My 2009 Kawasaki Versys 650 was one of the best utilitarian two-wheelers I’ve owned, but since I’m always putting miles on test bikes, I hardly ever rode it. When I realized I’d added only 500 miles to the odometer in five years, a deep sense of shame prompted me to sell it. After listing it on Facebook Marketplace, it was gone in a flash. Due to the high prices for used motorcycles right now, I earned a small profit – about a dollar for every mile I put on it.
Flash forward a few months and I’m wending my way through the twisty interior of San Diego County aboard a 2022 Kawasaki Versys 650. It’s the $9,999 LT version with hard saddlebags and handguards, which only comes in Metallic Spark Black/Metallic Flat Spark Black this year. The base model is available in the same color for $8,899, or in Candy Lime Green/Metallic Flat Spark Black/Metallic Spark Black for $9,099.
Not surprisingly, the 2022 upgrade is a much better motorcycle than my just-sold 2009 model, but they still have a lot in common despite 13 years of separation. The seating position, performance, and overall essence of the motorcycle remain virtually unchanged, but a few key aspects go a long way toward improving the bike’s desirability.
New for ’22 is a full-color 4.3-inch TFT display that is a major improvement over the previous instrument panel, and light-years beyond the one on my ’09 model. The layout of information is modern and clean, blending everything – the gear position indicator, fuel gauge, tach, speedo, clock, tripmeter, etc. – into a centrally located format. A rider can choose between a black or white background, and the screen brightness automatically adjusts to ambient light levels.
Simultaneously depressing two analog buttons on the display allows a Bluetooth connection to be established between the Versys and Kawasaki’s Rideology smartphone app. The app features a useful and handy maintenance log, general bike info, and the ability to record rides as well as share them with others.
During the ride, when the bike and app are talking to one another, the TFT display will notify the rider when a new call or email has been received. The part of my ride recorded with the Rideology app showed that I traveled 79 miles for 1.34 hours from Orange to San Diego counties at an average speed of 54 mph. The map, however, displayed a straight line from point A to point B, not an accurate GPS mapping of the twists and turns.
My old Versys’ windscreen was adjustable only if I were willing to remove the four bolts necessary to position it differently, which rarely, if ever, happened. The inefficiency of the process meant a rider found a likable position for the windscreen and that’s where it stayed. The new Versys features an easily adjustable windscreen that can be raised and lowered to four different settings over a 3-inch range. It’s a two-handed affair with one hand depressing the lock button while the other moves the windscreen, but it’s worth the small effort. The upper position deflects wind quite well while the low position puts the rider more in the wind stream.
The new windscreen is the cherry atop a redesigned upper fairing that shares a family resemblance with its liter-bike counterpart, the Versys 1000. The sides of the new cowling are ducted to move air around the rider while the dual headlights are now bright, low-wattage LEDs. The rear of the Versys matches the front with aggressively pointy style and a new LED taillight.
Anti-lock brakes now come standard on all Versys 650 models, as does traction control. The 649cc liquid-cooled parallel-Twin powering the Versys isn’t a tire shredder – when we dyno tested a 2020 Versys 650, it sent 63 hp and 43 lb-ft of torque to the rear wheel – but it can certainly break traction given enough throttle when leaned over. TC has two settings, with the first being less intrusive and the second providing a more conservative safety net that should prove beneficial to newer riders or experienced ones caught in low-traction conditions. If desired, traction control can be switched off entirely via a switch located on the left switchpod.
Kickstand up and traveling south on Interstate 5 toward San Diego, the Versys felt like a comfortable and familiar old shoe. Exiting the slab and venturing into the twisties, it soon becomes apparent the Showa suspension’s stock settings were a tad soft for my taste. Once stopped, a few stiffening clicks of preload on top of the left fork leg, a few clicks of tensioning rebound on top of the right fork leg, and a few stiffening twists of the remote preload adjuster on the rear shock dialed things in for tackling the road ahead.
The 28-liter saddlebags are large enough to accommodate a full-face helmet, though without much room to spare. There is also a helmet lock if you need to secure your lid when the saddlebags are full of other incidentals. The ignition key unlocks the saddlebags and allow them to be removed from the motorcycle. For those requiring more storage, Kawasaki offers a matching 47-liter top case along with other accessories, such as heated grips and a GPS mount.
The bike’s peppy midrange thrusts its 503-lb claimed curb weight forward in enthusiastically manageable fashion. Dual 2-piston calipers grip 300mm petal discs to slow the party down with equal efficiency. When leaned over, the Versys holds its line effectively and transitions to and fro confidently.
The 5.5-gallon fuel tank combined with efficient fuel consumption allows for extended mileage between fuel stops. (During our 2020 test, we averaged 46 mpg for 253 miles of range.) That’s great news for commuters or anyone wanting to incorporate longer trips into their Versys ownership. Complementing the Versys’ fuel range is an ergonomically neutral riding position that is one of the things I loved most about my old Versys as well as the new one.
Like my old Versys, the new version is a modern, solid, middleweight jack-of-all-trades that’s as steadfast as a motorcycle can be. It responds dutifully to what’s asked of it, whether that be cruising around the city, commuting to work, or taking off on long weekends or longer tours. During my Versys ownership never once did it fail to start, or run badly once started, even though it spent most of its time languishing in my garage.
My old Versys didn’t have ABS, traction control, a remote preload adjusting shock, TFT display, a slip/assist clutch, LED lights, or an easily adjustable windscreen, and it didn’t look nearly as good as the ’22 Versys. In 2009, the MSRP of a base-model Versys was $7,099, which is just over $9,700 in today’s dollars. The new bike offers much more for less money, and the touring-ready LT is a fantastic bargain.
2022 Kawasaki Versys 650
Base Price: $8,899 Price as Tested: $9,999 (LT model) Website:Kawasaki.com Engine Type: Liquid-cooled, transverse parallel-Twin, DOHC w/ 4 valves per cyl. Displacement: 649cc Bore x Stroke: 83 x 60mm Horsepower: 63 hp @ 8,700 rpm (rear-wheel dyno, 2020 model) Torque: 43 lb-ft @ 7,300 rpm (rear-wheel dyno, 2020 model) Transmission: 6-speed, cable-actuated slip/assist wet clutch Final Drive: Chain Wheelbase: 55.7 in. Rake/Trail: 25 degrees/4.3 in. Seat Height: 33.3 in. Wet Weight: 503 lb (as tested) Fuel Capacity: 5.5 gals. Fuel Consumption: 46 mpg
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Looking through a file folder named “Cars & Bikes” on my computer the other day, I noticed that in 50 years of riding, I’ve experienced nearly the entirety of motorcycle history. From 1915 Indian board-track racers to a 2022 KTM 1290 Super Duke R Evo, that’s 108 model years’ worth. And in between were tests, rides, or races on more machines from every decade. Hardly planned, this all resulted from simply loving to ride, being curious, and, most of all, saying yes at every chance. Here are some of my favorite moto memories, one apiece covering 12 decades.
1915 Harley-Davidson Model 11-F
In 1978, Cycle magazine gave me an assignment after I joined the staff: Write a feature about anything I wanted. Interested in the history of our sport, I replied that I’d like to ride a really old bike. “Call this guy,” the editor said, handing me the number of Bud Ekins, an ISDT gold medalist and the stuntman in the epic The Great Escape jump scene.
