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Kawasaki’s New Z900 – Our Chance to Quiz the Designer

We ride Kawasaki’s new Z900 ABS tomorrow, and also have a chance to talk to a Japanese representative of the company involved in the engineering and design of this new model. The new Z900 looks to be something special. 43 pounds lighter and, with its 948cc in-line four, far more powerful than the last year’s Z800, it features a seemingly bargain price of $8,799 (the non-ABS model is $8,399). With the great heritage associated with the Z900 moniker, we will be expecting something special in the ride experience, as well.

In the comments section below, give us your thoughts on questions we should ask one of the men that gave birth to this design. Also, look back at our earlier introduction of the 2017 Z900 for further details.


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110 Comments

  1. Vorax says:

    Nice job on the Z900!

    Now… how about making us a Z1400?

    -Vorax

    • Scott says:

      I think that one looks really cool, but this crowd will always find a reason not to buy a motorcycle:

      The muffler is too big!
      The headlight is too small!
      Fake air scoops!
      Cheapo bicycle wheels!

      Ad Nauseum…

      • atlantarandy says:

        This is the problem I have with current motorcycle styling. I am not against progress or technical innovation. But how did we leap from the 70’s look to science fiction overnight with nothing in between? The 70’s look was basic, but they accommodated passengers and were simple. And unless you want to buy a total retro such as a Bonneville, your next choice is Flash Gordon. I would like to see some designers experiment with that “in between” area and see what they come up with. I’m just already tired of the “Mad Hornet” look that you can’t put a passenger on.

        • todd says:

          That’s the point. Sales of second hand, ’70s and ’80s bikes easily outpace sales of new bikes. In fact, those very perfectly fine, capable machines cost only 10 percent or so of a new bike. New bikes don’t seem like much of a good deal to many people.

          The strategy now is to build a bike without timeless styling and mechanical simplicity and instead contemporary looks that easily become dated and a plethora of tech-gadgetry that is sure to fail by the second or third owner. This ensures future sales of new bikes because used bikes will become “so last season” and nearly impossible to repair, making them worthless junk in short order.

          It works with the electronics industry.

          • mickey says:

            I knew a who called modern motorcycles ” dispose-a-bikes”

          • Dave says:

            There used to be good, practical reasons that drove aesthetic design of motorcycles. The brand that gets back to that will likely win.

      • WSHart says:

        The “crowd” eh? And then you have people that just profess to looove everything and buy nothing. Most of ’em are kids who can’t pay attention let alone for a bike.

        As for cheapo bicycle wheels, spoke rims are made that run tubeless, but manufacturers are too fooking cheap to step up and address the safety factor of running tubes. Spokes can be gorgeous from a styling standpoint and work well on rough roads. Tubes? Not at all. Don’t want ’em on any bike capable of highway speeds.

        The link to that rendering of a more classically styled Z is what people desire, not some insectoid stink-bug, cat-in-heat-with-its-rump-in-the-air look that Kawi chose out of blatant ignorance.

        And it’s “ad nauseam”, not “as nauseum”. I’ve made the same spelling error countless times myself. 🙂

    • JustANomad says:

      I agree. I’d consider dipping into my daughter’s college savings fund for this one!

  2. Montana says:

    Would it be so expensive to offer a variation with functional fenders and a passenger seat on the same floor as the rider’s?

    • cw says:

      Expensive.

      Well, yes, if not profitable.

      “Actually functional” apparently does sell well because the suggestion that a bike might simply be used as transportation is, like, blasphemous or something.

  3. Jeremy in TX says:

    Unlike most commenters, I think the Z is a good-looking bike. The headlight looks way better than the brick on the ZRX that people seem to think this bike needs for some reason.

    I look forward to the ride report and the designer’s comments. It seems like a lot of bike for the money.

  4. azi says:

    What the heck just happened here? I leave the room for 24 hours and return to find a bunch of old people yelling at clouds. It’s like one of those local council meetings for community engagement about installing a new stop sign, and end up degenerating into complaints about rent being too damn high.

  5. MIGUEL ZEDRX says:

    MMMM Make it Root Beer and Orange like 1973 all over again.

