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Kawasaki Z900RS Announced for U.S. Market: All the Details and Specifications

The highly-anticipated Kawasaki Z900RS is, in fact, coming to the U.S. market, as announced by Kawasaki this morning in New York. Base price will be $10,999, and it will be available in two colors, including Metallic Flat Spark Black and Candytone Brown.

Here is the full press release from Kawasaki, and you can follow this link for full features and specifications:  Kawasaki 2018 Z900RS.

The new Kawasaki Z900RS is Kawasaki’s long awaited foray into the retro genre of motorcycling. It is a true throwback to its 1970’s predecessor, the famed Kawasaki Z1.

Kawasaki is bringing class leading performance and technology to another category of motorcycles, the retro bike class. In building the Z900RS, Kawasaki has meticulously crafted one of the most authentic retro bikes in appearance and design, paying homage to the original Z1, all while tastefully incorporating modern technology and features.

Developed for riders in search of a well-rounded bike that is not only rich in history and character, but also packed with modern technology and handling features, the Z900RS is powered by a 948cc in-line four engine, features a modern trellis frame, and modern suspension components that bring an unmatched level of performance to the retro bike category.

The sleek sweeping contours and meticulous fit and finish of the Z1 redefined the standards of motorcycle design in the 1970’s. Kawasaki has applied the same meticulous attention to detail in building the Z900RS, from the iconic teardrop gas tank to the simple uncluttered engine design, all the way down to the retro themed headlight and tail cowl.

The newest addition to the Z family, the Z900RS, is packed with technologically advanced components and features, including the 41mm inverted front forks, slipper clutch, and Kawasaki Traction Control (KTRC). The bike also has some of its own new features as well, such as Kawasaki’s first fully tuned exhaust note, designed to elicit rider response when the 948cc in-line four cylinder engines roars to life, idling, and low speed riding.

Highlights of the 2018 Kawasaki Z900RS:

  • Strong, Smooth In-Line Four Engine
  • NEW Kawasaki Tuned Exhaust Note
  • Lightweight Trellis Frame
  • Z1-Inspired iconic styling

The stylish appearance of the standard Z900RS is available in Metallic Flat Spark Black and Candytone Brown.

Strong, Smooth In-Line Four Engine & Transmission

The Z900RS, features a liquid-cooled, DOHC, 16-valve 948cc in-line four cylinder engine. Its design and configuration offer a great balance of power and manageability, delivering strong low and mid range torque that provides all riders the reassuring feeling of control. Several engine components played a crucial role in achieving the smooth, reliable, consistent power needed for the Z900RS. Utilizing the downdraft positioning of the 36mm throttle bodies was crucial in allowing intake air to travel in the most direct route to the combustion chamber; which is all complemented by ECU controlled sub throttles that provide silky smooth throttle response. To achieve the desired engine performance on the low-mid rpm range, compression ratio was set to 10.8:1, intake cam profiles at 248o and exhaust duration at 244o.

To facilitate smooth shifting the gearing ratio of the Z900RS was designed to have a short first gear, making it easier to launch. It also features a longer sixth gear for improved ride comfort when touring or cruising at highway speeds and also allows the engine to operate at lower rpm, which in turn results in improved fuel efficiency and reduced engine vibration.

The Z900RS features a high-quality clutch with assist and slipper function working in unison with its transmission. Additionally, the back-torque limiting slipper function of the clutch contributes to stability by helping to prevent wheel hop during downshifts.

Kawasaki’s First Tuned Exhaust Note

While Kawasaki in-line four cylinder engines have been historically known for their great-sounding exhausts, this is the first time that Kawasaki has used sound research to craft the model’s ideal exhaust note. Sound tuning on the Z900RS‘s engine was focused on the initial roar to life, idling, and low-speed riding where the rider is best able to enjoy the exhaust’s deep growl. To ensure both performance and the desired sound were achieved, every aspect of the exhaust system was scrutinized: exhaust pipe length, collector design, where to position the bends, even the density of the glass wool fibers in the silencer. More than 20 renditions of the system were tested before finding the perfect match. Clever internal construction of the pre-chamber achieves a balance of sound and performance, and at low-rpm, the exhaust escapes in a straight line, while at high-rpm the exhaust is routed through an additional passage.

