of this bike. There's a lot of things that this bike does well outside of just its styling. So you can like the styling or not like the styling, but there may be reasons to buy this bike even if the styling doesn't right away.
Jump out as you, as you know, right for you or not right for you. So here's the thing, I'm gonna continue to do videos on this bike and I can do that because I'm filming here at Jim Gilbert's Power Sports. So if you have a question, do me a favor, hit the subscribe button and let me know in the comments what you wanna know. If I don't answer in this video, I can come back to this bike on future videos again and again and again. So that's what we're gonna do here. So again, if you're at all interested in this bike, hit the subscribe button, we'll create the conversation. If you own this bike, let's create the conversation in the convers section. Tell me about what you like about it and then hopefully this will be a reliable resource for people who are interested in this bike.
So let's get going with the review. So let's talk about the RS lineup. Let's talk about what it is and what it is not. If you are looking for a fully retro bike that's really, you know, retro technology as instead of retro, just look. The Kawasaki W800 is a bike that is for you and I'm gonna have a review of that. I have the cafe version up already, but I'm gonna have a review of the one that the 2023 W 800 in the coming weeks. It is coming in and I will get a review up on that. That is a retro technology bike as well as a retro look bike. This bike, this RS series stands for retro sport. It is a retro looking bike that is a full modern sport bike underneath. Now when I say sport bike, I don't mean race bike. This is a bike that's for the streets.
It's not a ZX6RR or anything like that. It is a bike that is really well set up for sport riding on the street with fully modern technology and the classic styling. Now I just bought a Z900 RS, which is of course after the ICO designed after the iconic Z1. This one is also designed to be like a previou650. The difference here is this 650 uses Kawasaki's current and very popular and we're gonna talk about that engine, the 650 engine that is a two cylinder engine. The previous version that this might loosely be based on or you know style-wise be based on was a four cylinder. Now one thing people say is, oh, it should have had the four cylinder and it should have dual shocks back here. And there's all sorts of things at that point you're turning it into a fully retro bike instead of a retro styled bike. So this two cylinder engine, this 650 is more powerful than the retro 650 that was a four cylinder in the past. So you've got the power numbers here, you've got a nice lightweight compact chassis and you've Got full sporting AVI ability of a modern bike. So what I like about these bikes is of course the styling, but also the fact that It is really a modern bike. You're not Buying technology that has improved But you know, doesn't Improve on this bike because they want to have a certain look. The other thing that you get on these Retro Sport bikes that I think is really overlooked is this seat Go Find me a sporty bike with a proper rear seat with a nice big cush Front seat here. You just can't do it. So something like the Z650 is really a very similar bike to this, you know, by all intents and circle by all measures, But it does have a TFT display on that bike. Whereas on this bike you have the retro style dials but you have a seat that is really usable. And this design goes back to an era when motorcycles were really, really growing in pop popularity and part of that was because they were actually practical vehicles. They weren't just designed for style, designed to look a certain way, they had to fit, you know, as an extra vehicle. So of course a bike like this you can add luggage to, you can add all kinds of aftermarket things to, but if you just wanna take a passenger, they're gonna be happy sitting here compared to some of the other 650 bikes in the lineup and other sporty bikes outside the lineup. So you really get a lot of practicality with this as well. So we're gonna go in depth and take a look at all the details that make this both fully modern and give you that retro feel.
So let's start by taking a look up front here and you can really start to see that sort of modern sport bike in that retro feel. So one retro thing, the Z 900 Rs does have an upside down fork that gives you a little bit lower, um, you know, unsprung weight, technically it's a little higher spec, um, higher spec uh, fork than this. But this one with the right side up fork, not only is that traditional styling, that is also something that sort of fits the original intent of this bike. This bike is designed to be relatively budget friendly. It's not designed to be a crazy high-spec bike. And you do have, again, the nice forks here. There's a little bit of a shield here in front that keeps sort of the bugs and other things from hitting right where your shocks normally travel. So you don't have any uh, shock seal issues as time.
