z900-city

This could’ve gone several ways and almost did. As all the world’s manufacturers scramble to fill a burgeoning need for what we used to call just plain old motorcycles, choosing just one becomes more difficult – especially since eligible new players have only recently been made available to us for testing. I liked the new 2018 Suzuki GSX-S750 very much a couple of weeks ago, also the heavily revised 797 Ducati Monster reviewed way back in March. It doesn’t help that “Standard” is such an amorphous category… last year, the new Triumph Street Twin took home the trophy.

The bike that bobbed to the surface this time turns out to be this truly sweet new Kawasaki Z900. T. Roderick heaped a ton of praise on it following its launch, also way back in March, and turned in an Emmy-winning video performance as well.

Kawsaki Z900 Review: First Ride

What’s going on here is a classic Kawasaki tried-and-true inline-Four, sleeved from the Z1000’s 1043cc down to 948cc (via 77mm bores becoming 73.4mm ones) and inhaling through 36mm throttle bodies instead of 38mm ones. A lovely new steel frame is supposed to lop something like 25 pounds off the less-Sugomi-styled package – down to 463 lbs. But the biggest cut came to the bottom line: A Z1000 with ABS is an $11,999 motorcycle. The Z900 ABS is $8,799 ($8,399 no ABS), and it’s hard to put your finger on any area where Kawasaki economized.

If the smaller-motored bike is any slower than the bigger Z, you’d be hard pressed to tell anywhere up to 6000 rpm or so; the Z900 feels to have more low-rev torque than the 1000. Could be just the reduced weight at work… but this bike has tons of power right off idle and a nice light clutch that makes it easy to deploy. We’ll have to get to the dyno to get the full scoop, but a lack of power feels like it’s going to be the least of the Z900’s problems (if it has any). Furthermore, as Roderick observed, this is one of the smoothest-running Z naked bikes Kawasaki’s ever produced, with barely a tingle coming through the bar at 5500 rpm and 80 mph.

The bike’s scooped-out seat makes it easy to hang on at that speed, and its low height makes this Z accessible to sawn-off persons too. Stylewise, you make the call, but to most of us (including the resident millennial), the H2-inspired green steel frame wending its way through tastefully molded plastic, is a tremendously understated hit.

Stay tuned for a Standard comparison, and don’t bet against this new Z900 winning it.

070617-2017-middleweight-naked-shootout-yamaha-fz-07-7003

No one can keep track of all the MOBO’s the smallest FZ has received since its 2014 introduction. What, only three? I think it’s more, but for sure the -07 has been named “Best Value” for the last two years running, and it was runner-up to the nearly twice-as-expensive BMW R nineT for “Best Standard” in its debut year.

The others keep trying to knock the FZ off its pedestal, most recently Kawasaki with its new Z650 and Suzuki with its updated SV650… but nobody’s dislodged Yamaha’s excellent little Twin from its top spot in our prefrontal pleasure lobes yet.

Middleweight Naked Bikes: a 2017 Shootout!

The only news for 2017 is availability of a new ABS model, for a mere $300 more – $7,499. Besides that, the original scrappy little honey badger FZ-07 continues to hold the line: That 689cc parallel Twin mit Crossplane Crank still produces class-winning torque (even if the new SV650 has a couple ponies more on top) and soulful sounds. Its quick-handling chassis, big-boy tires and brakes, and the rest of the very well-thought out package continue to make it a great lightweight sportbike, excellent commuter, and pretty much everything in between. I, I feel a motojournalism cliche coming on and I can’t resist: Make mine red!

080117-MOBO-Categories-2017-motorcycle-of-the-year 080117-MOBO-Categories-2017-value 080117-MOBO-Categories-2017-sportbike
080117-MOBO-Categories-2017-cruiser 081517-mobo-categories-2017-touring-winner 081417-mobo-categories-2017-standard-winner
080117-MOBO-Categories-2017-sport-touring 080117-MOBO-Categories-2017-on-off-road-adventure 080117-MOBO-Categories-2017-dirtbike
080117-MOBO-Categories-2017-streetfighter-hooligan 080117-MOBO-Categories-2017-lightweight-entry-level 080117-MOBO-Categories-2017-scooter
080117-MOBO-Categories-2017-electric 080117-MOBO-Categories-2017-technology 080117-MOBO-Categories-2017-product

Free Insurance Quote

Enter your ZIP code below to get a free insurance quote.

Kawasaki Dealer Price Quote

Get price quotes for Kawasaki from local motorcycle dealers.

Kawasaki Communities

Yamaha Communities

  • JMDGT

    Standard schmandard. It is getting harder to classify some of the bikes out there.

    • Old MOron

      And yet the Standard category is the one nearest to my heart.

