NEC show sees Euro premiere of Kawasaki's new W800

Birmingham's the venue for the first public unveiling of the updated 800 bevel-drive twin

2019 Kawasaki W800

WE COVERED the new 2019 W800 a few weeks ago at the Milan show - but the bike itself didn't quite make the flight to Italy. Not that we'd ever miss a flight. Oh no.

Every cloud has a silver lining though - and Milano's loss is Birmingham's gain, as we've never said before. Kawasaki's managed to get the new updated parallel twin retro roadster up the M40, and into the NEC show halls, for the first European unveiling.

It's a bit of a coup for Brum, which doesn't often see new models from non-UK firms. The W800 should make a great addition to the Kawa range - it looks top, has interesting technology in the form of the 'bevel drive' top end, and boasts LED lights and a rear disc brake for the first time.

The bevel drive uses a vertical shaft to operate the overhead camshaft - 'bevel' refers to the shaped gears at each end of this shaft. These turn the drive through 90°, from the horizontal crankshaft drive, up vertically to the cylinder head, then back through 90° again to meet the horizontal camshaft drive gear. It's an expensive, but elegant answer to the cam drive problem which most designs manage with a camchain, or Kevlar belts. Before modern materials and design made camchains and tensioners super-reliable, a bevel shaft drive was an effective, high-quality solution, and was used by Ducati, amongst others.

We'll be riding the W800 as soon as we get the chance. In the meantime, get up to Solihull and check it out in the metal for yourself!