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W650 Love (SGC)

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Kev m:
While I've been homeless and squatting at my bud's place (with my entire refugee family), I've been giving some attention to his fleet of bikes (a pair of Sportsters and a W650 that he bought on the cheap to "play" with).

My V7 rear tire was down to the cords and I had a week or so between removing the rear wheel and getting a new tire ordered/mounted and finally reinstalled yesterday.

So in that time I was pretty much riding the W650 every day and got to put a couple hundred miles on it.

I must say that I've always liked the looks of the W650 and very much appreciate the beauty of the bevel drive.

The kick start is a nice backup if you've got an old battery (like he does).

Still, I wasn't expecting to be so completely smitten with it as I am.

Overall size and power levels are more in line with say my V7 than with my Buell.

The tires are odd sized and maybe even a tad thin with lousy profiles.

But none of that matters.

I find it an absolute joy to ride.

It starts instantly with a kick or touch of the button and idles perfectly within seconds.

It hums along nicely with a pleasant little growl.

It holds a turn wonderfully with no drama despite the 22k miles and 10+ years of unkind time/wear.

Its single disc brake, though not overwhelmingly strong, is more than adequate and has decent enough feel.

The bars are the big surprise. I never gave much thought to bars (as I so often just plain "fit" stock bikes so well), but I'm seeing first hand now just how much bars can effect the feel of a bike.

For instance, a few weeks ago I rode Jay's V7 Racer back-to-back with his /5 Airhead with relatively wide bars. I realized how much more stable something with narrow clip-ons can feel in a curve when you hit a bump just because it takes so much more effort at the bars to change the angle of the front end.

I mean it's not a lot of effort in the big picture so much as it is just less likely to be disturbed by smaller pressure from your wrists in reaction to the bump.

I realized then that the wider bars of the Stone actually made it feel more nimble and reactive, if a tad unstable once in a while due to road irregularities or even just my own inputs at parking lot speeds.

And THEN I realized that the uber-wide stock W650 bars make it feel even MORE nimble still, while on a straight away at moderate speeds you get the seriously "old timey" feel of a classic "motorbike".

But most of all the W650 completely validates my preference of bikes where LESS IS MORE.

I realize it's got about half the hp of my Buell, but damnit, I think I like it twice as much.

I might seriously consider selling the Buell to provide funds and make room for one.

Hmmmmm, I've got some thinking to do.

I love discovering "new" bikes. When friends share their bikes or kind dealerships allow extended test rides of older bikes it really allows you the time to discover what is good and enjoyable about a bike.

A few weeks ago I rode a 1995 Triumph Trident and then a 2001 Sprint RS. I didn't expect much. Supposedly the 1995 was top heavy. I have never fallen in love with the modern Street Triple like so many others (too much gear whine, too much sport bike). However, both bikes were awesome. I really enjoyed to engine. There was plenty of smooth power and the ability to pull from any RPM. I had to ride my Griso the next day to make sure it was still worthy. It was.

Kawasaki really should bring the latest W800 over here. I'd like to see the standard version and then a more cafe version similar to the V7 Racer or Triumph Thruxton.

Dean Rose:



--- Quote from: Travman on July 13, 2014, 10:02:01 AM ---
Kawasaki really should bring the latest W800 over here. I'd like to see the standard version and then a more cafe version similar to the V7 Racer or Triumph Thruxton.

--- End quote ---
Unfortunately (for us) Kawasaki works under the principle of 'fool me once - shame on you .... fool me twice - shame on me.'  The bike mags were all crying 'bring it, we'll buy it.'  Not!  So unless Kaw has a major change of heart, I don't think the W800 will land on US soil.  

I picked up my 2000 silver and blue W650 in  Aug 2000, for nearly $1500 off MSRP.  They were gathering dust in the back corner of bike shops.  Rode mine for nearly 7 years and 50,000 miles and sold for $3350 in 2007.  Equipped with E21 Givi bags, Corbin Gunfighter saddle, small tank bag, and lower 'Euro' W650 bars, I didn't hesitate to head out anywhere with it.  Even with stock mufflers, the W had a sweet exhaust note.  In that time, I replaced the chain 2x along with the sprockets, did regular oil changes, and re-shimmed a couple of valves.  Least expensive bike to operate I've owned.  Oh, and a lot of fun in the bargain!

Got my wife an '01. We both Love it. Kawasaki put a lot of engineering in the exhaust note.


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