– Motorcycle News, Editorials, Product Reviews and Bike Reviews

Motorcycle News, Editorials, Product Reviews and Bike Reviews

Kawasaki W800 Based Scrambler Available From British Dealer



Air-cooled parallel twin scramblers generally look pretty cool (ask Triumph), so when I saw this brand new Kawasaki W800 modified by British Dealer Earnshaws, I thought it was beautiful … simple and functional. Of course, you can’t even get a stock W800 in the US at the moment, but that could change. Earnshaws says the increase in performance of this modified W800 over the 48HP, 475 pound (wet) stocker is “staggering!.” The Brits aren’t prone to exaggeration, are they? In any event, I want to ride one.



  1. Chuck says:

    The W800 is a very desirable bike IMHO. The weight and engine specs are similar to a VX800 which I got back into riding with 20 years ago, and I put over 25,000 miles on that bike in the Northern Rockies, with some trips well over 2,000 miles, almost all of it 2-up and rarely felt underpowered. And, given that other bikes owned included several Ducati sport touring bikes and a Speed Triple, I can tell you that I know the difference between modern high performance bikes and retro. Beauty and comfortable touring at a moderate pace are fun too. I would buy a new W800 as soon as they were sold here.

    Report this comment

  2. Jakes Grampa says:

    This is a pretty motorcycle. A little leather bag behind the seat to fill that gap would be nice. This would be a hoot to ride.

    Report this comment

  3. GJ says:

    I think I’ll treat myself to one more new bike before I stop working. If this was available here it could be it, CB 1100 is close but I already have had quie a few inline 4′s and wanted something else.

    Report this comment

  4. fred says:

    I wish Suzuki would get off there bum and adapt the Savage into a basic off road trail bike. Like what Ryca has all-ready done for them!

    Report this comment

  5. RD350 says:

    Love it …

    Nicer looking than the Triumph Scrambler

    However, as I have pointed out before, there is room in the market for this type of styling but with higher spec suspension/brakes and lower weight.

    Husqvarna Baja ???

    Report this comment

  6. Tom R says:

    How do you design and build an 800cc motor with 40-something horsepower in 2014? Kawasaki must really have to pull out all the stops to produce something so anemic.

    Report this comment

    • Andrew says:

      Ask Harley-Davidson!

      Report this comment

    • Jim H. says:

      The horsepower figure is just a number. If you ever rode one of these, you would probably think it ran really good, with a nice nature and sufficient power. I have ridden a W650, and thought it was sweet, and I own and ride a ZRX1200. For the grins and giggles type riding I prefer, this would be awesome.

      Report this comment

      • VLJ says:

        “If you ever rode one of these, you would probably think it ran really good, with a nice nature and sufficient power.”

        At least until you attempted to ride it out on the open highway. Or at elevation. Or with a passenger. Or…

        Having to keep the thing pinned just to keep up with the flow of traffic, never mind your buddies riding more powerful bikes, while having nothing left for quick passing? That motor isn’t going to be a happy camper, and it will surely make you aware of this. The Moto Guzzi V7 makes similar power and is barely adequate for extended highway riding, and it weighs nearly one hundred fewer lbs. Forty rwhp pushing upwards of five hundred lbs means you’re left with a bike that’s only really useful for city riding, fire roads, tight switchbacks, etc.

        America is a big place, with lots of wide-open spaces. This Kawi would be excellent for exploring country lanes in the British Midlands, or zipping through the congested streets of Mumbai (where something like a scooter or a 125cc dual sport would be even better), but it’s not exactly ideal for the eastern Sierras. :-)

        Report this comment

        • Jim H. says:

          It would seem pretty obvious this is not for interstate riding, or two-up traveling. I stand by what I said, plus whatever the actual weight of the W650 is, if feels light as a feather, and you can do figure eights in a space hardly any different than an old dual purpose 175. Sure, I would not buy it to travel, but its one of the sweetest things I have seen lately, no doubt.