  6. viktor92 says:

    A mixture of alien and transformer, nice specs but UGLY. The Z900 name deserves a more classic (and “normal”) look than current pathetic naked trend.

  7. CrazyJoe says:

    The last time I looked at a mc zine they didn’t list any performance data. Reviewers often say things like ” I had to use three fingers to get em to work ” or some such variation. Rarely do you hear “they ain’t any good”. So how good are the brakes? Are they a good match for the engine? Did the designer do better than his competition with the z900?

  8. Josh says:

    I’m old enough to have grown up and owned bikes from the 70’s, 80’s, 90’s – and the 2 bikes that I currently own are a ZRX1200 and a CB1100 that I have done substantial work to make it look even more 1980.

    I just can’t bring myself to even go see in real life a ‘modern’ bike made in the last 10+ years, nor ride one, much less buy one.

    Look Kawasaki (and other companies)- I understand that making this bike look like a real Z900 is a loosing bet for mass sales. The market for a bike that looks like it was made 40 years ago is getting smaller every day- but guess what? The play money market for those of us that grew up lusting after early-mid 90’s sport bikes is in prime time! Make a modern version of the classics from that time period and watch what happens..

    Wouldn’t hurt car manufacturers to do the same- TONS of loved designs from 85-95 in the Japanese autos.

    • Jeremy in TX says:

      You might be the only person I’ve ever come across that speaks longingly of 1980s design, be it motorcycles, autos or fashion.

      • Tim says:

        I had an ’81 GPZ 550 that was pretty great looking… Of course, that is the same era that produced the pseudo cruisers from Japan like the Yamaha Specials, so you have a point in some respects.

      • mickey says:

        I liked my 81 GS1100E, my 83 GS850G, and my 85 VF1100 Sabre, all great road bikes, powerful, comfortable, good gas capacity.

        I like the look of late 60’s – early 70’s muscle cars, but the efficiency of 90’s and up Honda cars. No 80s designed cars caught my fancy that I recall.

        Its always been tshirts and jeans for me since mid 60s to today, so I’m not sure what 80s fashion is lol

    • Norm G. says:

      re: “Make a modern version of the classics from that time period and watch what happens.”

      wait, insolvency…?

      • Dave says:

        Seems to be working for Triumph.

        Every time Honda does a nostalgia concept, it gets drenched in drool. Given that almost nothing seems to be working for selling new, larger displacement bikes in meaningful numbers in the US, I have to ask, “what do they have to lose?”.

        Honda can do a retro CB1000r based on an older generation CBR1k engine. Kawasaki can do the same, an updated ZRX with the current Ninja 1k engine, and Yamaha can do a true neo-retro based on the FZ-09 platform (the current one doesn’t cut it, though I read it’s a great ride). Classic superbike styling, ABS, simple 3-mode electronics and good, but not radical power and I’d bet my house that styled correctly, these would do no worse than anything currently selling.

  9. MIGUEL ZEDRX says:

    We just got one in our showroom. It looks cool, I thought there was going to be some kind of nod to the original Z1 but I don’t see it. The feeler gauge they call a seat seems really low. The thing that really eats me is country of manufacture.(Thailand) Really Kawasaki, you couldn’t tell your stockholders to chill on the extra profits just this once?

  10. Bud says:

    Here’s a suggestion, Dirck: instead of putting together a list of questions based on these comments, let the designer read the comments first hand. His response would be interesting, I think.

  11. Dave says:

    I am 60 years old and I think I may buy one. I think it’s going to be a very fun bike with a good price tag. I do have another bike to ride with my wife though.

  12. hh says:

    Design stems from culture, belief, symbols, language, innovation, technology, materials, etc. In a world of computative linguistics, marketing is moving towards collecting statements from social media and interacting with them to create new function and form. Demographics by age and income is no longer primary, that is bake sale marketing. My point is that this bike may sell well to the intended buyers and may not be trying to convert the cruiser, touring, euro design slanted buyers in the usa whose perspective on this sort of product is irrelevant.

