The Kawasaki W650 is one of those bikes that respond well to a light makeover. You know the drill: a new tank and seat, and maybe a bikini fairing and clip-ons. All easy to install, and without breaking the bank.
That’s not enough to satisfy Tom Thöring of Schlachtwerk, though. He’s a self-confessed performance junkie, and he’s pulled out all the stops for his latest Kawasaki build.
The clue is in the name: W854. Yes, the parallel twin has been bored out to 854cc, and then boosted even more with a race cam and K&N filters. With the help of Schlachtwerk’s own 2-into-1 exhaust system, this Kawasaki now records 70 horsepower at the rear wheel on the dyno.
‘Schlachtwerk’ is German for slaughterhouse: An odd name for a custom shop, but maybe that’s the German sense of humor. Tom is certainly no butcher, though. He’s trimmed all the fat off this W650 with a surgeon’s precision.
Minus fluids, it now tips the scales at just 162 kilos (357 pounds). Which puts its power-to-weight ratio and vital stats close to Yamaha’s very sprightly MT-07.
To get the weight down, Tom ditched the electric start system, fitted a lightweight battery and even lightened the alternator. It all goes to offset the weight of Tom’s own oil cooler kit, a necessary reliability aid for the highly tuned engine.
A more radical change is the front suspension setup: This W is now running 43mm forks and the triple trees from a Suzuki GSF1200 Bandit, with a 310mm brake disc and four-piston calipers to match.
The back end gets an upgrade to match, with YSS adjustable preload shocks. The rear drum brake has gone, with a 220mm disc from a KTM in its place. (Tom lifted the caliper from a BMW C1 scooter, of all things.)
The rear wheel is now anchored in place by a lightly modified Kawasaki Zephyr 550 swingarm, saving another three pounds.
The wheels are now 18 inches both front and back, to level out the stance. The rims are new, and the front has dropped down an inch in size. We love the chunky look of the 4.5-inch back rim, and it’s good to see Avon Roadrider tires fitted to keep grip levels high without compromising the classic vibe.
The fuel tank’s a modded Yamaha SR500 part, kitted with a Monza cap. The rest of bodywork is all available from the Schlachtwerk shop, from the the tracker-style seat unit to the side panels. And if you’re the kind of rider that values fenders, Tom can supply those as well.
But we’d just take the Schlachtwerk W854 as it is. A lean, mean retro racer without an ounce of fat on it.
As Tom says, it’s all about “less weight and much performance.”
His English might not be perfect, but his philosophy hits the mark.