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Latest Video Teaser Confirms Kawasaki Z900RS Has Thoroughly Modern Mechanical Features

Screen grab shows modern, high performance brakes, tires and wheels.

It has been nearly a month since the first video teaser from Kawasaki concerning the retro-styled Z900RS it will introduce on October 25 for the 2018 model year. The second video teaser was released today (see the bottom of this article) and it makes it clear that, despite retro styling, this will be a thoroughly modern motorcycle with chassis, suspension and brakes of a high standard.

The screen grabs we are publishing show radially-mounted, four-piston brake calipers (with ABS) in front with upside-down forks, a single rear shock, and modern, tubeless tires mounted on 17″ cast aluminum wheels. It is likely, as well, that the engine will be very closely based upon the Z900 standard released by Kawasaki earlier this year and tested by MD, which, by the way, absolutely rips. This may look like, but won’t perform like, your father’s retro.

The current Z900 engine is smooth and powerful.

Screen grab shows rear styling and single-shock rear suspension.

Screen grab shows low profile, high performance rear tire.


See more of MD’s great photography:



  1. RyYYZ says:

    The rear 3/4 view, and the non-weird (for Kawasaki) muffler look very promising from a styling point of view. I think this is going to end up looking better than the XSR900, which has some retro elements, but doesn’t really remind one of any past Yamaha model at all.

  2. mechanicus says:

    I always thought the original Z1 and the T160 Trident were the best looking bikes of that era. If you squint they sort of favor one another. I would buy a clone, sure. Put a beak, a square headlight, a arse-high seat, and a 3 foot long license plate stalk on it and I’m out.

  3. Paul says:

    Kawasaki ran occasional TV advertisements in the 1970s, always accompanied by catchy 1970s music, sort-of like the techno-music to the TV show “CHiPs”. Remember hearing the words shown below sung in the ads? Would have been great for Kawasaki to bring back this music to accompany the retro Z900RS. Missed opportunity.

    Kawasaki lets the good times roll
    Kawasaki lets the good times roll
    Get aboard get away and you’re gonna say
    Let the good times roll!

    • John A. Kuzmenko says:

      I remember one of these commercials where one scene had a guy riding one of the Kawasaki dirt bikes (a KX?).
      He took off from a jump, flew through the air in slow motion, and landed on a small desert island out in the middle of nowhere, scratching his head while standing beside his gleaming KX.
      That melody was playing in the background.
      I wonder if this has been posted on YouTube.

    • TimC says:

      Techno? Disco.

    • Gary says:

      Come out ahead on a Kawasaki
      Get out ahead on a Kawasaki
      Out ahead on a Kawasaki
      All the way-ay-ay …


  4. Tom R says:

    A FLAT seat please.

  5. MacSpoone says:

    From what I can tell, that thing’s just gonna be begging for a Kerker 4-1 system (remember those?)

  6. Doc says:

    I don’t like the retro moniker, so I’m not going to use it. Prefer classic. Love my CB1100F. Like air cooling, twin shocks, etc. But, if done right, I like a modern take on the classic theme. Owned a 919 which was much more modern looking than my CB. Enjoyed it. Most of this Kawasaki I like, but(isn’t there always a but), the tail section, while styled right, is too abbreviated. Manufacturers seem to have trouble styling wise with tail sections. Its not not a style I care for. But, I do want to see it in person though. Keeping an open mind.

  7. VLJ says:

    De-tuning the Z900 motor would be a mistake. The thing doesn’t need to be de-tuned. It’s already designed 100% as a smooth-running, torquey, non-peaky, streetbike motor.

    They need to follow Yamaha’s example with the XSR900, which was to take the hooligan FZ-09 and refine it, not neuter it.

  8. Lewis says:

    I think Kawasaki may have gotten this right based on that 3/4 rear photo. I believe they are going to detune the Z900 mill to about 110 HP and push torque availability down the rev range. I am definitely interested.