So you've got some modern pieces here, but then we go down from there and we get into this fully modern look. Now this bike and something like the Versys 650 actually share a lot of components. I used to own a Versys 650 and we'll talk about that engine when we get to the engine. But let's just take a look at the brakes here. You have dual calipers, both left and right side, the NI Nissan Cas here and you have ventilated, uh, brakes heavily ventilated here and they're a floating caliper. So these are high spec brakes for, you know, I mean this Piece could Be a higher speck in the lineup. The Z 900 RSS SE actually has brembo brakes and a little different style here. But for the 650, this is a very high spec brake and that's what you kind of want really good stopping power. And uh, you also have of course abs in here. So you've got the antilock braking system, strong brakes, the floating caliper in there. So that's the separation. This is allows us to expand and contract, you know, as it's gonna do as it heats up when you break. And the only real difference is
Something like the versys 650, a pedal style rotor where they kind of come in and out at the edge. Some people say that'll dissipate heat better. I think the reality is it's really more about style on that bike than it is about dissipating heat. And the reason I say that is cuz the ninja 1000 sx uh, actually still uses these round rotors, not the pedal style rotors and obviously that's gonna be a bike that is more capable of higher speeds and therefore more in need of heavily ventilated brakes. So you've got a good system here, but the overall round shape really gives you that retro feel. But if you've ever seen the bikes from that, these are based on they had pathetic brakes compared to these. So you've got modern braking that look good. The other thing I like here is the wheel. Instead of having a spoked wheel, you have the more modern alloy wheel. And I really like the design of this. Some of the other designs, they have sort of a, a bright ring around the outside, but here you've got the fully black ring. Now the previous bike that I reviewed, the 2022 model was the Z650 RS 50th anniversary edition. It had gold wheels, but I really like the kind of black look of these wheels. It just gives this bike a really kind of, you know, modern look with that retro styling. Back here you can see liquid cooling. We're gonna talk about the engine here. This is a fully modern liquid cooled engine. Let's move our way back to the engine and talk about that now. So I really like this view because it focuses on a number of things that I think are worth pointing out on this bike. So first thing we're gonna point out here is the engine, like we mentioned, that's a liquid cooled engine.
This 650 has been used by Kawasaki in all kinds of bikes from the Z650 to the versus650 to the ninj6 to the cruiser. Uh, Vulcan s to this, there's all kinds of bikes and it's my opinion having owned this engine in the versus six 50, that this is really the perfect street engine. It's got good torque for a twin cylinder engine. It's got plenty of horsepower, it's got good passing power and it's geared in all of those bikes really well for that. On-road speeds that you're gonna have good passing power from 80 to 120 kilometers an hour. Good acceleration, uh, you know, minimal vibrations and they actually do little things to help you with vibrations as well. There's a little bit of weights down here, which all gonna help minimize vibrations. So they're really trying to give you that sort of luxury ride on this. Um, and again, that engine is something that very much competes with, um, you know, other, other brands and other and other motorcycles in giving you good power, good efficiency, kind of everything you would want in a motorcycle. But it's also a very easy to drive engine. This is a bike that you could easily, um, learn on if you're a beginner. I usually steer people to the 400 series bikes from Kawasaki first, but that doesn't sort of exclude these, these are, it's a very, you know, reliable, very um, easy to drive engine. So that's already there. The other couple cool things you have here is all of this is a, you know, well weighted engine and then because this 650 does not require a tailpipe, it does all its work down here underneath, you end up with having sort of a nice shorter tailpipe. They do the same thing on the Versys650. What that does is it moves a lot of your heavy components down underneath the bike. So you've got a lot of the weight down low, nothing that comes back out high keeps the weight low but More importantly it keeps the weight Centered. So that makes for a good handling bike. And The reason you want this retro sport bike to handle well
Is you're buying a fully modern motorcycle. You want it to handle well and be fun. A couple little interesting things here. You've got the rubber foot pegs here on these Z900 RS, the bike that I bought. They're not rubber padded for your guests. There is a little um, area back here which you can use as hooks to tie things down on the rear seat. We'll talk about that in a second. But the other thing the exhaust does here by keeping it underneath there, it shows off a pretty cool swing arm here, which again gives a hint of modern feel to this bike here. Disc brakes on the back there as well. But the overall field down here is that of a modern bike and above the shot here is more of a retro bike, which is a kind of cool way. They blend it all together as we talk about a modern retro sporty type bike.
