Tanshanomi's Snap Judgments

Kawasaki W650

Thu, January 7th, 2010

Kawasaki W650
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1999-2000 Kawasaki W650
Not a powerhouse, but smooth and friendly. Very much in keeping with the bike's character. Straightforward, honest design; no fake fins or beauty covers. It didn't need the complex, expensive, totally cool bevel gear valve actuation, but it really has it. Lean carburetion the only minus.
Narrow chassis handles easily but reamains secure at speed. Again, not known as a bike for pushing the envelope, so extremes of grip and cornering mean little.
Perhaps the most attractive bike to come out of Japan in the last 20 years. Yes, it copies the looks of the classic Triumph Bonneville, but it copies a suburb bike superbly — not slavishly, falsely, or to the detriment of function. (If you can show me a bevel-drive Bonnie, I want to see it!)
Solid construction and over-engineered. Nothing fake or chintzy. But will repair parts evaporate in the USA within a few years?
Harkens back to the era when 'do-it-all' standard bikes really could do it all, but with reliable electric starter and modern switchgear.
Drop-dead gorgeous, graceful, lithe, and troublefree. A better update to the Bonneville legacy than Triumph's pudgy, awkward-looking attempt, by far.
I love this motorcycle. The only downside is that used examples are rarer than hens' teeth in the USA.