2020 Kawasaki Z900 ABS First Look

John Burns
by John Burns

This bike got slightly shrifted short in all the nostalgic hoopla surrounding its Z900RS and RS Cafe stablemates, but it really should not have. Now it’s an even greater do-everything sportybike bargain, thanks to a slew of suspension and electronic upgrades.

Kawasaki Press Release:


Minimum Bodywork. Maximum Attitude.

Aggressive, condensed and elegant, this motorcycle quickens the heart rate. A longing flows through you and moves you with its Sugomi-inspired design. You can feel the machine alive. Fall in love at first sight with the new and improved 2020 Kawasaki Z900 motorcycle.

Featuring a new strengthened frame, the 2020 Kawasaki Z900 motorcycle’s potent 948cc engine shines through the sharper Sugomi styling and minimal bodywork. Its style reflects its purpose. The improved trellis frame is complemented with improved suspension settings to let you experience the Z900 like never before. The front and rear suspension settings have been revised to match the new frame.

The new Z900 rewards the rider with crisp, smooth response and exhilarating acceleration at every twist of the throttle. Complementing the engine are a handful of new electronic features for 2020, including KTRC, power and integrated riding mode selection, and smartphone connectivity.

Highlights of the 2020 Z900:

  •                   Exciting 948 cc inline four-cylinder engine
  •                   NEW strengthened frame
  •                   NEW improved suspension settings
  •                   NEW Sugomi-inspired Z styling
  •                   NEW KTRC (Kawasaki TRaction Control)
  •                   NEW Power Mode and integrated Riding Modes selection
  •                   NEW Smartphone Connectivity via RIDEOLOGY THE APP


The liquid-cooled, DOHC, 16-valve 948cc inline four-cylinder engine offers impressive power and strong torque. Designed to complement the chassis, with a lightweight, strong engine with plenty of torque, the 73.4 x 56.0 mm bore and stroke create an engine design that exemplifies the thrill of acceleration.

Silky smooth response from mid-high rpm provides excellent driveability, with hard-hitting power delivery above 6,000 rpm. Good over-rev characteristics mean that power does not drop off suddenly at high rpm.

Four individual 36mm throttle bodies offer ideal mid-range power and the sub-throttles ensure smooth, sensitive throttle response. The downdraft throttle body layout creates the shortest distance possible for the fuel-air mixture, contributing to performance.

The manufacturing process used for the pistons on the Z900 motorcycle utilizes technology found on Kawasaki’s premiere supercharged sportbikes, the Ninja H2 and Ninja H2R motorcycles. Lightweight and rigid, the pistons are formed using a unique casting process (similar to a forging process) that scrapes unnecessary material to achieve the ideal thickness. This enables a lightweight piston, on par with forged pistons.

Engineers used “sound research” in creating the intake layout. This results in a mix of performance techniques and enhanced intake noise. Inside of the upward mounted airbox are varying length intake runners, with the two outside cylinders being longer than the inside two. This results in a tuning that helps both low and top end power output and provides an exhilarating intake noise during large amounts of throttle input. Twist the throttle and all of the rider’s senses are activated.

The exhaust system features a four-into-one layout, with joint pipes linking the exhaust headers (headers 1-4, 2-3 are linked) contributing to strong mid-range torque. The silencer’s dual-chamber internal construction contributes to performance as well as the exhaust note.

Use of stainless steel material on the end-cap and silencer cover adds a high-quality feel, while contributing to a stylish design that looks compact and light.


Short gear ratios for first through fifth gears contribute to the Z900 motorcycle’s strong acceleration in the rpm range used in everyday riding, while sixth gear is a true overdrive gear.

The Assist and Slipper clutch on the Z900 borrows from engineering knowledge learned on the race track and from the Ninja H2R and Ninja® ZX-10R motorcycles. The clutch uses two types of cams (an assist cam and a slipper cam).

When the engine is operating at normal rpm the assist cam functions as a self-servo mechanism, pulling the clutch hub and operating plate together to compress the clutch plates. This allows the total clutch spring load to be reduced, resulting in a lighter clutch lever pull when operating the clutch.

When excessive engine braking occurs the slipper cam comes into play, forcing the clutch hub and operating plate apart. This relieves pressure on the clutch plates to reduce back-torque and help prevent the rear tire from hopping and skidding during quick deceleration.


The Kawasaki TRaction Control (KTRC) featured on the Z900 motorcycle has three modes for riders to choose from. Mode 1 is the least intrusive with sport riding in mind, Mode 2 offers earlier intervention and is a balance of sport riding support and enhanced rider confidence, and Mode 3 is the most intrusive by allowing riders to navigate challenging road conditions with confidence. This enables optimal performance for a wide range of riding conditions, offering either enhanced sport riding performance or more peace of mind to negotiate a variety of surfaces with confidence. Kawasaki’s advanced modeling software, complemented by input from the IMU, delivers this one of a kind precise control. The system can also be turned off if riders elect to do so.


The Z900 motorcycle allows riders to choose from Full Power or Low Power modes, setting power delivery to suit preference and conditions. Low Power mode limits output to approximately 55% of Full Power and uses a milder throttle response. Reduction in both power and throttle response varies according to engine speed and throttle position.

All-inclusive modes that link KTRC and Power Modes allow for riders to efficiently set traction control and power delivery to suit a given riding situation with a single adjustment. Riders can choose from three settings: Sport, Road, or Rain. The Sport setting enables riders to enjoy sporty riding with minimal intrusion from Kawasaki’s advanced electronic rider support package. The Road setting provides comfortable riding characteristics over a wide range of situations, from city riding to highway cruising and rural roads. The Rain setting offers rider reassurance when riding on a low-traction surface. The riding mode can be changed while riding, using a button located on the left side of the handlebars.


