Iron ham

Kawasaki W 650 endurance test

well done

It is an eye-catcher and is wonderfully playful to drive. For 50,000 kilometers, Kawasaki’s W 650 with vertical shaft and stylish, classic outfit also fulfilled the longed for for reliability.

Classics with strong character such as a Triumph Bonneville or Yamaha XS 650 are considered in the original as a sure guarantee for all kinds of mechanical calamities ?? to the regret of pragmatically inclined followers of the parallel twin.

For this clientele, among other things, Kawasaki stepped into the breach two years ago and with the W 650 presented the bridge between classic and modern.
Even proven scrap metal freaks accompanied the premiere of the consistently styled retro bike for relatively little money with benevolence. MOTORRAD CLASSIC, the sister paper of MOTORRAD, even dedicated a cover story to the »most English of all non-English motorcycles«. And that although it is difficult to identify a direct technical ancestor. Sure, in the sixties there was the Kawasaki W1, a parallel twin with 650 cm3 ?? but without the vertical shaft and elaborate ingredients such as electronic ignition system and four-valve technology, with which the current W comes up.
This style and technology mix of old and new, so much in advance, worked pretty well over 50,000 kilometers. The 20-month test marathon was only interrupted by an unscheduled visit to the workshop: after only 445 kilometers, the extension arm of the right passenger footrest had to be welded, which had broken off without outside interference. Then things really got going for the performance Benjamin of the long-haul fleet. Head of duty and long-term commuter Harry Humke diagnosed after switching from the Hayabusa: "The W 650 can do almost anything ?? except 300 km / h. Great sound, good looks, but ten more horsepower wouldn’t hurt." An opinion that most W 650 drivers shared. Nevertheless, it was not least proven gas giver that developed a deep affection for the little retro bumbler. Like test boss Gerhard Lindner, who often picked up the "great toy with character" and "always found it a source of joy ". Or technical director Waldemar Schwarz, who was reminded of earlier times and commented:" Motorcycling can be that easy. "
Cold-hearted, however, complained that the technology of the 90s was not noticeable. Weak engine, slack single-disc brake at the front, even more tired drum at the rear, spongy chassis, low range, early touchdown, noted the criticism. Michael Allner, colleague at the sister magazine mopped: »Was motorcycling really that boring in the past? Yawn. “But experienced Axel Westphal was happy:” A vintage car without the bugs of a BSA: Great! "And travel professional Annette Johann raved about the touring suitability of the W 650 after an alpine tour from Monte Paularo over the Grossglockner to the Jauffenpass and Thinkjoch was only clouded by the hard seat. With such quasi officially certified tourist qualities, it is hardly surprising that the Kawa often disappeared towards the Alps. Quintessence: Great motorcycle for passes, asphalt and gravel, even with a full load it can cope with the worst stretches like nothing.
Not so tempting, the retro twin suffered a fall at kilometer 13900, which required a new frame and fork, including bridges. In addition, an urgent remedy against the tendency to fog up the instruments had to be found. Incidentally, this is a grievance that is also lamented in many letters to readers and can be remedied by widening the ventilation holes.
However, such blemishes could not slow the Kawasaki’s thirst for action: In the first six months it unwound a whopping 24,000 kilometers, which puts the entry of an anonymous guest driver into perspective: “It looks like shit, it sounds poor. On the other hand, if you sat closer to the handlebars and they weren’t so crooked like a ladies bike, this thing could be the ideal city runabout, even before enduro or scooter. “Well, the handlebars were heard, the marathon runner was given a narrow, flat bar. This makes the W 650 a tad more unwieldy, but the pronounced tendency to pendulum decreases from a speed of 120 because the pilot is less exposed to the wind. The tendency towards handlebar flutter, known as shimmy, which occurs around the 80 km / h mark, could not be completely eliminated. Regardless of whether it was soled with Bridgestone or Dunlop, the Kawa was never completely stoic, although the nervousness increased as the tread depth decreased. A new rear tire was due about every 10,000 kilometers, while a Dunlop TT 100 GP lasted 19,000 kilometers at the front.
In June 2000 the W 650 hums at odometer reading 36000 with four other long-distance test machines in the field of practical comparison in the Alps (MOTORRAD 16/2000, page 32). There, in addition to thousands of meters in altitude and just as many bends, she also has to survive a harmless fall and the almost loss of her vibrated license plate – and at the end she gets the wreath in the category "joker". However, the air-cooled 676 cc twin comes out on this tour as a quarterly drinker: It swallows more than the more powerful companions Suzuki GSX-R 750 and Cagiva Navigator. The equally powerful BMW F 650 GS needed an average of one liter less. By the way: During the entire 50,000 kilometers, consumption fluctuated between 3.9 and 9.0 liters, the overall average was 5.6 liters.
Hardly back from the alpine trip, the too soft fork got three centimeter long sleeves for spring preload. Didn’t bring much, the Technoflex fork springs are better, which shortly afterwards finally helped the forehand to achieve adequate precision. This newly gained firmness could not be really enjoyed because a short time later the twin began to annoy with dropouts. First assumption: dirty carburetor. But neither its cleaning nor attempts with other spark plugs and plugs as well as the checking of the mixture control screw bring success. The engine continues to take on the gas poorly, shows heavy exhaust slapping when coasting and sometimes even dies completely. Finally, a crack in the hose of the secondary air system turns out to be the culprit.
ZFor the final measurement, the 650 can take full power again. Result: Top speed almost like at the beginning, acceleration and pulling even better. Even after dismantling, the twin bevel is in pretty good condition. Only the camshaft and the pistons can clearly see the marathon distance. The cams have to be renewed due to the formation of pitting, while the pistons, which are marked on the top land despite unusual friction marks, do not require replacement. The grooves on the bearing seats of the transmission output bearing and countershaft in the housing are harmless. The other components such as the clutch basket and hub or the components of the vertical shaft are in tip-top condition. The best prerequisites for buzzing on after a mild fitness regimen. Well done, W 650.