  13. falcodoug says:

    What a great deal we have here. If I was in the market to replace the Tuono this would be it. Power to weight ratio, seating position, dual head light, lots of laughs, dependable and of course the price. At 57 this looks like the perfect bike.

  14. skortch says:

    Questions first, comments later.
    1. Since it appears to be mounted on the fork/triple clamp, how about a built-in option to raise the fairing/instrument pod up 2-3 inches, maybe by the dealer if necessary? That would broaden the visual appeal and versatility, especially in tandem with an optional larger screen. (Yes, too late for this one but maybe for future models…)

    2. Why continue with the plastic fake castings on the side of the frame? The green tube frame is a very nice styling element and looks better without those tacked on, brackets and all.

    3. Would a seat 2 inches wider and 2 inches lower really hurt the looks that much? Why does this awkward styling trend trump function to such a large degree when it comes to passenger seats? Is there any purpose beyond being trendy?

    Comments… Overall I really like this bike, styling and all. I owned 2 GPz’s in the past (’81 550 and ’85 750) and I see this as the modern spiritual successor of that landmark model line. Notice I said modern, not retro; as in, what the bike would have evolved into if it hadn’t been dropped. Inline 4, fork-mounted fairing, great performance, comfortable ergos. Of course, it has the weight of the old 550 and much more power than the 1100. Thumbs up to that! It’s a bike I’ve been waiting for a long time.

    Styling-wise, it appeals to me. A big improvement over the previous Z1000 while still keeping a family resemblance, and much better than the new FZ-09 and -10. If I can raise the fairing up a bit and install a bit bigger screen I’ll be set. Personally, I rarely have anything other than saddle and tail bags sitting behind me so the unfortunate rear seat is not a deal breaker for me.

  15. Dale says:

    I think the biggest issue with this new release is not the motorcycle itself, but the insurance rating. I am 60 years old, and cannot justify the insurance rates on the Ninja 1000 ABS. The bike is classified incorrectly as a “Ninja”, and thus over $2000 per year to insure. I tried Kawasaki, I tried. If Kawasaki wants this new Z900 to succeed, it is imperative they get to the big insurance carriers now to gain a good classification before the bikes are on the water headed our way. Has this been done?

  16. Craig says:

    I’m 53 and I love it… Ride a modern bike and then ride one from the 90’s YUCK> You can’t go back unless it’s for a feeling you just won’t let loose of… For me, the engineering, feel and suspension and brakes are simply incredible and that’s whether I’m blasting a curvy road or at a track day.

    My assumption is that I did a lot of highway touring, I’d probably be lumped in the group above, wanting a couch and throw pillows for a seat and such.. but I’m not and I’m not against that… except on two lane roads where the person holding up the traffic going 5 under the speed limit is someone on a motorcycle that forgot you can actually turn the throttle.

    Other than that… remember to appreciate the bike for what it is and who it’s for… no every naked bike is going to fit your mold for a bike to travel across the state unless your single and daring!

    Cheers! Be Saft#

  17. Gary says:

    The headlight looks like the sagging mammary of a 60-year-old Bourbon Street working girl. This is what’s known as “unattractive.” So please give us a bikini windshield assembly to make it look nice. Oh, and an optional center stand, along with cruise control, for customers who actually want to use and maintain your product.

  18. cbx1260cc says:

    It seems the bike MOST of the commentators WANT would be a Fuel Injected ZRX1200.

    Comfy ergonomics, powerful, good passenger accommodations, a mini fairing on the front to deflect the wind blast, Kawasaki green, grab rails etc.

    Having said that MY question would be–Why was the ZRX for the American market discontinued? Did we just not buy enough of them to warrant bringing them in? I do recall that the bike was continued overseas and even fuel injected. Maybe the lack of sales–we didn’t put our $$ where we said our likes were–meant Kawasaki made the right decision to discontinue the importation of the ZRX.

    Perhaps Kawasaki is trying to re-ignite interest in its’ products with a younger market bike that reflects the taste of those individuals (transformer type looks etc).

    We might have lost our chance by not buying the bike that DID fit our perceived needs and now the market is one of different tastes and Kawasaki are going after those riders. Maybe they should be given a lot more credit than what we are doing?