    • Jeremy in TX says:

      I’ve read that they are going to detune it as well. I don’t really get that as the engine is supposed to be pretty brawny as is. Still should be plenty powerful, though. I like what I see so far.

      • Dave says:

        I have ridden a z 900. It does not need to be detuned. I am very interested in this bike.

        • mickey says:

          It’s just generally what manufacturers do for a model like this. I would be pleasantly surprised if they didn’t.

          • KenHoward says:

            Just because the manufacturer moves the meat of the powerband downward, to more-useful, street-oriented rpm, doesn’t really call for the term, “detuning.” From dyno chart power curves I’ve seen, power is typically GREATER until the engine exceeds a point very high in the rev range, at street-stupid speeds (Oh, right: We’re never supposed to admit that ridiculously-fast speed on public roads is stupid – ‘sorry).

          • Jeremy in TX says:

            Ken, detuning just means they are tuning for less power in the same way that tuning up means they are configuring for more power. The OEM press used to like the phrase “tuned for torque” over the term detuning.

            My experience, the real world kind, with tuned for torque engines is that they usually just feel slower everywhere. That doesn’t mean that would be the case with this bike, but from what I’ve read about the Z900, it is a completely unnecessary exercise. The engine was already tuned for torque by initial design.

            And frankly what is stupid to me me is gaining an extra 3 hp at speeds where you can’t notice it at the expense of losing 15 hp where you do.

          • mickey says:

            Ken if it has less peak power than the model the engine was derived from, it’s considered ‘detuned”. It’s just an expression, in the manner of an explanation as to why it has less peak power.

            In some peoples eyes, detuning is the same as electronically limiting, and although it may not have much effect on how nice a motorcycle is to ride on the street, some people just don’t like to be nannied by governments or motorcycle manufacturers.

          • Lewis says:

            Hi Ken, point well taken. Perhaps re-tuned would be better. In all honesty, I prefer strong low end. I just confirmed this preference after riding my 89 FZR 600 this afternoon. It does not even get out of bed until 7500 rpm.

  9. My2cents says:

    As long as it starts every time and isn’t a money pit at service time I like em all. I was a kid when the first Kawasaki 900 appeared and I remember thinking it was so sleek and likely powerful, but who could ride such a large machine and justify the excess. Today we have exceeded those points and beyond, but I still like that Kawasaki jingle from back then.

  10. Bob says:

    What a lovely XSR900 Kawasaki has made! They should pay Yamaha a licensing fee for the concept.

    Apart from the H2, has Kawi done anything original in the last years… decades, even? Grom knockoff… XSR knockoff… Busa knockoff… a pile of generic cruisers… a rebadged Kymco, of all things.

    I suppose the Versys series was a good move for Team Green, but what else?

    • Austin ZZR 1200 says:

      Lets see, their Superbikes are winning everything, their KLR is still the standard for bullet-proof all road travel, and of course (as you mentioned) the H2 DNA trickling down, what more do you want?

      Not seeing too much innovation out of Suzuki (warming over old tech). Yamaha and Honda are larger (consumer products) companies that can afford to cover the table with innovation. Kawi completes with its heavy industries arm for R&D spend. They pick their spots.

    • Selecter says:

      Holy cats, did you just insinuate that Kawasaki copied the Hayabusa? Pray tell, then, what the ZX-11 was a copy of!

      As for ripping off the XSR… how about the ZRX? Zephyr?

      The Grom I can agree with. The rest, your memory of motorcycle design seems a bit short.

    • slipjoint says:


    • TimC says:

      Decades? Like the decade they came out with the original Ninja 900 in?

    • Austin ZZR 1200 says:

      Lets also not forget that the ‘Z’ naked styling (love it or hate it, I hate it) was pioneered by Kawi and copied by everyone else

  11. Zuki says:

    A subtle detail I already really like… no wave rotors.

  12. PN says:

    I think I’m going to like this!

  13. Tommy See says:

    History repeating itself again ! Love it and excited for all the new machines for 2018 !