In his enormous shop, Ekins reviewed the starting drill for his 1915 Harley-Davidson Model 11-F: Flood the carb, set the timing and compression release, crack the throttle, and then swing the bicycle-style pedals hard to get the V-Twin’s big crankshaft spinning. When it lit off, working the throttle, foot clutch, and tank-mounted shifter – and steering via the long tiller handlebar – were foreign to a rider used to contemporary bikes. But coordination gradually built, and after making our way to the old Grapevine north of Los Angeles, I found the 998cc engine willing and friendly, with lots of flywheel effect and ample low-rpm torque to accelerate the machine to a satisfying cruising speed of about 45 mph. And its rider to another time and place.
On a lucky trip to New Zealand, McIntosh Racing founder Ken McIntosh let me race his special Norton Model 18 in the Pukekohe Classic Festival. Unlike the exotic Norton CS1 overhead-camshaft model that likewise debuted in 1927 – a big advancement at the time – the Model 18 TT Replica used a tuned version of the company’s existing 490cc pushrod Single engine. Its name was derived, fittingly, from the sterling Model 18 racebike’s multiple Isle of Man TT wins. As such, the production TT Replica had as much racing provenance as you could buy at the time.
I found it surprisingly capable, delivering a blend of strong power (a digital bicycle speedometer showed a top track speed of80 mph) and predictable, confident handling – despite the girder-style fork and hardtail frame. However, lacking gear stops in its selector mechanism, the 3-speed gearbox required careful indexing to catch the correct gear. But once I got the process down, the bike was steady, swift, and utterly magical, like the Millennium Falcon of Singles in its time.
When a friend handed me his 4-cylinder Nimbus, it had big problems. The engine was locked solid, and my buddy wanted to get it running and saleable. Built in Denmark, the Nimbus is unique for several reasons. One is its 746cc inline-Four engine. Rather than being mounted transversely like modern multis, it was positioned longitudinally in the frame, with power flowing rearward via shaft drive. Interestingly, the rocker-arm ends and valve stems were exposed and, when the engine was running, danced a jig like eight jolly leprechauns. The frame was equally curious, comprised of flat steel bars instead of tubing, and riveted together. With a hacksaw, hammer, and some steel, you could practically duplicate a Nimbus frame under the apple tree on a Calvin and Hobbes Lazy Sunday.
Anyway, the seized engine refused to budge – until I attempted a fabled fix by pouring boiling olive oil through the spark-plug holes to expand the cylinder walls and free up the rings. Additionally, I judiciously added heat from a propane torch to the iron block. Eventually, the engine unstuck and, with tuning, ran well. But the infusion of olive oil created a hot mist that emanated from the exposed valvetrain, covering my gear and leaving behind an olfactory wake like baking Italian bread.
1949 Vincent Black Shadow
One blissful time, years before Black Shadows cost six figures, I was lucky enough to ride one. Seemingly all engine, the Black Shadow was long and low, with its black stove-enamel cases glistening menacingly, and its sweeping exhaust headers adding a sensual element to an otherwise purely mechanical look.
Thanks to the big, heavy flywheels and twin 499cc cylinders, starting the Vincent took forethought and commitment. And once the beast was running, so did riding it. A rude surprise came as I selected 1st gear and slipped the clutch near the busy Los Angeles International Airport. Unexpectedly, the clutch grabbed hard, sending the Shadow lurching ahead. The rest of the controls seemed heavy and slow compared to the Japanese and Italian bikes I knew at the time – especially the dual front brakes. The bike was clearly fast, but glancing at the famous 150-mph speedometer, I was chagrined to find that I’d only scratched the surface of the Black Shadow’s performance at 38 mph.
1955 Matchless G80CS
Despite not being a Brit-bike fan in particular, I’ve owned five Matchlesses, including three G80CSs. Known as a “competition scrambler,” in reality the CS denotes it as a “competition” (scrambles) version of the “sprung” (rear-suspension equipped) streetbike. Power comes from a 498cc long-stroke 4-stroke pushrod Single of the approximate dimensions of a giant garden gnome. Starting a G80CS requires knowing “the drill” – retarding the ignition, pushing the big piston to top-dead-center on compression, and giving the kickstart lever a strong, smooth kick all the way through. This gets the crank turning some 540 degrees before the piston begins the compression stroke again.
Once going, the engine fires the G80CS down the road with unhurried explosions. Then at 50 mph or so, the Matchless feels delightfully relaxed; vibration is low-frequency and quite tolerable, and the note emanating from the muffler is a pleasant bark –powerful but not threatening. It is here, at speeds just right for country roads, that the G80CS feels most in its element as a friendly, agreeable companion. With such a steady countenance, it’s no wonder that G80CS engines powered tons of desert sleds. I just wouldn’t want to be stuck in a sand wash on a 100-degree day with one that required more than three kicks to start.
During Ducati’s infancy, the Italian firm concocted a249cc overhead-cam roadster named the Diana. Featuring a precision-built unit-construction engine like Japanese bikes, it offered an essential difference: being Italian. And that meant all sorts of wonderful learning, as I discovered when, as a teen, I bought a “basket-case” Diana. The term isn’t used much anymore, but it means something has been disassembled so thoroughly that its parts can be literally dumped into a basket. In the case of this poor ex-racer, literally everything that could be unscrewed or pried apart was. The engine was in pieces, the wheels were unspoked, the frame and fork were separated, and many parts were missing.
Its distress repelled my friends but inspired me. Upon acquiring it, a year of trial-and-error work included rebuilding the scattered engine, designing and welding brackets onto the frame for a centerstand and footpegs, assembling the steering, fabricating a wiring harness, and ultimately tuning and sorting. This basket-case Ducati literally taught me the fundamentals of motorcycle mechanics, by necessity. And due to the racy rear-set controls I’d crafted, the machine had no kickstarter, necessitating bump-starting everywhere, every time.
The bike was never gloriously fast, but it carried me through my first roadrace at the Ontario Motor Speedway. After selling it, I never saw it again. Rest in peace, fair Diana. And by the way, the California blue plate was 4C3670. Write if you’ve seen it!
1971 Kawasaki Mach III
Stepping from an 8-hp Honda 90 onto a friend’s Mach III, which was rated at 60 hp when new, was the biggest shock of my young motorcycling life. I knew enough to be careful, not only because of the 410-lb heft of the Kawasaki compared to the Honda’s feathery 202 lb, but because the Mach III had a reputation as a barn-burner. It was true. Turning the throttle grip induced the moaning wail from three dramatic 2-stroke cylinders, and propelled the Kawasaki ahead with a ferocity I’d never come close to feeling before.
In those first moments of augmented g-forces, I distinctly felt that the acceleration was trying to dislocate my hips. In reality, it was probably just taxing the gluteus muscles. But regardless, I remember thinking, “I’ll never be able to ride one of these.” That clearly wasn’t true, but the memory of the Mach III’s savage acceleration and whooping sound remains indelible. Additionally, the engine vibration was incessant – there was simply no escaping it – and in those pre-hydraulic disc days for Kawasaki, the drum brakes seemed heavy and reluctant, even to a big-bike novice. Glad I found out early that the Mach III’s mad-dog reputation was real.