    • Ryan Craig says:

      Funny you should say that. I had an ’00 ZRX1100 in GPz red, silver and black replica colours. Looked the business, really, and a great engine – the 1,200 was even better, and the FI version of that presumably even sweeter. Great retro bike, but ultimately I decided I had other priorities and sold it and moved on. But I did buy one of them.

      I think a retro look on a fully modern bike would interest me. Something like the XSR900, but a little more genuinely retro looking. But with fully modern power, handling, weight, etc, like the XSR. But that sort of thing is largely a niche market, I think, for hipsters with money, and old farts (or older) like me.

      I think the 25 year old me would have liked this even more than I do now, at nearly 50, and I like this quite a bit. As I said down below, a slightly more sport-touring oriented version with a reworked rear subframe, and a half fairing would interest me.

    • David M says:

      I’d be all over that too.

      But, with a proper fairing ( along the lines of the FJR – my current ride ); a lightweight, and greatly simplified Concours if you will. And something that doesn’t take my dealer a full day to check and adjust the valves every 20,000 miles.

      Apologies for taking this so far off topic.

    • Jim W says:

      Yes bring back the ZRX! I do like the look of this bike but the headlight treatment would probably kill the deal. Maybe looks better in person?

  19. Jorge says:

    Any truth to the rumors of a Kawasaki H2 GT?
    J.

  20. Ryan Craig says:

    Although I’m often not keen on the styling of many modern nakeds, I kind of like this one. Lots of bling and interesting looking details.

    I’d love to see a more sport-touring oriented version of this platform, with a half-fairing and maybe a tail section more geared to hauling passenger or luggage. A factory, or factory-optional luggage rack would be nice. I have one on my Fazer 8 that replaced the standard grab handles and actually looks like it was designed for the bike. Still leaves the trunk up pretty high, but I love having it.

  21. Grover says:

    Asking members of this forum what their opinion of this bike is rather predictable as the age of this group probably hovers around 55 years old. This bike was not built for geriatrics but for 18-35 year old riders. If you had a skinny 18 year old girlfriend she would GLADLY hop on to the back of this machine for a day ride. A 55 year old woman would just grimace at the thought of climbing on for a ride around the block. There are plenty of leftover CB1100’s at bargain prices for the more mature crowd to consider if you find the passenger accommodations on this Kawi inadequate. Also, it seems to me that you might be more comfortable in the Harley showroom from all the comments I hear about “transformer” styling and “stink bug” rear ends. This bike wasn’t made with members of this forum in mind but for the youngsters with $9000 to spend on a bike that will take an iPod mount on the handlebars and styling that looks like it was designed tomorrow, not 40 years ago. Not trying to insult anyone, just tired of seeing the same old comments over and over and over….

    • VStrom Pilot says:

      Couldn’t agree more! Absolutely NOT on my next buy list! Are you listening, Kawasaki? Make it enjoyable for 2 up riding, or simply ditch the rear “pad” altogether!

    • Provologna says:

      “…Asking members of this forum what their opinion of this bike is rather predictable as the age of this group probably hovers around 55 years old. This bike was not built for geriatrics…”

      If you have demographics for this site, please post it. We’ll chalk up your glaring math and grammar errors to youthful exuberance: Age 55 is ten years short of a “geriatric” which is age 65 and over.

      “…but for 18-35 year old riders. If you had a skinny 18 year old girlfriend she would GLADLY hop on to the back of this machine for a day ride…”

      The average age of your suggested demographic is 26.5 years. Do you propose the average 26.5 year old male dates women w/average age of 18 years? Got any data beyond a testosterone addled imagination to support that claim?

      “…This bike wasn’t made with members of this forum in mind but for the youngsters with $9000 to spend on a bike…”

      Your use of the term “youngster” is beyond vague, it’s meaningless. Let’s fall back on your 26.5 year old demographic, who has an average disposable cash of zero and over $50k in college debt. He would further be stuck with, I estimate, at least $4k/annual comprehensive insurance bill. Ridden the way I infer from your post, he’s eating several hundred dollars in tires and other service.

      Conversely, demographic w/average age of 55 and over have the most wealth.

