The first thing we appreciate is the build quality: the plastics are from excellent workmanshipwith a beautiful metallic black paint that covers some plastics to embellish the whole, and some elegant solutions, such as the cover that hides the rear brake fluid tank, both handlebar levers adjustable and the color TFT display with bluetooth connection. And given that the clientele this bike aims for are young (but the same goes for its sister Ninja 650), this detail could weigh heavily on the final choice.
The clutch (assisted and equipped with anti-hopping) is very modular and progressive and we also liked the gearbox a lot, with the lever travel not too long and precise engagements, even between first and second gear. The engine is a mix between the muscles of a four-cylinder and the character of a twin-cylinder. There are no electronic filters between the right wrist and the engine, nor mappings ready to change its character. It’s fulfilling. The strong points of this twin-cylinder are the mid-range thrust and its elasticity. It is an engine that shines more for torque than for extension. It’s quite sluggish up to 3,500 rpm, but starts picking up torque from there. The draw isn’t its strong suit, but there’s plenty of beer to enjoy. Thanks to these features you can forget the use of the gearbox and enjoy the bikes trotting in third gear and you can play with the accelerator without too much concentration. All with an eye to consumption: at the end of our ride of about 180 km, in which we certainly didn’t hold back on the gas, the on-board computer showed 20 km/litre. Given that, combined with the 15-litre tank, it offers a range of around 300 km. The vibrations are limited, are felt on the footrests at high revs, above 7,000 rpm. Calculate, however, that in sixth gear you travel at 130 km/h at 6,000 rpm. We close the engine chapter with a note on traction control. Also thanks to the excellent grip of the Bridgestone Battlax S22 with which our bike was equipped, on dry asphalt you just have to go and look for the functioning of the TC. Level two is very conservative and when it comes into operation it cuts the delivery in a rather invasive way. Level 1 is more conservative and sporty, with interventions that are much softer. In any case, it is possible to deactivate the traction control, which you will often have to do before restarting from the traffic lights… we understand each other!
When stationary, the bike is light and, thanks also to the narrow sides, it touches the ground without any problems. These aspects make it easy to maneuver, almost as easy as a bicycle. On the Z 650 the handlebars are narrow and just the right way forward and the riding position is slightly loaded on the wrists, but not so much as to tire the arms. The legs are rather bent due to the height of the stock saddle, which in itself is comfortable but not as wide, and this makes you feel a bit sunken (for the tallest riders, the higher saddle is available, +3 cm ).
In the city the Z650 navigates through traffic without problems and offers good comfort, also thanks to the quite soft suspensions. In short, as an approach it is super friendly. Out of the chaos of the city, when the bends begin, the descent into lean is rapid, but never abrupt, and the bike always proves to be precise on fast tracks. The suspensions convince, with the fork, calibrated on soft, which sinks just enough to fit well into curves. Only when you ask for more riding at the limit, the Z650 would need more support, especially from the fork, which sinks quickly when you squeeze the brake hard. However, the soft phase of the suspension travel is only the initial one, then both offer good support. Staying within the limits of common sense, the Z650 darts nimbly through changes of direction and through fast corners brush precise and clean trajectories. The brakes do not disappoint: the operation of the front system is powerful and there is plenty of bite left over. Perhaps the lever reaction is even too reactive, if we consider who the end user of this bike will be. On the other hand, the rear one is less incisive, which needs to be operated with force to have a decisive deceleration. The ABS intervention is excellent, in line with the type of bike it is calibrated more on the conservative than on the sporty.
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