Times are changing. A once bland and boring middle-weight class has morphed into one of the most exciting and competitive bike genres today, breeding a new wave of superior machinery.
Enter the Kawasaki Z800. Aggressive in all its naked glory, silky smooth and refined… a world apart from the old 750 and even the Z1000.
It's more than enough to drag me away from an obsession with trailies and return to the naked class. It’s been a long time since my old 600 Bandit ruled the roads. I understood that bike; it was cheap, reliable, robust and simple. It made the perfect commuter and had enough left over for a cheeky flick of the wrist.
But a question often asked is how these new machines fit into the naked paradigm? The Z800 along with its rivals, have outgrown old definitions, adopted a ‘super’ prefix and are becoming increasingly niche.
As much as I want it to be, it’s not the perfect commuter, yet. The lack of wind protection is just too much on the motorways aching my neck muscles. The mirrors are terrible, providing a perfect view of my sleeved elbow. The seat is not the most comfortable in the world and took the best part of 800 miles to get along with my bum. But these niggly points can easily be remedied thanks to the wonderful, sprawling world of aftermarket accessories. I am confident that once rectified, the Z800 will be well on its way to greatness. The ergonomics feel perfect, the right distance from butt to bars and my feet drape nicely without a tight bend in the knees. The motor is beautifully sleek and plush.
Overall, the bike is a real pleasure to ride, 2200 miles in 35 days and I still love it.
The Z800 is a seriously versatile machine and as far as I am concerned it can fit wherever it likes, forget niches and purpose. It’s some of the most fun I’ve ever had on two wheels and that’s what matters to me.