First Look: 2018 Kawasaki Z900RS -

Dennis Chung
by Dennis Chung

First Look: 2018 Kawasaki Z900RS

Z1-inspired Z900RS combines classic looks with modern touches

  • Photos by: Kawasaki; Tokyo Motor Show photos by Dino Dalle Carbonare

    UPDATE: We’ve added some shots of the new Z900RS from Kawasaki’s display at the Tokyo Motor Show, including some customized versions including one with several carbon fiber components.

    Kawasaki pulled the wraps off its new Z900RS, a retro-styled motorcycle based on the Z900 platform that recalls the classic Kawasaki Z1. As of this writing, the Z900RS has not been confirmed for the U.S. market, but it has received certification from the California Air Resources Board so it’s only a matter of time before it becomes official.

    Like the Z900, the Z900RS is powered by a 948cc Inline-Four, but with shorter-duration cam profiles and a lower compression ratio (10.8:1 compared to 11.8:1 on the Z900). Kawasaki also increased the flywheel mass by 12%. Kawasaki claims the Z900RS gets 110 hp at 8,500 rpm and 72.6 lb-ft. 6,500 rpm. The engine is tuned for low- to mid-range performance, with the Z900RS claiming more grunt below 7000 rpm than the Z900.

    As it did with the Z900 and Z1000 before it, Kawasaki carefully tuned the Z900RS to produce a specific sound. While the Z900 was designed to deliver a specific intake howl, the focus on the Z900RS is designed to deliver a strong, deep rumble from its megaphone exhaust when idling or moving at low speeds.

    The engine covers were designed to call back to some of the Z1’s motifs, while the cylinders sport faux engine fins to make them look air-cooled. The engine is paired with a six-speed transmission with a shorter first gear and longer sixth gear than the Z900. An assist & slipper clutch provides a lighter clutch lever pull while relieving back-torque pressure during excessive engine braking. The Z900RS also comes standard with a two-level traction control system.

    Details such as the teardrop gas tank, round headlight, tail cowl and dual instrument clusters are callbacks to the Z1, yet they each maintain a modern touch. Between the analog speedometer and tachometer sits a multifunction LCD screen. The chromed circular headlamp with a convex land give a classic appearance, but the light itself is an LED with six chambers: four for low beam and two for high beam. Like the Z1, the tail has a “duck bill” style cowl atop an oval taillight, only this light is an LED. Unlike traditional LED lights which are a collection of illuminated dots, the Z900RS’ taillight is surface-emitting, which means it forms one solid surface like a classic non-LED light.

    The wheels also exhibit a bit of this modern-retro trickery. At a quick glance, it looks like the Z900RS has wire spoke wheels. Look closer and you’ll see it actually has cast wheels with spokes that look like wires.

    Achieivng the Z1-inspired fuel tank shape was a key part of the Z900RS’ design. To get it to fit, Kawasaki had to tweak the Z900’s trellis frame, moving the upper rails closer together. Once the tank was positioned, Kawasaki began working on the seat design and tail length for a balanced ratio closely resembling that of the Z1. Kawasaki also modified the riding position to be more upright and relaxed than the sportier Z900. The upper triple clamp is also different from the Z900’s, positioned 40mm higher than on the Z900 while reducing trail and making the Z900RS quicker to steer.

    The suspension system is comprised of a 41mm inverted fork offering 10-way compression and 12-way rebound adjustability and stepless preload adjustability. At the rear, Kawasaki decided to keep the Z900’s horizontal back-link shock instead of switching to the more retro-looking (but lower performance) twin shock design of the Z1. The rear shock offers stepless rebound damping and preload adjustments.

    The front wheel is equipped with dual discs with four-piston radial mount monoblock calipers while a single-piston caliper is paired to the single rear disc brake. A Nissin ABS system comes standard.

    In Europe, the 2018 Kawasaki Z900RS will be offered in three color options: Candytone Brown, Metallic Flat Spark Black and Metallic Matte Covert Green / Flat Ebony. We will provide an update on U.S. color options and pricing when they become available.

    Kawasaki had a few custom Z900RS on display at the Tokyo Motor Show including this carbon-clad special.

    2018 Kawasaki Z900RS Specifications

    Engine Type Liquid-cooled four-cylinder DOHC four-stroke
    Bore x Stroke 73.4 x 56.0 mm
    Displacement 948 cc
    Compression ratio 10.8:1
    Fuel Supply Fuel injection (ø36 x 4)
    Lubrication system Forced Lub. Wet
    Starting system Electric
    Ignition system B&C (TCBI EL. ADV. D.)
    Max. power 110 hp at 8,500 rpm (claimed)
    Max. torque 72.6 lb-ft. 6,500 rpm (claimed)
    Driving system Chain
    Transmission 6-speed
    Clutch type (Primary) Wet, multi-disc
    Frame Tubular, diamond
    Front Suspension Telescopic fork (upside-down), 4.7 inches of travel
    Rear Suspension Horizontal back-link swingarm, 5.5 inches of travel
    Caster (Rake angle) 25.0°
    Trail 3.9 inches
    Steering angle 35° left / 35° right
    Front Tire 120/70ZR17 M/C (58W)
    Rear Tire 180/55ZR17 M/C (73W)
    Front Brake Dual 300 mm disc
    Rear Brake Single 250 mm disc
    Overall length 2,100 mm (82.7 inches)
    Overall width 865 mm (34.1 inches)
    Overall height 1,150 mm (45.3 inches)
    Wheelbase 1,470 mm (57.9 inches)
    Road clearance 130 mm (5.1 inches)
    Seat height 835 mm (32.9 inches)
    Curb mass 215 kg (474 pounds)
    Fuel tank capacity 17 litres (4.5 gallons)

    Kawasaki Communities

    Get in your Inbox
    Dennis Chung
    Dennis Chung

    More by Dennis Chung

    Join the conversation