This is probably not the best angle to show the design here of the back end of the bike, but what you do have is a single sort of light that looks like a retro bike but when you hit that brake lever it is a fully modern L E D that's instant on, instant off and really gives you that bright area there. So again, older bikes had poor lighting. This has a a light that looks like an old retro style but when you hit those brakes they come on fully bright. Now one thing that I have noticed, at least in the 900 does that 900 rs, the signal lights, uh, on those around the world are often l e d on our here in North America, they're not. These are again our incandescent lights. So potentially some cost savings here, potentially some retro look here. But uh, this is a L E D brake light but not an L E D signal light in there. While we're talking about lighting, we should point out the headlight here. Now the bike is on and there's just sort of a little like daytime running lightish if your headlight ever didn't work, I guess there's just a bit of a light in there. It's not actually the headlight that's on right now, but you have high and low beams here. I think. Uh, high beam is here, no one of those is high beam, one of those is low beam, but again, a classic styled round headlight with fully modern L e D
Lights. Now l e d lights are great for a couple reasons. First of all, they shine out with a nice, uh, clear pattern but they also have a white light. That white light is closer to daylight. So your eyes, when they see things illuminated by the white l e d light, they can very quickly identify what they're seeing because it's familiar to your eyes. If you have sort of a halogen light, it gives more of an amber tone or a orangey yellowy ton And it takes Your sec, your brain a second longer To identify, you know, is That a rock or is that a raccoon? Is that this or that on the Side of the road?So this l e d light, not only is it brighter and clear, it also helps you identify things a little clearer. So that makes it uh,Kind of nice to have as
Well. Same thing with the incandescent signal lights there.So I pointed out this seat earlier, but I just wanna kind of point it out again, a lot of the times on this bike like this, you're gonna have a triangle that kind of starts smaller here and a very small triangle here on the back on anything that is a little bit sporty and they want to give it a sporting look. Here you get the practicality. And again, this is part of why were so growing so much in popularity when the retro style bikes or the actually retro bikes were in style and they were selling like crazy is because they were super practical. You could take your friends, you could do your thing, you sat upright. So here you have a seat that's fully comfortable, you could tour on this seat. It's a very, very good seat and you have a good backseat. Now this again is probably a little forward.
You're probably gonna sit a little bit forward of that because the seat kind of curls up to there. So really this strap to me should be more along here to give you some space. This is a slight bit smaller than the Zed 900 Rs but still a very good seat and very wide, which means that whoever you take with you is gonna be holding onto you but they're gonna be comfortable up there and that's just a nice thing to have on a bike for versatility. So really, really good seat. And there's some nice sort of visual interest here too. There's some indents here. You have the smooth leather strap here which compliments the smooth leather on the outside. There's some contrasting white stitching along the edge. It's interesting to look at. It's not done cheaply, it's well done. So now let's take a look at the gauge cluster here.
If you're British, you say you're clocks if you're, you know, other places you say uh, the dials, there's lots of ways to call these, but the idea is this is not a TFT display. I really like the clarity of these and I'll tell you why. A lot of, especially in the t armor a lot modern da, a lot of modern dashes with attack armor on a digital display, it's a little harder to tell at a glance exactly where you are. So what I like about this is, you know, you can sort of tell where your tack is without looking down on the road, off the road to focus on it. And especially with the speed when you have a digital speedometer telling the difference between 68 and 86 is something you have to take your eyes off the road, look down at it, read it, and then look back up.
