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Kawasaki Video Teases Z900RS Retro

Kawasaki has released the video you will find at the end of this article, which teases the Fall introduction of a retro-styled Z900RS, presumably with the same engine found in the current Z900 model MD has tested.

Screen grabs from the video reveal very traditional styling, including a round headlamp (stuffed with modern LEDs) and relatively flat seat (quite unlike the current Z900) with a tear-drop tank and color scheme consistent with Kawasaki’s performance heritage.

Other features clear from the video include upside-down forks, traditionally shaped gauges (separate tach and speedometer), single rear shock (likely, with linkage) and a bolt-upright seating position with traditional, standard-style placement of the footpegs.

Based on numerous MD comments we have received in the last few years, including those to a recent article concerning the lack of Japanese retro machinery, for many of our readers, your ship just came in (or, rather, is headed to port this Fall).

Kawasaki’s current Z900 ABS model


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81 Comments

    • mickey says:

      that link seemed to have a lot of the little details. Down 15 HP on the current Z900 and weight up a bit, but should still peak at just over 100 hp.

    • austin zzr 1200 says:

      would it kill them to stretch the seat back further a ‘la the ZRX? Still not enough space for a comfortable pillion, no sale

    • blitz11 says:

      Looks like it even has tank seams like the original. Perfect!

    • Philip says:

      Thanks for the link. Looks very nice. I would like to see them stretch the plastic side cover up to the tank (yikes more plastic) but not a big deal.

  1. MIGUEL ZEDRX says:

    Oh yea, the KZ1300/CBX with the 6-1 DG ex was the cheapest Ferrari sound you could get. A real joy assembling the six headpipes into the collector as I recall!But oh baby that sound!

  2. RD350 says:

    I’m excited to see this bike. I love Retros (and I even like the word Retro, haha). However, what I don’t like about many of the Japanese offerings over the years is that most of them come with budget suspension and brakes and usually weigh 500lbs plus. Its a mistake to assume that older, seasoned riders will be satisfied with a heavy, entry level spec motorcycle, even if it has decent looks. Classic good looks must be combined with modern-ish performance. Do that, and it will be much more likely to sell.

  3. yellowhammer says:

    I ain’t buying nothing without a beak, a square squinty headlight, a seat jacked up in back so my bum is higher than my head, and lastly, without a 4-foot long license plate stalk.

  4. mechanicus says:

    Cool it with the “retro” term. Has a connotation of an old crooked-backed man with a cane.

    Why not use “regular” or “standard”, or maybe “sane”.

    • Bob says:

      Look, you’re old. Get used to it. This bike is supposed to look old, too. It’ll be perfect for you.

      “And over at the news desk, this just in! According to our sources, the CB750 debuted nearly 50 years ago!”

  5. PN says:

    I tiried to like the new Z900 but just couldn’t. But a retro version is ringing my bell! Wouldn’t it be great to ride an updated Z1? I mean, c’mon, it’s a fantastic bike.

  6. VLJ says:

    From what I’m seeing so far, it may look relatively “right” (except that it has a radiator) but it sure isn’t very pretty. Compared to the Megan Fox that is the CB1100 or the Adriana Lima Bonneville T120, this thing is Mindy Cohn from “Facts of Life.”

  7. YellowDuck says:

    Super interested in this. I am the target demographic I think. A retro standard with actual power? This could get me back on the street – been track only / racer for five years now. Was considering the Z900 as a new street ride but not crazy about the styling. This thing is a slipon away from perfection. Ha ha maybe a SuperTrapp that would be awesome!!!

  8. Norm G. says:

    gimme tank seams or i’m not buying it.

  9. Denny says:

    Man, that Z900 is ugly; we need remedy, fast.

  10. Rhinestone Kawboy says:

    Well, I’ll wait and see. Everyone is always saying how much they want a true retro, then one gets introduced and a few years later is discontinued because of poor sales. Heard the wind blow before.

    • Pacer says:

      Because it didn’t have the performance. I think this bike is going to deliver.

    • mickey says:

      So far the CB1100 has had an 8 year run. If it wasn’t selling as well as Honda wanted, I’m sure it would have been discontinued long ago like the CTX 1300 and other models that had a 1 or 2 year run.