1985 KTM 500 MXC
If Paul Bunyan designed a motorcycle, this KTM 2-stroke would be it. For its day, the 500 MXC was extraordinary at everything, such as extraordinarily hard to start; the kickstart shaft was a mile high and the lever arm even higher. At over6 feet tall in MX boots, I still needed a curb, boulder, or log handy to effectively use the left-side kickstarter. The motor had so much compression (12.0:1) that this Austrian Ditch Witch practically needed a starter engine to fire the main one. Once, I was stuck on a desert trail with the MXC’s engine reluctant to re-fire. Not so brilliantly, I attached a tow line to my friend’s Kawasaki KX250 and he pulled me to perhaps 25 mph on a nearby two-lane road. Before I could release the line and drop the clutch, my buddy slowed for unknown reasons. Instantly the rope drooped, caught on the KTM’s front knobby, and locked the wheel, slamming the bike and its idiot rider onto the asphalt. The crash should have broken my wrist, but an afternoon spent icing it in the cooler put things right.
When running, though, the MXC was spectacular. Capable of interstate speeds down sand washes and across open terrain, the liquid-cooled 485cc engine was a maniacal off-road overlord. The suspension included a WP inverted fork and linked monoshock with an insane 13.5 inches of travel out back. I bought the 500 MXC used for $500, and I had to practically give it away later. But now, I wish I had kept it, because it was fully street-plated – ideal for Grom hunting in the hills today.
1998 Yamaha YZF-R1
On a deserted, bucolic section of Pacific coastal backroads, I loosened the new Yamaha R1’s reins, kicked it in the ribs, and let it gallop. And gallop it did, at a breathtaking rate up to and beyond 130 mph. That’s not all that fast in the overall world of high performance, but on a little two-lane road edged by prickly cattle fences and thick oaks, it ignited all my senses. What had been a mild-mannered tomcat moments before turned into a marlin on meth, but it wasn’t the velocity that was alarming.
No, the point seared into my amygdala was how hard the R1 was still accelerating at 130 mph. Rocketing past this speed with a ratio or two still remaining in the 6-speed gearbox sounded every alarm bell in my head, so I backed down. Simply, the R1 rearranged my understanding of performance. But simultaneously, it made every superbike of the 1970s, including the King Kong 1973 Kawasaki Z1 – the elite on the street in its era – seem lame by comparison.
2008 Yamaha YZ250F
After 25 years away from motocross, in 2008 I bought a new YZ250F and went to the track. Oh, my word. The dream bikes of my competitive youth – Huskys, Maicos, Ossas, and their ilk – faded to complete irrelevance after one lap at Pala Raceway on the modern 4-stroke. Naturally it was light, fast, and responsive, but the party drug was its fully tunable suspension. By comparison, everything else I’d ridden in the dirt seemed like a pogo stick. Together, the awesome suspension and aluminum perimeter frame turned motocross into an entirely different sport, and I loved it anew.
In retrospect, the glorious old MX bikes were dodgy because real skill was required to keep them from bucking their riders into the ditch. But, surprisingly, I found motocross aboard this new machine still merited hazard pay, for two reasons: 1) Thanks to the bike’s excellent manners, I found myself going much faster; and 2) Tracks had evolved to include lots of jumps, sometimes big ones. Doubles, step-ups, table-tops – I later paced one off at Milestone MX and realized the YZ was soaring more than 70 feet through the air.
2017 Yamaha TW200
There’s something about flying low and slow that’s just innately fun. Just ask the Super Cub pilots, lowrider guys, or Honda Monkey owners. After a day in the Mojave, plowing through sand, sliding on dry lake beds, and dodging rocks and creosote bushes, Yamaha’s TW200 proved equally enamoring. Yes, it’s molasses-slow, inhaling hard through the airbox for enough oxygen to power it along. And it’s built to a price, with an old-school carburetor and middling suspension and brakes.
Nonetheless, its fat, high-profile tires somehow make it way more than alright, kind of like riding a marshmallow soaked in Red Bull. Curbs? Loading docks? Roots, ruts, and bumps? Scarcely matters at 16 mph when you’re laughing your head off. Top speed noted that day was a bit over 70 mph – good enough for freeway work, but just barely. So, actually, no. But throttling the TW all over the desert and on city streets reminded me just how joyous being on two wheels is.
Building from its supercharged Ninja H2 hyperbike, Kawasaki launched the naked Z H2 for 2020. Lucky to attend the press launch for the bike that year, I got to experience this 197-hp missile on a road course, freeways, backroads, and even a banked NASCAR oval. The latter was, despite its daunting concrete walls, an apropos vessel to exploit the bike’s reported power. Weighing 527 lbs wet, the Z H2 has a 2.7:1 power-to-weight ratio – nearly twice as potent as the 2023 Corvette Z06.
Supercharged engines are known for their low-end grunt, and the Z H2 motor was happy to pull at any rpm and in any gear. But it fully awakened above 8,000 rpm, as the aerospace-grade supercharger began delivering useful boost. From here on, the job description read: Hang on and steer. Free to pin it on the road course and oval, I did. And not for bravado’s sake – I really wanted to discover the payoff of having so much power. As it turns out, a supercharged liter bike dramatically shrinks time and space, making it a total blast on the track – and absolute overkill on the road. Watch where you aim this one.
Based in Southern California, John L. Stein is an internationally known automotive and motorcycle journalist. He was a charter editor of Automobile Magazine, Road Test Editor at Cycle, and served as the Editor of Corvette Quarterly. He has written for Autoweek, Car and Driver, Motor Trend, Cycle World, Motorcyclist, Outside, and other publications in the U.S. and abroad.
The whole family will be able to take their turn on two wheels following the recent announcement from Kawasaki of the return of three models for the 2023 model year – the KLX300 dual-sport, KLX300SM supermoto, and Ninja ZX-6R sportbike – as well as a new electric balance bike for the kiddos called the Elektrode. Read on to learn more about these bikes, then don your gear and follow Kawasaki’s advice to “let the good times roll.”
2023 Kawasaki KLX300
The Kawasaki KLX300 dual-sport returns for 2023 with all the features riders have grown to love, whether off-roading or on the street. Starting at $5,899 for the familiar Lime Green ($6,099 for the Fragment Camo Gray), the KLX300 is still a financially friendly entry point for new motorcycle riders. It features a 292cc DOHC liquid-cooled 4-valve Single with its powerband, electric starter, cam profiles sourced from the KLX300R off-road model, and a 6-speed gearbox. We did a first ride review on the KLX300 in March 2021 and reported solid bottom-end torque and midrange power.
The bike has a steel perimeter frame and aluminum swingarm, a 21-inch front and 18-inch rear wheel combo, and dual-sport tuned long-travel suspension for optimal ground clearance. The 43mm inverted fork with adjustable compression damping and the fully adjustable gas-charged Uni-Trak shock provide 10 inches of travel in the front and 9.1 inches in the rear, meaning the KLX300 can dish out whatever the trail (or asphalt) throws at you. When it comes to braking, the dual-sport comes with a 2-piston caliper and 250mm disc up front and a 1-piston caliper and a 240mm disc in back.
2023 Kawasaki KLX300SM
First introduced for the 2021 model year and developed alongside the KLX300 dual-sport, the KLX300SM shares a similar engine and chassis with its stablemate. However, the SM features a host of supermoto-inspired components, including 17-inch front and rear wheels paired with IRC Road Winner RX-01 street tires, supermoto-tuned suspension, and a larger 300mm disc and 2-piston caliper up front for braking.
