I feel like I am watching an episode of ‘The biggest loser’ with Kawasaki’s 2017 model line-up. The latest version to get with the slimming program is the Kawasaki Z900.
Kawasaki’s most ambitious project yet, the Kawasaki H2, was to be the forerunner to a number of innovations that are finding their way into the smaller capacity bikes. The steel trellis frame, first seen in the H2, has now been instrumental in massive weight savings for the Z650, and now also the Z900. Although this bike is the successor to the Z800, it is not an upsized Z800, but rather a downsized Z1000.
Going forward, Kawasaki will discontinue both the Z800 and the Z1000, and the Z900 will fill quite a large gap in the market.
This bike will has its work cut out as those are two amazing bikes. To help its cause along, not only did it visit a fat-farm, but it also went for an extreme makeover. The Z900 looks menacingly good. A tail-tidy will transform this bike into something really spectacular. Angular lines abound and the Z logo is even carried over into the taillight. Even though not everyone will be happy with the front end styling, it is fitting of the naked street fighter look.
The tank has a hefty bulge, and the instrumentation is minimal at best. With a negative LCD screen the rev-counter flashes at you when it is time to shift. Not much else is presented to the rider, because he will be fixed on the road ahead. At full tilt, the scenery moves briskly, and you are reminded of your speed by the wind. The naked Z has no wind protection and anything on the wrong side of the speed limit requires your full attention as the fight to stay aboard is very real.
Pinning the Z is just so much fun, and the power delivery is extremely smooth. The slipper clutch does an amazing job of slinging the cogs around with minimum fuss.
Because of its upright stance, the bike felt nimble in traffic and quite planted when the corners came up. Even in 6th the bike pulls well. There is no ride-by-wire, so you will forego traction control and rider modes. ABS comes as standard.
I have almost forgotten how smooth an inline four cylinder engine can be, and riding the Z reminded me of that special feeling again. The Z900 weighs about 20kg less than the Z800, and delivers 125 horsepower, 12 more than the Z800. This translates into an amazing bike, delivering a dopamine injection with the twist of your wrist.
The Z900 is a worthy contender for the naked crown, and at R139 995 it must the bargain of the year
Words and pictures – Brian Cheyne