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MD’s 2018 Kawasaki Z900RS Test Bike: What Would Readers Like To Know?

One of the most popular bikes introduced to MD readers recently (with 214 Comments at time of writing) is the Kawasaki Z900RS. It was favorably reviewed by us at the press launch, but we did find a few things to complain about. Most notably, a somewhat snatchy throttle response.

We now have a test unit in the garage for a more thorough evaluation, and we would like feedback from interested readers on the things MD should focus on in our evaluation. Aside from our usual testing and reporting in an MD Ride Review, is there something about this new model you would like to know? Let us know with a comment below.

See more of MD’s great photography:



  1. Justin Martin says:

    Can I put a 70’s style windjammer fairing on it and tour?

  2. Alan says:

    Got one at the dealership (I work for a dealer part time). The bike is very well detailed/painted more like a custom bike or show bike. The added fit and finish quality is apparent – a level above the usual excellent Kawasaki work on its new motorcycles. The seat heigh was NOT high – I am 5-8 @ 200 lb. with a 30 inch trouser inseam – seated on the bike I had one foot flat on the floor and the other foot on the floor with just the heel raised about 3 inches. In other words, I just barely missed flat footing the bike with both feet. The optional lower seat will likely be needed only by very short/light riders i.e. under 5 foot 6 inch and under 150 lb.

    The gas tank looks big and is big because of design and the because the bike appears smaller and is modern. The steering and feel of the bike is like that of a 600 cc bike when you push the bike around – the bike feels like a medium weight bike because the low center of gravity. Handle bars are a close reach in a relaxed upright seating position. The exhaust sound is NOT loud – probably should be louder.

    • mickey says:

      hmmm Scott about 4 posts below this one is 6′ with a 32″ inseam and said he was definitely tip toeing while seated on one. Wonder what the difference is?

      • Alan says:

        Suspension was set for heavy rider vs lighter rider. There is a lot of adjustments that can be made that will affect seat height – I weigh 200 lb. and our bike was set for a sale to a lighter rider.

        Our bike did NOT have the large gap between rear wheel and rear fender that appears in some Kawasaki ad pictures. Same gap size as other Kawasaki 1000 cc bikes and Z’s on floor. Why? Don’t know?

        NOTE: Our bike did NOT have a CENTER STAND [an option]. Some bikes take a while to settle down/compress to correct seat height after being up on a center stand for a time.

  3. Max says:

    Finally got to see one in the flesh. Oddly, I don’t recall the seat height being an issue and my inseam in only 29″.
    Thought the paint was as good as it gets.
    Thought the bike was generally very attractive with two glaring exceptions:
    1. The radiator cap sticks out like a sore thumb while on the bike.
    2. The brackets for the cheapo round reflectors are welded to some rather nice tie downs. Guess you’re stuck with them eyesores too.

  4. Austin ZZR 1200 says:

    Is the fuelling really as snatchy as other reviews have noted? Is the tank really that large and ungainly?

    • Scott says:

      You’ll have to judge for yourself how you think the tank looks when you see one in person, but I went to go look at the Z900RS the other day and I honestly don’t think it’s that big. I’ve certainly seen bigger tanks on naked bikes. The old CB1000 Big One comes to mind, for example.

      I did notice that compared to my XSR900, the RS does seem to be a little bigger in just about every dimension. It’s a little taller, a little longer, and a little wider. I’m 6′ tall with a 32″ inseam, and I was definitely tip-toeing. I didn’t get a chance to ride it, so it may not matter once you get going. But I know seat height is a Really Big Deal to many people around here.

      It seems like a nice bike, but I still would have chosen the XSR over it, because I’ve never been a fan of all that chrome, even 40 years ago when it was standard fare…

      • Allansb says:

        I also saw the RS and the tank didn’t seem that large although the bike does look bigger than my XSR900. I’m surprised by your comments on the seat height as the specs say it is lower than the XSR. Is it because the seat is wider?

        • Scott says:

          VLJ mentioned below that apparently the US model comes with a thicker “comfort” seat, and that the specs shown are for the “regular” seat. So I guess that can be changed out – for a price, of course. But it was definitely taller than our XSR’s…

  5. cw says:

    Tastes great or less filling.

  6. takehikes says:

    Compare it to an original.

  7. VLJ says:

    You can’t spell ‘WSHart’ without ‘shart.’

    Sometimes everything aligns just right in the cosmos.

  8. Grover says:

    For people asking about the pillion comfort, this is a highly subjective matter. My wife couldn’t stand the large, flat, cushy seat on my Bandit 1200S so if you asked her you she would say it was awful. Another passenger might tell you they thought it was great! You really have to take a test ride with the passenger and then you’ll have your answer. No one else can answer that question for you, not even Motorcycledaily test riders can answer that question for you.

