The only thing unpredictable about that announcement is that there’s no word on the Z900RS Cafe. Oh well. The Z900RS has drawn tons of interest ever since its leakage right before the big EICMA show last month, and now it’ll be North American buyers’ chance to put their money where their retro-loving mouths are – on the order of $10,999.

This one, Kawasaki says, “is the long-awaited foray into the retro genre of motorcycling… a true throwback to its 1970s predecessor, the famed Kawasaki Z1.”

“Developed for riders in search of a well-rounded bike that is not only rich in history and character, but also packed with modern technology and handling features, the Z900RS is powered by a 948cc in-line four engine, features a modern trellis frame, and modern suspension components that bring an unmatched level of performance to the retro bike category.”

And why not, since it’s totally based on the 116-rear wheel horsepower Z900 we tested here.

“The sleek sweeping contours and meticulous fit and finish of the Z1 redefined the standards of motorcycle design in the 1970s. Kawasaki has applied the same meticulous attention to detail in building the Z900RS, from the iconic teardrop gas tank to the simple uncluttered engine design, all the way down to the retro themed headlight and tail cowl.”

In-Line Four Engine & Transmission

The Z900RS, features a liquid-cooled, DOHC, 16-valve 948cc in-line four cylinder engine. “Its design and configuration offer a great balance of power and manageability, delivering strong low and mid range torque that provides all riders the reassuring feeling of control. Several engine components played a crucial role in achieving the smooth, reliable, consistent power needed for the Z900RS.” This one has a shorter first gear than the Z900, making it easier to launch, and a longer sixth gear for improved ride comfort when touring, which in turn results in improved fuel efficiency and reduced engine vibration.

Your clutch is a slip/assist unit, which prevents embarrassing wheel hop during downshifts

Kawasaki’s First Tuned Exhaust Note

Kawasaki says this is the first time it’s used sound research to craft a bike’s exhaust note: “Sound tuning on the Z900RS‘s engine was focused on the initial roar to life, idling, and low-speed riding where the rider is best able to enjoy the exhaust’s deep growl. To ensure both performance and the desired sound were achieved, every aspect of the exhaust system was scrutinized: exhaust pipe length, collector design, where to position the bends, even the density of the glass wool fibers in the silencer. More than 20 renditions of the system were tested before finding the perfect match. Clever internal construction of the pre-chamber achieves a balance of sound and performance, and at low-rpm, the exhaust escapes in a straight line, while at high-rpm the exhaust is routed through an additional passage.  

The high quality stainless steel exhaust system features a 4-into-1-collector layout.  The header pipes and pre-chamber are built as single unit. The exhaust headers feature a double-wall construction, which helps to minimize heat discoloration and provide protection from the elements. The 28.6 mm inner diameter of the header pipes was chosen to achieve the desired low-mid range engine performance, and the larger 38.1 mm outer wall of the header pipes provides a quality finish appearance flowing from the beautifully crafted in-line four cylinder engine. The compact stainless steel megaphone-style silencer contributes to the retro design of the Z900RS. To ensure the highest quality finish possible the header pipes, pre-chamber and silencer are all treated with a special three stage buffing process: the first is done as individual parts, the second is done once the exhaust is assembled, the third stage is a final buffing process.”

Trellis Frame

An all-new high tensile steel trellis frame was developed using Kawasaki’s advanced analysis technology, with frame tubes as straight as possible. The engine is connected at five points: front and rear of the cylinder head, behind the cylinder, and at the top and bottom of the crankcases.

Raising the front and lowering the rear a bit compared to the Z900 gives the RS that retro look; a new upper triple clamp reduces trail to keep the steering nice and light.

Suspension

A fully adjustable 41mm inverted fork and Kawasaki’s Horizontal Back-Link rear suspension should keep things on the straight and narrow. The rear shock offers adjustable rebound damping and preload.

Blakes

A radial front brake master cylinder commands a pair of four-piston radial-mount monobloc calipers gripping 300mm brake discs, the rear brake is a single piston slide-type caliper gripping a 250 mm disc. ABS is standard equipment.

Kawasaki TRaction Control (KTRC)

Kawasaki TRaction Control (KTRC) has two performance settings: Mode 1 prioritizes maximum forward acceleration, Mode 2 soothes jangled nerves by dialing things back a bit on slippery surfaces.