      Addressing something you did not: Kawasaki’s name for this model (Z900) gives homage to a bike that ceased to exist 13.5 years prior to the birth of your hypothetical 26.5 year old: 2017 – 26.5 – 1977 (KZ1000 replaced 1976 Z900) = 13.5 years. Hence, such riders, as you posit, are more interested in the latest iPhone model than the name of the bike which is the subject of this article.

      Conversely, the greatest interest and familiarity w/the Z900 moniker is among riders aged 55 and over, which demographic would rather trade perceived styling cues attractive to younger riders for higher function and possibly greater nostalgia.

      IOW Kawasaki, in attempting to cater to two markets (youthful styling and nostalgia), likely succeeded in the former and failed the latter. One could make a reasonable case that Kawasaki might see more financial success if they inverted the above sequence.

      I compare Kawasaki’s failure to VW’s failure to bring to production some version of their update of the old classic VW van. Internet response was wildly and universally positive to images of the van VW proposed. Persons including myself promised they’d order one the first minute VW announced production. And yet, after almost a decade, nothing except the diesel crime.

      Similar w/Kawasaki, except no crimes of course. I saw images of a proposed Z900 w/updated styling, classic Z900 cues, and modern sport bike performance. Certainly such bike could have an almost flat seat w/reasonable passenger comfort for real life Americans. The reason the UJM flourished was because they worked for a wide array of uses. Sell enough, like the Japanese used to do, and you’d eventually see them modified for everything from full cafe racer to touring.

      Styling wise this bike just screams pimples, and like you say, no offense to young people.

    • Hot Dog says:

      I’m in my 60’s and I think this bike is beautiful. I like the arse in the air, the style, the color and the twin lights hanging low in the front. I’d get one but I really don’t want a 18 year old girl friend cuz the bike’s one thing that wouldn’t be ridden much.

      • Tim says:

        I’m 57, and I more or less agree with you Hot Dog. I like the styling of this much better than most of the recent bikes coming out of Japan. Though, I do agree with one of the posters in relation to the fairing. How about going younger looking and perking those headlights up instead of making them look so saggy? With a couple of minor plastic surgery tweaks this could be a great looking bike. The price point is great, especially considering the discounts you can usually negotiate on Kawasakis in the showroom.

    • Spiderwatts says:

      Amen Grover.
      I like this bike. I’m in the geriatric group but I love all the new bikes available today.

  22. SausageCreature says:

    Just in case you needed another question about why pillion seats on sport(y) bikes have to suck so bad, here’s one more: Why do pillion seats on sport bikes have to suck so bad?

    My wife is 5’10” (rather tall), around 165 pounds, with a classic hourglass figure. She has a few extra pounds, but they’re in all the right places. I know, cry me a river, right? Point being, she is by no means some gigantic tub of butter that wouldn’t fit on any bike short of a Goldwing, nor is she some waifish 90 pound Japanese girl that might fit acceptably well on the thin beer coasters that bike manufacturers call pillion seats (and even then probably wouldn’t enjoy it).

    Not all of your customers are 19 year old guys in tank tops doing stunts in a parking lot and racing their buddies to the next Hooters. Some of us (probably more than you expect) are older guys who still enjoy the performance that sport bikes (and sporty naked bikes) provide, but would still appreciate being able to take the missus out to dinner or a Sunday ride on a bike. A bike with an acceptably large pillion seat. A bike with a tail section that doesn’t end about 3mm past the passenger seat, forcing my wife to hang on to me for dear life for the entire ride for fear of falling off the back (I suppose she could hang on to a grab rail instead…oh wait, none of these bikes f***ing have one). A bike with passenger pegs low enough not to force her knees up to her chin.

    The real pity is that Kawasaki as already soooo close to the perfect bike for my purposes. The Versys 1000 has acceptable accommodations, but I don’t want a faux adventure bike (or even a real adventure bike). The Ninja 1000 is a great real-world sport tourer, but passenger accommodations are still lacking. A Concours could be just the ticket, but I’ve heard really terrible things about the handling. Can’t you just put a Concours/Versys like tail section on a Z1000 platform and call it a day?

