2000 Kawasaki W650
Versatile, bulletproof, beautiful tough classic
Incorrect main jet size in right carb caused fouling until corrected. Kickstand safety switch went out and had to be bypassed.
Having owned an 80's 600 single beforehand, even though it was a "retro" bike, the leap in sophistication was phenomenal. It was absolutely bulletproof reliable while I owned it, capable of 110mph, could cruise all day on the highway, and yet was fun to fool around on in town or country roads.
It had excellent acceleration, although gearing was slightly annoying (2nd too low, 3rd too high). The seat was extremely uncomfortable (fixed in the 2001 model year) and the stock handlebars were "buckhorn" making long distance high speed travel extremely uncomfortable. That said the bike performed excellent averaging speeds of 90-100 mph on I-40 from Oklahoma to California without a hiccup. It was always fun to see the look on the Goldwing/Harley dresser rider's faces when I passed them on a small old looking bike.
I did not baby this bike, I rode it in Oklahoma ice storms, LA traffic, on gravel roads, dirt roads, offroad (mud, pastures, etc) and it always started first press of the button or first kick (yeah, it actually had a kick starter, great for a dead battery) and it was always ready for more. I also stored it uncovered outside year round through four brutal years of Oklahoma weather, and the finish remained remarkably beautiful. It was a tough machine, and with a 2001 model or aftermarket seat and low bars, it's hard to think of a better overall motorcycle, as it can honestly be used for any purpose except motocross.
If you are lucky enough to own one, don't sell it. It has much more charm and versatility than the new Triumphs. I sold mine because I needed the money and I certainly regret it. If you want a "standard" motorcycle that can do it all (motorcycling has degenerated into genres) with great classic looks and cross-country dependability, get one if you can find one, they were only imported for two or three years.
Would you buy another motorcycle from this manufacturer? No
Review Date: 22nd August, 2010
I have a 2003 W650, & have ridden it all over the UK in the past three years. All I can say is I LOVE IT! I always have a smile when I ride it & talk to others about its merits & minor shortcomings. I have also tested many Enfield 350/500s, and they don't hold a candle to it in my opinion.
I also ride a 1200 Bandit S, an altogether different machine; this gives me the buzz I need when wanting to go fast, but it hasn't the charm of the W650.
I really think I have the best of both worlds riding these two machines, both of which have been utterly reliable.
Share your views entirely. I just sold my W650, and wish I had not done so. I have bought a FJR 1300 with the proceeds, but wish I had kept the 650... what a sad day it was when I watched it go. The position was great, ride was smooth and without fault; overall it was a dream bike to have (for general runs about and the sunny days).
I will be back looking for another I am sure, and perhaps the W800 may be the best option?
Nice to hear that I am not alone in regretting the sale of the W650... wish I had seen your write up first.
Safe riding/Rick Isle of Man.