“When excessive rear wheel spin occurs, Mode 2 switches to three-way control, which governs the ignition timing, fuel delivery and airflow, and engine output is reduced to a level that allows the rear wheel to regain grip. This fine control results in a very natural feeling with smooth engagement and on/off transition.  Riders may also elect to turn the system off to enjoy the raw feel of riding.”

Retro Active

The original 1973 Z dictated many design elements, that 4.5-gallon  teardrop fuel tank being the focal point. The retro vibe also influenced the big, 170mm LED headlight, complete with convex lens and chrome ring. The duckbill tail cowl of the Z1 inspired the flowing design of the rear cowl on the Z900RS, and  the oval tail light complete with surface-emitting LEDs. Analog speedo and tachometer are contrasted by a multifunctional LCD screen with black and white display.

Simple, uncluttered engine design was very important; engine fins were cast onto the cylinder head to create the image of an air-cooled engine. Long, flowing stainless steel head pipes mate to the short, low hanging megaphone silencer.

Cast aluminum wheels feature flat spokes designed to look like classic wire-spoke wheels. Designed using Kawasaki’s advanced analysis technology, the wheels’ light weight contribute to the bike’s light handling and retro design.

Yours in Metallic Flat Spark Black or Candy Tone Brown. What’s all thing going to cost me, you axe? $10,999 to $11,199, says Kawasaki.

Accessorize

Kawasaki Genuine Accessories offers a frame slider set, front axle sliders, radiator trim, tank pad, grip heater set, Ergo-Fit reduced reach seat, and a smoked wind deflector. Also a retro Kawasaki tank emblem set, oil filler cap (Black, Gold or White), KYB fork cap set (Black or Gold), silver gauge trim, passenger grab bar, side grip set, Akrapovic slip on muffler and a center stand.

Kawasaki

 

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Kawasaki Communities

  • Old MOron

    All Kawi has to to now is sit back and count the money as it rolls in.
    But not bringing the Cafe would be a mistake. Everyone I’ve talked to prefers it to the naked version.

    • Born to Ride

      I’ll be the exception. I like the naked in that matte green far more than the lime green and bubble fairing.

      • Old MOron

        Oh, so you’re going to be like Brent in my pictogram.

        • Born to Ride

          I fail to see the analog between Brent’s lecherous countenance and my love for naked Japanese… ohhhhhh

    • Travis Stanley

      Good to see Kawi close with and overtake Yamaha for 2018.
      I love good competition. Let the good times roll!

    • Rocky Stonepebble

      It gives you an excuse to come and visit me. But, I shan’t be around; I’ll be playing hockey.

      • Old MOron

        Oh well, if I were going to incur all the headaches of importing the Cafe on my own, I’d most likely go looking in Vancouver, not way on the other side of Creation, in Trawna.

        • Rocky Stonepebble

          Ooooo … Hongcouver? What a drab, rainy dump. And, one may not even get a decent Chinese there.

          Plus, we’ve got some stupid thing or another to claim folk like to stare at as an excuse for coming here. You know, like Vegreville has that giant egg, or that giant fiddle in Sydney. Or:

          https://youtu.be/5PvdQIDmIwc

          • Old MOron

            And right here on these pages we have the world’s biggest MOrons.

    • azicat

      “All Kawi has to to now is sit back and count the money as it rolls in”

      It will be very interesting to see if that actually happens, as history has shown that consumer enthusiasm is rarely matched by actual sales in Western markets when it comes to Japanese retro models. I hope that Kawasaki bucks the trend with this one.

      • Lewis

        I have done my part. Called the dealer to place a deposit on an orange and brown example today.

        • Born to Ride

          If it wasn’t for Honda regaining a pulse, I’d be right there with you.

      • Jon Jones

        All too true. Retros almost always sell like cold cakes.

    • Alaskan18724

      Dumb move, yanking us around on the Café. I, for one, wouldn’t buy the standard model, with that svelte, lime-green beauty dancing around on the horizon. Then, if they don’t bring it, they lose the sale altogether. CB1000R, anyone?

    • Count the money, eh? Kawasaki is a $5 billion company with a 2.2% profit margin, which means they probably make about $250 per unit. If they sell 2000 (which would be a lot) of these a year in the US, that’s a whopping $500,000, which might pay the electric bill for the Kawasaki USA headquarters.

