When Kawasaki introduced the W650 in-line twin in 1999, the motorcycle world was in a very different position than today. The neo-retro craze that has taken over markets all over the world was at the time practically non-existent – even the most iconic of all modern classics, Triumph's Bonneville, would not arrive until 2001.
Yet for Kawasaki, the seemingly out of place W650 was a long overdue tribute to the original W series of the 1960s, and most notably the 1966 W1. Despite – or perhaps exactly because of – its uniqueness, the W650 remained in production until 2011 when Kawasaki rolled out its successor, the W800. Same recipe, same tech and just a few more cubic centimeters were employed to freshen up a model that by then looked a bit left out of the classic game, which was dominated by Triumph's ever evolving Bonneville twins.
The twin-cylinder engine of the W800 is characterized by the bevel gear assembly that controls the single overhead camshaft, and dominates the aesthetics of the engine's right side. With distinctly undersquare dimensions, the 773 cc fuel-injected motor produces just 48 hp (35 kW) of power, but the bike's strong point is none other than its 60 Nm (44.2 lb.ft) torque peak at just 2,500 rpm that makes for a very pleasant ride with solid acceleration.
The latest press release from Akashi, Japan talks about the end of an era, marked with the introduction of the very last W series model. It is a W800 with absolutely no changes in its powertrain or running gear, and just a special Candy Brown and Candy Sunset Orange paint scheme to ensure that the Final Edition will be unequivocally identifiable from a distance. This last fact is what will probably make the 2017 W800 a passion object, as it will be distributed in limited numbers before the model family goes out of production for good.
No talk of pricing, production volumes, or specific geographical distribution is to be found in the press release. All that Kawasaki discloses is the limited nature of the Final Edition, garnished with a subtle hint about "fans and enthusiasts across Europe" enjoying the last descendant of the W series. So is this a European-only model? We'll know for sure when the time comes for the last W800 model to roll out of Kawasaki's production line sometime next year.
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