  14. red says:

    Retro styling is great. retro anything else..less so. For that reason I favor this and the XSRs over the CB11, most harley’s etc.

    • Stuki Moi says:

      I’m in many ways of the opposite opinion. At least unless “retro” refers to a Windjammer, I prefer my retro looks to go with a focus on retro feedback and sensations at less elevated speeds.

      The new CB strikes about the perfect balance. The SR400 is taking it a bit too far, but mainly because I’m probably twice the weight of the intended target audience. I really enjoyed the somewhat similar (to the SR) W650, that Kawi sold here about a decade ago.

  15. Dave says:

    Looks like it’s going to be a really nice bike. The original bikes had fairly low-profile fuel tanks so that look should be easier to replicate and it also looks like they’ve applied body work around the saddle to the rear fender, which is one of my styling gripes on the XSR900 (lack of..).

    Hopefully they take a que from Yamaha and do this treatment to the Z650, too.

  16. slipjoint says:

    It will come down to getting the cosmetics right. If this is a z900 with a different headlight, instrument cluster, seat and fairings. You get the retro look, under 470 lbs wet, 112 HP and 66 ft lbs at the wheel, modern suspension and brakes, low seat height with a taller seat available at $8800 with abs. It will be a success.

    • Max says:

      You can get any torque at the rear wheel you like by shifting gears.
      The torque you’re thinking of is calculated for the crank based on the power measured at the rear wheel.

      • slipjoint says:

        Yes it is the standard dyno test number for comparisons sake. Torgue and/or speed multiplication of gears, wheels and pulleys goes back at least to Archimedes. I understand the concept.

  17. Ken House says:

    If Kawasaki has been watching Honda flounder through the various ill-conceived rehashes of the CB1000, they will not, repeat not, detune the Z900 motor for the RS. The RS is not a cruiser. It is not a historical recreation. The Z bikes were bad-ass in their day, so Kawi had better not cut the balls off of the RS. I also hope that they don’t use cheap suspension components.

  18. gt08 says:

    Hey, that look like a nice muffler too !

  19. Jonny Blaze says:

    Too late. Already bought the Street Twin.

  20. Tom R says:

    Could those blurred wheel shots suggest…spokes?? And could they have…tubes???

    Oh the humanity!

    Uh wait, I watched again before the 5-minute edit opportunity elapsed. Looks like cast.

  21. North of Missoula says:

    Looks like Kawasaki has paid attention to the widespread criticism directed at Honda. Radial brakes, liquid cooling, modern chassis and suspension, but retro styling. Having said that it will compete more with the XSR900 than the CB1100.

    I’d love to see a retro Wes Cooley GS1000S from Suzuki with the K5/6 GSXR1000 power plant.

  22. redbirds says:

    The “better half” says she must have this bike. Anybody interested in a lovingly cared for 2012 V-strom?

  23. Neal says:

    Kawasaki has always been good at clean and tasteful classic designs and not letting the design interfere too much with capabilities. Vulcans were always my pick of the metric cruisers, I enjoyed my Mean Streak while I had it.

    • steveinsandiego says:

      tell me about it: i loved my 05 1600 vulcan classic. 66K Miles in 6 years, three of those years sharing the garage with an 09 ninja 650

  24. Moto-Kafe says:

    I see a lot of die-hard Kawi Guys adding this 900 to their stable…….right next to their ZRX1100/1200.

    • grumpy8521 says:

      as one of those ZRX1200 guys, you are definitely correct.

      • Paul says:

        I completely agree. As a ZRX 1100 and ZRX 1200 owner, it baffles me as to why Kawasaki never brought in the updated DAEG version of the ZRX available in Japan from 2008-2016, or created a version of the ZRX using a re-tuned version of the 1441 engine from the ZX14R.

        • Dave says:

          Remember, the US motorcycle industry dropped 50% after 08′. That is a devastating figure. Suzuki was so damaged that they publicly announced that they would not develop any new bikes for a couple of years. There was no meaningful business to be done in a niche category from 2008 until now.