Priced at $6,299 for both Neon Green and Ebony, the KLX300SM is still a great entry-level supermoto bike but with the credentials that make it attractive to more skilled riders as well.
2023 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-6R
In order to meet growing consumer demand, Kawasaki has reportedly moved up the production and introduction of its 2023 model Ninja ZX-6R supersport motorcycle, featuring a 636cc 4-cylinder DOHC engine optimized for both the street and the track. The Ninja ZX-6R has the Kawasaki QuickShifter, Kawasaki Intelligent anti-lock Brake System (KIBS), selectable power modes combined with Kawasaki Traction Control, Showa suspension with a SFF-BP fork, slip/assist clutch, adjustable clutch lever, multifunction LCD screen, and a pressed-aluminum perimeter frame.
The 2023 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-6R is available in Metallic Matte Twilight Blue / Metallic Diablo Black without ABS for $10,699, or in Metallic Matte Graphenesteel Gray / Metallic Diablo Black for $10,999 without ABS or $11,999 with ABS.
2023 Kawasaki Elektrode Electric Balance Bike
From the brand behind the KX motocross powerhouse comes the new Elektrode electric balance bike. Little rippers can now start their journey on two wheels as early as 3 years old, putting them on the path to the podium earlier than ever.
Since engine noise and exhaust can often be intimidating to young children learning to ride, the Elektrode should help encourage those who might otherwise be nervous to see how much fun riding can be. The Elektrode is lightweight and compact in size to allow for easy transportation in the back seat or trunk of a car.
The 2023 Elektrode electric balance bike features an air-cooled, brushless, in-wheel electric motor producing 250 watts of acceleration at the rear wheel. Power is said to be delivered in a smooth, linear fashion, getting the bike moving in a predictable way and gradually building the rider’s comfort with power and control. The motor positioning contributes to the Elektrode’s low center of gravity, which should create a light steering feel and easy turning and leaning.
The Kawasaki Elektrode’s in-frame lithium-ion battery is said to provide up to 2.5 hours of riding (or approximately 9 miles) depending on battery and rider conditions. The battery takes 2.5 hours to fully recharge from any home outlet, car, camper, or side-by-side vehicle, and the bike features an auto-sleep feature that shuts off the power after 10 minutes of inactivity. The battery’s location in the aluminum frame provides protection from dirt, debris, and potential impact damage that could occur during hard use.
Three speed modes allow young riders to grow and adapt as their abilities increase. Modes can be selected using the LCD screen located on the handlebars – but only when the bike is at a complete stop. Each mode caps the electric bike at a specific speed: low at 5 mph, mid at 7.5 mph, and high at 13 mph. A special parental lock requires a unique passcode to deter unauthorized changing of power levels. Or turn off the power entirely, fold up the rubber-padded steel footpegs, and use the Elektrode as a standard balance bike.
The Elektrode’s lightweight aluminum frame and 32.8-inch wheelbase provide durability while remaining light for kids to handle. A highly rigid steel front fork on the front of the bike should grant young riders a solid feel for steering, and a 160mm rear-mounted mechanical disc brake provides ample stopping power at the pull of a lever.
To add to the lightweight, sturdy nature of the Elektrode, Kawasaki designed special 16-inch cast-aluminum wheels with 16- x 2.125-inch HE-type knobby tires for use on several different types of terrain and tubes with Schrader valves.
The Elekrode is designed to accommodate riders from ages 3 to 8. The 16-inch wheels and adjustable components make it suitable for growing riders, including over 4 inches of adjustability in the seat, meaning the Elektrode can fit children 37-55 inches tall. The handlebar design promotes an upright riding position without compromising knee space, providing the extra room as kids grow, and with a common-sized handlebar and seat, parents will have the ability to change and customize their child’s bike as they see fit.
And when it comes to looking cool, Kawasaki designed the Elektrode to look like a full-fledged off-road machine. A KX-inspired front number plate adorns the front of the Elektrode, and the bike comes in the iconic Kawasaki Lime-Green coloring and racing graphics.
The 2023 Elektrode electric balance bike will be available in Lime Green with for $1,099.
For more information or to find a Kawasaki dealer near you, visit Kawasaki.com.
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The last bike I rode before swinging a leg over the 2022 Kawasaki Z650RS was a 1975 Honda CB400F SuperSport. I’ve owned this Honda for more than 30 years and, having just come back from Moto41 motorcycle restorations in Santa Ana, California, it’s as new as a 47-year-old bike can be. While not a Kawasaki, there’s an interesting juxtaposition comparing a modern retro throwback to an OG member of the era.
Joining the Z900RS in Kawasaki’s lineup, the Z650RS in Candy Emerald Green or Metallic Moondust Gray/Ebony retails for $8,999, while the 50th anniversary edition in Candy Diamond Brown is $9,249. When the CB400F was new in 1975, it retailed for $1,433, or $7,818 in 2022 dollars. The Z costs more but, considering its performance and technological advancements over the CB, it’s a bargain.
The price of the Z650RS becomes a little harder to justify when compared to its half-brother stablemate, the non-RS Z650 ABS model, retails for $8,049. Considering the Z650RS and Z650 share the same engine and chassis, the retro styling of the RS comes at a $950 premium.
Producing an extra 21 hp while weighing just 5 lbs more than the AARP-eligible Honda, the Ninja-derived 649cc parallel-Twin scuttles the Z650RS through a tight set of twisties with fervor. The motorcycle’s chassis is solid and up to the task, but depending on rider weight and aggression level, the non-adjustable fork and preload-only adjustable shock can get overwhelmed. Nothing a skilled rider can’t compensate for, but it’s clear the RS is suspended to meet a price point as well as the needs of a variety of riders in a variety of situations, which has baked-in limitations.
The fuel system of the Z650RS features a dual throttle valve configuration, with the main valves directly attached to the cable extending back from the twistgrip and the secondary valves controlled by the bike’s ECU. The two-step process, according to Kawasaki, endeavors to “precisely regulate intake airflow to ensure a natural, linear response.” However, in lower gears at around-town speeds, throttle application felt abrupt. No matter how smoothly I attempted to modulate a steady throttle, the Z650RS responded by light-switching between acceleration and deceleration. At higher speeds in higher gears, however, there was a more rheostatic throttle response. Given such inconsistent behavior, I wouldn’t swap the Kawi’s EFI for the Honda’s carburetors. But ask me again when it comes time to clean those four carbs.
Sometimes you just don’t realize how good you have it until you’re physically reminded. Clutch pull on the Honda is hastening arthritis in my left hand. Working the clutch lever in stop-and-go city traffic has the muscles and tendons in my hand and forearm pleading for respite after an hour of riding. The Z, in contrast, features a slip/assist clutch that offers a feather-light pull. Not only does it lessen the amount of strength required to operate the clutch, it also reduces the amount of engine braking at the rear wheel during downshifts – a modern luxury that has spoiled us.
With no other motorcycling option, I drove a cage from my home in Long Beach, California, to attend the Z650RS press launch that began in downtown Hollywood. The notion of navigating the Honda through LA’s rush-hour traffic was outweighed by my desire to survive. The CB400F’s ancient brakes seem to be carved from balsa wood.