      US motorcycle buyers don’t realize that the only reason companies like Kawasaki and Honda even bother with this market is prestige and legacy. If they do it for money, they’re idiots.

      • Born to Ride

        Yeah, that’s why Japanese dealers have such horrendous price markups. I’ve been told that the profit margin on a brand new big four bikes is often under 10%. On budget bikes like the SV and FZ07, they pay damn near the msrp for the bike. Honestly I don’t know how those dealerships keep the staff paid.

        • If it’s a big shop, volume—OEMs pay holdbacks and bonuses when you hit big numbers. Small shops make money on parts and labor. European brand dealers make up small numbers with warranty work lol.

          • Born to Ride

            I feel like euro bike dealers have more meat on the bones for the bike sales. If you walk into a Ducati/Triumph/KTM/Aprilia dealer, say I’ll pay the msrp and tax/title on the bike, that’s the easiest sale they’ll make all week.

          • That’s true: 12-18% instead of 3-8% margins on Japanese product. But they also do smaller volumes so it’s likely a wash. Ain’t nobody getting rich in the motorcycle industry in this country. Nobody.

      • Old MOron

        Interesting perspective, Gabe. Just the same, I’ll bet Kawi would prefer to note its whopping $500,000 in black ink rather than red.

        • They could just switch to remanufactured toner cartridges for 2 months.

          • Old MOron

            Well, if they are in it for prestige, I suppose they’ll we working hard to outsell Honda’s CB1000R. Should be fun to watch the competition.

        • spiff

          Yeah, I wonder if the cb1100 broke even dollar wise? In the US besides a soft tail what models are the bread winners? What class of bike has the best margin?

          • Old MOron

            Cruisers must have the best margin.
            No R&D costs. Almost pure profit.

  • Born to Ride

    No green!? You sons of bitches!

    • Travis Stanley

      lol

    • Alaskan18724

      Second that emotion.

      • Born to Ride

        They give us that boring ass all black model that nobody wants instead. Why do we always get shafted here in the US?

        • Alaskan18724

          Will they never learn that we…want…shiny….

    • Next year. I’d bet on it.

      • Born to Ride

        Guess who’ll be riding a CB1000r instead of a Z900 by then…

        • Alaskan18724

          Right there with you. This actually staps my vitals.

  • Travis Stanley

    For the over 40 crowd, this is an absolute Grand Slam!
    The XSR900 is about a $1,000+ less, but this 900 looks so much better.
    I like how the inline 4 puts out respectable torque at such low rpms.

    The only bad I see is that the front fender does not match the MC very well.

  • Sentinel

    I really like this bike, and the price is right where most of us expected it would be. I only wish they could have added another half-gallon or more of fuel capacity to it.

    • Born to Ride

      What manufacturer has got a 5 gallon tank on their roadster, retro or otherwise?

      • Sentinel

        Moto Guzzi

        • Born to Ride

          The Griso has a 4.5 gallon tank.

          • Sentinel

            And your point?

          • Born to Ride

            That a 5 gallon tank is extremely uncommon on roadsters, and being upset that a large(for this class) tank isn’t huge seems kinda… Rublesque.

          • Sentinel

            I never said that I was “upset”. But if I was, your judgement is meaningless either way.

          • Born to Ride

            Not trying to be judgemental, trying to help you see the bright side. They didn’t do what Triumph did and put 3.2 gallon tanks on the bikes for that period correct look. That’s a huge win!

          • Sentinel

            I agree with that, but I would have liked to have seen more capacity. They did have to do some very special design work just to get it to 4.5 though, and my hat’s off to them for doing it. But again, I myself, and surly many others wouldn’t have minded a bit more tank showing for even more capacity.

          • schizuki

            I’d mind. 150-mile range is plenty for me. I’d rather get off the bike every two-three hours and stretch my legs filling it than look at a bike with a Paris-Dakar tank on it.

          • Born to Ride

            More like 150 till the light comes on. This bike will return mid 40s MPG when it’s not being flogged.

