First Ride

Kawasaki Kawasaki Z900 (2019) real-world review | Part one

Visordown heads to Kawasaki Motorcycle's UK HQ to pick up a 2019 Z900 supernaked motorbike; Check out our first impressions here.

Details
Manufacturer:
Kawasaki
Category:
Naked
Price:
£ 8549
Overall
5
Average: 5 (1 vote)
‘Refined Raw’. Simple, easy to ride, great value and plenty of fun

As a kind Kawasaki marketing staff member wheeled out our Z900 press bike, my eyes lit up as one gazed upon it’s funky and aggressive sugomi design [which mimics an animal ready to pounce].

I thought to myself, 'this isn’t the kind of motorcycle a person who has no real interest in bikes purchases'. No, sir. This is a stripped-back naked supersport ready for whatever switchback you can throw at it. Its looks might be a bit cutting edge to some, but to a younger demographic (or young at heart) it will likely suit perfectly. 

At the credit to Kawasaki, the ‘refined raw’ design ethos of the Z series holds true with the Z900. There’s no traction control, no wheelie control, no six-axis IMU, and no engine modes. Just you - some ABS - and the motorcycle. Personally, this reminds me of the good ol’ days when people used to use their instincts to ride, instead of relying on electronics. And I’m by no means a purist, but it’s refreshing that some manufacturers go against the grain of overcomplicating motorcycles.  

What is the Z900 Equipt with? 

For £8,549 you’ll be pleased to know the Z has a fuel gauge within its multifunctional LCD instrument panel, and in general, the dash laid out well. Apart from the compulsory ABS, and special Z tail light, that’s pretty much it in terms of electronics. 

Other features include: 

  • Die-cast cylinders

  • Assist and slipper clutch

  • Low seat 

  • Fully adjustable suspension

Kawasaki says that the Z900 is ‘rider-focused’. If that is the case, then the real star of the show has to be that inline-four motor. 

Engine

The Z900 has a 948cc inline-four liquid-cooled motor, embedded within its H2 inspired steel trellis frame. First impressions of it are very good, as the motor is silky smooth and predictable - perfect for wet autumnal days. It’s got plenty of grunt too, with Kawasaki claiming 125 hp, which is more than enough power for the road.

Although it doesn't have Superduke power (150+ hp), it’s still pretty rapid if you give it a handful of throttle. Other than that, it’s tame, usable and easy going. 

As I pinged down the M25 back to London, at the national speed limit(ish), it became apparent to me how well the rider sits within the bike. 

Ergonomics and handling

At motorway speeds, the aggressive design of the Z900 helps to make you feel part the bike, instead of just holding on and getting buffeted to heck. The handlebars, although wide, are swept back towards the rider, which helps with comfort but also handling - specifically, sporty handling. And the cutouts in the tank leave a nice slot to place your thighs when cruising. This position strikes a good balance between comfort and sportiness.

Handling wise, the Z doesn't tie itself in knots and around a corner performs really well. It's responsive and flickable, without feeling knife-edge - which can be a problem for some supernaked's. 

What’s the point of the Z900? 

The Z9 has direct competition from the Yamaha MT-09 SP (£9,399), and the Triumph Street Triple RS (£10,300), which are both very capable machines. Yes, they’re more pricey, but both have more in terms of electronic aides. So, I think the Z900 is as it says on the tin. ‘Refined Raw’. Simple, easy to ride, great value and plenty of fun - without all the complicated TFT menus and engine maps to faff around with. Just get on, and ride.

What’s up next for the Z900?

Stay tuned for the full review, and some high-speed testing at Bruntingthorpe - maybe with a few wheelies for good measure. 

Kawasaki Z900 Full specs


Engine

Engine type Liquid-cooled, 4-stroke In-Line Four

Displacement 948 cm³

Bore x stroke 73.4 x 56 mm

Compression ratio 11.8:1

Valve system DOHC, 16 valves

Fuel system Fuel injection: Ø 36 mm x 4 with sub-throttle

Starting System Electric

Lubrication Forced lubrication, wet sump

Performance & Transmission

Maximum power 92.2 kW {125 PS} / 9,500 rpm

Fuel consumption 5.5 l/100 km

Power down kit 85 kW Available

CO2 emission 138 g/km

Maximum torque 98.6 N•m {10.1 kgf•m} / 7,700 rpm

Transmission 6-speed

Final drive Sealed chain

Clutch Wet multi-disc, manual

Brakes & Suspension

Brakes, front Dual semi-floating 300 mm petal discs. Caliper: Dual opposed 4-piston

Brakes, rear Single 250 mm petal disc. Caliper: Single-piston

Suspension, front 41 mm inverted fork with stepless rebound damping and spring preload adjustability

Suspension, rear Horizontal Back-link with rebound damping and spring preload adjustability

Frame & Dimensions

Frame type Trellis, high-tensile steel

Trail 103 mm

Wheel travel front 120 mm

Wheel travel rear 140 mm

Tyre, front 120/70ZR17M/C (58W)

Tyre, rear 180/55ZR17M/C (73W)

L x W x H 2,065 x 825 x 1,065 mm

Wheelbase 1,450 mm

Ground clearance 130 mm

Fuel capacity 17 litres

Seat height 795 mm

Curb mass 210 kg

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