The retro-styled Kawi employs fully modern dual 300mm front discs squeezed by two-piston Nissin calipers, which providing all the braking performance I needed. There was good feel at the lever, allowing me to increase or decrease pressure as warranted. The single rear disc was equally praiseworthy, and the whole package gets an added level of safety with standard ABS.
The seating position and rider-machine interface of the Z650RS is everything you’d expect of a sport standard – comfy and user-friendly. From the reach to the handlebars, bend in the knees, positioning of the footrests, and width of the seat, the RS just feels right. Whether around town, in the canyons, or on the freeway, I struggled to find something ergonomic to complain about.
Just over a yard (31.5 inches) separates the top of the seat from the pavement, keeping the Z650RS manageable for the inseams of most riders. Combined with the bike’s low curb weight of 412 pounds, the Z650RS is lightweight and feels even lighter once in motion. A rubber-mounted handlebar helps nullify the already minimal amount of engine buzz, while 5-way adjustable clutch and brake levers allow for customization of settings between hands big and small.
There’s no reason why I should fixate on the fact that the Z650RS has a helmet lock, other than it being one of those useful and inexpensive conveniences that many modern motorcycles now lack. Don’t get me started on what passes for toolkits these days.
Instrumentation is a matter of old-school clocks meeting new-school multi-functionality. The analog speedo and tach are era-appropriate and nicely outfitted with chrome bezels, while the LCD screen features easy-to-read white letters on a black background and includes a gear-position indicator, clock, and fuel gauge. Eat your heart out, 1975!
Styling of the Z650RS is a mash-up of new meets old, which will most likely spark unresolved arguments of a subjective nature. While not an inherently smooth inline-Four like my CB, the Kawi’s parallel-Twin is a better engine choice for reducing cost, complexity, maintenance, and weight. It’s bulletproof, too, getting its neck wrung out on bikes ranging from the Versys 650 to flat-track racebikes. The cast wheels resemble the spoked wheels of distant-past KZ650 models, though later KZs were outfitted with cast wheels.
Then there’s the exhaust. What first attracted me to the 400 Four was its unmistakably beautiful exhaust system. While the Z900RS holds true to its ’70s era roots with a long-swept pipe ending in a chrome muffler, Kawasaki chose to equip the Z650RS with the same stubby Versys-esque muffler found on the Z650. Another visual eyesore is the parts-bin radiator made obvious by its unused mounting tabs and too-wide width forcing the ugly routing of the return and overflow tubes. When you’re paying a premium for style, details matter.
Available color schemes are spot-on for the era, especially for the Candy Emerald Green version with its use of pinstripes and raised Kawasaki tank emblem. Blinkers on all the RS models are modern with transparent lenses encasing colored LED lights, not the saucer-shaped disco-age variety. A must-have upgrade is the chrome grab bar available as an accessory from the Kawasaki parts catalog.
For now, I’ll keep my Honda. I’ve owned it for so long, it’d be like an itchy phantom limb if it weren’t in my garage. But, given the choice between buying one today (clean examples will set you back anywhere from $5,000 to $7,000) and buying a brand-new Z650RS, the decision would hinge on riding intentions and wrenching ability.
The Honda holds the upper hand in the coolness factor by way of its authenticity, but it is seriously compromised in the harsh light of modern transportation and pales in comparison to the performance and ability of the Z650RS. A daily commuter in La La Land the Honda is not. There are also mechanical concerns such as adjusting points, syncing carburetors, and a host of other woes old bike ownership demands.
The Kawasaki has the ability to be whatever a rider wants it to be: commuter, sportbike, sport-tourer, or weekend runabout. The Z650RS, like many of the old standards, is built to conquer it all. Throw in all its wonderful modern conveniences and reliability, there’s little to worry about. Lube and adjust the chain, change the oil regularly, keep the battery charged, and just ride. If you’re attracted to old-school cool styling but want to avoid old-school bike ownership, you can get the best of both worlds with the Z650RS.
2022 Kawasaki Z650RS Specs
Base Price: $8,999 Website:kawasaki.com Engine Type: Liquid-cooled, transverse parallel-Twin, DOHC w/ 4 valves per cyl. Displacement: 649cc Bore x Stroke: 83.0 x 60.0mm Horsepower: 67 hp @ 8,000 rpm Torque: 48.5 lb-ft @ 6,500 rpm Transmission: 6-speed, cable-actuated slip/assist wet clutch Final Drive: O-ring chain Wheelbase: 55.3 in. Rake/Trail: 24.0 degrees/3.9 in. Seat Height: 31.5 in. Wet Weight: 419 lbs Fuel Capacity: 3.2 gals.
To challenge the dominance of Honda’s CB750, Kawasaki unleashed the Z1 in 1972. At the time, Team Green didn’t just produce the most powerful Japanese inline-Four, it also beat its rivals to the punch with a double overhead cam valvetrain. That innovative engine configuration may have impressed gearheads, but the Z1’s ultra-attractive Fireball paint scheme turned heads as well. Fifty years later, the Z1’s DNA is still found in its Z Series descendants. Celebrating the milestone are 2022 Kawasaki Z 50th Anniversary editions of the retro-style Z650RS and Z900RS as well as the more modern Z650 and Z900.
The retro-styled RS line borrows most from the Z1, donning the legendary Fireball livery. As many Kawi fans know, the original 2018 Z900RS paid tribute to the Z1 in a similar colorway. However, Kawasaki reproduces the Candy Diamond Brown and Orange of the 1972 model with a special multi-layer painting process on the 2022 Z900RS and Z650RS.
A gold wheelset alludes to the Z Series’ golden anniversary, while Z 50th branding on the front fender and engine case covers take a more literal approach. The nostalgia only ramps up from there. Both variants bear Double Overhead Camshaft badges on the side panels, and the classically styled seats come wrapped in new textured material. Despite the absence of a center stand, a grab rail offers peak vintage styling.
While the RS trims harken back to the Z1, the 2022 Z650 and Z900 draw inspiration from the 1982 Kawasaki Z1100GP. Draped in Firecracker Red, the modern-day naked bikes honor the 40-year-old GP while retaining their aggressive appearance. The sporty silver and dark blue graphics toe the line of classic and contemporary while a commemorative logo adorns the front fender.
The RS line may tout a gold wheelset, but the 50th Anniversary Z650 and Z900 take a different route with gold tank emblems, Z logos, and fork tubes, and they roll on red wheels. Similar to the Z650RS and Z900RS, however, the two modern nakeds tout a new textured seat.
Despite the cosmetic revisions, the 50th Anniversary Z editions are mechanically identical to their base model counterparts. Kawasaki will produce all four special-edition motorcycles in a limited capacity and each customer will receive a coffee table book celebrating the iconic Z Series. The 50th Anniversary are available now and priced as follows:
2022 Kawasaki Z650RS 50th Anniversary: $9,249
2022 Kawasaki Z900RS 50th Anniversary: $12,049
2022 Kawasaki Z650 50th Anniversary: $8,299
2022 Kawasaki Z900 50th Anniversary: $9,499
For more information or to find a dealer near you, visit kawasaki.com.
The word legend is overused, especially by cliché-loving motojournalists, but when it comes to the world of adventure riding, the Kawasaki KLR650 can lay a credible claim to the title. With its second major update since being introduced in 1987, the 2022 Kawasaki KLR650 continues the model’s long history as an affordable, dependable adventure bike.