    • mickey says:

      well honestly, except for things that can be statistically measured like horsepower, torque, wheelbase length, weight etc everything is highly subjective. Rider seat comfort, ergos, handling, fit and finish, power delivery, braking, exhaust sound are all subject to the reviewers opinion

    • Austin ZZR 1200 says:

      lets not give them an excuse not to test it, ok?

  9. Justyn says:

    The one thing I wish reviews included is the number of hours a major service with valve check a dealership would charge the owner.

  10. 70's Kid says:

    What does the seat height measure out at on the Z900RS that you have on hand?

  11. Mark Pearson says:

    -Is it fun at a track day or does the windblast beat you up?
    -Will the stock suspension come close to handling a 200-pounder looking to have a little fun?
    -Have any aftermarket suppliers committed to the platform?
    -Is there a lower-spec or lower-cc version in the works?

    I finally got to see one at a dealer and am really impressed. Much more so than the CB1100 and XRS platforms. I’m hoping these take off and Suzuki jumps in with a retro GS.

    • 70's Kid says:

      I’d be comparing Honda’s new CB1000R with the RS and the XRS. The CB1100 is more for the old-school air-cooled purists.

  12. 70's Kid says:

    I’d really like to see the Z900RS, the XSR900 and the new CB1000R compared at some point!

  13. azi says:

    Headlight effectiveness at night

  14. Mark says:

    Compare to the 2017 Z 900. Handling and power and braking.

  15. jimmihaffa says:

    Can you compare riding dynamics of the RS and Cafe version, particularly at highway speed and after a day’s worth of riding?

  16. WSHart says:

    Real world (obeying the speed limits) mpg and fuel range. This is important to me and other adults here.

    Service intervals and costs at local dealership. How many miles between valve checks/adjusts. Just because they didn’t need adjusting doesn’t mean you don’t have to pay to have them checked. Oil and filter change requirements along with air filter change intervals.

    Cost to replace tires with OEM and/or “upgraded” tires. An estimation of how long the OEM tires would last, please.

    I can get insurance costs and per my carrier this is something many motorcyclists (especially younger ones) don’t think about. If you’re a responsible rider and don’t play the idiot on public roads, your insurance can be less but even so insurance companies take into account how all of us ride. The world ain’t our personal raceway and we unfortunately pay for the idiocy of others.

    What I DON”T give an intercourse for is how well it “wheelies” or “splits lanes” and it’s top speed. I ride on the streets and highways and realize that in the Land O’ Fruits & Nuts, lane splitting is legal but 99% of those I see doing it every day are irresponsible buttwipes and will sooner or later get themselves (and other innocent folks) killed because they think being stupid is now “legal”. I suspect it will perform more than adequately for any and all that care to buy this fine looking ride.

    What, if any, accessories from Kawasaki will be available? I recall the amount of goodies for Honda’s Goldwing and Goldwing Interstae, CB900 and CB750, Nighthawks and more that were readily available in the early 80s from Honda. There were also aftermarket companies galore back then making stuff for nearly every make and model. Those days are long gone, but hopefully Kawasaki will see fit to offer a few useful items and if the bike proves popular (and it should) the aftermarket will follow and then lead the way.

    Great bike, Dirck. I look forward to reading more about it not only from you but the comments of your readers as posted here.

    • falcodoug says:

      Why all the hate?

      • Lawrence Kahn says:

        I was wondering too. Says he’s one of them “adults”. Guess ya get kinda grouchy when you’re old.

      • joe b says:

        You wouldn’t understand, if I tried to explain it.

      • WSHart says:

        It’s not hate, it’s the real world. I’ve seen my fellow riders fly trough traffic at ridiculous speeds, even when traffic is moving at the limit. I’ve seen them flip people off that don’t “get out of their way”. I’ve listened to them rev their motors like it’s some sort of signal that “people NEED to move or else”.

        I’ve also seen a more than a few of them hit people and go down. Idiots. So then, saving your precious time is more important than saving your life or that of others? Sounds self-centered buttwipish to me, little ones.

        So then, Dirck is incapable of actually obeying the law, i.e., doing the speed limit for any amount of time necessary to get the numbers needed to know what the bike is capable of mpg-wise? I seriously doubt that but if you think that then you’re simply not “thinking”. Bunch of “feelers”. Sniveling SNAGS. Pusillanimous typists who’s balls have yet to descend anywhere outside the interwebs.

        Lawrence, you, Scott, Gary and several others here are children. Go to your rooms and fap away to your moto-porn. How clever you must think your “responses” are. Should you, in your priapic way, run into someone on the public roads let’s all hope it’s your mother or father you ram into. At least they can put your sorry whiney baby ass in time-out.

        I ain’t here to change the diaper that is your mind kiddies. You might have to think about that one, typists. The real world isn’t the Matrix of your feeble minds. Because when you hit another vehicle or fall in traffic in the real world, you might just get run over. You know, killed. Dead. Or worse. And if that happens you’ve just saved yourself a lifetime of, well…time.