      • Rhinestone Kawboy says:

        Not necessarily true. The Kawasaki 1200 Voyager, while a very good motorcycle, had an 18 year run, but it never sold all that well, was never promoted much by Kawasaki, and many weren’t even aware of it. I think that since the engine in it was not used in any other model, they just kept making it longer to get back their tooling costs- JMHO. Kawasaki also made the Triumph look alike, and it only lasted a few years because of dismal sales- even though it has mostly a cult following now.

    • paquo says:

      They are giving away yamaha scr950s for like $4500. It would be an awesome replacement for my transalp. 4500 bucks how do you not buy that if you want a mellow do it all bike

      • Tony says:

        There’s a couple dealers in the MO and IL area, not far from St. Louis, MO. that are putting them on sale for $3,999. What a great bike and even better price.

      • kyle says:

        The SCR950 is the most uncomfortable bike I have ever sat on. 2×4 seat, airbox in knee, weird positioning. CA freeways would be offroad enough for that 2.8″ travel too. Looks good in pictures though.

  11. Doc says:

    Looking forward to it. Definitely will give it a hard look. Like to see some Morris or Lester mags on it.

    • Bud says:

      I hope that isn’t it

      • MGNorge says:

        Truthfully, I was a bit let down when I saw it too. But comparing the screen grab elements, they seem to match up.

      • MGNorge says:

        Some features such as the instrument pods, engine and rim colors differ but the front fender brace looks to be similar along with the top of the tank. Not unusual for some design elements to differ from market to another.

        • Dave says:

          I think Kawasaki has done a much better job of bringing across the retro vibe from the Z900 to this than Yamaha did from the FZ09 to the XSR900. It looks very different from its sibling, while retaining a lot of the stuff people seem to wish their retro bikes would have (brakes, suspension, general performance).

    • Provologna says:

      What do Bud and MG not like about the bike in the image? Mufflers? Seems to look pretty nice to me.

      • MGNorge says:

        Yeah, the mufflers and maybe tank shape didn’t do it for me. I’ll wait until it shows here for final judgement. As is so often the case, these things look different in the flesh too.

  12. Spider says:

    Great to hear. All the whining nitpickers should be happy. But like piranha they will immediately find all kinds of things wrong with it and how to improve it before they will buy it. Which will be never. Meanwhile, someone will get a great new bike. Thanks to motorcycledaily for the regular updates.

  13. Gary says:

    Now THIS is an interesting concept. Can’t wait to see the whole bike.

  14. Tank says:

    Americans love retro bikes, just ask Harley and Indian. Maybe old looking stuff just makes us old farts feel young again. Or maybe, old is just better than new (Dark Side Of The Moon).

  15. bmbktmracer says:

    Makes me nervous when the only picture of the bike is one with a girl riding around town in an open face helmet.

  16. ABQ says:

    I can lift my leg over the rear seat without ballet lessons.

  17. Jeremy in TX says:

    Well, now, this has my attention.

  18. larlok says:

    I was one who commented on the retro before. We can only hope. Of course, it will probably sell as well as a CB1100.

    • Pacer says:

      I disagree. Read the reviews of the Z900. It is a kick ass little bike (I know little is a weird way to describe a 900, but “cc” are relative). I think this is going to prove to be the retro bike people have been waiting for.

  19. Sentinel says:

    My only hope is that they have the sense to give this bike enough extra electrical power capability to allow the use of additional electrical gadgets such as GPS and heated riding gear, and whatever else one my use. They didn’t do that with the Z900. Also give it a large enough tank for some good range between fill-ups. I sure hope they do, because if so, this bike would truly be a do it all street-bike. Otherwise it will just be yet another pigeonhole job like so many others.

    • Bob says:

      Don’t count on it.

      Like the XSR900, this thing will likely have a thimble for a fuel tank and any practicality will get raped by the styling department.

      • Sentinel says:

        Sadly, that will most likely be the case. It’s still mind-blowing to see how out of touch these manufacturers are year after year after year. And they wonder why sales are down and in a slump they just can’t pull themselves out of.

    • WSHart says:

      I agree and think that Kawasaki will fail by putting a 4 gallon or less tank on the bike. If they put spoke wheels on it, they will more than likely cheap out and give it tubes when tubeless laced wheels can easily be made and put on the bike.

      Motorcycles are not fuel friendly. The drive for more unusable horsepower has robbed them of the ability to deliver good mpg. Cars can do better!

