Kawasaki Z900 review

  • Published On: 10 July 2017
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  • 6 min read

The Z800 was an absolute cracker of a machine - it had a brilliant engine and predictable handling. Now, the Z900 replaces the Z800 and here’s a first impression.

Kawasaki Z900 feels confident on corners.
Kawasaki Z900 front
Kawasaki Z900 instrumentation looks smart
Only electronics on offer is ABS
Kawasaki Z900 rear
Kawasaki Z900 gets a 948cc, in-line four engine
Engine cooling is brilliant; you never feel the heat from the engine even in tight city traffic.
tail-lamp is Z-shaped LEDs
Kawasaki Z900 features new headlamp cluster for Z family
Kawasaki Z900 twin front discs
Kawasaki Z900 feels confident on corners.
Kawasaki Z900 front
Kawasaki Z900 instrumentation looks smart
Only electronics on offer is ABS
Kawasaki Z900 rear
Kawasaki Z900 gets a 948cc, in-line four engine
Engine cooling is brilliant; you never feel the heat from the engine even in tight city traffic.
tail-lamp is Z-shaped LEDs
Kawasaki Z900 features new headlamp cluster for Z family
Kawasaki Z900 twin front discs

On the outside
The bike you see here is the successor to the absolutely brilliant Z800 street naked. It's got a new headlight cluster consistent with the ‘Z’ series and this bike carries over the Sugomy styling of its predecessor. There’s an all-new front bikini fairing and a new tail section that features a new exhaust design. The fluid-looking twin headlight looks aggressive and sitting atop it is a blacked-out windscreen that protects you a bit from wind blast. The LCD speedometer is all-new and is shared with the Z650 and the Ninja 650. It features a nice semi-circular, cascading tachometer, a gear indicator and a large centralised digital speed readout. The tacho acts as a shift indicator – the needle blinks when it’s time to change gears.

                                

The key slot is located right at the front of the neatly sculpted tank and there’s a nice, wide seat that’s well-padded and quite comfortable on longer journeys. The tail end features LEDs placed in the shape of a ‘Z’. The overall silhouette of the bike resembles its predecessor and overall fit and finish is impressive.

Under the skin
The Z900 is lighter than its predecessor and this low weight, paired with a low seat height of just 795mm, makes the Z900 a good proposition for shorter riders as well. The suspension setup hasn’t seen a massive revision over the outgoing model. But overall ride quality is quite good - bumps at low and high speeds are tackled in a predictable manner.

                                

Kawasaki has tweaked the braking setup - the dual-petal rotors at the front have gone from 310mm to 300mm, but it retains the opposed four-piston calipers. Stopping power is far from insufficient, while initial bite is light and predictable, squeeze a bit harder and the brakes will shave speed phenomenally.

Engine and gearbox
There’s a new 948cc inline-four engine, based on the Z1000’s unit. The unit makes 123.6hp of peak power at 9,500rpm and refinement levels of this engine are simply exquisite. There’s a nice bassy buzz that transforms into a manic howl as the revs climb. There’s a nice, meaty mid-range with a noticeable kick after 6,000rpm. In keeping with its street-fighter nature, the Z900 gets a short-ratio gearbox with pretty closely stacked gears until fifth; the sixth gear is relatively tall.

                                

From the saddle
You can pull away from speed breakers from as slow as 20kph in third gear with no resistance. In fifth, you can pull cleanly from as low as 30kph, all the way to a speedo-indicated 180kph. What’s noteworthy is the bike’s cooling system – even when you’re riding through heavy city traffic, there are almost negligible levels of heat from the engine.

                                

The bike is very responsive - it feels extremely sporty for a naked. Combine the extra 12hp of grunt over the Z800 and 20kg weight difference, and you have yourself a cracker of a bike. It’s light, nimble and stable. The Z900 embraces corners with enthusiasm, delighting its rider.

The electronics package is straightforward – ABS is all it gets. There are no power modes or traction control, so the riding experience is raw. This, however, may affect in-experienced riders in adverse conditions.

Should you buy one?
The Z900 is a worthy successor to the Z800 - it’s simple, it’s light, it’s highly effective and it’s got all that you’d need from a really fun bike. And, while the lack of electronics may not hamper the riding experience in dry, tarmac conditions, the absence of traction control means this bike is suited for more experienced riders.

Author: Droom

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