The high quality stainless steel exhaust system features a 4-into-1-collector layout.  The header pipes and pre-chamber are built as single unit. The exhaust headers feature a double-wall construction, which helps to minimize heat discoloration and provide protection from the elements. The 28.6 mm inner diameter of the header pipes was chosen to achieve the desired low-mid range engine performance, and the larger 38.1 mm outer wall of the header pipes provides a quality finish appearance flowing from the beautifully crafted in-line four cylinder engine. The compact stainless steel megaphone-style silencer contributes to the retro design of the Z900RS. To ensure the highest quality finish possible the header pipes, pre-chamber and silencer are all treated with a special three stage buffing process: the first is done as individual parts, the second is done once the exhaust is assembled, the third stage is a final buffing process.

Lightweight Trellis Frame

To achieve the desired weight, handling characteristics, and appearance, the Z900RS received an all-new high tensile steel trellis frame that was developed using Kawasaki’s advanced analysis technology. The lines of the frame were made as straight as possible, only utilizing bends when necessary, which has created a frame that disperses stress extremely well and offers very smooth predictable handling. Also aiding in the pursuit of lightweight and performance handling is the rigid-mounted engine, which is connected at five points to the frame: front and rear of the cylinder head, behind the cylinder, and at the top and bottom of the crankcases. Its minimalist design has helped to trim all unnecessary weight while showcasing its retro styling.

The Z900RS has a laid back and relaxed design to it, which was achieved by raising the front and lowering the rear. Along with an entirely new frame, the Z900RS also features a new upper-triple clamp, which increases the steering offset to 34 mm, which reduces trail. and contributes to light operation.

Suspension

Complementing the ride comfort of the all-new performance designed trellis frame is a 41mm inverted fork and Kawasaki’s Horizontal Back-Link rear suspension design. The high-grade fork features fully adjustable 10-way compression and 12-way rebound damping, enabling riders to find their precise settings to suit their preference and riding style. Enhancing the performance of the rear is Kawasaki’s Horizontal Back-Link rear suspension design. The rear shock features fully adjustable rebound damping and preload. This arrangement contributes to mass centralization while ensuring that the suspension is located far enough from the exhaust that it is not affected by heat.

Braking

Handling the stopping duties of the Z900RS is a full disc brake setup featuring modern ABS. The Radial-pump front brake master cylinder commands a pair of 4-piston radial-mount monobloc calipers to grip a pair of 300 mm brake discs, providing plenty of stopping power. The rear brake features a single piston, pin-slide caliper gripping a 250 mm disc.

Kawasaki TRaction Control (KTRC)

The Z900RS is equipped with Kawasaki TRaction Control (KTRC), which has two performance settings riders can choose from: Mode 1 prioritizes maximum forward acceleration, while Mode 2 provides rider reassurance by facilitating smooth riding on slippery surfaces.

When selected, Mode 2 utilizes the same logic and control as Mode 1,but enables riders to better negotiate both short patches of slippery terrain, such as train tracks or manhole covers, and extended stretches of other less predictable surfaces. Wheel spin is also limited when starting on a slippery surface. However, when excessive rear wheel spin occurs, Mode 2 switches to three-way control, which governs the ignition timing, fuel delivery and airflow, and engine output is reduced to a level that allows the rear wheel to regain grip. This fine control results in a very natural feeling with smooth engagement and on/off transition.  Riders may also elect to turn the system off to enjoy the raw feel of riding.

Retro Styling

It was crucial that the appearance of the Z900RS pay homage to its predecessors, specifically the Z1. This dictated many elements of the design of the bike, such as the bodywork, the fit and finish of the engine, and even the wheels.

The centerpiece of the Z900RS is the beautiful four and a half gallon teardrop fuel tank, which is reminiscent of the Z1. The entire frame was designed around positioning and showcasing the beautiful fuel tank. The retro vibe also influenced the large 170 mm LED headlamp, which blends old school looks and modern designs. Position lamps in the high-beam chambers ensure the whole lamp appears lit, like a retro-style bulb headlamp; a convex lens and chromed headlamp ring add to the high-quality finish and appearance. The duckbill tail cowl of the Z1 also inspired the flowing design of the rear cowl on the Z900RS. The oval design of the LED taillight also pays homage to its Z1 lineage. Unlike standard LED taillights that appear as a collection of dots, the surface-emitting LED taillight lights up as a solid surface. An analogue-style speedometer and tachometer give off the retro vibe for the gauges, which is contrasted by a multi-functional LCD screen with an easy-to-read black and white display that continues the theme of blending retro styling and modern technology.