  •          NEW stronger trellis frame
  •          NEW revised front and rear suspension settings

The light weight of the Z900 is noticeable as soon as you snap the kick stand up. The chassis is a new, high-tensile steel, twin-spar, trellis frame that features revisions made to add strength to the swingarm pivot area.

The frame was designed to have the fewest bends possible, allowing for a chassis that disperses stress extremely well. The frame design also keeps weight to a minimum.

The engine is rigid-mounted in five points, aiding in the Z900’s nimble handling. Twin-tube type rear frame contributes to the bike’s low seat height with easy reach to the ground.

Up front is a pair of 41mm inverted front forks which feature stepless rebound damping and spring preload adjustability. Adjustment is via the conveniently located fork top caps. The fork settings were updated to match the new frame.

Horizontal-backed linked rear suspension positions the shock unit and linkage above the lightweight aluminum swing arm. This arrangement contributes to mass centralization, while ensuring that the suspension is located far enough from the exhaust that operation is not affected by heat. The rear shock is also adjustable, featuring rebound and preload adjustability. Shock settings were updated to match the new frame and offer both sporty performance and comfort.


  •             NEW Dunlop Sportmax Roadsport 2 tires

The Z900 motorcycle features dual 300mm front petal disc brakes and a 250mm rear petal brake with ABS. This contributes to the high level of quality and sportiness. Dual opposed four-piston calipers with resin brake pads offer a linear brake touch, facilitating control for the rider.

Stylish star-pattern five-spoke wheels contribute to light weight and quality appearance, while their high rigidity benefits handling. The wheels are mounted to new Dunlop Sportmax Roadsport 2 tires, contributing to the Z900’s superb handling character.


  • NEW compact, sharper Z Sugomi styling
  • NEW LED headlamp

The Z900 maintains its distinctive Sugomi design elements that consist of a crouching stance, low-positioned head and upswept tail. For 2020, the eye-catching styling benefits include a number of updates that make its aggressive design even sharper. New shrouds, fuel tank cover, under cowls, and the silver swingarm pivot cover are all more compact, contributing to a sharper image.

A new LED headlamp consists of LED position lamps that give it an image distinct from Kawasaki’s other Z supernaked models. The position lamps have a textured surface that allows them to be shown as a whole illuminated shape. The new design is more compact with sharper edges.

LED lighting is used to illuminate the headlamp, position lamps, taillight, and license pate lamp. The turn signals feature bulb-type lighting.


  • NEW 4.3” TFT color instrumentation

A new, large 4.3” all-digital TFT color instrumentation gives the cockpit a high-tech and high-grade appearance. The new instrumentation offers additional features that were unavailable on the previous model. The high-grade full color display features TFT (thin-film transistor) technology, helping deliver a high level of visibility. A selectable background color is offered (black or white) and screen brightness automatically switches between three rider-set levels to suit available light.

Display functions include: digital speedometer, digital bar-style tachometer, gear position indicator, shift lamp, fuel gage, odometer, dual trip meters, current and average fuel consumption, remaining range, average speed, total time, coolant temperature, clock, battery voltage, Kawasaki service reminder, oil change reminder, riding mode indicator, smartphone call and mail notices, Bluetooth indicator, and economical riding indicator.


Another new feature for 2020 is the addition of Smartphone Connectivity to the Z900. A Bluetooth® chip built into the instrument panel enables riders to connect to their motorcycle wirelessly. Using RIDEOLOGY THE APP*, a number of instrument functions can be accessed, logged, and reviewed contributing to an enhanced motorcycling experience. The following information can be viewed:

1. Vehicle Info

  • Check latest status update

2. Riding Log

  • Can be logged in detail, and played back for review
  • Route, distance & time traveled can be logged for review
  • Riding conditions can be recorded in detail

3. Telephone Notices

  • Incoming call or mail is indicated on instrument display

4. Tuning

  • Vehicle settings changes can be made on your smartphone
  • New settings can easily be applied to your bike before riding

The app can also be used when away from the motorcycle. When riding (with the app ON), the bike and smartphone are always connected and riding log data is being recorded by the app. After your ride, the latest riding information is stored by the app and may be viewed on the smartphone. Any changes made via the app while the engine is off, or while out of range, will be implemented as soon as the ignition is turned on and the smartphone is in range with the app ON.

* RIDEOLOGY THE APP is not intended for use during vehicle operation. Only use RIDEOLOGY THE APP when the vehicle is not being operated and it is safe to do so.

A full range of Kawasaki Genuine Accessories are available at authorized Kawasaki dealers, allowing riders to further enhance the Z900’s sharp, sporty looks or offer added comfort and convenience. Complementing the existing lineup of accessories, new items include a large smoked wind deflector, Ergo-Fit Extended Reach Seat (+20 mm), Ergo-Fit Extended Reach Passenger Seat (+20 mm), USB and 12Volt DC sockets, and scratch resistant film for the TFT meter.

The 2020 Z900 ABS motorcycle is available in available in two colors:
Metallic Graphite Gray/Metallic Spark Black, $8,999
Candy Plasma Blue / Metallic Matte Fusion Silver, $9,299

John Burns
John Burns

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2 of 25 comments
  • Terry Melvin Terry Melvin on Dec 04, 2019

    Waaay too-busy styling, and "rideability is improved from mid-high RPM making it silky smooth"? Uh, so we have to buzz the engine to smooth it out? I think not. Good rideability to me means excellent response and control at any RPM, rather like my FZ-1

  • Smithmga Smithmga on Dec 28, 2019

    How about the seat comfort? I did not buy one because of the seat.