Kawasaki New Zealand has confirmed the company’s homage to the legendary Z1, the Z900RS, will be heading to our roads early in 2018.
It’s caused plenty of discussion in the BRM office since the first teaser videos dropped, and now we finally know the details of Kawasaki’s upcoming modern retro machine, the Z900RS which was unveiled at the Tokyo Motor Show.
Based upon the 2017 Z900, the RS takes the inline-four heart of the Z900, but completely redesigns the bike around it to capture the spirit of the Zeds of old – particularly the Z1 – and we think we see some hints of Zephyr in there as well.
Kawasaki have tweaked the power delivery of the 948cc inline-four, with a shorter-duration cam profile and a lower compression ratio, which now sits at 10.8:1 versus the 11.8:1 of the Z900.
While to some it might sound like Kawasaki have gutted the engine of its spirit, it still puts out a very respectable 110hp at 8,500rpm, with 98Nm of torque available from 6500rpm. The tune produces more low to mid-range performance than the higher strung Z900, which should mean the RS is an easier to live with machine.
Styling wise, Kawasaki have hit the nail on the head, with the office consensus being that the Z900RS is hands down one of the best looking bikes to come out of Japan in a long while. The one-piece seat steps up to a swooping pillion section, while the rear guard perfectly evokes memories of the Zephyr with its ‘duck bill’ styling.
While for a Zed we’d normally expect the quad exhausts that seem to go hand in hand with the nameplate, Kawasaki have instead opted for the company’s first tuned exhaust note. As motorcyclists we’re no strangers to tuning the sound of a bike’s exhaust – Harley-Davidson has been doing it for years – and Kawasaki have crafted the note of the solo pipe to sound ‘just right’. After conducting sound research, Kawasaki say they’ve found the ideal exhaust note for the Z900RS, with tuning focused on the engine’s inital roar to life, idling, and low-speed riding where the rider has the best opportunity to enjoy the exhaust note.
Lighting is provided by LEDs, with the headlight blending the circular style of classic bikes with the functionality we’ve come to expect from modern headlight units.
While cornering prowess isn’t something you can expect from a true classic, Kawasaki have opted to ensure the Z900RS handles as well as it looks. Up front are 41mm USD forks with adjustable preload, 10-way compression and 12-way rebound damping. At the rear is the same horizontal back-link monoshock as found on the 2017 Z900 – a big step up from the twin shocks of the Z1.
Braking is taken care of via dual discs and 4-piston calipers up front and a single disc and caliper setup out back. ABS is, as expected these days, a standard option. The Z900RS is also specced with KTRC, ensuring stability no matter the situation.
The bike won’t arrive until the new year with Kawasaki NZ expecting an early 2018 arrival. Pricing is yet to be confirmed but it is expected to be under the $20,000 mark, with a slight premium over the current Z900.