The simple, uncluttered engine design was very important to Kawasaki engineers when building the Z900RS. The engineers wanted to capture the air-cooled & carbureted feel, to really make the bike stand out in an age where electronics have become increasingly popular to find in the engine bay. The stylish engine fins were cast onto the cylinder head to create the image of an air-cooled engine. The long, flowing stainless steel header design that mates to the short, low hanging megaphone silencer are true throwback to how bikes used to be built.

The cast aluminum wheels chosen for the Z900RS feature flat spokes designed to look like classic wire-spoked wheels. Designed using Kawasaki’s advanced analysis technology, the wheels offer a balance of lightweight and stylish looks, contributing to both handling and a design suited to the retro category.

Numerous Accessories

Kawasaki offers a full line of genuine accessories for the 2018 Z900RS, which enable customers to personalize their bikes to their liking in a number of different ways. Kawasaki Genuine Accessories offers a frame slider set, front axel sliders, radiator trim, and a tank pad. Kawasaki Genuine Accessories offers grip heater set, Ergo-Fit reduced reach seat, and a smoked wind defector. Styling, being one of the most important elements to a motorcyclist, Kawasaki Genuine Accessories made sure to offer a wide variety of options: retro Kawasaki tank emblem set, oil filler cap (Black, Gold or White), KYB fork cap set (Black or Gold), silver gauge trim, passenger grab bar, side grip set, Akrapovic slip on muffler and a center stand.


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65 Comments

  1. kawzies says:

    Perfect. Almost. Will buy when dealer sacrifices at $7500 Like the CB’s I always see. Never at 11 grand.

  2. richard says:

    nice..too much $$ though..considering the Yamaha XSR has way more tech for a lot less money

  3. Fred says:

    This one makes me wish I was in the market. Old school looks with current tech/power/suspension/brakes. And a real seat! Love it.

  4. Don says:

    Don’t we get the café-fairing version here? Did I miss that in the article?

  5. 5229 says:

    Good looking bike. Now if I’m going to nit pick to get the totally retro look twin rear shocks would do it. High quality twin rear shocks are a dime a dozen. Just my opinion, she still looks good and I’m sure performs well.

    • Neil says:

      Speaking from the Northeast, or anywhere there is snow in the winter, twin shocks are an OLD idea and don’t work anywhere near as well as a monoshock so I have to agree with engineers here. Yes, twin shocks look good, but on the CB1100, for example, they barely move with me on the bike. It’s simple too much Spring tension under me.

    • Norm G. says:

      re: “High quality twin rear shocks are a dime a dozen.”

      BUT WAIT THERE’S MORE…!!!

      they also add almost double the weight.

      • todd says:

        Not true. I can go weigh them now but I have a single shock from a CBR in the garage and some old twin BMW shocks laying around. The single shock is huge and heavy, maybe double. Not surprising since it has to react against the loads while being mounted near the pivot. The twin shocks are light because they are mounted right at the wheel axle.

  6. Norm G. says:

    right, only thing left to figure is if this kit qualifies for the 2018 Distinguished Gentlemen’s Ride…

    https://www.gentlemansride.com/

  7. Scott says:

    Going by the commentary here, this has probably been one of the best received – well, “least criticized” – new bikes in a long time. We should revisit the topic a year from now and see how many people actually put their money where their keyboard is and bought one of them…

  8. RD350 says:

    Saw the bike at the NYC motorcycle show last night. Glad to see it there. Looked great!

  9. Roadkill says:

    Well done Kawasaki knocked it out of the park! Sign me up love it!

  10. Jon says:

    Damn, that is a good looking bike.

    Am I being blind, or did they not put the horsepower value on the spec sheet? What’s that all about? Torque as a single value at a single rpm is absolutely useless, give us the hp as well!

    • todd says:

      It’s easy to infer, at 6500 it works out as 89hp so, assuming that torque doesn’t drop more than 10% over the rev range, 65 ft-lb at 10,000 rpm comes out to 124hp. Now factor in a 10% drop through the transmission and you can crank out 112hp on a dyno – plenty. Or, you can look it up; Rider Magazine dynoed it at 113 at 9,700 rpm.