        Yours is what we adults call an imitation of life. Pretenders.

        • AngryArse says:

          Wow, do give us your pearls of wisdom, cranky one. I, and others here, will endure your self-pontification and pretentious hyperbole. Ya read books do ya? You older than dust? You been riding a long time and you’re still alive? Wow… I genuflect in your general direction, oh wise and wrinkled crustacean. You’ve got it all figured out for us mere mortals… THE SAGE HAS ENLIGHTENED THE MASSES.

          Well thanks for the advice. I’ve been riding since the early seventies (I’m 62), owned many motorcycles, including a Hayabusa (god forbid) and I split lanes when I lived in California for almost 2 decades (don’t have a coronary there, adult) and have been well over the posted speed limit a time or two. I have been riding in the early decades when you wouldn’t see another biker for hundreds of miles. When cage drivers got away with telling the police, “I didn’t see him”, when manufacturers used nylon bearings in their swingarm pivots! I’m sure many readers here have similar bios. So save your self adulation and mockery for someplace else. Your mirror?

          I don’t know what your physical age is but your mental age suggests you either need to not ride anymore (think of your blood pressure) or get some anger management therapy. “The diaper that is your mind…” so deep, so deep. Troll.

        • Dave says:

          Re: “Yours is what we adults call an imitation of life. Pretenders.”

          Wow. You must be really fun at parties. I’ll take my “imitation of life” over your real life, 7 days a week.

        • Larry Kahn says:

          There are many people who consider themselves “adults” that consider any involvement with motorcycles to be childish. And you want one with 100 HP and you’ll spend over $13K to buy it! Now excuse me, I’m going to go practice my wheelies.

        • Mark says:

          Wow, I bet you are a blast to hang out with.
          ive been riding for 40 years, I like to haul arse and take chances. I ski expert terrain, ride dirt and mountain bikesat high speeds, and if I die, I’ll die On my own Terms.

          I think You wShart stand more of a chance of dying from bitterness than a motorcycle incident.

          I think you stand just as much chance of getting killed by a cage when you ride the speed limit in traffic

    • Scott says:

      I hope I don’t turn out like wShart when I grow up…

    • Gary says:

      Wow. Just, wow.


      A lane splitting buttwipe

    • VLJ says:

      The valve-adjustment interval is 15K.

      There is no way for Dirck to know the mpg at obey-the-speed-limits speeds, for two obvious reasons. One, there is no way Dirck or any other motojournalist in possession of a Z900RS is going to ride at or below the speed limit 100% of the time, or anywhere close to 100% of the time.

      What, do you think Dirck never exceeds 55 mph on SoCal’s finest backroads? You think he never exceeds the posted speed limit on the 405 and I-5 freeways, or on city streets with posted limits of 25 mph? Do you think anyone obeys those speed limits, including most cagers?

      You can’t test a Z900RS while sticking to the speed limit. One can barely give a decent-sized scooter a proper evaluation at those speeds.

      Also, what sort of roads do you want to use for your obey-the-speed-limit testing? Steady-state cruising on the freeway will net a different mpg figure than stop-and-go city riding, even if both are kept within posted speed limits.

      As for the cost/frequency of replacement tires, there is no one correct answer to that question, either. Which tire you choose and how you ride will have an enormous effect on those two answers. The Z900RS comes standard with 120/70/17-180/55/17 wheels, which means a customer has almost literally every decent tire in the world available as a replacement option. A Michelin Pilot Road 4 is going to cost a lot more and last a lot longer than, say, a Dunlop Q3 or budget Bridgestone sport tire.

      Along those same lines, a touring rider who opts for touring rubber, high tire pressures, and sedate riding will obviously experience much longer tire-life than the guy who opts for sportier rubber, low tire pressures, and a daily routine of canyon racing, track days, and dragstrip burnouts.

      It sounds like you just want to criticize the ride review, as opposed to wanting any real info. As an experienced motorcyclist, you already know better than to ask a tester how much will replacement tires cost, and how soon will you require them?

      What a strange way to troll, and what an odd site to troll. Dirck runs a great place here. He does his damnedest to produce timely, informative reports, yet all you ever want to do is ask angry, inane questions, the answers to which you you already know. And when you’re not trolling with these types of transparent “questions” posts, you’re ripping everything in sight for whatever imagined slight you’re campaigning against that day.

      Do yourself a favor and take one of your imperfect bikes and go have yourself a perfectly nice ride, and try not to Road Rage too much while you’re out there, k?

      • mickey says:

        Rider Magazine came in last night with their test of the new 900RS. On their Jett Dyno it turned 95.5 hp @ 8700 rpms and 62.4 torque @6900.Low mileage they got was 28.5 high was 45 and average 36. Estimated range listed is 162 miles. Indicate rpm @ 60 mph is 3,750

    • Jabe says:

      I’m 54 years old. I have a clean driving record. And I DO want to know how well it wheelies and its top speed, amongst other performance evauluations.