      • JMDGT

        Mine too.

      • Gabriel Owens

        This is the one ive been waiting for.

    • Gabriel Owens

      Handle bar, mid controls no fairing or screen. Jmho.

  • Gabriel Owens

    My picks winner Triumph T120
    runner up Yamaha XSR900.

    • Born to Ride

      I’d pick the R1200R if money were no object and you wanted maximum comfort and utility, and the new GSXS-750 for best value standard based on aesthetics, performance, and equipment for the price.

  • Mad4TheCrest

    I guess the heavily updated Street Triple lineup is too expensive to get in with a chance? It certainly meets all the definitions of a standard at least as well as the Z900 and the littlest FZ.

    • Kevin Duke

      The Street Triple was definitely in contention, but we still have been unable to get one for testing since its media launch, so no staffer aside from T-Rod has ridden it.

      • Mad4TheCrest

        That’s odd; they seem to be handing them out like candy to Vloggers, at least in the U.K. (As seen on YouTube)

        But maybe that’s a sideways route – local dealer demo models, etc.

      • John B.

        Tom gave the Street Triple a 93.5% score and gave it high praise, which I thought might put it in the conversation for motorcycle of the year. Tom gave the Kawi Z900 a 87.25%, but it doesn’t seem fair to have these two motorcycles in the same category given the price difference.

        • Gabriel Owens

          Why not?

        • Born to Ride

          I don’t think the price difference is so much the problem as the demographic. The STRS is a hardcore sportbike with a handlebar and no fairing. To me that slots it in the hooligan/streetfighter category rather than the standard.

          • Gabriel Owens

            Yeah, goid way of looking at it.

      • spiff

        That is crap. You guys should be getting test mules without issue. Freakin Youtube Vloggers (with no credentials) are riding them.

        This isn’t a shot at MO, this is towards the manufacturers. We get to know the personalities of the MO testers, and can get a decent idea of what a bike is like by their collective review.

  • Jon Jones

    Great pick! Kawasaki offers terrific value. I used to like Kawasaki the least with a few exceptions. But they’ve stepped up their game the last ten years or so, and I’ve acquired quite a few. I really like the Yamaha FZ/FJ 07/O9s and will score one when a nice trade-in rolls through my shop. Very punchy motors and fine-looking motorbikes.

    Good times!

    • Jim

      Jon, I know this is off topic, but since it appears that you’re in the motorsports business, do you have an opinion of what Kawasaki has planned for the Concours? I see almost none in the local dealerships, and the few remaining are going for nearly 4K off MSRP. I suspect they may be planning a revision soon. Can you comment?

      • Jon Jones

        I plead stupid here.

        I learn more from websites like this (Motorcycle.com) than I do being in the industry. That said, I do happen to possess a lovely ZG1400. Splendid motorbike it is. Great presence, if that matters.

        If Kawasaki revises it, it will surely cost what—17-18K or more? Likely more with our tech-soaked demands. It’s OK to buy a new/leftover one now at a BIG discount. Or be really smart and buy a nice used one like I did.

        My best.

        • Jim

          That’s probably a good idea. There are a few low mileage used ones on the market here. My Nomad is getting a bit long in the tooth, and it just doesn’t have the power I want to get through the terrain here in Oregon; especially not two-up. Good news is even if they produce a new model, there will still be used ones to purchase. Maybe I’ll wait for a year to see what happens. Thanks Jon.

          • Gabriel Owens

            Fjr1300.

  • movado

    Solid picks, lots of great standard bikes in 2017, can’t really go wrong with any bike in this range in terms of value and fun. Z900, FZ-07/09, XSR900, Street Triple, and GSX-S1000 could probably have taken #1, but if it were my own money, I’d put it on the Z900 hands down.

    • Gabriel Owens

      Bmw r9t as well as that new Harley 750. Quite a few new bikes in this category.

  • john phyyt

    Nothing against Z900 . But you obviously couldn’t have FZ 09 winning again. My suggestion ride one of the Yamahas before you make your decision.

    • Born to Ride

      I’d take the Z900 or the GSXS before the FZ09. The Suzuki would get my money tho because you cant fix ugly or bad chassis geometry.

      • Gabriel Owens

        Came very close to buying the r1200r once. Had all my wunderliche parts picked out and everything but the dealer was trying to screw me on my trade in.

  • John B.

    The Kawi Z900 is really good looking in person, and it’s a solid value. There are so many great motorcycle on the market it’s hard to argue with the picks so far.

  • Sayyed Bashir

    Another green bike.

    • Jon Jones

      Oh, don’t be a pickle-puss! Celebrate diversity!

  • spiff

    I get choosing the Kawi (a good value), but the runner up should be the Street triple. I anticipate the XSR, Street Triple, and the 790 Duke shootout next year.