First released as the KLR600 in 1984, the model was upgraded to a 650 in 1987. The high fender, tall stance, and elevated ground clearance left no doubt as to its dual on-and off-road purpose. Powered by a single-cylinder, liquid-cooled, DOHC, 4-valve engine, with fueling managed by a Keihin carburetor, the KLR also had a 5-speed transmission and front disc brake. Cutting-edge stuff for the time, and the bike quickly gained a reputation for steady reliability and go-anywhere capability.
Almost nothing changed for two decades, which gives some indication as to the KLR’s intrinsic qualities and its popularity. You don’t mess with success, and if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Even after the first major update in 2008, which included a longer fork, a new swingarm, better brake calipers, and a redesigned fairing, the Keihin carburetor and just about everything else remained unchanged. But the world has moved on, and as with many long-in-the-tooth motorcycles, satisfying the latest regulations is a major driving factor behind the updates to the new model.
So, what has Kawasaki done to the KLR? To calm the nerves of the faithful, I’ll start with what hasn’t changed. The short answer: most of it. Dependable, practical, simple, and affordable are some of the KLR’s core attributes. For 2022, there are still no rider modes, throttle-by-wire, TFT display, or other complexities (and related costs), and the base model is still priced well under $7,000. The KLR has a reputation for field reliability, where everything can be fixed with a wrench and a rock; even the Marine Corps has a fleet modified to run on diesel. The new KLR stays true to that formula.
Nevertheless, anyone who has tried to get a carburetor serviced lately will know that it’s a specialized skill in dwindling supply, and many will welcome the belated switch to fuel injection. Yes, the old Keihin carb was rock-solid, but EFI has proven its worth on motorcycles for decades. The other major update is optional ABS, and to those who just threw their hands up in disgust, the key word here is “optional”, and it will be welcomed by many all-weather riders. There’s also a long list of tweaks and enhancements to this new KLR, all of which should appeal to fans new and old. It has been made stronger and more reliable, and offers more comfort, wind protection, load-carrying ability, and versatility.
The old thumper has been updated to improve efficiency and meet the latest regulatory requirements, at the heart of which lies the new EFI system. Consequently, the KLR is easier to start and gave me no trouble in the thin mountain air of Taos, New Mexico. By making the subframe an integrated part of the main frame, the entire chassis is stiffer, which improves stability and increases load capacity. Stability also gets a boost from more rake (30 degrees, up from 28), more trail (4.7 inches, up from 4.4), a 1.2-inch-longer swingarm, and a longer wheelbase (60.6 inches, up from 58.3), and key load-bearing areas have all been strengthened. The front suspension has been adjusted to accommodate frame updates and a 28-pound increase in curb weight, while the rear shock is now adjustable for rebound in addition to spring preload.
A larger 300mm front disc has increased braking power, and a thicker rear disc is less prone to fade on steep descents. ABS is a $300 upgrade. Kawasaki did a good job tuning the ABS to suit the dual-sport nature of the KLR, but it can’t be turned off. Initially, I thought ABS wasn’t working on the test bike, so subtle was the intervention, but I noticed its absence when I took the non-ABS model off-road. Given the price, I expect a lot of buyers will opt for it; I know I would.
Both the battery and generator have been updated to provide more power for accessories such as auxiliary lights and heated grips. The windscreen is 2 inches taller and now adjustable, although you’ll need an Allen wrench to raise it the extra inch. A nifty half-inch bar has been added above the dash for mounting accessories, and the updated LCD is clear, easy to read, and now has a fuel gauge. All-round LED lights are now standard, and the Adventure model I tested comes equipped with useful auxiliary lights and crash bars for the cowling and engine, adding to its off-road credentials. The new seat, still a dirtbike-style single unit, has been redesigned to improve comfort, although I wished for more cushion over long distances.
Our test ride began at the RFD-TV Ranch, where the sprawling Rocky Mountains descend into the high New Mexico plains. Pulling onto the highway, the KLR rides like a middleweight Single; that is to say, the pace is leisurely. Kawasaki has done a good job of balancing the old thumper, so there is very little in the way of vibration. Although the KLR is not a highway bike per se, it happily cruises at 75 mph. But at higher speeds, it would really benefit from a 6th gear.
Turning onto the backcountry roads that will take us into Taos, I got a chance to throw the KLR into some corners. At slower speeds, the 21-inch front wheel and tall stance result in a bit of steering flop, but once adjusted to its characteristics, the KLR’s road handling exceeded expectations. The semi-knobby tires squirm a bit on pavement, but the bike is composed when accelerating through tight corners.
The afternoon took us into the dirt, and another characteristic I had to adjust to is the gear shift position. I couldn’t get my motocross boot under the lever easily, especially when standing on the pegs. Upshifting was a struggle, particularly from 1st to 2nd. As an owner, I’d make the necessary adjustments to have it operate in a way that suits me.
Gear shifting aside, the KLR’s supple suspension comes into its own off-road, and riding the rocky trails is fantastic fun. The new KLR is still equipped with Dunlop K750 tires, a road/trail compromise with an emphasis on compromise. Nonetheless, tractor-like low-end torque enables the KLR to maintain traction in sandy, loose terrain. It’s almost impossible to stall, and the moment I get bogged down, a slip of the clutch is all that’s required to churn my way through.
Working our way down from Taos the following day, there were plenty of opportunities to test the KLR on gravel tracks, sandy trails, and the dreaded silt. The silt track might as well have been a road of marbles, and it’s at times like these when even the most experienced riders risk falling off that a lone traveler will be particularly thankful they’re on a simple, relatively lightweight adventure bike. Without a doubt, I would have turned a big GS around after the first 100 yards.
Early the next morning, the KLR now loaded with gear, I set off solo for Arizona. Route 60 rolls across the plain and into the Gila National Forest, where a massive thunderstorm provided an opportunity to test handling in the rain and the waterproofness of the hard saddlebags that come standard on the Adventure model. I was on the non-ABS version, which coped admirably, as did the side bags, which remained bone dry inside.
Trails in the Coconino National Forest provided the perfect opportunity to test the loaded KLR. No matter where I’ve ridden in the world, I always seem to end up on tracks like these, with a mix of sand, rubble, and gravel. The seated ergonomics are excellent. My body position is upright with a comfortable bend at the knee and arm, but standing up, the peg position is a little too far forward, bringing the handlebar too close to my body. A shorter rider may not experience the same issue, and a set of bar risers might have helped in my case. Putting that aside, the KLR is a breeze to ride on tracks like these, and even with the old-school tires, it is only the deeper sandy sections that force me to slow down to crawling speeds.
Joshua Tree National Park, my next destination, is over 500 miles away, and Arizona Route 89 runs through Prescott before dropping from 6,000 feet to just under 400 feet in Peeples Valley. An amazing winding descent, where over a distance of just 10 miles the temperature climbs from a cool 68 degrees to 115. It feels like riding into a hairdryer. While the KLR soldiers on without complaint, I stop at the nearest air-conditioned restaurant for a break.
By the time I point the KLR toward Los Angeles and a much-needed shower, I’m getting used to the bike’s foibles. Yes, there are some things I would change, but when you consider the bigger picture, they seem trivial. I’ve done long-distance adventure tours on BMW’s venerable R 1200 GS in several countries. But for the same price as a GS, you can buy a KLR650, all the gear you need, and still have enough left over to fund a substantial tour.