      This bike should come stock with a 6 gallon tank minimum. It’ll probably deliver 30 or so mpg (or less when ridden like a ‘tard) and even 6 gallons is barely enough at that rate.

      Manufacturers need to cater to reality and not the fantasy world of adolescents of all ages whose ego drives them to demand more power than they can safely use. Oh yeah…”The power is there when you need it” set comes to mind.

      Hopefully Kawasaki will prove us wrong and the bike will be sensible in power, ergonomics, fuel economy and capacity and therefor riding range.

  20. Bob says:

    This should be awesome, but hasn’t Kawasaki tried this before (at least twice) with their Zephers? Actually, that last Zepher 1100 was really desireable, as I recall.

    • mickey says:

      Zephers came out at the wrong time. They were too close to the real retro age at a time when everyone was going new age. Now after 20 years of new age, people are ready for retro age again.

  21. mickey says:

    attaboy Kawasaki

  22. blitz11 says:

    Hmmmmm. Interesting.

    I, for one, if i am still living in the U.S. (can you say “job uncertainty?” I know you can) would be all over a modern retro version of this IF it is large enough for my 6’4″ frame. I was 12 when the Z-1 was introduced, and i spent many hours at the mo’cycle shop installing kerker headers, proper jetting, big-bore kits, and cams on those bikes (when I turned 16). In those days, NOTHING sounded better than a warmed-over Z-1/KZ900/KZ1000 with a Kerker exhaust. Well, a CBX with a Kerker sounded really good, too, just different. And much more rare.

    No lie – i bought my first Playboy (not read, but bought) when i found out it had a picture of the Z1-R. I remember that ad to this day, but could not tell you who the centerfold was. How’s that for priority?

    It’s too bad i wasted my $$$ on an engineering degree instead of buying one of those bikes. In those days, 1 year of college = ~ cost of a Kawasaki big-bore. Oh well.

    • Provologna says:

      blitz, you’ll appreciate this. My friend was one of the SF Bay Area’s best MC wrenches. He worked at Alex McClean’s Motorcycles Unltd in Corte Madera (gone of course, several classic British race bikes upstairs). The wrench owned a Sandy Kosman-tuned GS1000 with, not kidding, about $10k worth of upgrades including Lockheed calipers, cast iron rotors, Mr. Turbo kit, gusseted frame, water inj, etc, etc, etc. To the guys who moaned how it had no low end power (like me), he laughed and said, “You even hear of a gear shifter?” Sandy said it made over 150hp (that was in ’79).

      Among 2-3 CBX’s he owned was my favorite, ’80 in black w/red and gold pin stripes. ’80 came with softer emissions cams, but of course he retrofitted the ’79 cams. Full OEM Sport Kit (rear sets, lower I-beam dual bars, shorter control cables/hoses, etc). IIRC ’80 also upgraded to brass swing arm bearing races v. the ’79s horrible nylon.

      He tried the Kerker, but later the Denco was a big upgrade. Jetting was spot on perfect, and then some.

      Sitting on that bike at red lights, blipping the throttle, that’s about as erotic as it gets with your clothes on.

      Damn, I wish that bike was in the garage.

      • blitz11 says:

        MUCH appreciated. There weren’t too many DENCO headers in Iowa, so i am not sure what that sounded like, but if it was better than a Kerker, WOW!

        I did the 600 mile service on the first CBX which came into the shop. What an honor, but checking the valves took a LONG time. Synching carbs was a chore, too (could only do 4 at a time with the CarbStix, so it made the process iterative), and the rear tire was toast, so I installed a new one. I did a 3-mile test ride, and that engine was SWEET. The swingarm bushings weren’t shot (yet), so it still was tight. I had a pretty good job for a 17 year-old kid.

    • Pacer says:

      You bought the Playboy for the Kawi. That’s beautiful.

  23. Neal says:

    I don’t understand the appeal of retro affectations on modern hardware.

  24. fred says:

    Get Erik Estrada and Larry Wilcox to pitch it!

  25. austin zzr 1200 says:

    Yes, yes, yes!!!!!!

  26. SausageCreature says:

    Nice! I look forward to seeing it as well…and also to the inevitable comparison tests between this bike and the Yamaha XSR900. The results may well determine my next bike.

  27. Don says:

    Cool. I look forward to seeing more of it.