Kawasaki Z900: A worthy successor to the Z800

Published: 30 January 2017

MCN has just been riding the new 2017 Kawasaki Z900 at its world launch in Spain. The newcomer was unveiled at the EICMA show in Milan last November and has been designed to replace the outgoing Z800 to complete a new family of Kawasaki ‘Zed’ roadsters between the ‘entry level’ Z650, which MCN tested back in December, and the continuing, top of the range Z1000.

Aimed at intermediate to expert riders, the new bike is enhanced all round. The new and now Euro4 compliant four-cylinder engine is now derived from that of its Z1000 big brother but with a smaller bore to produce a capacity of 948cc and claimed peak power of 125 PS – 12 up on the old Z800.

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The chassis is all-new, too, being, like its new Z650 little brother, a tubular steel trellis inspired by that of the H2R hyperbike and one which is a full 13.5kgs lighter than before. But with the resulting bike now being called the Z900, so evoking memories of Kawasaki’s revolutionary superbike of the ‘70s, the combined result had better be good – and it is. But it’s not revolutionary, either.

With all those ponies the Z900’s the most powerful contender in the ‘intermediate naked’ class with serious amounts of urge and a howling, acoustically enhanced top end that appeals to the hooligan in all of us. Being lighter, it addresses one of the chief criticisms of the old (but good) Z800 – excess weight. The result is lighter, slightly easier to chuck around and arguably more balanced, too. But it’s not completely transformed.

Being a compact, solid four, the new Zed still comes over as closer to a full litre-class bike compared to more lightweight rivals such as Yamaha’s MT-09 or, probably the new upcoming Triumph Street Triple 765. For many that might not matter. The Z900’s an updated Japanese four-cylinder naked with the most power in its class, improved handling, decent finish and an £8249 price tag. Bish bosh.

For others, though, it might not be. This category is now shaping up, with the new Street Triple, Suzuki GSX-S750, this, the continuing and hugely popular MT-09 and more, to be one of the most fiercely-contested of 2017 and, to keep the price down and differentiate it from its Z1000 brother, the new 900 does without any rider aids bar ABS and relies on its power and strong image to stand out. We won’t know for sure if that’s enough until we do some direct comparisons. What we can be sure of for now, though, is that it’s a worthy successor to the Z800.

Read our full test in the February 8 issue of MCN and look out for our video online.

 

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