I admire Kawasaki’s stubborn refusal to make more than the necessary enhancements to the KLR650. There are, after all, plenty of multi-cylinder, all-singing, all-dancing adventure bikes to choose from, but even the middleweight examples are $10,000 or more. The KLR650 Adventure model I tested, with auxiliary lights and saddlebags, costs just $7,699. Adding ABS raises the price to one dollar shy of $8,000.
The Kawasaki KLR650 is the rescue mutt of the dual-sport motorcycle world. No, it’s not perfect, but you’ll end up falling in love with it, and you know it will be a dependable, loyal, eager companion on any adventure, and for a lot less money than fancy breeds.
2022 Kawasaki KLR650 Specs
Base Price: $6,699 Price as Tested: $7,699 (Adventure model) Warranty: 1 yr., unltd. miles Website: kawasaki.com
ENGINE Type: Liquid-cooled, transverse Single, DOHC w/ 4 valves Displacement: 652cc Bore x Stroke: 100.0 x 83.0mm Compression Ratio: 9.8:1 Valve Insp. Interval: 15,000 miles Fuel Delivery: DFI w/ 40mm throttle body Lubrication System: Wet sump, 2.2 qt. cap. Transmission: 5-speed, cable-actuated wet clutch Final Drive: O-ring chain
CHASSIS Frame: Tubular-steel semi-double cradle, steel swingarm Wheelbase: 60.6 in. Rake/Trail: 30 degrees/4.8 in. Seat Height: 34.3 in. Suspension, Front: 41mm fork, no adj., 7.9 in. travel Rear: Single shock, adj. rebound & spring preload, 7.3 in. travel Brakes, Front: Single 300mm disc w/ 2-piston caliper Rear: Single 240mm disc w/ 1-piston caliper Wheels, Front: Spoked aluminum, 1.60 x 21 in. Rear: Spoked aluminum, 2.50 x 17 in. Tires, Front: 90/90-21, tube-type Rear: 130/80-17, tube-type Wet Weight: 487 lbs. (as tested) Load Capacity: 316 lbs. (as tested) GVWR: 803 lbs.
Since its introduction in 2008, the 650cc Versys – the name is derived from “versatile” and “system” – has been a popular adventure-style streetbike with a tall stance and 17-inch wheels. The 2022 Kawasaki Versys 650 gets new traction control, a TFT display with smartphone connectivity, and updated styling with an adjustable windscreen.
At the heart of the Versys 650 is liquid-cooled 649cc parallel-Twin tuned for a broad range of usable torque. When we tested the 2020 Kawasaki Versys 650 LT, an up-spec model with standard handguards and key-matched, quick-release 28-liter hard saddlebags, it sent 63 horsepower at 8,700 rpm and 43 lb-ft of torque at 7,300 rpm to the rear wheel.
Keeping rear wheel spin in check is a new Kawasaki TRaction Control (KTRC) system with two modes. Mode 1, which is the least intrusive, helps manage traction during cornering and facilitates acceleration out of corners. Mode 2 allows for earlier intervention and reduces engine output when excessive wheel spin is detected, allowing for the tire to get maximum grip. KTRC can also be turned off using the switch located on the handlebar.
The Versys 650 has a 6-speed transmission, a cable-actuated wet clutch, and chain final drive. Its chassis consists of a tubular-steel double pipe diamond frame with a box-section aluminum swingarm. It has a 41mm telescopic fork with adjustable rebound and spring preload and a single offset laydown rear shock with adjustable preload. Suspension travel is 5.9 inches in front and 5.7 inches out back.
Up front, dual 300mm petal-style discs are squeezed by 2-piston calipers, and out back a single 250mm petal disc has a 1-piston caliper. ABS is standard.
The 2022 Versys 650 also gets updated styling, taking cues from its Versys 1000 stablemate. The upper fairing has a sharper and more flowing look, complemented by new LED headlights. A new windscreen is said to improve wind protection, and it can be adjusted among four positions over a 3-inch range using a release near the dash.
Instrumentation has been updated with a new 4.3-inch full-color TFT (thin-film transistor) display that provides a high level of visibility during both day or night with selectable background colors (black or white) and automatic screen brightness adjustment. The TFT provides detailed info about the bike, and a smartphone can be connected via Bluetooth using Kawasaki’s RIDEOLOGY THE APP.
The Versys 650 has a 33.3-inch seat height, 5.5 gallons of fuel capacity, and a claimed curb weight of 483 pounds.
The 2022 Kawasaki Versys 650 is available in Metallic Spark Black/Metallic Flat Spark Black for $8,899 or Candy Lime Green/Metallic Flat Spark Black/Metallic Spark Black for $9,099. The 2022 Versys 650 LT with handguards and saddlebags is available in Metallic Spark Black/Metallic Flat Spark Black for $9,999.
For more information or to find a Kawasaki dealer near you, visit kawasaki.com.
In mid-October Kawasaki unveiled the KLX230S, a more accessible version of its popular KLX230 dual-sport with reduced suspension travel and a lower seat height (32.7 inches, down from 35). Team Green has announced the return of the standard KLX230 for 2022 as well as the new 2022 Kawasaki KLX230 SE, a special-edition model with cool add-ons, colors, and graphics.
The platform shared by the KLX230, KLX230S, and KLX230 SE is an air-cooled, four-stroke, 233cc Single with a two-valve SOHC cylinder head and electronic fuel injection with a 32mm throttle body. Power is sent to the rear wheel through a close-ratio 6-speed transmission, a cable-actuated wet clutch, and chain final drive.
Kawasaki says exhaust pipe length contributes to the engine’s low- to midrange performance. To match the off-road image of the KX-inspired motocross-style bodywork, the exhaust features a tapered silencer with an oval cross-section.
A high-tensile steel perimeter frame is durable and allows the engine to be mounted lower in the chassis to help keep the center of gravity low. Spoked aluminum wheels – a 21-inch front and 18-inch rear – maximize the KLX230’s off-road potential. Up front, a 2-piston caliper squeezes a 240mm petal disc brake, and out back a 1-piston caliper pinches a 220mm disc.
Suspension is handled by a 37mm telescopic fork with 8.7 inches of travel and a Uni-Trak linkage rear shock with adjustable preload and 8.8 inches of travel.
The 2022 Kawasaki KLX230 SE kicks it up a notch with several Kawasaki Genuine Accessories as well as black rims and special colors and graphics. The upgrades include a tapered handlebar, handguards, a skid plate, and frame covers.
The tapered handlebar helps improve ride comfort with its 1-1/8-inch steel-clamping diameter that tapers to a narrower grip area. Kawasaki says the design allows controlled flex that acts as a kind of shock absorber for the hands and arms to reduce fatigue and add comfort. The handlebar has also been fitted with handguards to protect the rider’s hands from debris and weather.
Durable frame covers are constructed from plastic and help provide scuff protection for the chassis side rails. A skid plate has been mounted to provide full coverage protection of the chassis bottom rails and includes an oil drain hole to allow oil changes without removal.