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Endurance Kawasaki W 650 test
well done

Reading experiences

The W 650 is something for the heart. Its classless charm and ease of use appeal to men and women, youngsters and old hands alike.

At Christmas 1999 it was under the tree, a dream of classic motorcycle construction. For me as a beginner, the W 650 was and is still a pure motorcycle with room for conversion fantasies. The "wheelbarrow handlebar" had to give way to an LSL enduro handlebar, and Technoflex fork springs improved handling. In contrast to my husband’s triumph, who suffered a flat tire, damaged steering head bearing and cable fire on our honeymoon trip to Corsica, the W 650 held up well. However, after 16,000 kilometers, the frame and screws begin to rust, and the poor braking performance and the long final gear ratio also give cause for criticism. Nevertheless, there are only a few bikes with so much character and charm. Sandra Dahmen, Düsseldorf My W 650 is now 26,000 kilometers under its belt. It is quite suitable for longer distances and as a luggage carrier. I got the "wobbly" cornering somewhat under control with a flat handlebar, now maybe even harder fork springs are on the agenda. What is annoying is the high consumption on the freeway compared to driving on country roads. Otherwise, I am very satisfied with my W and would buy it again at any time. It is interesting that many SR 500 riders are enthusiastic about this motorcycle and some ?? like me ?? they also stand next to an SR in the stable. Kerstin Jung, StuttgartI, born in Germany, have been riding a motorcycle since 1949 and have had a number of English bikes. I drove 9,000 kilometers with my W 650, and that exclusively in the Alps. There have been no thermal or mechanical problems so far, the average consumption is very low at three and a half to four liters. Despite its high weight, the Kawa is easy to drive even in tight bends, like an AJS A 20 or a BSA. Ernst Baumgartner, CH-9014 St. Gallen I am an enthusiastic fan of the W 650 with the flower power spirit of the 60s and a feeling for technology of the 90s and have rebuilt my Kawa a bit. In addition to ox-eye flashers, there was a black paint job, a tank rack, a Triumph emblem and its own “Spirit of 650” logo. I also gave my W a license plate holder over the front fender, a 1950s solo rearview mirror and a longer rear fender with a tractor rear light. I have now covered 18,000 kilometers with the bike without any noticeable defects, with consumption leveling off at an average of 3.5 liters per 100 kilometers. Karl Steiner, Berlin I have been a happy W 650 owner for a year and 18,000 kilometers. During this time there were only minor problems. So the positive pole cable of the battery came loose, of course the Kawa stayed in the rain in the middle of an intersection. Before we had glued the cables with screw glue, the cable kept coming off. The fact that you have to dismantle the tank to change the spark plug is not exactly screwdriver-friendly. All in all, the W 650 is a wonderful everyday and touring motorcycle that I can recommend to every woman, as it is very reliable and beautiful to ride.Michaela Schimmel, Cologne With the W 650, I fulfilled myself with energy for the soul, under this motto After an eleven year motorcycle break in the spring I finally got my heart’s desire. And the Kawa has not let me down until today, after 14,200 kilometers. It does not lose any oil, the chain requires little maintenance, the handling is great, the brakes are sufficient, the fuel consumption is satisfactory and the power delivery is definitely sufficient if you know why you are driving a W 650. Only the soft front fork springs had to give way to harder versions from Wilbers. In short: this motorcycle is ingeniously simple because it is simply ingenious.Uwe Henig, MarktheidenfeldSince July 1999 I’ve ridden 8,400 kilometers with the Kawa. On average, it uses 4.5 liters of premium gasoline. Great because the engine rings terribly when accelerating, which, according to my dealer, is due to the poor set-up. The occasional popping of the exhaust and the problems with cold running are annoying, because either the twin turns with a choke of 2000 rpm or simply stops. In the meantime my workshop has been able to alleviate the problem somewhat. The vertical shaft on my W 650 also proved to be problematic, as it had to be readjusted several times due to grinding and whirring noises. I see the processing of the exhaust system as a further deficiency, which still has welds after the chrome plating, which are then simply brushed over and offer the rust attack surface. I would also like a lower handlebar and a more comfortable seat, otherwise I am satisfied, especially with the engine power and driving characteristics. Helmut Fritsch, DarmstadtBought the W in February 2000 and have ridden 9000 kilometers without any problems. I swapped the handlebars that were too high for an LSL Superbike handlebar, which enables a much more active posture and a comfortable seating position. In addition, a small disc (from Polo) takes the wind pressure off at high speeds and lowers fuel consumption (average 4.5 liters). The only drawback besides the clutch that is difficult to dose is a slight shimmy that occurs shortly before the minimum tread depth is reached. Otherwise a "dream bike", with which the driver can do a lot more than outsiders believe. Paul Stolle, BickenbachMy W 650, registered in June 1999, only stopped once over a distance of 5000 kilometers because the fuel tap in the normal position supplied all the fuel to the carburettors would have. By the way, the consumption is normally between five and 6.6 liters. With the Apehanger handlebar, it starts to commute at 130, from a speedometer 170 you need the whole lane to yourself. After various attempts, I have now found a 700 millimeter wide M handlebar to be ideal for me. I improved the front fork, which was too soft, with Technoflex springs, and the badly controlled brake with a Spiegler cable. Overall, the W 650 is the ideal motorcycle for me as a returnee, which also reminds me a lot of its predecessor, an Imperator (with telephoto). Winfried Junkers, Wellheim


