Motorcycle shootouts are a relentless procession of putting the screws to a couple or numerous models selected for similarities in performance, style, purpose, price and, of course, engine displacement. Two of our most recent shootouts, the Gentleman’s Hooligan Comparo and Japanese Mega Standards Shootout, pit four excruciatingly similar models from Kawasaki and Suzuki against one another in two separate competitions. At 999cc and 1043cc the GSX-S1000 ABS and Kawasaki Z1000 ABS were the Goliaths, while the 749cc and 806cc displacements of the Suzuki GSX-S750 and Kawasaki Z800 ABS were the Davids. Is it possible for David to defeat Goliath? Which motorcycle is the true king of Israel?
Us MOrons enjoy the luxury of working from home offices, but imagine an alternate world where we actually had an office to go to everyday. Clearly, this scenario won’t be hard for many of you to imagine as it’s your reality. And if you’re also the type to take the long way home after clocking out, followed by a lengthier ride come the weekend, you’re the type of rider Kawasaki and Suzuki are reaching for with the Z800 ABS and GSX-S750 – unless you live in California. Neither bike is currently being offered for sale in the People’s Republic. Intended for the sportbike rider who may be more, ah, mature these days with things adults call, um, responsibilities, the two still offer middleweight performance without the supersport ergonomic commitment. They are also more affordable, at $7,999 for the Suzuki and $8,399 for the Kawi.
Recently, we had the chance to sample the 2016 Kawasaki Z800 ABS at its U.S. introduction in Palm Springs, California. I approached the bike from a unique perspective, as I had already ridden it in Europe, where it was introduced in 2013. I came back impressed with the bike during my short track stint with it, but had no idea how it behaved on the street. I figured I wouldn’t get a chance to find out, as this was one of the many bikes available in other markets that I’d never get to sample on home soil. Luckily for me, I was wrong (a feeling I’m more than used to … sigh). Kawasaki has seen growth in the American market for mid-displacement standards, and figured the time was right to bring the Z800 here. So quick were Team Green to bring the baby Zed to the States, that it didn’t even bother to tweak it for CARB compliance in the Golden State: For $8,400 Kawasaki will give you a brand new 2016 Z800 ABS and a dollar back in change. Unless you live in California, in which case you’re out of luck.
I have a confession to make: I rode the Kawasaki Z800 in 2013, long before its U.S. introduction in Palm Springs, California this week. It was on a test track in Southern Italy during a new tire introduction, and despite the fact the track is not the Z800’s element – Kawasaki bills the baby Z as a streetfighter ideally suited for commuting or weekend blasts in the canyons – I came back pleasantly surprised. I remember the spread of power was impressive, the completely analog transmission shifted with buttery-smooth precision, the brakes never faded and the chassis was fluid and responsive. I wanted one but left Italy disappointed that I wouldn’t be able to get my hands on a Z800 stateside.
Kawasaki announced it will import its Z800 middleweight streetfighter to the U.S. for the 2016 model year, slotting in below the Z1000 in the company’s lineup for $8,399. Unfortunately for residents of the Golden State, the Z800 will be a 49-state model and will not be available for sale in California.
In my role as a moto-journo, I’ve been extremely fortunate to have the opportunity to ride all the latest and greatest motorcycles from around the world. It’s a great gig if you can get it, but there’s one tiny caveat: there are plenty of bikes not sold to us Yanks in the U.S. of A. The manufacturers have a number of reasons why they don’t sell certain bikes here, but the end result is, despite the unique position I’m in to ride a variety of motorcycles, there are still some bikes I long to throw a leg over. All because I live in America.