    • 70's Kid says:

      Doesn’t anyone work on their own motorcycles any more?

    • paquo says:

      “Land O’ Fruits & Nuts” who you callin fruit

    • Mark says:

      Hey kid, get off my lawn!

      I doubt you will get Dirck to supply you with gas mileage from speed limit riding, because, well, who besides you sticks to that rule for a whole tank. (but I could be wrong)

      Tire wear as well won’t be coming to you because, well, see above. This 60 year old rider (likely you would call me a buttwipe but not to my face) goes through tires at a furious rate! I love showing the young guys how to ride. I ride like an angel in town and demon on the good roads.

      Replacement tire costs, google it. Dirck ain’t your momma.

    • Francois says:

      @WSHart: Although I agree with some what you say about responsibility, you at just too much. Lane splitting is much safer than riding behind cars or in the lane. You can see better ahead, have more time for getting out of the way or “escape” from a problem. You are most likely to have a back injury when hit from behind or sandwiched between two cars. Yeah, some would say “what happens if some cager opens the door while I am lane splitting?” In my 30 plus years of lane splitting I have not seen that once. Yes, it is irresponsible to go faster than maybe 20% or so than the cars because you won’t have time to “escape” if somebody changes lanes in front of you – and it does not happen all that often anyway. Yes, I had an accident like that and broke my back (compression fracture), but it learned me to be more responsible – I still ride at 57 and lane split. So please get of your high horse and be a bit more objective.

  17. Marc says:

    I am one of the “old men”, and have owned over 100 bikes, one of which was the Honda 2014 CB1100. I tried to like the bike, changed rear shocks, replaced front fork springs, but could not get it to handle to my satisfaction. The guy who bought it from me thought it was great, so who knows?😀
    I own the root beer edition of the 900rs, and yes, the throttle is very sensitive in low gears, so I shift up one extra gear to eliminate that problem. The tank is wide, making it feel like a big bike, but it goes into corners like a smaller bike. Below 6000 rpm the bike is perhaps the smoothest inline 4 I have ever ridden. Unlike most big inline 4s this bike does not have to be revved up to make it move, it will cruise 2000 rpm (of course that would be a bit boring)😀
    I haven’t adjusted the suspension yet but it is a bit soft for a 200 pounder like me. Plenty of room for a passenger, wife gave it the thumbs up, though she will continue to go long distance on our Harley Tri Glide.
    Engine, believe it or not, has same sort of power range as my Yamaha XRS 900 triple.
    Doesn’t get as much notice as my Street Twin, but who cares😊 Handles better than my XSR 900

  18. Paul says:

    Dirck: You’ve ridden and written about many Kawasaki “naked” bikes dating back to 2001. I’ve re-read your tests on the ZRX 1200R (2001), Z1000 (2014), Z900 (2016), and now the Z900RS. How do they compare to you, and which is your favorite of the 4 bikes?

  19. Rocky V says:

    How does it stack up to my Zrx 1200 –i ride mostly 2 up

  20. Allansb says:

    I saw the bike at our recent motorcycle show and it is beautiful. My questions would be pretty much the same as Max:
    How is the legroom for the passenger?
    Will there be an accessory passenger backrest?
    Will there be an accessory windscreen?
    At what rpm ranges does the engine get buzzy? Is it finger numbing?
    How effective is the rear brake?
    Does the swingarm have threaded bosses for jack stand bobbins?

    But most importantly, how would it compare to my Yamaha XSR900?

    • Motoman says:

      Threaded bosses are there on the swingarm. Thanks to Motorcycle Daily you can blow up the image enough to see them.

      • Motoman says:

        Funny thing, too. The swingarm looks like it came off the 2003 ZX6 I owned (probably a few other Kawis as well)

  21. CrazyJoe says:

    I don’t want to cause any trouble here but as much as I like this bike but wouldnt it look better with 18 inch wheels? I prefer the choices given with 17 inch wheels but they kind of make todsys standard bikes a little odd. The rear fender height doesn’t help. Otherwise it looks like a winner.

    • redbirds says:

      I agree that the 18″ wheels would look more authentic but buying suitable replacement tires in 18″ is a royal pain. I know owning a CB1100. I’m on my second set of Michelin Pilot 3’s and there are not many other choices. Kawasaki was wise to fit the 17″.

  22. Gham says:

    How big a pain is it to dial in the suspension (solo,2-up,with soft bags)Does it beat you to death at hwy speeds….the usual stuff

  23. bmbktmracer says:

    1. Service interval and cost
    2. Hooks for soft luggage
    3. Vibration

    • VLJ says:

      1. 15k valve-adjustment interval, and no one has had one long enough yet to do such a service and incur the cost. It should be a bit less costly than the same service for a Z900, however, since there is no bodywork to remove.