          • Jeremy in TX says:

            Except that Kawasaki really went at it during this time period. Ninja 1000, Zx636R, Versys 1000, Z1000, refreshed Versys 650 in 2010, Ninja 300. They used a lot of R&D dollars during this time. The general design theme was perhaps a little too bold maybe to cash in on the opportunity to expand market share like they surely planned (or maybe they succeeded for all I know.) But they were trying. Homologation costs of adapting the DAEG for sale in the US and Canada would have been a proverbial drop in the bucket compared to the other projects they were cooking up.

            I think Kawasaki’s vision was to bring the future of motorcycle design to the masses. Retro didn’t fit with that vision, and I suspect that is the primary reason the ZRx1200 never made a return.

            With the big Z1000 gone and Kawasaki warming up to classic styling elements though, I would not be surprised to see a ZRX replacement IF the Z900RS sells well.

          • Dave says:

            They have been busy, but aside from the Ninja 1000, most of that content is very recent. My point is that 08′ hurt badly enough that the whole industry had to embrace a “new normal”.

  25. mickey says:

    It may have a z900 engine, but it will be detuned and torque enhanced in the mid range. I’m guessing 10-15 hp over a CB1100 which should please some, as well as the single rear shock and up side down forks.

    Kaw should do well with it. Niche bike speaking.

    • xLaYN says:

      I do see this bike as a different category to the CB1100.
      Kaw it’s a water cooled engine and the end result may just be a Z900 with a different tank, fairing\headlamp and cowling a la “””retro””” yami xsr700.
      The CB1100 was built up from the ground to be something, not just a new face lift on something they already had.

      • slipjoint says:

        It may have been built to be something, but it is a big loser as far as sales. If that isn’t important to Honda then they won’t be around much longer.

        • Neil says:

          CB1100: They engineered a vibration into the motor which is not good on American highways. They used heavy duty shocks for a 200 lb person and which are as little as half as good (travel etc) as modern mono shocks. The first version was designed in 2010 for 60 mph Japan only and STILL sold as is to Europe and the U.S.- They didn’t market it at all.

          • Dave says:

            “The first version was designed in 2010 for 60 mph Japan only and STILL sold as is to Europe and the U.S”

            Didn’t they add a 6th gear after the 1st year?

          • mickey says:

            we don’t know how many CB1100’s Honda has sold globally so we don’t know if it has met Hondas sales expectations or not, but we have over 3000 members from 22 countries on the CB1100 forum and about 1/2 doz new owners join every day. I do know the entire allotment of CB1100 DLX’s sold out in 4 months. Sure there are leftovers standards, but there are left overs from EVERY manufacturer in the US, and Harley gave rebates for the first time ever trying to get rid of their excess inventory in the US (ie: there are no longer waiting lines for new Harleys like iin the good ol days). The US is a tough market for motorcycle manufacturers these days. Honda feels it, but so does everyone else.

            The CB is in it’s eighth consecutive year of production with minor changes about every year, but major changes in years 5 (6 speed trans) and 8 (More power, new forks, seamless tank etc). The CB1100 RS in Europe gets even more radical changes. The CB is an important motorcycle for Honda. I don’t expect that they will abandon the platform any time soon.

            The CB1100 was originally made for domestic Japan and therefore limited to 180 kph (112 miles per hour) as are all current models. In fact, ALL motorcycles (besides MV Augusta) are electronically speed limited per manufacturers agreement..even the H2 Kawasaki and Hyabusa and BMW S1000R. Their limits are just higher. I well remember the outcry when FZ-09 owners as they discovered their bikes were electronically hamstrung as well.

        • Stuki Moi says:

          The NR didn’t sell all that well, either. Yet Honda is still around…..

  26. blitz11 says:

    Screen grab shows low profile, high performance rear tire.

    It also shows that he’s wearing “Kawboy boots.”

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