Kawasaki’s W800 retro roadster is back and made its European debut at the 2018 Motorcycle Live show ahead of its expected arrival in UK dealers in late March.
While often overlooked in favour of more overtly modern and powerful retro offerings, the old W800, last in the range in 2016, was actually one of the more authentic and endearing roadsters in the retro market. Its pleasingly soft power delivery and minimalist styling gave a real feel of the 1960s, but without the dripping oil, kickstarter-sprained ankles and unreliability issues.
Its simplicity also made it a favourite with custom builders and that looks likely to continue with the 2019 model that Kawasaki claim is "90% new."
Beyond some slightly dubious paint jobs and the addition of a distinctly separate café racer version, most of the changes aren’t immediately obvious, but on closer inspection it’s clear that the chassis is new, the front brake is beefier, and the drum is gone from the rear and replaced with a disc for improved power and consistency, plus the necessary addition of ABS.
While the bevel-drive 773cc parallel-twin engine looks remarkably untouched, it’s also now Euro4 compliant and boasts different covers and finishes, plus an evaporative catchment fuel system for emissions control.
Power peaks at a claimed 47bhp, which means it’s now A2 compliant out of the crate would be a close competitor to Moto Guzzi’s V7 III range – although the Guzzi trumps it for safety aids with traction control not offered by the W.
A deeper soundtrack
The extinct W800 was always a naked bike, although a Special Edition version offered it with a small nose cowl not unlike the new W800 Café. But the new Café version goes a little further, with different, Ace-style handlebars, that new bikini cowl, different clock faces, seat unit, tank knee rubbers, engine and wheel finishes, and paintjob.
Lighting is LED on both models and they also get fork gaiters, and a new, deeper soundtrack thanks to Kawasaki’s focus on ensuring their bikes also now sound good; as evidenced by the fruity Z900RS.
There’s no confirmed UK pricing yet, but we expect the Road to cost £8500, and the Café £9250, with both arriving in dealers in late March 2019.
W800 2019 statistics
- Engine 773cc parallel twin
- Performance 47bhp
- Weight TBC
- Seat height TBC
- Price £TBC