  11. Wendy says:

    Needs four mufflers.

  12. oldjohn1951 says:

    Yes, it IS a worth successor to the Z1. If I buy it then I’ll have to go find a Vetter Windjammer fairing to go with it. Nice looking bike-I like it.

  13. oldjohn1951 says:

    Having ridden the Z1 when it first showed up I can remember it being a powerful bike capable of terrific sustained highway speed. And when paired up with a Windjammer fairing, it became an all-day rider that was probably only eclipsed by the Gold Wing. This new bike is a worthy successor and should appeal to the same type of riders as the early 1970s’ version did.

  14. JPJ says:

    A modern rendition of a classic Kawasaki. This should be an exciting bike to ride. KUDOS !! Kawasaki.

  15. steveinsandiego says:

    black/red and candytone brown? please direct my eyes to the brown model.

  16. mickey says:

    It must be pretty small. Those two riders don’t look very big and they are taking up all the space available,(she couldn’t use the seat strap to hold on) using up a lot of the rear suspension, and even the rear tire looks a little flattened.

    Although not as good looking as the original or as the CB1100 Dlx even, I don’t think it’s a bad looking bike and I hope Kawasaki sells a bunch of them.

    did you read that they used a short first gear for launch and a tall 6 th gear for cruising? That’s what Suzuki should have done with the GSX1000F or whatever it’s called that we just reviewed.

    • VLJ says:

      Fairly small, but at 471 lbs, not particularly light. It’s a good forty lbs heavier than the XSR900.

      Then again, it’s also a hundred lbs lighter than your CB1100 Deluxe, so never mind!

    • joe b says:

      I agree. The Honda CB1100 is really small in real life, pictures make it seem much larger. and I also agree, Suzuki should make a First year Katana out of their GSX1000 new model, I would sell my CB1000 VFR800 and probably my VFR1200, to own it. Kawasaki seems to have a good handle on what people want.

      • Stuki Moi says:

        My biggest, and honestly only, gripe with the CB, is it’s too low. Not enough legroom. And on that one bike where a somewhat more upjutted tail end would have been a boon for being able to camouflage a thicker seat, the tail is properly horizontal…. I’m sure I could still get someone to build a thick slab of a seat, but the bike looks so nice and proportioned, that doing so just doesn’t seem right.

        On this Kawi, the standard seat is almost two inches taller than the CB. Which, while it’s no KTM, should make for more legroom for those of above average height.

        • VLJ says:

          The Kawi’s seat height is 31.5″ vs the CB1100EX’s 31.2″, so only 3/10ths of an inch difference. Not sure where you got the idea that the Kawi’s seat height is nearly two inches taller than the Honda’s.

          • Stuki Moi says:

            Could have sworn I saw Kawi 835mm (32.8″), CB 790mm (31.1″) in a Euro or Japanese press release…

          • VLJ says:

            Kawi and Honda U.S. websites list the Kawi’s seat height as 31.5″ and the Honda’s as 31.2″.

  17. VLJ says:

    Apparently I’m the only person on Earth that doesn’t find this bike to be particularly attractive. In fact, I still find many of its details rather clunky and unattractive, and I see no reason why Kawi detuned the Z900 motor, considering every review of that bike raves about the smoothness, user-friendly torque, and street-bias of the motor. All they did with the RS was move the peak torque and HP down a thousand rpm or so, at the expense of less torque and significantly less hp. Doesn’t seem like a worthwhile trade to me. At least where the motor tune is concerned they should have left well enough alone, as Yamaha did with their retro version of the FZ-09, the XSR900.

    In any case, the CB1100EX remains the far more attractive, authentic retro, with none of the performance of this new Kawi, just like it used to be between the old CB vs Z bikes.

    It’s back to the ’70s, indeed.

    • Tim says:

      My favorite retro bike is still the Kawasaki W650 and later W800. Everything, including the motor, looked more period authentic than anything else I’ve seen. Too bad Kawasaki pulled it from the American market before the retro bug bit the millenials. I do love the CB1100 as well. It’s a close second in my rankings.