          Report this comment

        • GuyLR says:

          OK, that’s it, I’ve got to jump in and defend the W8. I’ve yet to find a dyno sheet on the W800 but there are several online for the W650 that have it stock at around 46-47hp and 39-40lbs-ft. at the rear wheel. Kawasaki’s EU website specs for the W800 are 48hp and 44.24lbs-ft. Even if those are not net figures they are specs very close to those of the Yamaha XS650 of old (49-53hp depending on year and around 39-40 lbs-ft. torque) . Both the W800 and a standard XS650 have a full up curb weight of 487 pounds. Now over a quarter million XS650s were sold in the US alone and I never saw a single road test or owner comment saying that they couldn’t keep up with traffic or cruise the highway. I had a ’78 model and it was fine. Not a superbike but totally adequate to get around on, anywhere. The standard XS650s would turn quarter miles in the high 13s to low 14s at 90+ mph. I can’t find an instrumented W800 test but one on the W650 turned a quarter at 14.2 seconds and 90mph. Even if the W800 is only as fast as its’ older brother then it’s surely fast enough to keep up with traffic.

          By the way, the 2013 Guzzi V7 Classic was tested at 436 pounds wet so it’s only an admirable 50 pounds lighter than the W800. Guzzi lists the 2014 V7 curb weight at 395 pounds which is a laugh to expect that the new bike is that light when they listed the earlier bikes at 411 pounds DRY.

          Report this comment

        • anthony says:

          I owned a 1999 Honda shadow ace 750 for the last ten years and it had 39hp that I bumped up to 43 at the wheel and it weighed around 520 lbs. I rode that all over the eastern united states and it was plenty capable of passing cars. maybe because I weigh 150 pounds. I got mine up to 105 mph on level highway. I agree you have to wind it out past 70mph but how fast do you want to go on public streets.

          Report this comment

  7. Ducatapult says:

    The article says nothing about the weight or horsepower of this machine at all. The numbers are plainly for the stock machine, which admittedly are not overwhelming. I am smitten with this machine as it reminds me of the first proper bike, the Kawasaki G31M Centurion.

    Report this comment

  8. Kris W. says:

    Wow, I really like this one…it looks fantastic. Needs to lose about 40lbs and gain about 20 horsepower, though. It’s quite utilitarian. I could live with the drum rear brake but would like to see another disc brake up front. Throw a tank bag on it and fabricate a rack for a rear box/tail trunk/milk crate and I’d be riding it to work during the week and exploring dirt roads on the weekends. Price it aggressively like H.D.’s new 500/750 and Yamaha’s FZ 09 and I think it’d find a market here in the U.S.

    Report this comment

    • Bryan Whitton says:

      Let’s see, you want it to lose 40 lbs and add 20 hp and then you want to add 40 lbs of crap. This isn’t a bike you would tour on. It is for fun. Lose the 40 lbs, add 20 hp if it can be done reliably and then leave it light and fun. Don’t bring anymore than can be fit in a waist bag and pockets.

      Report this comment

  9. jabe says:

    I’m the last guy on this planet that buys a bike based on its looks, but this Kawi has captivated me. If it sold here in the states, I’m afraid the 4 Hondas in my garage would have to be parked much closer together to make room. I simply must have one of those. Uh oh, here comes my wife, gotta go….

    Report this comment

  10. Gronde says:

    All these droolers saying how much they like this bike and yet only a few
    would actually buy one if it was ever offered. We like nostalgic looking bikes but want performance at
    at the same time. Is that too much to ask of today’s technology? It must be impossible to build such a bike at an affordable price.

    Report this comment

  11. Tommy See says:

    History is an era of days gone bye. Love this retro but will it sell? Sorry not a chance.

    Report this comment

  12. VLJ says:

    Looking at that thing, I’m at a loss as to how it could end up weighing 475 lbs. Spindly frame and forks; only one (very small) front brake rotor/caliper; an abbreviated seat; no radiator/liquid cooling plumbing; only two cylinders paired closely together (unlike, say, the architecture of a V4 motor, or even a Boxer twin); a smallish fuel tank; a minimal headlight/gauges assembly; no bodywork; chain drive; narrow wheels; and even the pipes appear to be reasonably light.

    All the metal parts must be made out of lead.

    Report this comment

    • Jeremy in TX says:

      Accomplishing what people on this board would consider low weight means generous use of alloys other than steel and engineering parts to not only function as they should but to also be as light as possible while still performing reliably. I don’t think many people would be willing to pay the premium on a bike that has no ambitions of performance.

      Air-cooled bikes of this size have weighed in at around this figure for the past 50 years.

      Report this comment

    • goose says:

      I can’t explain all the weight but if we remember the the axium the weight begets weight I can explain some of it.