    • spiff

      I get it. I figured it out.

  • Mark Boese

    Those are standard? Wow…things have changed. 2017 CB1100 EX is far closer to a “Standard” than any of these.

    • sgray44444

      I think we need a modern standard and retro standard category.

  • Dale

    So why was FZ-09 not tested/included? I am not a fan yet but was just wondering? A test ride on a 2015 FZ-09 vintage turned me off with the choppy on/off throttle or drive train lash whatever was the cause. I rode a used 2014 Honda CB1000R right after that was smooth as butter in the throttle response and transmission area and was fun. Is the throttle response and the transmission, clutch, shifting on the Z900 smooth as butter also or are there issues? I also got to ride an FZ-07 and it was meh.

    • Kevin Duke

      Throttle response, transmission and clutch on the Z900 are all excellent – no issues whatsoever. As for the updated FZ-09, that’s another bike we’ve been unable to get for testing after the launch.

      • Dale

        Thanks for the info. Forgot to ask how does the Z900 beat out the 2018 Suzuki GSX-S750?

        • Kevin Duke

          Because it’s slightly lighter and a fair bit more powerful at a cost only $100 extra. Oh, and this is a 2017 list.

    • Gabriel Owens

      The cb1000r is tits!!! Heavily discounted too

  • Bmwclay

    My pick for top standard would be 2000-2004 BMW 1150 GS. With Abs, Ohlins , bags and under 25000 garage queen miles. 3000-4500 dollars for a lot of fun.

  • Dmitrii Kilishek

    How’s Z900 a standard bike at all? I love the bike, I tested it and it was superb… but this is more naked bike than standard.

    • Kevin Duke

      How do you define the differences between a standard and a naked?

      • spiff

        People stare if one is naked. NC700 standard. Speed Triple RS? Well I can’t speak for everyone, but I stare.

      • movado

        When I hear someone say naked bike, I picture a sport bike without full fairings and minimal windscreen. The Z900 is a perfect example of this; you’re able to see the engine and the cockpit is minimal.

        A standard in my opinion looks like almost like a small cruiser w/ your feet under you. I think of a UJM when I hear standard.

        There’s overlap in characteristics, but when you look at them side-by-side, they look like two different categories, even though by description they sound almost the same.

    • Born to Ride

      Sounds like the same category to me. Or were you thinking retro-standard like the street twin or the R9T?

      • Gabriel Owens

        T120!!!!! Lol

        • Born to Ride

          It’s so heavy and underpowered tho. I’d rather have the CB1100EX.

          • Gabriel Owens

            After watching that new video and seeing the dyno charts me too possibly. That torque curve is nice.

          • Born to Ride

            Yeah, both are beautifully finished. The CB just seems like it is the perfect image of refinement and quality. I wish it was a little less period correct and had 17″ wheels with standard sizes like the Thruxton R.

    • Dmitrii Kilishek

      For example. 2017 Suzuki VanVan 200, 2017 Triumph Bonneville T120, 2017 Honda CB1100 EX, 2017 Yamaha SR400 these bikes looks more like standard to me.

    • JoJo

      The way i see it a standard bike fall under two categories. There are standard bikes that are built on sport bike platforms like the Z900 & FZ-09 (aka naked, street fighters) and standard bikes that are built on cruiser platforms, like the Yamaha SCR950 & Vulcan 650’s. Sometimes it gets a bit hazy though because manufacturers will call their bikes what they want for marketing purposes.

      In a perfect world we’d call the Z900’s of the world naked or street fighters and the others like the SCR900, Bonneville and CB1100EX standards….which technically can also be called cafe’s……and that complicates things even more. lol

  • Bryan Spears

    I could see the Z900 as a pick for best value.. but best standard? With the 765 and 09 not being represented in the competition, this pick definitely feels worthy of an asterisk.

    • Born to Ride

      How is the FZ09 not represented? Our morons are simply saying that the Z900 is a better bike based on their collective recollections of both machines. The 765RS is more of a hooligan than a standard, and I was sad to see it not get the runner up spot after the Tuono, but that’s life. They choose em, not us.

      • Bryan Spears

        I figured it out when I saw Kevin Duke say the following things in this comment thread:

        “The Street Triple was definitely in contention, but we still have been
        unable to get one for testing since its media launch, so no staffer
        aside from T-Rod has ridden it.”

        “As for the updated FZ-09, that’s another bike we’ve been unable to get for testing after the launch.”

  • dwfree

    Bandit 1250. It can’t win in stock form – the front suspension is so undersprung as to be dangerous and the shock is barely adequate. Fix the suspension, add a PC and can, and it’s unbeatable as a standard. Best street engine going.