    • Shriker says:

      I am with you….want to really love this bike and it tries really hard…..but ……its just OFF . Its too tall with too much space between fender and wheel, no doubt offering good suspension range of motion and probably more comfy riding position . Motor doesn’t look retro much ….AND they detuned it . Short rear fender is right shape but too short.

      All the little stuff is just not right….though I am very pleased they at least tried this and hopefully it will sell well and promote MORE retro stuff.

      The Honda CB1100 is the real deal though….air cooled motor (but needs more power) and is spot on in styling terms.

    • Tim says:

      I would love to see them take a stab at the firecracker red GPz’s of the early 80’s. That would definitely tempt me.

    • slipjoint says:

      You’re in luck there are unsold CB1100’s all over the country.

  18. Snetinel says:

    I think this will be a fantastic bike. My only wish is that they could have added at least another half-gallon of fuel capacity to it.

  19. edbob says:

    I wish they had the cafe variant. I’m sure the fairing will be available somewhere from the aftermarket… anyhow I’m thankful they didn’t completely leave us out from the rest of the world. I’ll take that black/gold one. Thanks Kawasaki!

  20. Stratkat says:

    boy that back suspension is certainly crushed down with the passenger!

    • Tim says:

      That’s just Kawasaki throwing a bone to those who bitched about the big gap back there with the bike unladen.

    • Norm G. says:

      they’re gonna pop a wheelie…!!!

    • todd says:

      Looks normal to me. There’s still travel left with a passenger without being unnecessarily high.

    • Norm G. says:

      guys the problem is a combination of the horizontal orientation of the shock, the leverage ratio of the linkage, and a WAAAY too soft of a spring. i don’t believe this kit is sprung for even the standard of a 150lb Japanese rider, but for some new/wonky 100lb rider standard…?

      not sure who in the “committee” green lighted that wholly inappropriate spring rate, but the good news is it’s an easy fix.

  21. beasty says:

    I hope they beefed up the frame mount for the rear suspension on this model. There has been a recall for the Z900 for this area. It’s a crap design. Separation of the suspension from the frame is generally not a good thing.

  22. JimW says:

    Nice! Is there any indication when it will hit the dealers?

  23. Jeremy in TX says:

    $2200 is a pretty steep “retro tax” vs. Z900 pricing. They did add traction control and more adjustment to the suspension (on the less performance oriented bike?), so that does account for some of that price increase as do the gauges and other touches like machining on the cylinders to emulate cooling fins.

    That said, I really like this bike, and $11K sounds reasonable enough to me. Can’t wait to read some reviews.

    • Josh B. says:

      Welp, I was hoping for a $9,999 price, which would be more in line with the changes… But greed wins out yet again. The updated Tracer 900 GT will be around the Z900RS price, and will offer much more value. Looks like Kawasaki blew it there. I’ll be looking at both, but odds are I’ll be more inclined towards the Tracer 900 GT at this price.

      • mickey says:

        I expect the Tracer GT to be in the $12000 range. The bare bones Fz09 in in the $10K range isn’t it?

        • Scott says:

          The FJ-09 was $10,699, so the standard Tracer 900 should be close to that price. A set of bags was something like $1000 from Yamaha, so the GT should be at LEAST that much more, and $12K sounds about right, maybe even 12.5…

          So, a good bit more than the Z900RS – not to mention two completely different bikes. Why would you be cross-shopping them in the first place?

          • Josh B. says:

            Because I want something fun, relatively light, good power (especially mid-range) and able to do light-midrange touring, without breaking the bank. Basically a more standard-leaning sport-tourer. I would put bags on the Z900RS as well, so the pricing would not be far off — if not exactly the same in the end. You get more with the Tracer 900 GT, though this Z is much better looking.

  24. Rhinestone Kawboy says:

    I would like to see them put those nice dual mufflers on each side again. I suppose it’s a cost item, but always liked the multiple mufflers on each side for balance and looks.

  25. austin zzr 1200 says:

    If I can convince a dealer to let it go for <10K out the door, this could be my first bought new motorcycle since 2005. I normally do not like black motorcycles (please do not read too much into that) but this one looks sharp.

  26. mechanicus says:

    Sweet. That 3rd pic of the rider and his girl – if you squint you see me and Dorothy putting around the countryside after class in 1976 – even the helmets are the same.

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