Kawasaki’s Retro Twin Returns

December 31, 2018 | By Mike Seate

Regular readers of CRM will know of our collective fondness for Kawasaki’s W650 parallel twin. Introduced into the North America market back in 1999, the W was a faithful re-interpretation of Kawasaki’s original W1 of the late 1960s. The first machine was a mind-blowing Asian interpretation of BSA’s unit construction twins of the era, only with improved electrics and (relatively) leak-proof crankcases. Fast forward 30 years and the W650 proved a lithe, lovely modern retro that, for some reason, failed to garner much of a following. Ah, but time changes all things and after a few years, the W650 became a global cult success, with the modern cafe racer crowd feverishly buying up any and all examples. Easily adaptable for its carbureted, 50-odd horsepower engine and simple electrics, W650s became some of the most popular customized bike on the planet. We’ve long wondered why the larger-displacement W800 model was never imported to these shores, but just recently Kawasaki’s USA’s Brad Puetz told CRM that the long-awaited W800 will indeed be sold Stateside, beginning in April. Pictured above is a new, cafe racer version of the much-loved bike, which will be sold alongside the base model, both retailing for around $9,000. Not just a rehash of the previous model, Kawasaki claim the new bike has 90% new parts, including fuel injection, new uprated brakes and To call us eager to test ride one of these iconic twins is an understatement and with Royal Enfield’s Interceptor 650 and Gt on sale, this should make fora fascinating 2019.