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Kawasaki Z800 Naked Motorbike Review

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MCN overall verdict rating is 4

We’re genuinely shocked how good the Z800 is, given how uninspiring the old Z750 was - it’s a fitting tribute to the Zed’s 40th birthday. The ride quality is sumptuous, the motor smooth and there’s power spilling out of it at every rpm. It’s a real joy to ride. All the hard work Kawasaki has put into improving the engine, stiffening the chassis and sorting the suspension has really paid off., but it’s still on the heavy side.

The Z800 is now one of those rare bikes that’s beautifully-balanced everywhere – easy and fun to ride.  As well as being the most refined and sorted Zed we’ve ridden, new riders won’t miss out on the fun, thanks to the A2 licence-friendly Z800e model. Tyres, brakes and agility could all be improved slightly, but these are minor niggles and things you’ll never notice, if you don’t ride like a lunatic.

Engine

MCN rating rating is 5
Owners' rating rating is 4.5

The Zed’s liquid-cooled, inline four-cylinder motor is bored-out to 806cc. Bore and stroke is now 71 x 50.9mm (the old bore was 8.4mm). Power is up from the Z750’s 105bhp to 111bhp and the overall gearing is shorter thanks to a two teeth bigger rear sprocket (up from 43 to 45). These two main changes are responsible for the Kawasaki’s extra grunt out of corners and power all the way through the revs.

Revised intake and exhaust ports, longer intake ducts (up from 36.5mm to 41.5mm) and a new intake funnel arrangement, where the inner two trumpets are longer then the outers, all help boost mid-range power.

There’s a new fully-aluminium die-cast cylinder head with plated bores, which is 1kg lighter than before, 10% lighter pistons, bigger oil jets, wider radius crankshaft journals, a redesigned oil pan, a new camchain with smaller side plates and new intake valve seat material. Throttle bodies are up 2mm to 34mm.

Detail changes inside the gearbox and clutch mechanism offer more durability and an easier action.

To boost midrange, the exhaust header pipes are made as long as possible. They curve beautifully outwards before coming back underneath the engine and into a new, stubby end can.

Ride and Handling

MCN rating rating is 4
Owners' rating rating is 4

Based on the old Z750R’s steel tubular backbone frame, Kawasaki has added a cast aluminum subframe section running down each the side of the engine and connected by a tube around the front. It reduces engine vibration and increases rigidity. The double-sided steel box-section swingarm is 12mm longer to maintain the same wheelbase with the bigger rear sprocket.

41mm KYB forks and rear shock are adjustable for preload and rebound damping. The shock is moved 20mm to the left of centre to make way for the new exhaust.

Twin front brake discs are bigger (up from 300mm to 310mm) and gripped by Nissin four-piston calipers. ABS is an optional extra.

Equipment

MCN rating rating is 4
Owners' rating rating is 4

Although there’s an ABS option, you get no electronic rider aids with the Z800 and it’s devoid of fancy designer labels, but new headlights and nose fairing are the most obvious difference to the old Z750. There’s also a new bellypan, hugger, radiator shrouds, a slimmer fuel tank, plastic fuel tank ‘wings’ and a slimmer rear tail unit. The new LED rear lights form two ‘Z’ patterns and the seat is also full of Zeds. Handlebars are now flatter and further forward and there are new luggage hooks.

A new three-part LCD dash has its tacho display in the middle segment and it flows up and down like a graphic equalizer. As well as a speedo, odemeter, clock, dual trips and engine temperature, the Kawasaki dash now has a fuel gauge, and an eco-meter.

Optional extras include a fly screen, crash protection, a single seat unit and undertray.

Kawasaki Z800 (2013-current)

Detail Value
New price £7,499
Dealer used prices
£6,110 (2013) - £8,240 (2014)
Private used prices
£5,500 (2013) - £7,420 (2014)
  View full used price info
Engine size 806 cc
Power 111 bhp
Top speed 145 mph
Insurance group 14 of 17
  MCN ratings Owners' ratings
Overall rating is 4 rating is 4.5
Engine rating is 5 rating is 4.5
Ride & Handling rating is 4 rating is 4
Equipment rating is 4 rating is 4
Quality & Reliability rating is 4 rating is 4.5
Value rating is 4 rating is 4.5

Quality and Reliability

MCN rating rating is 4
Owners' rating rating is 4.5

Built quality is excellent and up there with the best. The previous Z750 was bomb-proof and we expect this to be no different.