      2. Plenty of bungee hook mounting points, including two extras that you can’t see in most pictures.

      3. Supposedly even less than the Z900, which is already one of the least vibey I-4s ever produced.

  24. Max says:

    How is the legroom for the passenger?
    Will there be an accessory passenger backrest?
    Will there be an accessory windscreen?
    At what rpm ranges does the engine get buzzy? Is it finger numbing?
    How effective is the rear brake?
    Does the swingarm have threaded bosses for jack stand bobbins?

  25. Jay says:

    Just checked out the Z900RS at the local dealership at lunchtime today – Fantastic fit and finish and styling and loved the brown/orange combo compared to the black version.

    I own a 2013 CB1100 which I love after the suspension set up and wanted to check out the Z900RS as a future purchase.

    However personally the tank felt like it was too bulky and much more bulbous / rounded than the original or maybe its just my observation – the stance and seat height is definitely more taller than the CB1100 but definitely lighter than the CB even if the floor model may not have all the fluids. Clutch pull felt lighter than the CB which is on the lighter side itself. The overall look is more softer than the brutish look of the ZRX which I used to own.

    Very happy Kawasaki has a modern retro/standard bike in the line up and I plan to demo ride the z900RS in Spring when the big green truck comes to town.

  26. edbob says:

    My personal daily rider is the Versys 1000, stripped down of unnecessary weight like in your own test long ago (no centerstand, full exhaust, lithium battery, etc). It’s the most enjoyable all around bike I’ve ever had. Besides wind protection and weight, how different would I find the overall fun factor/ enjoyability of this bike. I mean, the seating position is similar, less weight, but probably a bit less power. Would I leave the Versys behind for this bike? (my longest ride is 1.5 hours)

  27. Coops says:

    My Z900RS is one of the best bikes I have owned (60+ bikes). It has a solid level of technology, is fantastic through the corners, brakes are superb and has enough torque to make any ride very enjoyable. The throttle is twitchy but within a couple of rides you don’t notice it. The neutral riding position is very comfortable and I am yet to experience having a pillion passenger.

    If you are waiting for the perfect bike, it will never come. It’s easy to be an armchair critic so get out of your seat, get yourself a bike, make it work for you and enjoy it. That’s what we do in Australia anyway.

    • Hot Dog says:

      Most wussy Americans don’t ride, they just pose and whine from their keyboard. Hey, look at me, can you see me now?

    • Bubba Blue says:

      60 bikes! None of them made you happy.

      • mickey says:

        Marc up above says he’s had over 100. Even if you’ve been riding 50 years that’s 2 a year. How does one go thru that many bikes? Trade them when they need new tires?

        • falcodoug says:

          Thinking the same thing

          • Lawrence Kahn says:

            I’m 62, first mini-bike at 13 in 1968, and that was 70 mc’s ago. They all made me happy, some of us are just not the motogamous type. Too many great bikes of all types to miss. Never been married either but have owned my Norton 850 Commando since new. That says something..

        • Jason says:

          Some people collect bikes and own dozens at a time.

      • Scott says:

        Maybe they all made him happy, and he keeps buying them because he loves motorcycles and wants to ride them all.

        As opposed to some who post here, who can find fault with every motorcycle you show them, and never seem to buy one…

  28. WesC says:

    Wondering how it compares to my old ZRX in terms of power (mine sported full exhaust, pods, jetting and ZX11 Cams). I would think it would be similar with a bit less torque, but then again it shouldn’t be as heavy. Does it have that Kawi 7500RPM hit? I kind of like that. If it’s too refined (read Hondaish), I don’t think it will do as well. I like my Kawi’s kind of edgy and a little untamed. That’s what makes them fun.

  29. motowarrior says:

    Who do we thank at Kawasaki for producing this bike and pricing it reasonably?

  30. JohnC says:

    Can I get it with a drive shaft so I don’t have to oil the chain and de-grease the back wheel any more?

    • Chains haven’t been a messy, inconvenient problem for years and years. O-ring chains need just about no attention and little additional lubrication. Every now and then they can be sprayed with one of the wax/dry type of chain lubricants which leave no sticky residue and which cause no fling-off. Personally I use a $5 can of the store-brand stuff from Cycle Gear. My 2003 Suzuki has a rear wheel that is completely clean. Best of all, I don’t have any rear wheel jacking, stiff rear suspension, or extra weight to haul around from having a shaft drive.

      • mickey says:

        then you should see the rear wheel of my CB1100. Additionally MY ST 1300 is now at 104,000 miles and has used 5.2 oz of oil every year. That’s it. I never even know the shaft is back there. At 36,000 miles I just had to buy new chain and sprocket set plus cush drive rubbers for the CB for around $400. Will have to again at approx 70,000 and again at 105,000. So at the same mileage the CB will have used $1200 worth of drive gear while the ST has used about $15 worth of oil.

        Admittedly, the new chains are amazing, but if you roll up a lot of miles, in all kinds of weather, they are hardly maintenance free, or clean.

