Earlier this year, reports emerged that BMW had filed trademark applications for “R12”, with many predicting the name would be used on a new cruiser. The logic made sense, as the naming structure was similar to the R18, and BMW lacked a cruiser model in the 1200-ish range. We were a little less bullish on that theory at the time, and we suspected there was more to the story. And now, new evidence has emerged that may justify our skepticism.
Yamaha Motor Europe announced a new XSR900 model, giving the retro-styled roadster updates similar to the changes received by the MT-09 last year. That includes an 889cc inline Triple and new Deltabox-style frame. As of this writing, the new 2022 Yamaha XSR900 has not been announced for the U.S., but we expect to get news on that front soon.
After a brief teaser campaign, Kawasaki has revealed the new Z650RS, its third “retro sport” model following the Z900RS and Z900RS Cafe. The 2022 Z650RS is based on the Z650 model but is styled to resemble the 1977 Z650-B1, a.k.a. the “Son of Z1”. At the moment, the Z650RS has not been confirmed for the U.S. market, but we expect it will be part of a larger launch event planned by Kawasaki Motor Corp. U.S.A. for Oct. 5.
Kawasaki has released a video teasing a new retro model across its social media channels. The video shows two riders in open-faced helmets and offers just a glimpse of the bike’s mirror stalks, but we expect the mystery model to be a new Z650RS. As of this writing, the video has been posted to Kawasaki’s European, Australian and Canadian channels, among others, but not yet to its U.S. channels. Nevertheless, we expect the 2022 Kawasaki Z650RS to be coming to America as well.
Harley’s been teasing us with this one since the end of its 2021 model launch presentation and now the dream is real – a limited edition Electra Glide Revival model will be the first in Harley’s new “Icons Collection.” And the Motor Co. says it will build one or two more Icons based on historic models annually in the years to come. The first celebrates the 1969 Electra Glide, which was the first Hog to wear the now iconic batwing fairing. The Electra Glide Revival model will be limited to a one-time build of 1,500 serialized examples, scheduled to reach dealers in late April, and floating an MSRP of $29,199.
Honda revealed a new concept model based inspired by the CB900F. The Honda CB-F Concept is based on the Neo Sports Café-styled CB1000R, but with a decidedly more retro vibe. The CB-F Concept was originally intended to be a part of Honda’s display at the Osaka and Tokyo Motorcycle Shows, but due to COVID-19, was instead revealed in an online “Virtual Show” along with other models like the new CT125 Hunter Cub.
Lately, it’s like time travel around here. A couple years ago we put the then-new Kawasaki Z900RS up against the Suzuki GSX-S1000 in a slightly apples-to-oranges comparo, Retro or Not(ro), which the Kawi won by a hair. Now that Suzuki has their own retro based upon the GSX-S in the Katana, we felt like we had to do it again. Our duty.
Kawasaki announced a new W800 variant, the third model in the line joining the W800 Cafe and the W800 Street (offered in markets outside the U.S.). We expected a third variant for a while now, as it had shown up in various certification documents, but what’s odd is this W800 model is supposedly the “base” model, with more retro-styling to resemble the original 1966 Kawasaki W1. To be honest, I was kind of hoping for a scrambler variant, and it’s a little curious why the W800 didn’t come out first ahead of the Cafe and Street variants. Product strategy aside, let’s take a look at the new 2020 Kawasaki W800.
One of my favorite leisure activities is to type an old-timey year, like 1980, into the Craigslist “Motorcycles for Sale” search box and see what pops up. Mostly, it’s either a lot of overpriced junk, overpriced “expert restorations,” or overpriced incomplete projects which are likely incomplete for very good reasons. A reliable, running bike at a reasonable price? Needle, meet haystack.
Oh dear, it’s kind of like one of those deals where you nag a person to do a thing for years, then they do the thing, and you sort of wished you hadn’t encouraged them. Suggesting someone take accordion lessons. Encouraging your wife to take up the krav maga. We always asked Kawasaki why they weren’t cashing in on the “classic bike” market along with the other OEMs, given that they’ve been selling the W800 in other markets since its 2011 upgrade from W650. But now that the W800 is here I kind of agree with their decision not to import it. The W800 is a perfectly nice retro motorcycle, but it’s retro in a way things like Triumph’s “Classics” and some others aren’t: The Kawasaki feels kind of old instead of just looking that way. [Updated with video.]
Kawasaki has been on a retro kick in recent years, following up on its Z900RS and Z900RS Cafe with its new W800 Cafe and W800 Street at EICMA in November. The company might not be done, as Kawasaki has filed trademark applications in multiple markets for “Meguro.”
Last month, during EICMA, Kawasaki announced a pair of new retro bikes in the W800 Cafe and W800 Street. At the time, Kawasaki Motors Corp. U.S.A. announced the Cafe version would be coming to the States, leaving people to assume the Street version would not be making its way to these shores.
We probably didn’t really need to compare the Honda CB1000R and Kawasaki Z900RS Cafe since they’re polarized enough in the looks department to make it appear that potential consumers will be drawn to one or the other – and their performance and mission statements both are close enough on paper to make them more or less interchangeable, aren’t they? I think we really just wanted an excuse to ride both of them again, they’re both such charismatic motorcycles. Everybody wants to hang out with them. What is a café racer? One that flits from Starbucks to Starbucks? Close enough for us.
On the heels of the Z900RS and Z900RS Cafe introduced last year comes yet another retro roadster from Kawasaki. The air-cooled 2019 Kawasaki W800 hearkens back to 1966, when Kawasaki introduced the W1. In the U.S., we’ll see the W800 CAFE while other markets will also get the W800 Street sans fairing.