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Here’s How The Latest Kawasaki Retro Middleweight Fares Against The Benelli Scrambler


Both bikes sport a retro look but serve a different purpose

Kawasaki added another model to its middleweight bike portfolio in the form of the Z650RS. It’s based on the brand’s 650cc streetfighter offering, the Z650, but packaged as a neo-retro bike, and will likely make its Indian debut soon. Once here, it’ll go up against the Benelli Leoncino 500. Yes, the latter is profiled as a scrambler, but it’s pretty close to the Japanese rival in terms of looks. So, we pit the two middleweights on paper and here’s the result.

Engine

Specifications

Kawasaki Z650RS

Benelli Leoncino 500

Engine

649cc liquid-cooled parallel-twin

500cc liquid-cooled parallel-twin

Power

68PS @ 8,000rpm

47.5PS @ 8,000rpm

Torque

64Nm @ 6,700rpm

46Nm @ 6,000rpm

Gearbox

6-speed

6-speed

There’s a substantial difference between the displacement of the two bikes and the power figures as well. The Kawasaki Z650RS makes almost 20PS more than the Leoncino 500 and should technically be faster as well. The Z650-derived motor is also rich in torque and should make the ’RS a hoot to ride. 

With a kerb weight of 187kg, the Z650RS has a better power-to-weight ratio too. The Leoncino 500 is on the heavier side with a kerb weight of 207kg (in its BS4 trim), something that’s bound to eat into the bike’s performance

 Underpinnings

Specifications

Kawasaki Z650RS

Benelli Leoncino 500

Frame

Trellis frame

Trellis frame

Front suspension

41mm telescopic fork

50mm USD fork

Rear suspension

Linked monoshock with preload adjustability 

Monoshock with preload and rebound adjustability

Front brake

300mm dual discs

320mm dual discs

Rear brake

220mm disc

260mm disc

Front tyre

120/70-17

120/70-17

Rear tyre

160/60-17

160/60-17

Both bikes use a similar type of chassis, but Benelli has equipped the Leoncino 500 with a beefier fork. It also gets a preload and rebound adjustable rear shock while the Z650RS uses a linked monoshock. The latter should flatten the bumps a bit better. 

Benelli Leoncino 500 vs Honda CB500F: Spec Comparison

The Leoncino’s weight does call for large disc brakes to help drop anchor. So in theory, the Benelli should have a better braking setup. And as a matter of fact, when we tested the BS4 bike’s braking, the results were impressive.

Both bikes run on 17-inch wheels and similar tyre sizes

 Dimensions

Specifications

Kawasaki Z650RS

Benelli Leoncino 500

Wheelbase

1,405mm

1,490mm

Ground clearance

125mm

160mm

Fuel tank capacity

12-litres

12.7-litres

Seat height

820mm

825mm

Kerb weight

187kg

NA

The Kawasaki Z650RS’ low weight paired with its noticeably shorter wheelbase should offer better side-to-side transition capabilities. It also gets a lower seat height, making it convenient for shorter riders. 

The Leoncino 500, meanwhile, gets more ground clearance for an easier riding experience on our pothole-ridden roads. 

 Price and Verdicts

Kawasaki Z650RS

Benelli Leoncino 500

Rs 7.63 lakh (in UK)

Rs 4.79 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi)

Once the Kawasaki Z650RS hits Indian roads, expect it to cost around Rs 7.50 lakh (on road). It’s still quite expensive and you only get 20 more ponies than the Benelli Leoncino 500, which costs almost Rs 2.80 lakh less. 

So, if you can live with a little less power, the Leoncino 500 should make for a sensible choice.

Kawasaki Z650RS Video Review

More on Kawasaki Z650RS

Kawasaki Z650RS

Kawasaki Z650RS

Rs. 6.24 Lakh Onwards
Ex-showroom, Delhi
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