Other features of the 2022 Kawasaki KLX230 SE include a 2-gallon fuel capacity, a 34.8-inch seat height, and a 291-pound curb weight (claimed; 293 pounds in California). Passenger footpegs allow two-up riding, and in the left side cover is a lockable toolbox compartment. The toolbox uses the Kawasaki One-Key System, so it locks and unlocks with the ignition key. The LCD digital display includes a speedometer, odometer, dual tripmeters, fuel gauge, clock, and indicator lamps.
The 2022 Kawasaki KLX230 SE is available in Oriental Blue or Firecracker Red with an MSRP of $4,999. The 2022 Kawasaki KLX230 is available in Lime Green with an MSRP of $4,799.
For more information or to find a Kawasaki dealer near you, visit kawasaki.com.
Kawasaki has spiced up the Z900 mix with a new SE model, which adds upgraded brakes and suspension.
The Z900 SE’s styling draws from Kawasaki’s “Sugomi” design concept, which makes the bike look in motion even when standing still. It has aggressive angular detailing, an exposed subframe, and a sharply contoured belly pan. For those who prefer more classic styling, check out the 2022 Kawasaki Z900RS SE.
At the heart of the Z900 SE is the liquid-cooled 948cc inline-Four, which made 113 horsepower at 9,800 rpm and 66 lb-ft of torque at 8,100 rpm at the rear wheel in our 2020 test. As we reported at the time, this lightweight and compact engine spools up quickly and delivers solid and smooth performance when pushed but is versatile enough to be ridden in traffic with ease. Standard electronics include power modes, traction control, and integrated riding modes (Sport, Road, Rain, and Rider [manual]).
The Z900 SE’s upgraded suspension includes a fully adjustable 41mm inverted fork and a fully adjustable Öhlins S46 rear shock with a remote preload adjuster. The new setup promises improved customization and handling.
The SE version also benefits from a new radial monoblock Brembo M4.32 4-piston front calipers squeezing 300mm petal discs and Nissin radial-pump master cylinder. At the rear, there is a 250mm petal disc with 2-piston caliper. ABS and steel-braided brake lines are standard.
The Z900 SE’s cast aluminum, five-spoke wheels are fitted with Dunlop Sportmax Roadsport 2 tires. Although the turnsignals are still the old bulb type, all the other lights on the Z900 SE are LEDs. A large 4.3-inch color TFT dash with a selectable background color (black or white) and screen brightness automatically switches between three rider-set levels to suit available light. Bluetooth connectivity is compatible with smartphone devices and Kawasaki’s Rideology App.
A full range of Kawasaki Genuine Accessories are available and options for the Z900 SE include crankcase protectors, a meter cover, and an Akrapovic slip-on exhaust. The 2022 Kawasaki Z900 SE is available in Metallic Spark Black/Candy Lime Green with an MSRP of $10,699.
2022 Kawasaki Z900 SE Specs
Base Price: $10,699 Website:kawasaki.com Engine Type: Liquid-cooled, transverse inline-Four, DOHC w/ 4 valves per cyl. Displacement: 948cc Bore x Stroke: 73.4 x 56.0 mm Horsepower: 113 @ 8,500 rpm (2020 Z900, rear-wheel dyno) Torque: 66 lb-ft @ 6,700 rpm (2020 Z900, rear-wheel dyno) Transmission: 6-speed, cable-actuated slip/assist wet clutch Final Drive: Chain Wheelbase: 57.3 in. Rake/Trail: 25 degrees/4.3 in. Seat Height: 31.5 in. Wet Weight: 470 lbs. Fuel Capacity: 4.5 gals.
Kawasaki has announced a new “SE” version of its retro-styled Z900RS for 2022, which features upgraded suspension and brakes. Up front are new radial-mount monoblock Brembo M4.32 calipers and new settings for the fully adjustable inverted fork, which now sports gold legs. Out back is a new fully adjustable Öhlins S46 rear shock with a remote preload adjuster.
Also new on the 2022 Kawasaki Z900RS is a new “Yellow Ball” color scheme, with Metallic Diablo Black paint, yellow highlights on the teardrop tank and rear fender, and fetching gold wheels.
At the heart of the Z900RS SE is a liquid-cooled, 948cc, 16-valve, inline-Four, which made 100 horsepower at 8,500 rpm and 67.5 lb-ft of torque at 6,700 rpm at the rear wheel in our 2020 comparison test. This lightweight and compact engine spools up quickly and delivers solid and smooth performance when pushed but is versatile enough to be ridden in traffic with ease. The high-tensile steel trellis frame has received revisions at the swingarm pivot point, which is now stronger.
A fully adjustable 41mm inverted fork offers 10 clicks of compression adjustment, 12 clicks of rebound adjustment, and a stepless preload adjuster. At the rear, the RS is fitted with a horizontal backlink Öhlins S46 shock with a remote preload adjuster. The shock is linked to an extruded lightweight aluminum swingarm to maximize handling, with the linkage placed atop the swingarm helps to centralize the weight.
Braking is provided by a pair of radial-mount monoblock Brembo 4-piston M4.32 front calipers squeezing 300mm petal discs with a Nissin radial-pump master cylinder. Out back, a 2-piston caliper squeezes a 250mm petal disc. ABS and stainless-steel braided lines are standard.
In keeping with the classic styling, the Z900RS SE is equipped with cast flat spoke wheels, finished in gold, to resemble traditional wire-spoked wheels. Dunlop GPR-300 tires further add to the retro credentials.
The Z900RS SE features a large-diameter round LED headlight with a convex lens and chrome ring, adding to the retro look without compromising on lighting. LEDs have replaced all the lights except for the turnsignals. A dual-dial analog instrument cluster is coupled with a multi-function LCD screen for retro-style with modern functionality. The LCD features white letters on a black background and includes a gear position indicator.
Much like the sporty bikes of the ’70s, the Z900RS SE has a relaxed, upright riding position. A wide flat handlebar means the grips are 30mm wider, 65mm higher, and 35mm closer to the rider compared to the sportier Z900, partly thanks to the raised upper-triple clamp. The footpegs are also 20mm lower and 20mm farther forward, enhancing the relaxed riding position. Rubber-mounted bar ends help dampen vibrations in the bars, and both the clutch and brake levers are 5-way adjustable to help accommodate a wide variety of hand sizes.
The slim fuel tank is narrow at the rear, which allows for easy knee gripping. A low seat height, combined with a slim design, adds to the rider’s ability to place both feet on the ground when stopped.
A full range of Kawasaki accessories is available to give owners the option to add to the motorcycle’s iconic, old-school feel, including a tank emblem set, black, gold, or silver oil filler caps, front axle slider, tank pad, frame slider set, center stand, passenger grab bar and more.
2022 Kawasaki Z900RS SE Specs
Base Price: $13,449 Website:kawasaki.com Engine Type: Liquid-cooled, transverse inline-Four, DOHC w/ 4 valves per cyl. Displacement: 948cc Bore x Stroke: 73.4 x 56.0 mm Horsepower: 100 @ 8,500 rpm (2020 Z900, rear-wheel dyno) Torque: 67.5 lb-ft @ 6,700 rpm (2020 Z900, rear-wheel dyno) Transmission: 6-speed, cable-actuated slip/assist wet clutch Final Drive: Chain Wheelbase: 57.9 in. Rake/Trail: 25 degrees/3.9 in. Seat Height: 32.9 in. Wet Weight: 474 lbs. Fuel Capacity: 4.5 gals.