The California Air Resources Board has issued an executive order for what we expect to be an updated Kawasaki Z650RS for the 2024 model year. The update is expected to be relatively minor, adding traction control to the Z650RS.
The update would bring the retro RS model in line with the more modern-styled Z650 and the Ninja 650, both of which were updated with traction control for 2023, as well as the Versys 650 which received traction control in 2022.
Below, we present the executive order for 2023 model updates. In past filings, Kawasaki tends to refer to new or updated motorcycles by its model code for engine certifications instead of its marketing name (you know, to keep them secret from the likes of yours truly). For the 2023 executive order, Kawasaki referred to the Z650 and Ninja 650 (plus their ABS-equipped versions) by model codes along with the previously updated Versys 650 ABS.
A new 2024 executive order dated March 13, shown below, includes the Versys, Ninja and Z650 models by name, but adds a new “ER650RR” model code. The 2023 Z650RS went by the model code ER650MP and had its own executive order, as it was not updated along with its brethren last year. Seeing as Kawasaki hasn’t received a separate executive order for it yet, our assumption, therefore, is that the ER650RR is for a revised 2024 Z650RS.
If we are correct that the ER650RR is the Z650RS, then that would leave the Vulcan S as the only member of Kawasaki’s 649cc Parallel-Twin family that has not received the same update. The Vulcan S (codenamed EN650) has a different exhaust from the other 649cc Twin models and is therefore subject to its own executive order, and it has not yet received one for 2024.
So, why did Kawasaki wait a year to update the Z650RS instead of doing it alongside the Z650 and Ninja 650? For one, the Z650RS was still relatively new, only introduced for 2022. Updating it with traction control after just one year would be a bad look, as customers that bought the first year of production would have been left out. As it is, introducing it for 2024 would still leave two years’ worth of Z650RS owners out.
The other issue is the Z650RS’ retro-inspired instrumentation. Unlike the other 650 models, which employed a 4.3-inch TFT display, the RS uses two analog dials and a small LCD screen. Adding traction control would require new instrumentation; whether that means ditching the analog dials or replacing the LCD with a new digital display, Kawasaki would have needed to modify the instrumentation to include traction control information.
As Kawasaki didn’t make any other changes when it updated the Z650 and Ninja 650 models, we don’t expect any other changes to the Z650RS for 2024 beyond traction control, a new dashboard, and likely new colors. We can’t entirely rule it out either, but with the Z650RS still being relatively new, we don’t believe it is likely. We also don’t know whether the update would lead to a change to the Z650RS’ MSRP of $9,099.
We’ll know for certain when Kawasaki officially announces the ER650RR model later this year.
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