Value

MCN rating rating is 4
Owners' rating rating is 4.5

The price of the Z800 on par with its main Japanese rival: the Suzuki GSR750. It’s a fair way cheaper than Yamaha FZ-8, but more expensive than the class-leading Triumph Street Triple.

Insurance

Insurance group: 14 of 17

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Model History

2013 – Z800 hits dealers.

Other Versions

Z800e. Cheaper 95bhp version – can be restricted to 47bhp for A2 licence.

Specifications

Top speed 145 mph
1/4-mile acceleration 0 secs
Max power 111 bhp
Max torque 83 ft-lb
Weight 229 kg
Seat height 834 mm
Fuel capacity 17 litres
Average fuel consumption 0 mpg
Tank range 0 miles
Annual road tax
Insurance group 14 of 17
Engine size 806 cc
Engine specification 16v, inline four-cylinder
Frame Tubular steel spine frame and double-sided swingarm
Front suspension adjustment Non-adjustable 41mm KYB forks
Rear suspension adjustment Single rear shock with adjustable preload and rebound damping
Front brakes 2 x 310mm discs with four-piston Nissin. Optional ABS
Rear brake 250mm single disc with single-piston Nissin caliper. Optional ABS
Front tyre size 120/70 x 17
Rear tyre size 180/55 x 17

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£6,344

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£6,245

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£6,499

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£7,499

Owners' Overall Rating rating is 4.5(3 reviews)

  • Fantastic

    Bubblin

    Average rating rating is 4.5

    Show Details

    Overall
    Ride and Handling
    Equipment
    Quality and Reliabilty
    Value
    Engine

    Having also had my for a week, so far i'm very impressed, I've ridden all sorts of bikes and really had long test rides/weekends with all of the competitors. The Z800 feels like a rocket off the lights the gearing really helps launch this bike away, lets be honest here most nakeds have a top speed of around 90mph before your neck feels like its being ripped off, and most of us are cruising 90% of the time below 70mph (As Honda keep telling us), and it excels at all those speeds. So, weight wise, yes its heavy (229kg fully fueled) but it doesn't feel like it, very easy to turn corners, very composed on all types of bumps and very agile, I honestly don't feel that extra weight (well I'm not pushing the boundaries of nurburgring records so frankly I don't care) I also had the Street triple for a week to try this out, yes same composed feeling, but looked boring, and clutch action from standstill had no real 'feel' hence why I swayed towards the Z800, yes its lighter, but to be honest it didn't feel lighter when riding (coming from a normal Joe Average rider) Have I made the right choice, yes of course otherwise I wouldn't have bought it! Have fun whatever you choose, ignore the Weight Weenies who base buying bikes on how many grammes lighter their 2013 models is over their 2012 model and you will have fun on this.

    12 June 2013

  • Bike is nice but this is not a review...

    Thane87

    Average rating rating is 4

    Show Details

    Overall
    Ride and Handling
    Equipment
    Quality and Reliabilty
    Value
    Engine

    No offence MCN, but how is this a REVIEW of the bike? All you do is outline the tech specs of the bike and changes compared to the Z750. Sorry, but i can find all these in the Kawasaki website. I like your work but this seems like a rushed attempt. You dont even have any on the roads pics for crying out loud!

    18 January 2013

  • Z800 is superb

    Tim Owers

    Average rating rating is 4.5

    Show Details

    Overall
    Ride and Handling
    Equipment
    Quality and Reliabilty
    Value
    Engine

    Having owned my Z800 for nearly a whole week (!) after p/x'ing up from an '09 Z750 I have to admit that all the glowing reviews are spot on. It really is a fantastic bike. It's too early for anyone to comment on reliability yet, but going on the previous Kawasaki's I've owned since 1985 there shouldn't be anything to worry about. The one and only criticism I have so far is the side stand. It's far more awkward to get down than other models (it's too short). Other than that I'm very happy with it.

    17 January 2013

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