Something like this. If you're going 120 kilometers an hour, the speedometer is straight up or down. So you can tell, am I going roughly a hundred? Am I going roughly 80? You can kind of see where it's at without focusing on it in your peripheral vision you can see where that dial is and to me that allows you to keep your eyes on the road. Now there's plenty of good reasons to have a TFT display, but there is something to be said about the clarity of these dials that you have here, which are sort of retro styled. So we're gonna zoom into that in a second. But before we do, the other thing I really like is you have a handlebar along here. Now on a modern bike, handlebars are becoming less and less, you know, popular on some in some cases, but this is a really good place to mount things like phone mounts, GPS mounts, other types of things.
It's also something where you could mount a windshield because you have that round headlight, there's bolt in the side of each of the, of the headlight and these types of handlebars. If you decide you want a tour with this or even have some sort of windshield that you can pop on and pop off, you do have the ability to very easily mount aftermarket windshields on this to make it sort of something that can give you some extra wind protection. So handlebars, the way the headlights mounted and the overall look here gives you the ability to tour on this bike, which makes it very, very versatile. You've already got the comfortable seating position. You can add wind protection if you don't want wind protection again, you want that breeze. That's how it comes and it looks pretty cool like that. Let's look in a little closer here and see what you've actually got now. So taking a look a little closer here, you can see again everything up close here. You've got really clear, easy to read, uh, dials. Now on the Zed six 50 Rs you have these extra circles in there on the Zed 900 Rs in Canada you don't have those extra circles. You do in the states have a kilometers down here in that kind of color in the Zed 900 Rs. Uh, this one's they don't have, they have kilometers only, not miles. So they're not a dual um, reading type of thing, but you have those little dials in there with the extra little circles. A nice clean font, easy to read. And then what I really, really appreciate is this extra display in the center. Now sometimes this can sort of flicker on screen. It looks like it's pretty clear right now. Obviously the left side is your fuel gauge.
That's blinking. This bike is super low on fuel. We haven't uh, topped it up yet. So just a nice thing to show because it is low on fuel, it is a bar graph and you can see when it gets down you're not really quite empty when it's down to the last bar. You definitely need to get gas when that last bar starts flashing. So again, you're not gonna miss that if you're driving this. Um, and it's just a simple display up here. Now one thing I really, really like is the gear indicator is super clear. At a glance you can see both your revs, your speedometer and what gear you're in. So it's a six speed transmission unlike the older bikes, which are often five speeds. So you've got modern, you know, transmission here and you can see what you've got. You've got a temperature gauge on the far right side. Again this modern bike with liquid cooling having a temperature gauge kind of matters there. You got a clock dead in the center and then you have a controller on your left side handlebar, which we'll show you in a second. But that's gonna control all of your information down here. So currently it's on your odometer, we're gonna cycle through them. Now by hitting the down arrow or the up arrow, we're gonna start with down and we're gonna go to total range. So once you start driving the bike, it's gonna tell you the range till empty. Obviously two things, it needs more fuel and it's gonna calculate the range left on the tank based on how you have been driving. So you have range there and then you've got your average fuel efficiency kilometers per liter or liters per hundred kilometers and kilometers per liter. Again instant.
So average and instant, same thing. I believe you can switch that to liters per hundred kilometers. So that's um, the, you know the measurement that I'm more familiar with. So you can switch both of these to that uh, pretty sure anyways. And then of course you have trip B, trip A and back to your odometer. So that was going down on the button obviously you can go up or down, you can cycle through all these things in different uh, orders there. So kind of nice to have. Now lemme show you the controls that I'm using here to do that. So left side controls, couple things worth pointing out here. There is a little trigger right back here which you can't see that trigger can flash that high beam again, that bright l e d high beam, uh, can really get people's attention. If you just wanna flash that uh, you know, they call it flash to pass but really just to get people's attention you can trigger that on and off and of course to lock your high beams on Ty, typical stuff here. All typical stuff. You have the horn signals, you do have uh, hazard lights. Four-way flashers down here, which we can turn on like that. Uh, and then you have the switch that I was using to adjust your dash. Just a second to go. This is the up and down uh button right there. Now over here you have a slipper and assist clutch. So slipper and assist Clutch does two things. The slipper side allows your wheel if you mess up a down shift instead of the wheel skidding, it's gonna work to let the clutch slide as well. So it gives you better control. It's a, it's a piece that was designed for the racetrack for really aggressive shifting uh, to keep that wheel from skidding. And of course it becomes a safety feature here on this bike.
