Bringing back the ethos of the famed Z1 of 1972 with a paintjob that sticks it out from the crowd

Kawasaki had already brought back the ethos of the famed Z1 of 1972 at the Tokyo International Motor Show with the Z900RS retro motorcycle. With almost every brand entering the neo-classic craze, Kawasaki brought one of its own classics back. Although it has the W800, the Z900RS depicts a much more modern take with thoroughly done modish mechanical features, fit and finish.

Now, the same guys have gone ahead and given it a headlamp cowl and dropped bars to get it running on the cafe-racer beeline.

Unwrapped at the 2017 EICMA show, the wardrobe change has made the standard RS the 2018 Kawasaki Ninja Z900RS Cafe. And Kawasaki has decided that we deserve to drive them on our roads and are bringing it to the North American showroom floors as the 2018 model.

  • 2018 Kawasaki Z900RS Cafe
  • Year:
    2018
  • Make:
  • Model:
  • Engine:
    inline-4
  • Transmission:
    6
  • Horsepower @ RPM:
    111
  • Torque @ RPM:
    53
  • Displacement:
    948 L
  • Price:
    11499
  • Price:
  • Overall:
    8.3/10
With almost every brand entering the neo-classic craze, Kawasaki brought one of its own classics back. The Z900RS Café depicts a much more modern take with thoroughly done modish mechanical features, fit and finish.

STYLING

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2018 kawasaki Z900RS 2018 Kawasaki Z900RS Cafe

Underpinned by the same chassis and powertrain used on the Z900 RS, the Café accentuates Kawasaki’s classic racer styling with the beautiful sporty front fairing and the black low rise handlebars. The retro vibe also influences much of the look of the front end as well, such as the large 170 mm LED headlamp, which blends old-school looks and modern designs with the chromed headlamp ring.

Carrying the RS Café’s retro flair further down is that 4.5-gallon teal-drop fuel tank and the flat waistline that shows reminiscence to the ’72 Z1. Kawasaki had to accommodate a complete redesign of the frame just to get this tank at its ideal position. The Z1-inspired tail cowl enhances the traditional appeal of the neo-classics along with the Z1 inspired oval taillight.

2018 Kawasaki Z900RS Cafe
- image 780562
2018 Kawasaki Z900RS Cafe
- image 780563
2018 Kawasaki Z900RS Cafe
- image 780561
2018 Kawasaki Z900RS Cafe
- image 780560

You cannot miss that beautiful looking lairy green and white paintjob, a reminiscent of the KR250/500 of the late ’70s. It complements the blacked out frame, forks, foot pegs wheels and engine to give out a bold appearance. Enough for it to stand out amidst the rest of the Cafe-Racers flooded in the market.

Having an uncluttered engine layout was a no-brainer for the folks at the Japanese design factory. The unique design tries to depict the air-cooled and carbureted feel with the stylish engine fins cast into the designs. The stainless steel header design silencer gets a special three-stage buffed finish instead of the brushed steel look seen on the RS.

2018 Kawasaki Z900RS Cafe Exterior
- image 744124

Unfortunately, the Cafe still comes with cast wheels shaped flat to give the impression of classic wire-spoked wheels. What would have happened if Kawa gave laced wheels instead?. The wheels offer a balance of lightweight and stylish looks, contributing to both handling and a design suited to the retro category.

The analog styled instrument cluster sees twin pod analog dials and housed between them is an LCD unit that can also be covered to give you that ‘70s aesthetics. The LCD screen features a gear indicator, odometer, dual trip meters, fuel gauge, remaining range, current and average fuel consumption, coolant temperature, external temperature, clock and the Economical Riding Indicator.

2018 Kawasaki Z900RS Cafe Exterior
- image 744125
You cannot miss that beautiful looking lairy green and white paintjob, a reminiscent of the KR250/500 of the late ’70s. It complements the blacked out frame, forks, foot pegs wheels and engine to give out a bold appearance.

Overall Dimension

Make Model 2018 Kawasaki Z900RS Café Yamaha XSR900 Abarth
Length 82.6 in 81.7 in
Width 33.2 in 32 in
Height 46.8 in 44.6 in
Wheelbase 57.8 in 56.6 in
Seat height 33.2 in 32.6 in
Wet weight 476 lb 430 lb
Fuel Tank 4.5 gal 3.6 gal

POWERTRAIN

2018 Kawasaki Z900RS Cafe
- image 780556

Like the RS, the Cafe carries a state-of-the-art 948cc hauled from the existing Z900 naked streetfighter and is re-mapped to give the former lower peak power that will help it accelerate better under 7000 rpm.

A purposeful choice to provide riders with a crisp and smooth response with an exhilarating acceleration. Four downdraft positioned 36mm throttle bodies, and sub-throttles provide better mid and low power bands with silky smooth throttle response. But when it comes to numbers, the RS Cafe performs slightly lower with peak power coming down from 124 hp to 111 hp and the peak torque from 72.2 lb-ft to 53.5 lb-ft.

