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Neo-retro designs are still hot-ticket items in the motorcycle world; most manufacturers offer at least one such bike. And Japanese brand Kawasaki is no exception. But so far, it only has one retro motorcycle, the Z900RS Café. It’s certainly no slouch, but its Z900-based powertrain might be too much for beginners. However, the company’s latest bike, the 2022 Kawasaki Z650RS, should be a more approachable vintage-inspired ride.

Kawasaki gives the Ninja 650’s naked Z650 sibling retro looks and makes the Z650RS

A green-and-black 2022 Kawasaki Z650RS with a green 1976 Kawasaki Z650 in the background
2022 Kawasaki Z650RS with a 1976 Kawasaki Z650 in the background | Kawasaki
Spec2022 Kawasaki Z650RS
Engine649cc liquid-cooled parallel-twin
Power67 hp
Torque47 lb-ft
TransmissionSix-speed with a slipper-assist clutch
Front suspension and travel41mm telescopic fork; 4.9” (based on Ninja 650 and Z650 specs)
Rear suspension and travelMonoshock with adjustable preload; 5.1” (based on Ninja 650 and Z650 specs)
Seat height32.3″
Curb weight412 lbs

The Z900RS Café draws inspiration from the Universal Japanese Motorcycles of the 1960s and 1970s, the predecessors to today’s standards. Specifically, it wraps the Z900 naked bike’s 948cc inline-four engine in a design inspired by the pioneering Kawasaki Z1 900. But considering that it has over 100 hp, it’s not the most beginner-friendly bike, RideApart notes.

That’s where the new Kawasaki Z650RS comes in. It has the same 649cc engine found in the Kawasaki Ninja 650 and its naked counterpart, the Z650. And it has the same trellis frame, suspension, and disc brakes as the Ninja 650 and Z650, too. But considering the Ninja 650 is one of the best affordable sportbikes on sale today, these are good things.

The 2022 Kawasaki Z650RS may have modern Ninja 650 bones, but like the Z900RS, its looks have classic roots. In the Z650RS’s case, it apes the 1976-1983 KZ650, known as the ‘Z650’ internationally. With a 652cc air-cooled inline-four, it was the smaller sibling of the ‘big’ Z1 900, Motorcycle Classics explains. Think of it as Kawasaki’s version of the Honda CB550.

It has vintage style, but the 2022 Kawasaki Z650RS packs modern features

The side 3/4 view of a green-black-and-silver 2022 Kawasaki Z650RS with gold wheels
2022 Kawasaki Z650RS side 3/4 view | Kawasaki

Neo-retro motorcycles may mimic their forebears’ designs, but they benefit from modern, more reliable technology. And so, it goes with the 2022 Kawasaki Z650RS. It may have two fewer cylinders than the KZ650, but it makes 18 more hp.

But that’s just the start. Like the Kawasaki Ninja 650 and Z650, the Z650RS has full LED lighting and standard ABS. And it has a standard slipper-assist clutch like the other two bikes, too. Owing to its retro-inspired design, the Z650RS has two gauges rather than a single display. However, it does have a multi-function LCD screen for the fuel gauge, gear-position indicator, odometer, trip meters, and temperature gauge.

As of this writing, though, Kawasaki hasn’t revealed if the Z650RS offers smartphone connectivity like the Z650.

How much will it cost if and when it comes to the US?

Technically, Kawasaki hasn’t confirmed that the 2022 Z650RS is coming to the US. But it likely will soon, given that it plans to unveil nine different motorcycles between now and November 2021, Jalopnik says. So, look for an official announcement in the coming months. Though depending on the timing, the Z650RS could be a 2023 model when it gets here.

Official US pricing also isn’t available as of this writing. In the UK, the base Z650RS starts at slightly over $10K, RideApart reports. But US-market models will likely cost closer to $8000, or roughly what the Kawasaki Ninja 650 and Z650 cost. So, if you’ve been looking for a reasonably-priced retro ride, this bike might be one to watch out for.

UPDATE 10/7/2021: Kawasaki has confirmed the 2022 Z650RS for the US market with an $8999 starting price.

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