The side benefit is it does make for a lighter clutch lever pole. Now this is your adjustment for reach. Now somebody's reached out to me in the Collins they said it doesn't actually adjust your reach. What it actually does is it adjusts where the clutch engages and we are both right physically. This actually does adjust your reach. So let's put it on number one. You can see that one is far away away. So my hand is there and that's where it is. Now let's push it out again and we'll bring it to number five and you can see it's much closer. So it does physically adjust the lever. I'm gonna put it just at number three there. It does physically adjust the lever, how close it is. But that can effectively adjust where the clutch engages, at least the feel of where it engages. So again, that commenter kind of right, I'm kind of right as well. But that's what that does. And you have the adjustment uh, here on the clutch side as well as on the brake side. So you can really um, customize that up to fit for anybody over here. You can't see the mirrors come up but they're up and they're clear of your uh, shoulders as well. The round mirrors, good controls here. Let's just look at the other side. Now that's cool. Throttle side, pretty simple stuff over here. You've got obviously the throttle kill switch and then you've got the start button and again the lever over here is also adjustable through this little dial here for the same thing for that front brake feel. Again, we talked about the mirrors here. Round mirrors for the retro style. I'll be fair though, the round mirrors are also very good for visibility and because they're mounted on the handlebar are not way out front on a fairing, they've become closer to your face, which gives you a little bit wider angle and better visibility again.
So even though they don't appear massive maybe in the video, uh, the feeling when you're riding it is that these are very good mirrors that give you very good view. While I've got this view, I'm gonna keep rolling with it and I'm gonna scroll down. You've got the fully modern tank here. Now you will notice a width difference between the Zed 900 Rs and this bike. Again, this bike is covering two cylinders where a Zed 900 Rs goes a little wider cuz it's covering four cylinders but you still have the fully modern uh, tank, the locking tank right there as well. So modern feel, retro feel both combined. I'm gonna take a quick look at the labeling on the side here. I wanna show you the sort of retro labeling that's uh, not something Kawasaki does anymore, but it kind of makes this bike stand out and again makes people question is this a brand new bike or used bike?
Which is kind of fun. So taking a look at the tank here, a couple things I wanna point out. These are raised letters here again, like the way Kawasaki used to do it, but they used to actually use an older font. So this is the modern font in the raised type lettering here. And then same thing with the Zed six 50 Rs. That sort of is a uh, you know, sort of a traditional kind of look. The one thing I can't show you, it was like minus 20 when I woke up this morning. So I'm filming inside. But in on the outside or outdoors you can really see the sparkle in the metallic to this paint it, it looks really, really sharp in the sunlight. What I like about this particular model is the pin striping in here. It's very simple but it's just kind of enough to give it sort of a nice kind of retro look but enough detail other than just the black.
