Friday 30 November 2012

Featured Bike - Kawasaki W650

I recently saw one of these parked in Helensburgh and thought that it looked like a neat retro. The bike is an accurate modern reproduction of the trad British twin of the '60s. Although it could also be said to be an updating of Kawasaki's own W1/2/3. These were based on the 500cc BSA A7 and produced from 1967-75. Yes, amazingly, Kawasaki were building a pushrod non-unit engine in the mid '70s along side the Z1 & two stroke triples. Not imported to the UK I'm pretty sure. The W650 was build from 1999-07 and replaced with the W800 from 2011. The bike has all the period details - spoked wheels, peashooter silencers and even a kickstarter. The engine is an eight valve single overhead cam twin strangely with a bevel drive to the cam.

It's a good looking bike and no doubt appeals to those wanting the classic bike experience without the hassle of an old Brit. I'm maybe still too young for one and anyway they are expensive - price from £3,000 on Biketrader.  

Bevel drive can be seen in cutaway
'60s W1
'70s W3


  1. Probably seen maybe a half-dozen of the old Kaw 650's over here...mainly at shows. Seem maybe the same number of the newer Kaws, but out on the road.
    That's a nice cut-away of the bevel cam drive system, first time I've seen that.
    The newer bike is really kind of a copy of a Yamaha 650 twin, but with the bevel cam-drive instead of a chain. Nice looking bikes. I have a A-10 BSA 650, and it is amazing how close a copy the older Kaw W-1 is to it....makes you wonder if any parts are interchangeable...?

  2. A company called Meguro had a licensed to produce the BSA A7. This company was taken over by Kawasaki and the engine enlarged to 624cc. The W650 is fairly common in the UK but the early bikes are not.

  3. The cutaway shows another unusual feature of the W650 (for a Jap bike) is a 360deg crank like an old Brit. Japanese bikes are usually 180deg. The bike has a balance shaft to keep the vibes down.

    1. I just noticed that balancer shaft...came back to look at it again. Yeah, most Japanese bikes did go with 180 cranks...but Honda did play around with 360 cranks as well with the Dreams and some early 450's. Saw a blog the other day with a guy offering 270 crank conversions for Yamaha 650's. He cuts and welds the stock cams, to run with the rephased cranks. Got me to thinking of the possibilities of trying this with a 350 I need anymore projects...