        • Hot Dog says:

          I did Mickey, and I didn’t like them. I have gone back to the dark side. I want a shaft drive and DCT….!

          • VLJ says:

            “I did Mickey”

            TMI, dude! TMI!

            “And I didn’t like them.”

            No doubt. Can you imagine…multiple mickeys? The horrah!

            “I have gone back to the dark side.”

            Well…yeah. Sure sounds like it.

            “I want a shaft drive.”

            Yep, I’m outta here. Too freaky for me.

        • mickey says:

          Btw this RS is not the bike for shaft drive, being a sporty standard, but the regular 900 sport tourer would have been a good candidate for it IMO.

        • slipjoint says:

          You only really a product to protect for corrosion. See what others are doing, I get >20k out of every set of chains and sprockets without a mess on a 130 rwhp bike. Every third rear tire I change them with the tire along with wheel and cush drive bearing inspections, by that time I’m ready to try a different final drive ratio anyway.

      • Tom R says:

        Ah yes, the quaint musings a Chain Drive Apologist.

        • Regan says:

          There is no reason to apologize about a roller chain. It’s lighter and delivers more power to the ground than shaftdriven. Is spaying and replacing a chain/sprockets really that much of a bother?

    • Francois says:

      Although I own a shaft (my first) at the moment, I will not cringe at going back to chain. Nothing wrong with chains, except for replacement chain and sprockets every 2 years or so. O-ring is good, X-ring is better.

  31. kevin says:

    Would love to see a comparo against an original Z900 just to show how far the sport has come in 40+ years. We really are spoiled with fabulous bikes these days. Truly, few bads ones in the bunch. Otherwise, your normal review should more than suffice!

  32. Rick says:

    Dirk, If the prime complaint is a snatchy throttle, is there a practical cure? Does it smooth out with mile like my GSX-S1000f Suzuki did? And nobody wants original Z1 handling–its claim to fame was it was better than the early 500 and 750 triples!

    • redbirds says:

      I think it is likely akin to the snatchy throttle on the Triumph Tiger 1050 I had, got adapted to it after a week or two and never thought about again.

  33. mechanicus says:

    Dirck, delete – double post

  34. Ken House says:

    Please do a comparo with the Z900, the Honda CB1000R, and the FZ-09.


    • VLJ says:

      If you’re talking the 2018 CB1000R, that will not be a fair fight. The new Honda is going to be so much more powerful than the others you mentioned, with vastly superior suspension.

      Different categories, really. This Z900RS would rightly be pitted against the XSR900 and R-Nine-T.

      • Regan says:

        What is your projection’s of the Cb1000’s abilities based on. Have there been any concrete releases by Honda.

        • VLJ says:

          Honda has already released the full specs…

          143 BHP, so figure 130 rwhp. Higher-spec Showa SFBPF suspension. Slightly less weight than the Z900RS.

          • Curly says:

            For rear wheel HP figure about 85% of the crank rating. So that would be more like 121-122hp.

          • VLJ says:

            That’s not a hard-fast rule. There are countless examples of bikes that produce rwhp numbers that are much closer to the claimed crank number than the 85% rule would dictate.

      • Tom R says:

        Being more powerful doesn’t necessarily make it better.

        • VLJ says:

          No, but it does it make it faster and, typically, more fun, which are the advantages the Z900RS will have over the CB1100.

          • Scott says:

            What? You buy motorcycles because they’re FUN?

            What about fuel mileage, and low maintenance costs, and “mature” styling? Get your priorities in order, man…

          • VLJ says:

            Yeah, I’m kind of an idiot that way.


  35. Lawrence Kahn says:

    Fuel tank range in normal all-around riding? (town/hiway/twisties combined)

  36. Kyle Laroche says:

    I ride a 70s vintage bike and this throwback look calls to me. What no one talks about is the experience of the bike in relation to its inspiration. I know few people still ride old bikes, but those that do I feel as though are interested in it because of its styling mixed with modern technology. Also, when can we get a four into four exhaust system?

  37. KEB says:

    Seems like Kawasaki got right what Honda missed. The fuel tank. If Honda had captured the look of the original CB tank it may have been a better seller. Kawasaki nailed the tank but the rest of the bike is decidedly modern.

    • VLJ says:

      Check out the RS tank in person. It’s not like the original Z1 tank. Where it meets the seat it’s surprisingly bulbous, splaying your knees out quite a bit, and even wider at the front of the tank.

      It’s like a smaller version of the tank on the Triumph Rocket III.

      • mickey says:

        I’ve seen at least 10 reports on this bike now (newest one just came in Rider mag yesterday) and no one ever shows a pic of the tank from behind, it’s always from the side.

  38. Chris says:

    Would you pick this over a BMW R Nine T?

  39. Vrooom says:

    What’s it like on a long day of riding. Does the windblast get exhausting after 400 miles? Is the suspension adequate for a 210 lb. rider without riding gear and some luggage? Does it make my butt look big?