Cylinder head: All cams are beginning to pitting, the chrome plating of a rocker arm is also damaged and the exhaust valves show signs of burns. The components mentioned have to be replaced while the other components can still be used: Cylinder, piston, crank drive: The cylinder liners are slightly conical and oval, but still well within the tolerance, while both pistons have scuff marks on the top land and strong oil carbon deposits. The piston pin and connecting rod eye of the first cylinder are discolored due to the effects of heat. The crankshaft is in good condition. Transmission: Very slight traces of wear in the tooth base; Shift forks and oil pump practically as good as new. Clutch: Except for a few traces of fire on the steel discs and worn springs, very good condition. Other: The bearing seats of the gearbox output bearing and countershaft in the housing are grooved.

Kawasaki takes a position

The tracks on the top lands of the pistons The marks can be traced back to the slight tilting of the relatively short pistons. Since the piston and cylinder liner are within the tolerance, this is not a problem. Pitting formation on the camshaft The reason for the camshaft damage is unknown to us. To clarify, we will have the parts examined in the factory in Japan. Regardless of this, the camshaft and all rocker arms will be exchanged under guarantee. The defective hose of the secondary air system We are not aware of any other damage of this type. The exhaust slap This complaint is known to us and can be remedied by correctly installing the seal on the interference pipe of the exhaust system the weld seam is not completely worn. However, we are not aware of any other cases of this type. On the chassis unrest (shimmy, pendulum) The handy W 650 reacts sensitively to suggestions. Kawasaki offers a narrower and at the same time lower handlebars that help to reduce such stimuli and improve stability. On the weak braking effect at the front The single-disc brake system of the W 650 certainly requires more manual force than the brakes of modern sports motorcycles. The braking effect, however, is completely sufficient for the intended purpose. To prevent the instruments from misting up, improve the ventilation by widening the corresponding holes. If this does not help, the housing will be exchanged under guarantee. The rattling headlights are usually due to a plug in the wiring harness that rests on the headlight housing. A foam padding removes the noise.

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