          • Sentinel

            Nice hyperbole there…

        • Alaskan18724

          Eldorado 1400! Most beautiful retro around. Why do I want to call it a big roadster instead of a cruiser? Oh, yeah–because it would do everything I want a roadster to do, swiftly, comfortably, and with great retro style.
          Oops. It’s heavy. Somebody will surely engage in a contest of insults on a field of electrons over that. C’est la vie. What say you, Stonepebble?

      • Alaskan18724

        1975 BMW R90/S.

        • Born to Ride

          Thank you for proving my point lol.

          • Alaskan18724

            I live to serve.

  • Starmag

    I won’t know if I want one until I Z-1 in person. Hint to dealers: test rides! You heard what I Zed.

    • Born to Ride

      Oh you’re getting better.

      • Lewis

        No he is just straight up KZ.

        • Starmag
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  • B Mathew Martinez

    Where the F is the green one with the cowl. Cmon guys, ZRX Green!

  • TronSheridan

    Kind of amazing they aren’t bring in the cafe version. What the…? You messing up K USA.

    • spiff

      I don’t think they have enough built. Agree it is a shame, the Cafe might prove to be more comfortable.

  • hipsabad

    being the first bike to come with blakes, i’ll be at the head of the line

    • Sayyed Bashir

      Translated straight from Japanese.

  • Goose

    Not a bike that appeals to me but I’d like to salute Kawasaki for making a “retro” bike that actually looks at least a little like the bike it is meant it honor. Yamaha should take note.

  • Kid Thunder

    Funny. I still have a Z1 I bought brand new in 1975. I like the new one alot. A perfect rendition of the Z1 with modern updates. We wouldn’t want a new original Z1 for $11,000. Only problem is I always hated the paint of the 73! We call it the “tomato can!!!” Give one painted like a 75 I might buy. I have an 03 Tuono + a 15 EBR SX. But I could make room maybe!

  • Chris Weiler

    This has some sweet……”Blakes”
    Ya misspelled brakes ^_^

  • Mad4TheCrest

    Kawasaki is pretty much on target with this one. I also agree with other posters that Kawasaki should have brought the Cafe to the US too, but I agree for a different reason. I think not having the Cafe here gives people an excuse to wait and not buy the ‘regular’ bike, but if the Cafe was actually here I think most people would choose the more upright regular version anyway, in much the same way Triumph has sold more Bonnie T-120s than Thruxton 1200s.

    • Alaskan18724

      I agree with your first thesis—people will wait because Special K didn’t bring the Cafe. Not sure about your second point. Bars aren’t much lower, and you’ve got two generations waiting for the Cafe—the original Eddie Lawson folks and the ZReX folks. I may be my own proof of concept: Special K announced the Z900RS, and I was ready to make a deposit. Then they announced the Cafe, and lost a sale on the standard. By the time they bring it, there’ll be a new bike in my garage, probably a CB1000.

  • Ross

    I’m not a fan of the green Cafe. Give me the orange and brown naked any day!

  • Luke

    I like all of this bike except the bulbous back end of the LCD screen – really seems to hurt the front of the bike to my eyes. Hard for me to un-see now. Wish they could have found a better way to integrate the spedo/tach in a better way.

    • Born to Ride

      It’s a retro touch, speedos and tachos used to have mechanical components that needed the space behind the dial.

      • Alaskan18724

        Yep. Looks just right to gents of a certain vintage. Speaking of which, some unwashed urchin offered me a senior discount at a movie theatre last weekend. What a maroon! I was going to see Thor. Seniors don’t go to see Thor. I’m done.

        • Born to Ride

          What did you think of the movie?

          • Alaskan18724

            “Thor, son of Odin!”
            “Surtur! Son of…a bitch!”

            I rest my case.

          • Born to Ride

            Yeah, I wasn’t very impressed either. I guess they figured since Thor 2 got panned, they needed to turn it into Guardians Of the Galaxy with as many cross franchise cameos and forced jokes as possible.

  • Chip Diller

    Love, love, love this bike. Only wish I could justify the purchase.

  • disqus_9GQw44dyM0

    I suppose I’ll get used to it…but not wild about the tank shape.
    Did I miss it in the article? What’s the weight? Hopefully way under 500lbs.

  • Bob

    “Blakes” haha

  • Alaskan18724

    No word yet on the Café? Or is the Special K intel faucet now cranked tightly closed?

  • Ted Jemison

    I’ll pay an extra xtra grand for a 4 pipe model….