    • Norm G. says:

      Q: Is the suspension adequate for a 210 lb. rider without riding gear and some luggage?

      A: no.

      Q: Does it make my butt look big?

      A: yes.

  40. This past summer I sold my 2011 Ninja 1000 that I rode and loved. One thing I really did not like about it though was the lack of an available center stand. The Z900RS appears to have the same problem with cat location. Will a center stand be an option? Next for me are vibrations, again based on my Ninja experience. What are the hand and foot vibrations like? At what speed/revs are they most noticeable? Gas milage? This will likely be similar to the Z900 but I’m interested to see if the state of “retune” impacts this.

    • Lawrence Kahn says:

      Read elsewhere that a centerstand is a $400.00 (USD) option. Presume it’s made of gold…

    • kawatwo says:

      I didn’t see a centerstand when looking at the initial pictures on the website but do see a passenger grab bar. I HOPE they have a factory center stand option. Then this bike might be very desirable all arounder. These aren’t track bikes, I wish more bikes would come with center stands as they make living with the bike SO much easier.

  41. PN says:

    What does it feel like to ride it? Did you ever ride the original 1973 Z1 to compare them?

    • Lawrence Kahn says:

      1972 vs 2018. Would be like comparing 1965 Mustang vs 2018, Mini Coopers, Challengers, etc. Not remakes, just style influences. Fergedaboutit.

    • Don says:

      Bigger question: Would you want it to feel like the 1973?

      I’d imagine this bike feels more capable in every way.

  42. Alaskan18724 says:

    Concur with VLJ–Interested in the fueling issue identified early on. Could just have been a developmental glitch or a one-off.

    I’m also very interested in how it racks and stacks against the CB1100EX.


    • VLJ says:

      “I’m also very interested in how it racks and stacks against the CB1100EX.”

      That one’s easy. The Z900RS is lighter, faster, better handling, better braking, cheaper, smoother, and has a louder exhaust. It’s much sportier. The CB1100EX is the far more “authentic” retro in that it truly is air cooled, with no fake fins, and it uses dual shocks instead of a monoshock. The CB is detailed much better and is simply far more beautiful, but it’s slower, softer, and more of an old man’s bike.

      Very different purposes, these two bikes.

      • jimjim says:

        Waiting for old man Mickey to respond. 🙂

      • Blitz11 says:

        How old do you have to be to be considered an “old man?” I like both of the bikes, but likely have to choose only one.

        • mickey says:

          well on the CB forum our largest group of owners is 56-65 followed by 46-55, but nearly 10% of owners are 66+, the oldest being 80. These 3 groups make up 70% of owners.

          Riders under 45 only make up 30% of owners.

          I think the largest group of Kaw 900RS owners will be 45-55

          • Blitz11 says:

            I’d be right in the middle of the largest group. Hmmm. I do like the Honda, too. Tough decision. My daughter just landed a summer job, so she’s taking the duke for the summer. might be time!

          • mickey says:

            Blitz if you are an “aggressive” rider, go for the Kaw. If not so aggressive, go for the Honda. Test ride both if you can.

      • VLJ says:

        I should also add that the Z900RS is significantly wider than the CB1100EX between the knees (ginormously wide gas tank), and massively taller from the saddle. I flat-foot the CB. I barely tippy-toe the 900RS, which is even taller than the very tall XSR900.

      • Regan says:

        Yes the 900rs doesn’t truly look authentic next to the Z1 but it wasn’t meant to ,
        While the Honda is more authentic its CB1100 tank shape is wrong and its motor wasn’t a dual overhead cam type to match the era Honda was shooting for. Also the CB1100’s of 2013-2014 still have significant leftovers with some being sold for less than $7000 it can hardly be called beautiful to the majority of motorcyclists. But honestly the Honda is really kind of stoogey looking compared to the 900RS’s rugged good looks.
        Agreed very different purpose these two motorcycles .

        • VLJ says:

          The CB wasn’t designed to look like any one CB from the past. Rather, it’s an homage to the CB family of air-cooled Fours, many of which did have dual overhead cams.

          Does it look exactly like any of those old CBs? Nope. Does it capture that look a helluva lot better than this new Z900RS captures the look of the old Z1 and its ilk? Absolutely. The CB’s proportions are so much better, as are the aesthetics of the hard parts.

          With the Z900RS’s bizarre gap beneath the seat, and a monoshock, a radiator hanging artlessly from the front of the bike, the clutch cable looped so conspicuously over the right side of the motor, and that insanely bulbous gas tank, this new bike resembles the old one only insofar as the dual clocks, lights, and color scheme goes. No old codger with half a clue is going to come up to the RS owner at a gas station and ask, “Nice restoration. What year is it?” or say, “Nice old bike.”

          With the CB, this is certain to occur.

  43. Tom Shields says:

    How’s the engine sound? The original Z1s were intoxicating.

