Praga ZS800 Review: Does A £90,000 Hardtail Retro Make Any Sense? 

This handbuilt, W800-based retro roadster may cost £77k, but with just 28 being built, it’s an exquisite, exclusive machine from the team behind the Praga hypercar

Praga ZS800 - side
Praga ZS800 - side
Engine Capacity

You may not have heard of Praga, but the historic Czech brand has burst back into the supercar scene with its new £1m Bohema hypercar and this exquisite, Kawasaki-powered, hand-built, carbon sister bike has been developed by the same team as a ‘passion project’ and also as a homage to Praga’s historic 1928 BD500 motorcycle.

The result, based around a 50bhp W800 motor, is not superbike quick or, with its girder forks (albeit with an Ohlins shock), hardtail rear and drum brakes, even modern handling, while, starting at £77,000, it’s not remotely cheap, either. 

But as a piece of motorcycle art inspired by bikes of old but using the very latest engineering practices and materials, the Praga has no equal. The carbon-fibre wheels with built-in dural drum brakes are a gorgeous example of its design and engineering and are exquisite in both execution and quality. And the overall machine is hugely classy and characterful, a jewel of a machine justifying its price and about as exclusive as motorcycles get.


Price and availability




The ZS800 starts at a huge €91,000 (currently £77,000) rising to €98,000 (£83,000) for the ‘Black Carbon and Gold’ limited edition as tested here, which has carbon throughout and a fancier finish.

Praga ZS800 - side
Praga ZS800 - side


It’s also extremely exclusive. Just 28 examples are being built, five of which are the higher spec version, with, as I write, under 20 still available. Being handbuilt means the lead time is currently around 12 months. If all of that appeals contact UK partner and supercar dealer Premier GT in West Sussex.


Engine, chassis and technology 



Praga is an historic Czech, industrial motoring combine dating back 117 years and is now being thrust into the modern world mostly with its new, £1m Bohema road-going hypercar. Now, as a side, ‘passion project’, it’s also launched this, a handbuilt, retro-influenced ‘homage’ to its historic 1928 BD 500 motorcycle that also showcases the exotic materials, high tech and ultralight weight which help define the Bohema.

Praga ZS800 - engine
Praga ZS800 - engine

It’s powered by Kawasaki’s long-established air-cooled, bevel-drive parallel twin from the now deleted (in the EU) W800 retro roadster. That bike debuted as the 49bhp, 675cc W650 in 1999, a cute, beautifully crafted retro-style bike that predated even Triumph’s reborn Bonneville, before growing into the enlarged 773cc, 47bhp W800 in 2011 which was finally dropped due to Euro5 in 2021. Still available in Japan, the engine’s been adopted by the Praga but with its own intake and exhaust. 




The chassis, however, is all-Praga, all-new and all-retro – sort of. There’s a hand-made tubular steel hardtail frame (although the single seat is softened by a damper), while the vintage-style girder forks are controlled by an Ohlins TTX30 shock. The 18-inch ‘wire-alike’ wheels are actually hand-laid carbon fibre built around bespoke, dural drum brakes with a modern hydraulic action. 

Praga ZS800 - drum brake
Praga ZS800 - drum brake

Elsewhere it’s pretty basic or, shall we say, ‘minimalist’. You wouldn’t expect much by way of modern equipment or luxuries on such a vintage-inspired machine. There are no modern electronic rider assists or modes, no luxury comfort beyond the single seat damper, no weather protection, no luggage and no Bluetooth connectivity – but you wouldn’t want them anyway. 


On the other hand, the front suspension is by Ohlins, the seat is hand-stitched leather (with a choice of materials), carbon fibre is everywhere; the minimal digital dash displays neutral, high beam, speedo and more; and even the ‘switchgear’ is in bespoke carbon fibre. 




At the time of writing the ZS800 is so new official warranty and service information had not been published – the first deliveries to customers are expected to take 12 months from time of order. That said, the W800 powerplant is known with services due every 7500 miles (although it’s highly unlikely any ZS800 will rack up that sort of number) or annually. 

Praga ZS800 - seat
Praga ZS800 - seat

It’s also worth mentioning that UK sales and distribution is being handled in coordination with supercar specialists Premier GT in West Sussex who will handle sales and servicing enquiries.



What’s it like to ride?


With a bike so much about form than function you shouldn’t expect great things, but the Praga is still characterful and stirring. 



