It took a while, but it’s officially a reality: Kawasaki has joined in on the middleweight neo-retro bandwagon. The Z650RS, which is essentially the exisiting Z650, albeit in retro attire, has made its debut in the global market. It joins the Yamaha XSR700, Honda CB650R, and the Suzuki SV650X in the crop of Japanese middleweight, neo-retro, naked machines.
That being said, the bike has begun making its way to the other markets, with India being the most recent. Kawasaki is has managed to develop quite a presence in India, which is in fact the world’s largest motorcycle market. Unlike Yamaha, Honda, and Suzuki, who have streamlined their product portfolio in the region to favor small-displacement commuters, Kawasaki is offering its entire big bike range to Indian motorcycle enthusiasts. With that, the Z650RS is the most affordable middleweight neo-retro Japanese motorcycle in the Indian market.
With the Suzuki SV650 and Yamaha XSR700 yet to become widely available in India, and the CB650R being way too expensive, the Kawasaki Z650RS’s closest rival would come in the form of the Royal Enfield Interceptor 650. However, with just one glance, it’s clear to see that these two bikes don’t punch in the same class. While both bikes get 650cc twins, their performance and character couldn’t be more different. For instance, the Royal Enfield gets a more retro and soulful 270-degree firing order. Meanwhile, the Z650RS retains its punchy, yet sewing machine-smooth 180-degree parallel twin.
The Z650RS pumps out a decent 68 horsepower, just like its modern sibling, the Z650, and its sporty brother, the Ninja 650. It does, however, sport retro styling, which alone commands a premium in terms of price. It’s available in two color options—Candy Emerald Green and Metallic Moondust Gray, and retails for the equivalent of around $8,900 USD, around $550 USD more expensive than the standard Z650.