So it's just the kind of thing you're really gonna notice. This area is what makes people think hey is this an older bike or a modern bike because it really, they really do a good job of making it look uh, you know, like a retro bike. Now let's take a look at what it looks like with me on the bike. So in some ways I'm saving the best for last here. One of the biggest reasons I like this bike is not just for the styling but it's so comfortable and practical. Now again, I used to own the verses six 50, the verses six 50 was the comfortable bike in that six 50 lineup. Now obviously you have the cruiser, which is the uh, Kawasaki Vulcan S It's pretty comfortable as well, but it's not the the riding position that I'm familiar with. I love the position of the versys
Here's the thing with the verses over this. This has a noticeably lower seat height and without all the body work here and you know the little bit smaller tank and just the shape of the tank and everything else, this feels like a much more compact, much more sporty bike, which I really like. That's one thing I didn't love about the vers is you know, all that wind protection is great in the cold weather but it became hot in the hot weather and it's a lot of bike. It visually is a very large bike where visually this is a nice compact sporty feeling bike. And when I put my feet up here, you can see I've got the nice kind of tuck in. Uh, you know, the legs are at a comfortable angle. We're well enough, high enough off the ground that you can really get some good lean angle in the corners here. You can scrape pegs on this but you gotta really go work to do it, which is what this is about. Again, not a race bike but a fully road going sport bike overall sitting square like this, there is some adjustment in the bar. You could tilt it a little bit forward or back to make it perfect for you. And again because you could add wind protection, this is a bike where you can fully tour on the tank is nice and narrow in the legs. So even though on a modern ninja it has carve outs for your uh legs, this still feels like it's properly carved out, you can really kind of hug that tank. And again, that's what this is all about. Those retro sport bikes were just designed, you could hug the tank, that kind of thing anyways. And it works very well with the two cylinder Instead of the four cylinder, it actually feels a little bit more comfortable and more nimble sitting on this bike in this position than it does on even the Z900 Rs, which is a little bit wider tank.
So you really get the sense of a light overall bike because again all of that weight's down low and it's not that heavy of a bike. It's considerably lighter than something like the versus six 50 which shares the engine. But again, that weight down low, that weight where it's supposed to be, the comfortable seat really makes it a fun place to be. So let's talk about who this bike is for and really that's kind of my favorite part about this bike. This is probably one of the most versatile bikes in the lineup. A lot of people like that cruiser style because it looks like a classic motorcycle. This also looks like a classic motorcycle, but it puts you in more of a sport riding position, yet you're still very comfortable. So if you're looking for a versatile bike, something that can take extra people, something you could strap luggage on the back and do some small tours with, you could put a windshield on this and get the wind protection. This is really a do-it-all kind of bike, that 650 engine that they use in everything. The reason they use it in everything is because it is very good, it's good for efficiency, it's good for power, and it's a really good street powered bike. The lightweight of this bike means it handles well. It's more comfortable than a Ninja 50 or the Z650. And again, if you don't want the modern styling, this gives you an option. Now could this be used as a beginner bike? Normally I say that 650, like I said, it's a very easy to drive engine, but we don't always recommend that six 50 for a beginner. Something like the versus six 50 can be quite tall. Maybe not the best beginner bike, but this bike, again, it is something you could have as a bigger beginner bike and not, you know, need more power, not want a bigger type bike.
So I really like the way this is nimble and lightweight. It's unintimidating. It's able to do just about everything you could wanna do in motorcycling. And it's good for experienced riders cuz it's plenty of bike for experienced riders. It's good for newer riders cuz it's very easy to drive. It's why motorcycling took off when bikes that looked like these were the norm. This is just such a practical bike. It really is for almost everyone. You have to like the styling, you have to like sitting upright. And again, as is, you have to accept there is no wind protection. That might be a deal breaker for you. You can add that on. But obviously if you add a windshield on this, it's gonna change the look and make a decision for yourself with the abs brakes, with you know, everything that comes in this bike. It's a pretty good value.
And like I said, you can't really modify some of the other bikes to end up with what you have here as an overall package. It really does it all for you as an on-road bike. It's really good and it's one of my favorite bikes and it's again, the reason that I bought a bike. Very similar to this. I bought the Zed 900 Rs because this style really does it all for a lot of people. So if you own this bike, let me know in the comments what you think of it. If you are interested in this bike and maybe there's something that I didn't talk about or I wasn't really clear on, let me know when the comments below and make sure you subscribe because we're gonna continue to come back to this bike over and over again. If you wanna see it in person, there's like 20,000 square feet here of motorcycles. It's February right now, 2023. This is a 2023 model and there are all kinds of bikes in here and more coming every day. So if you wanna come see it in person, put your name on it, swing on by Jim Gilbert's Powersports here in Fredericton, New Brunswick. This is the number one volume Kawasaki dealer in the country. They do a great job with their customers. So there you go. We'll talk to you in the next one.