2016 Kawasaki Z800 ABS
New to the North American market for 2016, Kawasaki releases the newest sibling to the popular Z1000, the Z800 ABS. In 2013, the Z800 replaced the Z750 in Europe as Kawi’s contender in the mid-class streetfighter field. For now at least, the Z800 is available everywhere but California — confound those emission laws in The Golden State! This mid-sized sport bike, powered by an 806 cc engine, brings all the aggressive styling and heritage the Z1000 has, along with high-tech multi-screen instrumentation and ABS. The slim chassis and massive fuel tank give you something to hug between your knees while the “streetfighter” riding position afforded by the flatter bend of the handlebars gives you plenty of leverage on the controls.
Continue reading for my review of the 2016 Kawasaki Z800 ABS.
2016 Kawasaki Z800 ABS
Heavier than its big brother, the Z1000, the Z800 is fairly weighty. If you have to tippy-toe this bike, you’re going to feel that weight, especially at low speeds. Seat height is a respectable 32.8 inches, some of that from the almost six-inch ground clearance — a full inch higher than the Z1000. Spec-wise, it seems more closely related to the Ninja 1000 ABS, as far as weight, seat height, ground clearance and wheelbase.
With sculpted styling and low, compact headlight cowl, the Z800 presents a fierce appearance with its angular lines and aggressive design. The Z800’s massive front end is in contrast to the slim, sleek tail, giving it the suggestion of a predator leaping forward for its prey.
On a more pragmatic point, however, Kawasaki gave the Z800 luggage hooks in the design of the rear footpegs and behind the plate holder for those times you have to bungee your cargo.
Kawasaki started with high-tensile steel members for the frame backbone to stiffen the frame against the torsional forces associated with hard cornering, and used a “stressed engine” layout for the rest of the frame. Lightweight, aluminum subframes finish out the bones with a brace in between them to stabilize the subframe section. The frame geometry leaves this ride with a short, 56.9-inch wheelbase, and 24 degrees of rake with 3.9 inches of steering trail for decisive handling.
A set of 41 mm, KYB inverted front forks stiffen up the front end and resist twisting in the corners, and a bottom-link, Uni-Trak monoshock with a piggyback gas cylinder buoys the rear. Suspension at both ends can be adjusted for preload, and the 4.7 inches of suspension travel up front and 5.4 in the rear provides a sporty ride that resists diving under brakes and rear-end pop in the downshifts.
Strangely enough, even though it is heavier, the brakes aren’t as big as those on the Z1000. The Z800 weighs in at 509.4 pounds, and although it is sort of a mid-size bike, Kawi went ahead and gave it dual front brakes for plenty of stopping power. Twin, 277 mm, petal-type front brake rotors work with the four-piston calipers up front, and a single-piston caliper binds a 216 mm, petal-type rotor in the rear. Both sets of brakes use ABS for a little extra peace of mind.
The rubbers on the roundy-round parts are 17-inch, Z-rated Dunlop Sportmax D214 tires — 120 on the front and 180 on the rear.
An 806 cc, liquid-cooled, inline, four-cylinder engine powers this newest Kawi streetfighter. The mill has 34 mm Keihin throttle bodies that use sub-throttles to control aspiration, 16 valves to move the charges through, and a shorty muffler that manages to meet emissions standards while letting the engine breathe freely and giving the exhaust a pleasing note. The exhaust system itself is tuned, with crossover tubes connecting the headers for shared backpressure pulses.
The six-speed transmission has rather short overall gearing to allow the Z800 to operate in its powerband around town, but the top gear is tall, so it has nice, long legs for highway trips, and can hit the superslab at a reasonable rpm.
MSRP on the 2016 Z800 ABS is $8,399, which comes in a two-tone Metallic Spark Black and Flat Ebony. Kawasaki covers you with a 12-month limited warranty and offers the optional Protection Plus warranty for 12, 24, 36 or 48 months.
Kawi went with an 806 cc, inline, four-cylinder engine on the Z800, while Yamaha opted to use its 847 cc, inline-triple engine for a slight edge in displacement. One notable difference, however, lies in engine control. The Z800 does use throttle-bodies with computer-controlled subthrottles in them to help smooth out power transitions, but that’s it. Yamaha, on the other hand, includes a “Drive Mode” function with three separate modes that use different engine maps for different throttle response and power delivery.
Yamaha also comes in low in the sticker category at $8,190, just under the Z800 at $8,399. While the price alone is no deal-breaker, the extras on the Yamaha engine make it the sweeter deal.
My husband and fellow writer, TJ Hinton, says, “Ok I will concede that the performance profile is what really matters on this bike, but Kawi seems to be getting a little too “Robotech” for my tastes, if you know what I mean. For the money, and if I were looking for a sport bike, I would definitely look at a Ducati, MV Agusta or even a Suzuki first.”
"Stripped down, maybe; but I’m not feeling the "naked’ streetfighter label. That’s just my opinion, though, so don’t get all wound up if you disagree. Folks said of the prior Z800s that it isn’t a bike you fall in love with instantly. It has to grow on you. I’m not sure how I feel about that. I hesitate putting down money on something I might love later."
|Engine:||Four-stroke, liquid-cooled, DOHC, four valves per cylinder, inline-four|
|Compression ratio:||11.9 to 1|
|Maximum Power:||112.8 Horsepower at 10,200 rpm|
|Maximum Torque:||61 Pound-Feet at 8,000 rpm|
|Fuel System:||DFI® with 34 mm Keihin throttle bodies|
|Ignition:||TCBI with electronic advance|
|Final Drive:||Sealed chain|
|Frame Type:||High-tensile steel backbone|
|Front Suspension:||KYB 41 mm inverted fork with rebound damping and spring preload adjustability|
|Front Travel:||4.7 inches|
|Rear Suspension / Wheel Travel:||KYB Bottom-link Uni-Trak® horizontal monoshock with piggyback reservoir, stepless rebound damping, adjustable spring preload|
|Rear Travel:||5.4 inches|
|Front Tire Size:||120/70 ZR17 Dunlop Sportmax D214|
|Rear Tire Size:||180/55 ZR17 Dunlop Sportmax D214|
|Front Brakes:||Dual 277 mm petal-type rotors with four-piston calipers, ABS|
|Rear Brakes:||Single 216 mm petal-type rotor with single-piston caliper, ABS|
|Overall Length:||82.7 inches|
|Overall Width:||31.5 inches|
|Overall Height:||41.3 inches|
|Ground Clearance:||5.9 inches|
|Seat Height:||32.8 inches|
|Curb Weight:||509.4 Pounds|
|Fuel Capacity:||4.5 gallons|
|Warranty:||12-Month Limited Warranty|
|Kawasaki Protection Plus™ (optional):||12, 24, 36 or 48 months|
|Color Choices:||Metallic Spark Black/Flat Ebony|