New H2R-inspired tubular steel frame helps shed weight dramatically but compared to rivals like the Street Triple and MT-09 the Kawa is still a solid, hefty machine. Steering is lighter and sharper and suspension, with preload/rebound adjustable forks, is reasonable making it nimble enough for most. But pushed hard this remains one of the larger and heavier of ‘intermediate nakeds’.
Euro4 and quest for improvement means old 803cc four is replaced by sleeved-down unit from bigger Z1000. The result is 948cc with a hefty boost in power and torque. It’s a doddle to use, smooth and grunty and, above 6000rpm, thanks to the acoustically tuned airbox, howls like any streetfighter should.
Kawasakis have come on in leaps and bounds in recent years in this respect, most conspicuously with their pleasing use of different finishes and textures – the raised Kawasaki tank badge and crocodile skin effect seat finish are two examples here. As regards reliability, it’s too early to call save that the engine, based on that of the Z1000, is in a fairly soft state of tune and lartely proven, so we’ve little to fear.
The newcomer is £8249 – £350 up on the old Z800. We’re not saying it’s not worth that and you do get a lot of improved bike for your money, but this class is hotting up to one of the most competitive of all with most rivals, albeit ones with fewer cylinder and a less quality finish and details, significantly less.
Although the trend for electronics rider aids has, here, been conspicuously shunned by Kawasaki (the Z900 only comes with the compulsory ABS, possible to help differentiateit from its Z1000 bigger brother and keep it cheaper, too), in most other respects it’s well-equipped with decent clocks, adjustable suspension, span adjustable levers and neat detailing.