      Take a look at the frame down tubes. Much like they even more chubby Harley Sporster the tubes are small diameter and very close together. Again like the Harley this give that old time-y look. I’ll also guess the steel is not 4130 CrMo or anything close. How do you make a skinny closely spaced frame tube of low quality steel stiff? You make the walls really thick and add a bunch of gussets. How do you make up for what are still not very stiff frame down tubes? You add even more low quality metal under the tank and the seat. Then you make the gas tank out of the same low grade steel so the walls need to be twice as thick and keep that theme through out the design of every bracket, support, the seat base, etc. Every pound added means other parts need to be beefed up to support the heavy parts. It is easy (and cheap) to make a bike heavy.

      Modern, powerful, light bikes are just shy of miracles of engineering. Fat bikes are are far less difficult to understand.


      Report this comment

  13. Butch says:

    I had the 650 version for a while.
    Ran the snot out of it, never broke.
    The mill was way too smooth for a vertical twin, counterbalanced to the point of sterilization.
    I did like the kick start and the aluminum rims, which Triumph does not have.
    I see they deleted the kick start on the 800 Kawi as well.

    The XS Yami is a kick ass platform for a decent scrambler.
    The retro bikes being produced now have way too much plastic parts for my liking.

    Report this comment

  14. goose says:

    Gorgeous bike but kind of pointless. It will not be imported and, unless is is really cheap, it will not sell if they do bring it to the US. With very few exception Americans just don’t buy 48 HP (probably 43 at the rear wheel) bikes that weigh 475 pounds. It may well be possible to get a “staggering” HP increase but a US legal bike isn’t going to make any more power than the UK legal version.

    Put it this way, the NC700 is selling fairly well but who would buy it if it got 40 MPG?


    Report this comment

  15. Bud says:

    Love it! Great execution of a retro scrambler.

    Report this comment

  16. Jim H. says:

    I am a fan, said the 50ish year old. This is not quite as simple and “minimalist” as I would like, but that’s what the owner if for. Everything in this style is cool to me.

    Report this comment

  17. powermad says:

    Kawasaki already had the W650 in the US and practically had to give them away to sell them. I sort of doubt they want to go that route again.
    Interestingly though the 650 seems very popular on the used market.

    Report this comment

    • motowarrior says:

      The W650 was a slow seller when new, but as you noted, used versions are commanding very substantial prices. If you have ever ridden one, you know the appeal. All the good aspects of a British twin, but everything works as it should. Everything a standard motorcycle should be, and nothing more.

      Report this comment

      • powermad says:

        Yes, it wasa nice bike, a friend had one that I rode a few times. I really don’t think companies are interested in bikes they have to give away though. I wish it would have sold, it could have paved the way to more variants, like scramblers.

        Report this comment

  18. Vrooom says:

    Replace that rear drum brake with a disc, offer a smallish windscreen as an option, and I am all over that thing. It’s gorgeous.

    Report this comment

  19. vitesse says:

    Tell me I’m not seeing a rear drum brake and single disc front on a 475 pounder.

    Report this comment

  20. Gpokluda says:

    Simply beautiful.

    Report this comment

  21. BulletBob says:

    I want one! :-( Reminds me of the first motorcycle I owned, a ’72 Kawi 175. Oh, the. Good old days!

    Report this comment

  22. SausageCreature says:

    Dirk, that’s just plain mean spirited.

    My spirits soared and pulse quickened as saw the picture and read the first part of the headline…until I got to the last three words. Then it all came crashing back down to Earth again. What a downer.

    Report this comment

    • ed says:

      what about the last 3 words, “from British Dealer” made your spirit crash to earth?

      Report this comment

      • SausageCreature says:

        Because it means it would be highly impractical, if not impossible, for me to afford, obtain and register for use in the U.S., where I live.

        Given the many articles about factory bikes soon available in U.S. dealerships that MD has published lately kinda put me in the mindset that this would be the case for this bike, but the last three words instantly killed that notion. Silly, I know.

        Report this comment

  23. Starmag says:

    Beautiful and simple. It would be a lot more desirable if it made a reliable 60-70 RWHP and had an additional inch or more of suspension travel. I currently own two Kawasaki’s, a ZRX and a KLR, but I think I’d rather have a Triumph Scrambler, which to my eye is also beautiful, if only for it’s 270 degree crank exhaust note. It could also use a bump in power and suspension travel. I had a Honda Shadow 750 awhile back that also had 45 HP and it really wasn’t enough even for occasional two-up use in 80 MPH America. The new air-cooled Norton Commando 961 apparently makes a reliable 80 hp and meets emissions, I wonder why the Scrambler/Bonneville/W800 can’t.

