Kawasaki has released a video teasing a new retro model across its social media channels. The video shows two riders in open-faced helmets and offers just a glimpse of the bike’s mirror stalks, but we expect the mystery model to be a new Z650RS. As of this writing, the video has been posted to Kawasaki’s European, Australian and Canadian channels, among others, but not yet to its U.S. channels. Nevertheless, we expect the 2022 Kawasaki Z650RS to be coming to America as well.
How are we so confident that the teaser is for a Z650RS? For one, rumors of a retro version of the Z650 have floated around since Kawasaki introduced the Z900RS in 2017. The Z900RS was well received at the time, and it was soon followed up by the Z900RS Cafe variant. More recently, Kawasaki released a stunning Z900RS SE model for Europe, and the comments on our post were overwhelmingly positive. Giving the Z650 a “Retro Sport” treatment is a no-brainer.
Evidence that the Z650RS exists comes to us from Australia’s vehicle certification database. A search for the “Z650RS” name produces one result, the file for the Z650. This would only happen if “Z650RS” were mentioned somewhere in the file. While the contents of the file are not publicly available at the moment, Motorcycle.com can confirm that a new addition was recently added, with the Australian body issuing three approval documents since May 26.
And while Kawasaki Motors Corp., U.S.A., has yet to share the teaser, we do have evidence of a new model using Kawasaki’s 649cc Parallel-Twin engine. The California Air Resources Board released an executive order for 2022 for the engine, which powers the Ninja 650 and Z650. Alongside these two returning models, the executive order lists a new model code ER650MN.
The “N” at the end denote the 2022 model year, meaning the new model is the ER650M. In Kawasaki’s internal nomenclature, the “ER” is used to designate naked middleweight motorcycles. The Z650 ABS is internally labeled as the ER650L while the non-ABS version is the ER650K. The ER650M, therefore, is a new Z650 variant. Putting this all together, the obvious conclusion is a Kawasaki Z650RS is coming for 2022.
So, what can we expect from the Z650RS? From the CARB certification, the engine will be the same as the ones powering the Ninja and Z650. We recently ran the Z650 on a dynamometer four our 2021 Middleweight Naked Shootout, and measured peaks of 61.4 hp at 8100 rpm and 43.5 lb-ft. at 6900 rpm. The Z650RS will offer similar performance numbers.
As for the rest of the bike, we can look at the Z900RS as an example of what to expect. The Z900RS is styled after the classic Kawasaki Z1, borrowing design elements like the teardrop gas tank and the duck bill tail. The 650 version will likely offer similar styling. The Z900RS offered a more upright riding position than the Z900, and the female rider in the teaser video has a similarly relaxed reach to the handlebars.
The Z900RS also offered a fully adjustable inverted fork whereas the Z900 only allowed adjustable rebound damping and spring preload. The Z650’s fork doesn’t offer any adjustability at all, so an upgrade there would be appreciated.
The classic styling does come with a cost, as the Z900RS is heavier than the Z900, so we suspect the Z650RS will weigh more than the Z650’s claimed 412.3 pounds. We can also expect a price increase from the Z650’s $7,350 MSRP, though hopefully not the $2,400 gap between the Z900 and Z900RS.
Kawasaki hasn’t provided any indication on when it will reveal the Z650RS in full. Hopefully, it won’t have a lengthy teaser campaign, but we should expect to receive more details in the next couple of weeks.
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