Inherit the Wind: 1967 Kawasaki W1 650

Throughout the 1950’s and into the 1960’s the British bike makers reigned supreme.  However, due to British arrogance, they neglected to invest in new designs and manufacturing techniques and didn’t see the Japanese coming to eat their lunch.  At first, the Japanese built bikes that looked like the old British twins, but didn’t blow up on the way to the cafe.  The Kawasaki W1 was one such example: a Japanese doppelganger of the BSA A7. Find this 1967 Kawasaki W1 650 for sale in Bellingham, WA for $8,500 via craigslist.

The W1 650 is powered by a four cycle (from Kawasaki, gasp!), overhead valve, vertical twin dipslacing 624cc that good for 49 bhp and a top speed of around 110 mph.  This bike is an original survivor with 12,500 miles on it.  The ad says it was purchased new in 1967 and owned by its original owner for many years before being inherited by the current seller.  I find this kinda sad that Dad kept this thing in the garage and good original condition, riding it sparingly and his heirs turn around and sell it on Craigslist.  Maybe they prefer Harley’s with loud pipes that shake your fillings loose.

The W1 is a bit of a rare bike with only 3,300 produced in its entire production run from 1966 – 1968.  This bike is one of 800 produced in 1967.  The design was so British that it shared the shifter on the right, rear brake on the left common with European bikes of the 50’s and 60’s.  The W1 became the W2 in 1968 and was discontinued in 1970.  In 2000, Kawasaki built a retro W650 that looked more like the original Triumph Bonneville than the current retro Bonneville sold by Triumph today.  The W650 was pulled from the US market in 2001 due to poor sales.

The bike comes with many NOS parts, accessories like saddle bags, original service manual, contemporary ads and magazine articles.  You can tell Dad really liked owning this bike.  I guess in some ways, its better selling his stuff this way vs. piecing it out on eBay (that original Kawasaki sealed beam is probably worth $100 alone).  I guess I shouldn’t be so hard on the seller, maybe there is a good reason to let the bike and associated items go.  Maybe Mom can get that operation now with the money…

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