With the calendar flipping over to July, we are now officially in the second half of 2022. That also means motorcycle manufacturers are starting to make their model announcements for 2023. Around this time of year, we typically hear about updated models returning with the always-popular “Bold New Graphics,” such as last week’s news of 2023 BMW paint options.
After a brief teaser campaign, Kawasaki has revealed the new Z650RS, its third “retro sport” model following the Z900RS and Z900RS Cafe. The 2022 Z650RS is based on the Z650 model but is styled to resemble the 1977 Z650-B1, a.k.a. the “Son of Z1”. At the moment, the Z650RS has not been confirmed for the U.S. market, but we expect it will be part of a larger launch event planned by Kawasaki Motor Corp. U.S.A. for Oct. 5.
We last performed this public service in 2017, when your Yamaha FZ-07 prevailed over the Kawasaki Z650, Suzuki SV650, the new Harley-Davidson Street Rod, and the new and indeterminate Benelli TnT 600, in that order. The FZ-07 has since morphed into the MT-07 amidst a host of well thought-out upgrades in 2018, and then again for 2021. The Z650 got a modern instrument pod in 2020 with a few other tasteful refinements, and the SV650 hasn’t changed a bit (God bless it). The Benelli is still around but didn’t get the call this time, and the H-D Street Rod has been withdrawn from the market under a hail of ridicule. Sad.
With the Aprilia Tuono 660 and Triumph Trident 660, we’ve got two brand new middleweight nakeds on the market this year, entering what was already a pretty good field with the Honda CB650R, Kawasaki Z650, Suzuki SV650, and the Yamaha MT-07. Obviously, this calls for us to put all six motorcycles together in a shootout.
“There is no such thing as a new idea. It is impossible. We simply take a lot of old ideas and put them into a sort of mental kaleidoscope. We give them a turn and they make new and curious combinations. We keep on turning and making new combinations indefinitely; but they are the same old pieces of colored glass that have been in use through all the ages.” – Mark Twain
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in June 2017. Since then, a number of other good beginner motorcycles have hit the market, so we’ve decided to update this post with some of the newer options available for new riders. The list of is available below.
Here’s a number to consider: 382. Kawasaki says that’s the percentage the naked motorcycle market has increased since 2011. For comparison, the sportbike market has stayed relatively stagnant during the same time period. With that kind of popularity in a particular segment, it’s no wonder motorcycle manufacturers like Kawasaki are trying to grab a piece of that pie.
EICMA and Intermot have come and gone and the question on most American consumers’ minds is which of the wonderful new models will be making their way to the U.S.? Today, Kawasaki answered their part of the question, confirming the ZX-10RR, Ninja 1000, Ninja 650, Z900, Z650 and the Versys-X 300 for the U.S. market.
Kawasaki tipped its cap at Intermot last month about its upcoming Z650 and Z900 nakeds. It was an odd strategy, releasing a couple of images and what looks to be an early draft of its EICMA press release. Well, now the Milan show is finally here and Kawasaki has officially confirmed the two models.