The vintage style chassis with girder ‘forks’ and a hardtail (ie unsprung) rear, would usually mean minimal suspension and all the consequences that bring for rider comfort, but in terms of riding position, it’s fairly conventional, being slim and acceptably low with a solo upright roadster attitude and flat bars. 


Praga ZS800 - riding
Praga ZS800 - riding


The tiny dash and paddle-style carbon switchgear seem foreign at first but are quickly attuned to (although you can barely make out the neutral light and it’s all too easy to flip on high beam when cancelling indicators) and the delivery of the Kawasaki-sourced lump is friendly and familiar.



Power is a claimed 50bhp delivered through a five-speed shift and is fruity, authentic-feeling and adequate. In a bike like this, you wouldn’t want any more and the unbadged Kawasaki unit is perfectly suited and reassuringly proven. 


Praga ZS800 - riding
Praga ZS800 - riding


The quirky chassis shouldn’t work, either, but pretty much does. All that carbon and titanium leaves the ZS800 joyfully light (just 142kg dry); it’s low and easy to ride and it steers and tracks to expectations.



The hardtail rear is mostly compensated for by the damped single saddle and the front girder unit is controlled by a quality Ohlins TTX30 shock absorber so gives a fairly cultured ride, although there’s limited travel so you have to be cautious over speed bumps and potholes. Overall, the whole bike is so light, small and nimble it’s easy and unintimidating to get on with, at least at normal, pedestrian speeds. As mentioned, performance isn’t great, but there’s no real need for it to be and the Praga’s chassis trundles around happily and entertainingly – just don’t expect much more.


Praga ZS800 - riding
Praga ZS800 - riding


As for braking, Praga has boldly gone for a newly engineered, vintage style drum brake system front and rear using exquisite drums crafted out of solid dual mounted into even more phenomenal hand-laid carbon fibre wheels which mimic the style of classic wires. In truth, their performance doesn’t match the effort and craft that’s gone into them and are a little underpowered and lack initial bite. But you quickly attune to use the rear at the same time and it’s not a big worry for a bike with the limited performance the Praga has.




There’s no weather protection, of course, but at the speeds the ZS800 is capable of that’s no hardship and, although there’s no rear suspension, the seat pivots backwards and is controlled by a single damper unit so there is some ‘give’. Admittedly, it’s all a bit weird, especially when the seat moves for the first time (you think something’s broken and you’re going to slide off the back), but you quickly get used to it and the comfort’s not bad.

Praga ZS800 - riding
Praga ZS800 - riding


Obviously, it’s not the most practical of motorcycles, but nor is it intended to be, being such a prestige, premium collectors machine. With only a single (unsprung) seat, no weather protection or niceties such as luggage, this isn’t a machine designed to be mere transport. Nor, at €98,000 (as tested, or around £83,000), is it one you’d want to use and abuse. That said, it’s easy enough to ride and has enough performance and capability for a pleasant trundle into town or gentle ‘short hop’ ride on a sunny Sunday afternoon. Not sure you’d want to park and leave it anywhere, though…



Should you buy a Praga ZS800?



Considering the stratospheric asking price, with this top-spec carbon and gold version a whopping €98,000 (around £83,000), not to mention the style of bike it is, buying a ZS800 isn’t a trivial consideration. That said, day-to-day running costs are unlikely to be of any serious concern, nor residuals. 

Praga ZS800 - headlight
Praga ZS800 - headlight

It’s also worth saying the W800 engine is both proven and understressed so should offer no reliability worries, the quality of the cycle parts and components used throughout is first rate (for example the Ohlins front shock absorber) and general workmanship and the quality of construction is the very best, too.


But let’s stop trying to be objective. If you’re enamoured by the exquisite craftsmanship of the ZS800, fancy a vintage-style homage like nothing else, maybe are on the waiting list for the Praga supercar and fancy a two-wheeled stablemate and have the best part of £100,000 readily available, we can see the appeal. And, with only 28 being built maybe that’s all that matters. For everyone else it’s an extreme oddity we’ll never get near to but are glad exists.


Praga ZS800 Specs



Tubular steel and milled aluminium



Front Wheel

18-inch carbon fibre

Rear Wheel

18-inch carbon fibre

Front Tyre

100/90 x 18

Rear Tyre

130/70 x 18

Front Suspension

Girder forks with adjustable Ohlins TTX22 single shock

Rear Suspension

Hardtail with damped single seat

Front Brakes

Hydraulic TLS drum

Rear Brakes

Hydraulic drum


Mini LED display with; 

  • digital speedometer

  • trip computer

  • gear position indicator

  • fuel gauge





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