    • VStrom Pilot says:

      Couldn’t agree more! Absolutely NOT on my next buy list! Are you listening, Kawasaki? Make it enjoyable for 2 up riding, or simply ditch the rear “pad” altogether!

      • Dino says:

        +1000!
        just because some of us are older, and can’t appreciate the stink-bug-with-hemorrhoids styling, we still like our bikes to run like a raped ape!
        Just as much as the complaints of radical styling, you will also note that a more conventionally styled bike looks good, but we complain it has been neutered in the performance department.

        And we don’t all have skinny 18 year old girlfriends GLAD to hop on the back of a bike like this (boy would my wife be P-ssed!)

    • edbob says:

      The Versys 1000 is actually what you are looking for. One of the best kept secrets in motorcycledom. It’s what the original Multistrada was without the finicky-ness of being Italiana machinery. It’s not beautiful, I agree, even in it’s 2015 and on version. But it’s a joy to ride – suspension long enough to be comfortable, power enough to make you smile, and handling second to very few. Try one on if you haven’t, or just read the review from this website…

    • Ryan Craig says:

      I’m not as concerned about passenger accommodations, but I’m not keen on the tail up so high in the air. It almost inevitably seems to lead to a rider’s seat that is heavily sloped forward, too. And it’s poor for any sort of luggage mounting solution.

  23. PN says:

    Well, I like what Kawasaki has been doing ever since the 2003 Z1000. Their designs are a little ahead so they don’t look dated in a few years. And I prefer how Kawasaki likes to get to the essence of motorcycling–the freakin’ engine! I’ve had two and I love them.

    • Norm G. says:

      re: “I prefer how Kawasaki likes to get to the essence of motorcycling–the freakin’ engine!”

      CORRECTAMUNDO…!!! (Jules Winnfield voice)

  24. Vrooom says:

    I’m thinking “how fast is it” and “does it wheelie”. Wait that’s the stupid motorcycle question article. My question would be what are Kawasakis plans to use this engine in other platforms, while elbowing them and saying “adventure tourer and sport tourer hint hint”.

  25. Vorax says:

    I was hoping Kawasaki would go a different direction with the Z800 revision. I think a 650 twin bored and stroked to 800cc stuffed into the new lighter 650 chassis (with bigger brakes) would be the real FZ-07 killer. (A bike like that might even beat up on a Z900!)

    The Z1000 is such an institution, it’s absence from the 2017 Kawasaki lineup was a bit of a surprise to say the least.

    From this consumer’s viewpoint, the Z900 seems more like a compromise than a new innovation. (Since it is definitely not a “retro” design, you can claim nostalgia for the Z900s of the past.)

    I guess the silver lining is that the insurance rates on Z900s should not be steep as Z1000s, due to the latter’s reputation.

  26. Bubba Blue says:

    Ask why they think people wouldn’t want a sport fairing on a bike like this. The wind will steal about 25 hp.

    Also, why no self cancelling indicators or cruise control? Why the other electronics that no one wants instead?

    • peter h says:

      It’s competing in the “naked” category so fairings….

      As far as electronics – it has ABS (if you order it) and nothing else, unless FI bothers you.

    • Denny says:

      To steal 25hp by not having fairing? Impossible. My previous bike was naked 919 and it had plenty of power reserve in any common situation.

      Look how low is bulk of motorcycle body. Next thing is body of rider siting high on top of it. That is where majority of resistance is. Even more resistance is caused by turbulence/ suction behind him.

  27. ROXX says:

    Passenger seat?

  28. guu says:

    Now that side reflectors are required in Europe also, will these be integrated in to future desings or will they remain just add-ons like now?

  29. Austin ZZR 1200 says:

    Having spent time in Asia, it is clear that there is a significant difference in styling preferences between regions. The current Z design language fits that Asian aesthetic but is clearly out of sync with the Anglo-American taste for retro and simplicity. How difficult would it be to design a different version of a naked bike sharing the same mechanicals for our market? Like most here, as good as this bike might perform for the money, I will not spend money on a mount that I would feel embarrassed buying. I would gladly trade the performance down for an SV.

