his article was originally published in the October 2000 issue of Motorcycle Cruiser. In the summer of 1965, I felt pretty smug making the Sunset Boulevard run on my Honda 305cc Super Hawk. The hot Japanese two-strokes hadn’t arrived in force yet, and you could shrug off Harley-Davidson’s iron as overpriced, underpowered, overweight and unreliable. The big strong 750 Brit bikes—Enfields, Matchlesses and Nortons—were pretty rare on the West Coast, and they, like BSA’s 650s, seemed as likely to shake themselves apart as to embarrass the Japanese middleweights. The Triumph Bonneville was another matter. We Honda riders could claim technical superiority, but the Triumph twins had better handling, were faster and much prettier. When I heard that Kawasaki was introducing a new 650 parallel twin, I assumed the company was resurrecting its original W-series bikes (which in America were called the W1 and W2 Commanders), lightly massaged versions of a BSA pushrod twin. Those bikes, which came to the U.S. in the late 1960s, were the first “big” bikes imported in noticeable numbers from Japan. Even though the Ws were not much better than the Beezers they copied, the line had a surprisingly long production life, lasting through the 1970s in some markets.