    Report this comment

    • Starmag says:

      Also, while we’re dreaming, how about affordable Japanese made versions of the new eight-valve Métisse cafe racer and scrambler. 100 HP 400lbs with an upgrade to 120 HP according to the new owner. It can be done. Classic beauty with modern tires,brakes,suspension and power. To me the engine is really cooling fin/no-radiator beautiful as well as powerful.

      Report this comment

  24. John says:

    As a side note, the obsession with ground clearance and long suspension these days is ridiculous. Lack of ground clearance is why God created the Wheelie and the Jump.

    We need more Scramblers, and we need more just regular old thumper trail bikes without the nose-bleed section.

    Report this comment

  25. John says:

    That’s awesome. It would be nice to base it on something smaller and lighter. It also wouldn’t hurt to have a modern looking scrambler with a monoshock, liquid cooling and other new design concepts, but this one looks fantastic. Honda? A modern CB500 Scrambler, please.

    Report this comment

  26. Ductec says:

    Looks like Kawasaki makes a better looking Triumph than Triumph does.

    Report this comment

    • Blackcayman says:

      “God created the Wheelie and the Jump”

      “Looks like Kawasaki makes a better looking Triumph than Triumph does”

      Its never happened before but we have a tie – Both Today’s winners!

      Report this comment

  27. mickey says:

    Lol an increase of 20% would be staggering.. Or about 10 horsepower..or about as much as a stock Bonneville Scrambler. I do think it looks cool though. The seat would have to be infinitely more comfortable than the vinyl covered plank on the Bonnie Scrambler.

    Report this comment

  28. Auphliam says:

    Man, that reminds me of my old RT360 (a bit larger of course). I bet that thing would be fun as all hell on some trails and backroads.

    Report this comment

  29. Kagato says:

    Gimme a big tail rack, and an engine guard and I am good to go! Already has a centerstand! : – ) Bighorn 800 *drooool*

    Report this comment

  30. andy1300 says:

    Bring it to the US, it will sale..

    Report this comment

  31. 70's Kid says:

    Funky, but fun. Reminds me of an oversized Kawasaki Centurion.

    Report this comment

  32. kent_skinner says:

    Two thoughts – this bike doesn’t need knobby tires; it’s just for fashion. An aggressive tire like a Shinko 705 will do almost as well, except in mud. Only a fool is going to push that pig through the mud. I only say pig because it weighs 475 pounds.
    That front fender looks good, but is totally at odds with the tires. Knobs = “mud”, and a low front fender = “anything but mud”.

    Other than the schizophrenic tire/fender combo, this things looks cool.

    I can’t believe Kawi only get 48hp from an 800cc twin.

    Report this comment

    • Kagato says:

      I agree about the tires–the 70′s dual sports had much less aggressive tread. I want a Trail bike, not a Motocrosser.

      Report this comment

      • paul says:

        Those tires ARE dual sport tires… Continental TKC80′s, they are long way from moto-x tires.

        Report this comment

        • kent_skinner says:

          Dual sport tires? Not unless you dual sport in mud or sand, and this is the wrong bike for those conditions.

          I have a Wee Strom, and run Shinko 705s, which are fine on gravel, dirt, wet roads – and the pavement that it takes to get there. I used to ride a KLR with the most aggressive DOT legal knobbies I could find, and honestly, they suck on pavement. In addition to being loud and wearing out quickly they increase braking distance and reducing cornering ability.

          The only thing tires that aggressive are good for is mud and sand. And that bike *will not* work in mud because the front fender will pack up instantly.

          I might run those if I was way the hell north in Alaska, but certainly not down here. And I’d run a high front fender along with it.

          Report this comment

    • Mikej says:

      This engine is designed to deliver max torque at 2500 rpm to make it a nice putt around towner. You would require a thoroughly reworked head with bigger valves, porting, cams and a set of Mikunis – 39 mm maybe to raise the torque peak to 5000.

      Report this comment

  33. Gary says:

    Beautiful? Hardly, Simple? For sure. Functional? Probably. Desirable? Probably a precious few, but not me. Most say they want or like retro, but retro doesn’t seem to sell well in the States.

    Report this comment

  34. Martin says:

    I’m a superbike kinda guy, but this takes me back 30+ years to my roots; I really like it!

    Report this comment

  35. mugwump says:

    Oh no! I’ve been struggling with justifying a 690 Duke. This gives me the same silly feeling. Although that seat, hmmmmm.

    Report this comment