    Thanks!

  30. skybullet says:

    Styling IS IMPORTANT. Like a woman, if you don’t like her looks, you don’t bother to get acquainted. This bike is another “if a little is good, too much is better” thinking. How about the most retro styling possible with a modern bike that has all the latest tech? A lot of us are turned off by the overstyled space invader look.

    • Denny says:

      “over-styled space invader look”

      I understand – and do not like them either. But this is currently the trend; Ninja boy style. If you like something different (I presume you are traditionalist like me) look at European production… BMW?

  31. Tank says:

    “give us your thoughts on questions we should ask one of the men that gave birth to this design” – Is this the first bike you ever designed? – Did you get this job because you’re related to the boss? – Have you ever seen the size of American women’s butts?

    • Ed says:

      Bravo! Tank hit it on the head! Those questions are exactly what I want you to ask. Especially the last one. I’d like to read his response.

    • Neal says:

      The engineering came first. Everything is shrink wrapped and mass-centralized. If you value aesthetics over engineering, cruisers and retros may be your thing.

      • todd says:

        How is a tiny, raked passenger seat “engineering”?

        • Neal says:

          Carrying passengers more than 20 minutes is not in the design brief. A more horizontal seat requires heavier bracing, which adds weight at a place far away from the CoG.

          Which breaks a board easier: sitting on it when it’s oriented | or _ ? A flat bench is _ . An angled bench is between the two and will be harder for gravity to break for a given weight of material used to construct it.

      • Dave says:

        Nonsense. The passenger accommodation wound up the way it did for aesthetic design and no other reason. The “stinger tail” is the current style, passenger be damned. They put a pad and foot pegs on so that carrying a passenger is “possible”, no matter how unlikely.

  32. redbirds says:

    Another fine bike with styling that a mother could not love. A deal breaker for me at any price.

    • Neil says:

      It’s 2017 Redbirds. Lots of young designers in Japan. It’s important to pull young people away from those electronic devices. I like it. Looks much better in person too, as does the new Z650.

      • mickey says:

        you can’t pull young people away from the electronic devices. They have to WANT to put down the electronic devices go outside and climb on a motorcycle in the heat, in the cold, and in the wet.

        It’s like trying to convince a smoker to quit when they don’t really want to.

        Not going to happen

      • Dave says:

        Re: “Lots of young designers in Japan.”

        Here’s the thing about designers- Professional designers don’t sit at a drafting table and draw up what they think is cool (artists do that). They do extensive research on the market and customers and then make a design informed by that information. Kawasaki and the Japanese makes have decided that the market they’re trying to reach desires products that look like this. Clearly that’s not MD’s readership.

    • peter h says:

      My mother just called – she’s very excited by this machine – and the green frame matches her eyes.

  33. mickey says:

    What importance does the average U.S. motorcycle buyers age of 49 bear when designing bikes like this? Or is the U.S. market, or current buyer desires so insignificant, as to be a non issue when it comes to motorcycle design?

  34. John A. Kuzmenko says:

    Ask these men what they believe American motorcyclists want in their new motorcycle, listed in order of importance.

    • Don says:

      Handling, speed, reliability – with at least a modicum of comfort thrown in. These must come before looks if you’re going to actually use the machine. The looks is the hard part (so subjective)and varies in different markets. Why can’t the manufacturer design in a few different looks that could be sold as packages and switched out by the customer or, someday, even ordered that way from the dealer?

  35. mcmotohistory says:

    Why must there be two feet between the rear tire and the rear fender. This is another stinkbug styled bike that I could not own no matter how good the performance.

  36. MotoMaster39 says:

    Will green ever be replaced as Kawasaki’s primary color option?

    I’m quite fond of it myself, but I know of more than a few people who find it to be a deal breaker.

    • MGNorge says:

      ..as long as Kawasaki feels the color helps sales.

    • tomG says:

      I love the Kawasaki green but do not like black. Both U.S. Z900 colors are very dark. You got black and then you got a gray that looks um… like black. The biggest difference being the green frame. Why can’t we get a green Z900? or red or white or something other than black?? Make one color option black but the other color option a totally different color. Come on Kawasaki!! I too do not really like the transformer look but the bike might be good enough and a good enough value that I could live with it anyway, that is next year if I can get a color other than black.