  44. VLJ says:

    Was the snatchy on-off fueling issue described in most of the first ride reviews merely a problem with the pre-production press-launch units, or did it carry over to the production models?

    A lot of new owners are reporting no such issues with their bikes. This could simply be a case of new owners still in the ether stage, justifying their purchase and/or overlooking the issue, or perhaps the problem was sorted by the time the bike hit the dealerships.

    Also, please confirm that Kawi’s claimed seat height of 31.5″ is incorrect for the U.S. model, which is actually 32.7″ or 32.9″ (I don’t recall which), since the U.S. model receives the much thicker high seat as standard, while the optional low seat is standard in a few other markets and is, in fact, the seat used to achieve that 31.5″ claimed height.

  45. Don E. says:

    Why is it so tall in the back? Looking at the air space between the fender and tire it could be dropped 4 to 5 inches.

    • Dave says:

      This is a sport bike and it has less bodywork/seat volume and a smaller wheel than the old versions did. These things, and the lack of a pair of shocks, result in the appearance of lots of space there.

      Lowering the seat would essentially turn this bike’s riding position into something more cruiser-like, like the Honda CB1100’s, which it wasn’t intended to be.

      VLJ posts above that there is a thinner/lower seat available that might address the high seat height for those who need it lower.

    • Tom R says:

      Suspension travel?

  46. Blitz11 says:

    How does it fit a 6’4″ rider with a 38″ inseam?

    Will I be happy / less unhappy if i give my duke 690 to my daughter and replace it with this?

  47. Austin ZZR 1200 says:

    Whats it like for a pillion rider (this is the most critical buy factor)? Also, can the fueling be fixed?

  48. RichBinAZ says:

    Is there a centerstand option or does the catbox get in the way?
    That chain looks bowstring tight – is it?
    How accessible are the spark plugs (& what is the recommended change interval)
    How maintainable is the bike? Specially with regard to oil changes, tire changes, air filters, brake pads etc…

  49. Dave says:

    Will this motorcycle help me to meet girls?

    Just test it and we’ll know all we need. MD always does a really good job of writing reviews that relate to the actual user of the bike. I’m sure this will be the same.

  50. Carlos says:

    How is the 2-up riding experience from the pillion’s perspective?

    • Random says:

      This. Also, the small things that pop up when you live with it, since the riding was thoroughly reviewed. Are there helmet locks? Places to strap things? Fuel consumption? Maintenance intervals and how difficult it is to do basic maintenance (oil, filters if possible, tire pressure, any non LED lights)? How hard it is to push around? Last but not least important, looks of girls who like it.

      • Motoman says:

        comment on the effort to check tire pressure… really?

        • mickey says:

          sure it’s a real pain in the rump on some bikes. 83 degree valve stems usually cures the problem. I’ve done it to all my bikes

          If you are supposed to do it before every ride, they should make it easy to do.

          • Motoman says:

            Just think it is pretty self evident given it is a sporting motorcycle with 17 inch wheels and triple disk brakes and limited bodywork. And I am a fanatic about tire pressure.

          • Random says:

            In some bikes (like my CB 650 F) it is possible to get an air hose to go between the hub and the ABS wheel sensor thingies, but all wheel pics of this bike don’t clear if this is possible with that front drum brake mimicking setup. It’s usually hard, yes, but on this particular model seems to be even worse, hence the question. Not a particular tire pressure fanatic 😛 but concerned about a task you have to do every 1-2 weeks for the whole ownership period. It’s the small things 😂

        • VLJ says:

          Believe it or not, the ability to check the tire pressure on the 900RS is a valid concern. The placement of the valve stem within the spokes makes it impossible to use a traditional pencil-shaped pressure gauge, at least not without bending the stem. This bike desperately needs right-angle stems.

  51. Norm G. says:

    Q: is the horizontal rear shock activated through a linkage…? or is it just straight action job (link free) like on many a KTM dirt bike…? the previous review called it “horizontal back-link” not even sure what that means in Kawi-speak.

  52. Robert Shearon says:

    I like to travel on my bike. Wondering how this bike would feel at the end of a 400-500 mile day and if there are aftermarket (or factory) windscreens, passenger backrests, and saddlebags. I tour on a V Star 650 Classic now, and 400 miles is about as far as I can go on it, and that is a bit of stretch, compared to 600 miles on my old Voyager XII.

  53. Tom S. says:

    One of my favorite things about the original 900cc Z1 (I had a ’74 model) was the intoxicating engine sound. Particularly when fitted with a 4-1 Kerker pipe.

    Granted that the old engine and this new one have not much in common, what is your subjective opinion about the engine sound on the Z900RS?

  54. gt08 says:

    First, is it fun to ride ?
    Second, if it fun, how long will it be, forever to ride or fun will fade after couple of month.
    Third, can you find and old ZRX1200 and compare together.
    Thank you !

  55. Jodyz says:

    Is it really this ugly in person?

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