Dunlop’s new Roadsport 2 tyres are average at best – fine for normal riding, but quickly lack grip when you lean on them. Even after a hard ride they’re lukewarm to the touch. The frame is strengthened around the swingarm pivot, but it’s hard to feel any difference in isolation but handling is sweet.
The Z900 might weigh a relatively bulky 210kg, but it’s nicely planted, balanced and lithe on the move. Steering has easy poise and there’s lots of meaty, tactile stopping power at both ends, but the front brake lever is too far away, even on its minimum span adjustment.
Exhaust and mapping are new to satisfy Euro5, but the Zed’s traditional 948cc inline four-cylinder motor is unchanged and makes the same 124bhp and 73ftlb of torque. But that’s no bad thing as this is one of Kawasaki’s most enjoyable engines with perfectly judged gearing and a thick wodge of unruffled oomph from tickover to its 10,500rpm redline.
The throttle is light and easy, the soundtrack dark and raucous and there’s so much grunt on tap you rarely need to use the bottom three gears. Kawasaki claims smoother fuelling, but It still jolts on and off the power at low speed.
It doesn’t look hugely different to current model and like all Kawasaki’s naked Zeds (Ninjas are faired) it features the Japanese firm’s divisive 'Sugomi' styling. The Z900 now has LED lights all round, restyled tank and headlight shrouds and a new bellypan.
Build quality is still excellent with deep bodywork and engine paint finishes and lots of thoughtful attention to detail including wavy discs, 'Z' shaped rear light and shaped bar ends. Accessories include a lower seat, luggage, crash protection, USB and 12v sockets and screen. Zeds are built to last, so don’t expect any reliability problems.
With capacity slowly creeping up over the years the 'mid Zed' is as near as dammit a 1000cc, so insurance won’t be as cheap as it was in its Z750 days, but servicing is spread over generous 7500 mile intervals and overall you get a lot of bike for little money.
Insurance group: 17 of 17 – compare motorcycle insurance quotes now.
Riding models get their first airing on the Z900. 'Sport' has full power and the least traction control intervention, 'Rain' has reduced power with lots of TC and 'Road' has full power, medium traction - all selectable on the move.
You can mix and match power and traction level in 'Rider' mode for when you want less intrusion from the electronics on a trackday or find yourself on closed road and fancy popping the front wheel up with the clutch, which it’ll happily oblige. An up/down shifter would be nice, but the gearbox and clutch are just as sweet without it.
Kawasaki’s new Bluetooth enabled 10.9cm TFT dash gives the Zed a more modern, colourful and fresher feel. You can choose between a black or white background and both are clear, whatever the light conditions.
The display shows speed, revs, gear position, an 'Eco' riding indicator and the usual trip and mileage information. Pair it with your phone and you can use Kawasaki’s Rideology app to log your journey, remotely adjust display settings and view the bike’s vital statistics including current fuel level, mileage and service schedule. Whether you’ll actually use the app after the novelty has worn off is doubtful.
The Z900 doesn’t come with a super naked’s fully adjustable suspension, radial brakes, cruise control or heated grips, but it’s none the worse for it.