  37. Steven Salmons says:

    I want to know why they still put passenger pegs on bikes with useless passenger seats.

  38. Dino says:

    From this website, it seems much of this newer design language is too polarizing. closer to a repro design. It would seem a minimal investment to allow reach to a wider market. Not many will dislike the Kawasaki engineering, and primal styling could be a game changer.

    • dino says:

      From this website, it seems much of this newer design language is very polarizing. The severe angularity, low headlight and high rear end must appeal to many markets, but many comments seem to be negative to the styling of many bikes like this.
      My question would be has Kawasaki considered making factory options available to personalize the styling? They have some experience with custom fitting the Vulcan line to rider preferences, why not do something similar with the styling? An optional headlight cluster, small fairing, etc. Maybe even an optional rear subframe that is not as high, more passenger friendly. Possibly something closer to a more retro design? It would seem a minimal investment to allow a reach to a wider market. Not many here will argue with Kawasaki engineering and performance, and personalized styling could be a game changer.

  39. LarryC says:

    Why can’t a 900cc motorcycle have adequate passenger accommodations?

    • Neil says:

      Those are called cruisers.

      • LarryC says:

        Not in my garage they’re not. My wife wouldn’t be seen on a cruiser. She calls them “punk bikes.” Not far off is she?

        Off the top of my head, I can’t think of a cruiser that has decent pillion accommodations, either. Unless you like a stupid little pad on the rear fender.

  40. larlok says:

    Where is the retro version?

    • Neil says:

      Getting old. Americans don’t buy lots of retro bikes overall. They sell very well in Japan. We are too busy driving cars. Bikes like this need to get young people off super sports or out of their cars and onto the streets. You could definitely stop for coffee and get into some conversations with this bike, regardless of the opinions on styling. Looks much better in person.

  41. hh says:

    …thinking that the 2004 benelli 1130 was an influential design…

  42. TomG says:

    Can’t wait to read the article. This is a bike I am interested in.

  43. Bart says:

    I would like to know where the thoughts for styling come from? I like a lot of the angular lines on the modern bikes, but I see that many of the posters here seem to dislike them. This makes me curious if I am in the overall minority or is this group simply an anomaly. I would like to ask if the styling is based strictly on past sales or are the models aesthetics derived from polling the potential market like Harley does. If it does come from polling, are they only in the larger markets(Europe since that is where the most sales come from.

    Thank you for the unique opportunity

    • Geoffrey Hill says:

      Speaking only for myself. I am an older rider who has riding for over 40 years. I have bought many new and a number of used bikes. I would love to buy this bike if they get rid of the transformer crap, bug eyed bullshit. Looking for next bike. Yamaha has a 3 cylinder 900 with a round headlight. Kawasaki, get real, Make your version look more normal, and you have my money. BTW, I have owned 2 Kaw. before. 72 F7 dual purpose and 89 same.

  44. azi says:

    Hmm, my last comment post didn’t go through. Take two.

    1. Was the omission of rider modes and traction control an attempt to appeal to the conservative rider seeking a ‘raw’ riding experience, due to economic production reasons, or both?

    2. How did you tackle to concern of primary and secondary engine vibrations on a street bike with the new frame utilizing the 4-cylinder engine as a stressed part?

    3. Any comment on the rumours concerning a future retro-styled Z1 model (a la Yamaha XSR)?

  45. Bud says:

    I wonder if the designer of that passenger seat ever tried it out on a long ride. It doesn’t look like it would be very enjoyable.

  46. azi says:

    Questions for the designers:

    Was the Z900 intentionally designed as a reaction to the proliferation of electronic rider aids, and to appeal to the rider seeking a ‘raw’ riding experience? Was it an economic decision? Or both?

    Any substance to the rumour of a retro-style Z1-inspired model (like what Yamaha did with their XSR range)?

    How did you tackle the issue of primary and secondary engine vibrations when using the engine as a stressed member with the new steel frame?

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