2001 Kawasaki W650 | Me & My Bike

Photography by Katie Zweig

Name: Matthew Davis, a.k.a. Matt the Ratt
Age: 38
Home: Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Occupation: Bass Player, The Uptown Savages

'I've owned and ridden several hundred motorcycles over the last 37 years.In the past three years I've cut my fleet from 20 bikes to one: the W650. I had two of them for a couple years; my first was a silver-and-blue 2000 model I bought on eBay, which I eventually sold to my teenage daughter.After a string of sportbikes she was ready for something a little less intimidating, expensive, diffi cult to keep running, costly to fix and less likely to get her a ticket.

"Her logic is the same that keeps me riding my W650. I paid $2800 for it two years ago, buying it from the first owner who painted it black and tan to look like a vintage Triumph. It had about 3000 miles on the clock, and looked new.

"It is a pure, basic motorcycle, and that's what I want. There's no pretense about it. It may be a copy of a copy (the original '60s Kawasaki W1 was a copy of a period BSA), but it's all about function and reliability. The last ride I took on my Norton 850 Roadster resulted in it jettisoning a piece of its sidestand and almost losing a float bowl. That would never happen on the Kawasaki.

"The W650 is lightweight, smooth, doesn't leak fluids, full of character and plenty fast enough for street riding. I like its painted front fender and the contrasting seat piping. Everything on it works well. It's narrow. The pipes don't have that annoying kink in them that the newer Bonnevilles have. And it even has ribbed alloy rims-how cool is that?

"Every so often I think about throwing on some aftermarket scrambler pipes and trials tires so I can do some fire-roading. Maybe even some steel pegs, a skid plate and a crossbraced handlebar. But then rationality prevails:I am not going dirt riding on this bike, and there's no need to screw it up. On the other hand, it would look darn good with clip-ons, rearsets and some Dunstall mufflers..."

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