Kawasaki 650cc Range Explained: Ninja 650, Versys 650, Z650 & Vulcan S
A cruiser, a sports tourer, a naked and an ADV - all with the same heart. We explain what they are all about
One of the greatest advantages of middleweight motorcycles is that they have plenty of performance on tap without being too intimidating. The bikes under this category also work really well for developing markets as they’re not prohibitively expensive but offer a premium big-bike experience. Kawaski has made sure its 650cc platform is versatile enough to cater to every other type of rider. Not surprisingly, the brand sells a sports tourer (Ninja 650), a cruiser (Vulcan S), a streetfighter (Z650), and even a road-biased ADV (Versys 650) in India. What are these bikes all about? We explain:
Kawasaki Ninja 650: Rs 5.89 lakh
The Kawasaki Ninja 650 is one of the most popular bikes from the Japanese brand and has been in the country since 2011. Over the years, it has received quite a few design and mechanical tweaks and now the motorcycle carries the manic ZX-10R’s genes in its looks. This Japanese sports tourer is well known for its bulletproof engine, easy-going ergonomics and good touring capabilities. As far as features are concerned, it gets the twin halogen headlamp setup, bulb indicators, an LED tail lamp and a semi-digital instrument cluster. There’s also a three-level adjustable windscreen for better protection against wind blasts. This, coupled with the large 15-litre fuel tank, makes the bike a formidable highway mile muncher.
The bike draws power from a 649cc parallel-twin, liquid-cooled engine, which churns out 68PS at 8000rpm and 65.7Nm at 6500rpm. For easy clutch-lever action and to prevent the rear wheel from hopping while downshifting aggressively, it features an assist and slipper clutch for its 6-speed transmission too. This bike, along with the rest of the 650cc motorcycles, is devoid of any electronic aids apart from the standard dual-channel ABS. The ABS acts on dual 300mm petal discs up front and a 220mm petal disc at the rear.
The motorcycle is priced at Rs 5.89 lakh for the standard colour variant and the Kawasaki Racing Team (KRT) edition commands a premium of Rs 10,000 over the standard version. The only differentiating factor in the KRT edition is the race-inspired livery. Apart from this, the bike remains the same as the standard model mechanically.
Kawasaki Z650: Rs 5.69 lakh
The Kawasaki Z650 is the successor to the ER-6n and compared to its predecessor, the Z650 features a lighter frame, slipper clutch and dual-channel ABS as standard. It also gets a proper redesign to align itself more with the bigger bikes under the ‘Z’ range. Interestingly, at 68PS, it makes around 4 PS less than the ER-6n, presumably in favour of cleaner BS4/Euro 4 emission norms. The peak torque stands at 65.7Nm, which arrives at 6500rpm. Both the Ninja 650 and the Z650 are built on a trellis frame for better dynamics.
In our tests, it returned a mileage of 21.16kmpl in the city and 23.77kmpl on the highway, which is pretty good for a 650cc twin-cylinder bike. The motorcycle is priced at Rs 5.69 lakh and competes against the CFMoto 650 NK, which undercuts the Z650 by Rs 1.7 lakh. If you’re in the market for a sleek-looking middleweight naked with Japanese reliability, the Z650 is the only choice you have as there are no other 650cc Japanese nakeds on offer in the country as of now.
Kawasaki Versys 650: Rs 6.69 lakh
If you’re into some light off-roading and plenty of touring, the Versys 650 should keep you comfortably content for miles to come. Its large 21-litre fuel tank coupled with a tool-less adjustable windscreen and upright ergonomics should make long-distance riding a breeze. It also gets a diamond type frame suspended on sophisticated 41mm rebound and preload adjustable long travel inverted fork up front and a preload adjustable monoshock. Even the brakes are pretty well specced (dual 300mm petal discs up front and 250mm disc at the rear) with dual-channel ABS offered as standard.
That said, the Versys 650 isn’t exactly an off-road centric bike because it rolls on 17-inch alloys on both ends wrapped with Dunlop road-biased tyres. However, it is fun to ride on twisty roads and is, in fact, a more capable tourer than the Ninja 650, especially for Indian roads. The 649cc parallel-twin engine produces 69PS at 8500rpm and 64Nm at 7000rpm. In our mileage tests, it returned 24.95kmpl in the city and 28.17kmpl on the highway. Interestingly, these figures are more than the Z650 although the naked bike weighs 26kg less than the Versys 650’s 216kg kerb weight. It is priced at Rs 6.69 lakh and is the most affordable middleweight ADV you can buy in India.
Kawasaki Vulcan S: Rs 5.49 lakh
The Kawasaki Vulcan S is the Japanese brand’s only cruiser offering in India. The bike features low seat height, easy-to-reach handlebars and laidback ergonomics. The long wheelbase of 1575mm helps in highway stability but you may have to install a windshield to protect yourself from wind blasts at higher speeds. Its 649cc parallel-twin, liquid-cooled engine sits inside a perimeter frame and pushes out 61PS and 63Nm. It returned a city mileage of 22.8kmpl and 25.8kmpl on the highway in our tests.
The power is transferred to the rear wheel via a 6-speed transmission linked to a chain final drive. Interestingly, the bike does not get a slipper clutch, so you’ll have to be a bit more careful while downshifting aggressively. The bike costs Rs 5.49 lakh and its only other alternative in the segment is the Harley-Davidson Street 750, which undercuts the Vulcan S by Rs 15,000. But then again, the Vulcan has the distinction of being the only American cruisers with a mixture of Japanese perfection in our market.
All prices ex-showroom, India.