Kawasaki has announced it will unveil an modern classic interpretation of the highly revered Z1/Z900, the Z900RS, at the Tokyo Motor Show in October.
The bike is a big statement from Heavy Industries, as it signifies their arrival to the neo classic party, competing directly with Yamaha’s XSR, BMW’s R NineT and Triumph’s modern classic machines.
Here’s the teaser video:
While it replaces the Z800 of 2016, you will still see it parked next to the Z1000 on showroom floors across the country. To an untrained eye both the performance and style of the Z900 and Z1000 seem to be pretty close to each other. This leads one to question, has Heavy Industries HQ made a big mistake by not tipping their cap to yesteryear with a modern interpretation of its revered retro? – Ryan Grubb, Cycle Torque.
Ryan was also impressed with the new Zed:
I put over 1000 kilometres on the Zed-9 throughout the time the bike was in for testing and I found it really hard to fault. The standout feature on the new bike has to be its 948cc inline four-cylinder engine, with its buttery-smooth gearbox and slip-and-assist clutch.
Kawasaki deserves the utmost praise for its linear power delivery. Fuelling is bang on, with smooth throttle response right across the board. It’s a pretty refined bike considering it is still early days in terms of development, although it comes from good stock.
I really can’t believe how easy to ride this Zed nine engine is fast or slow. There’s enough headroom to ride a bit ‘lazier’ and use the torque to your advantage, but you can also ride at those stratospheric revs like a Supersport machine, but faster. It’s the best of both worlds.
Kawasaki has been extremely careful not to show off too many details of the Z900RS, but we can see it has classic styled twin instrument cluster, old-school mirrors, LED headlight and indicators, a retro brown colour scheme and what appears to be upside-down forks.
After extensively riding the Z900, here’s five things we want to know about the new machine.
Will Kawasaki fiddle with the powerplant and/or mapping? There’s rumours suggesting the Z900RS will lose a few ponies in order to provide a bit more grunt lower in the rev range. This will make it a bit easier to ride, not that the engine the bike’s based off really needs fiddling with…
Rider modes/Rider aids
Then there’s the whole rider mode/rider aid technology thing. Are we going to see an ‘authentic’ interpretation of sorts? The current Z900 isn’t ‘tainted’ by electronic wizardry, and there seems to be as many people for it as there are against.
Does that mean the Z900RS will go down the same path, or will Kawasaki decide to add some intervention.
We tend to think Kawasaki will, or at least they should – it’s releasing the Z900RS because it has more mass-market appeal, that means making sure it caters to all riders.
What about the ergonomics? Kawasaki will have to get the seat right, and make sure it’s much more suitable to carry a pillion compared to the Z900. Again more mass-market appeal means more versatility and more prospective buyers.
Kawasaki will need to look at revising the rear spring, to again make the ride suitable for more riders. When Cycle Torque tested the 2017 Z900 (with a 110kg rider), preload was okay for the rider but it was completely wound out. Riders who weigh less will find the Z900’s rear spring stiff and somewhat uncompromising.
How it looks is arguably one of the most important things Kawasaki needs to get right with the Z900RS. Although we’ve (sort-of) seen a glimpse of the bike, it’s always a balancing act between tradition and innovation. Expect to see lots of old-school looking bits with modern technology inside.
All up we’re really looking forward to seeing the Z900RS unveiled, and how Kawasaki has built it. The bike represents the manufacturer’s first foray into into neo-classic machinery. Yes, it built the recently discontinued W650 and W800s, but they were very much traditional machines.
With the Z900RS, we’re seeing a tip of the cap to yesteryear, with plenty of modern performance.
How do you think Kawasaki will build the Z900RS?
Leave a comment below.