2018 Kawasaki Z900RS Cafe
- image 780555

The engineers have also changed the gear ratios with a shorter first gear to make the RS more ‘difficult to stall when first starting to move,’ while sixth is taller for reduced vibration at speeds while providing higher fuel efficiency. Borrowed from the Z900 is the assist-and-slipper clutch making changing gears a breeze. The back-torque limiting slipper function prevents wheel hop during downshifts.

This new power mill features a lightweight crankshaft and a secondary engine balancer to eliminate vibrations. Weight reduction is also seen in the casting process of the pistons, the same as the mighty H2/H2R. There is all new airbox and air supply system. Transmission is through a 6-speed manual with the 6th gear being an overdrive gear for a relaxed highway cruising.

2018 Kawasaki Z900RS Cafe
- image 780557

The exhaust system features a four-into-one-pre-chamber-into-silencer layout giving the Z900 RS Café an enhanced exhaust note with deep rumbles at low revs. More than 20 renditions of the system were tested before finding the perfect match of performance and sound.

Like the RS, the Cafe carries a state-of-the-art 948cc hauled from the existing Z900 naked streetfighter and is re-mapped to give the former lower peak power that will help it accelerate better under 7000 rpm.

Engine Specification

Make Model 2018 Kawasaki Z900RS Café Yamaha XSR900 Abarth
Capacity cc 948 847
Bore / Stroke mm 73.4 / 56 78 / 58.1
Output 111 hp @ 8500 rpm 114 hp @ 10000 rpm
Torque 53.5 lb-ft @ 6500 rpm 64.5 lb-ft @ 8500 rpm
Type Liquid-cooled, 4-stroke In-Line Four, DOHC, 16 valves 3-cylinder, 4-stroke, liquid-cooled, DOHC, 4-valves
Clutch type Wet multiplate with assist-and-slipper Wet- Multiplate With Assist And Slipper
Transmission 6-speed 6-speed

RIDE AND HANDLING

2018 Kawasaki Z900RS Cafe Exterior
- image 744127

The bike has shed massively and weighs just 476 lbs. All thanks to the high tensile trellis frame and a new swingarm for highlighted agility and handling. The handlebars on the RS are wide and stubby compared to the one on the ’72 Z1 giving it a sporty yet upright stance with decent leverage. The seat comparatively is higher at 835 mm, but Kawasaki will provide you an ERGO-FIT low seat accessory that will sit you at 800 mm.

The Z900RS CAFE has a laid back and relaxed design, which was achieved by raising the front and lowering the rear. Suspension forces are worked by the 41mm inverted front fork featuring stepless rebound damping and spring preload adjustability. An adjustable Horizontal Back-link Rear Suspension that is positioned above the lightweight swingarm contributing mass centralization.

2018 Kawasaki Z900RS Cafe Exterior
- image 744157

Standard ABS works brilliantly on the dual 300mm front petal discs gripped by 4-piston radial-mount monobloc calipers and 250mm rear petal disc that are clamped by dual opposed piston calipers with resin brake pads to deliver ample braking power.

The Z900RS Café also enjoys rider aids that include a switchable two-level Kawasaki Traction Control (KTRC) system that will prevent you from playing God with those Dunlop GPR-300 tires.

2018 Kawasaki Z900RS Cafe Exterior
- image 744160
The handlebars on the RS are wide and stubby compared to the one on the ’72 Z1 giving it a sporty yet upright stance with decent leverage.

Chassis Specifications

Make Model 2018 Kawasaki Z900RS Café Yamaha XSR900 Abarth
Frame Trellis, high-tensile steel Diamond Tubular
Suspension / Front 41 mm inverted fork with compression and rebound damping and spring preload adjustability 41mm inverted fork, adjustable preload and rebound damping
Suspension / Rear Horizontal Back-link, gas-charged shock with rebound damping and spring preload adjustability Single shock, adjustable preload and rebound damping
Brakes / Front Dual semi-floating 300 mm discs. Caliper: Dual radial-mount, monobloc, opposed 4-piston, ABS Hydraulic dual disc, 298 mm
Brakes / Rear Single 250 mm disc. Caliper: Single-piston, ABS Hydraulic single disc, 245 mm
Tires / Front Dunlop GPR-300 120/70ZR17 M/C (58W) 120/70ZR17 M/C (58W)
Tires / Rear Dunlop GPR-300 180/55ZR17 M/C (73W) 180/55ZR17 M/C (73W)

PRICE

2018 Kawasaki Z900RS Cafe Exterior
- image 744161

The Z900RS Cafe is available in Vintage Lime Green only and is priced at $11,499. We expect the Cafe will be in dealers soon since it is designated a 2018 model, but Kawasaki says availability will be limited in the U.S. market.

Enabling further customization options, Kawasaki offers a full line of genuine accessories for the 2018 Z900RS Café. Kawasaki Genuine Accessories offers a frame slider set, front axle sliders, radiator trim, and a tank pad. Then there are grip heater set, Ergo-Fit reduced reach seat and a smoked wind deflector. On the styling front, you get retro Kawasaki tank emblem set, oil filler cap (Black, Gold or White), KYB fork cap set (Black or Gold), silver gauge trim, passenger grab bar, side grip set, Akrapovic slip-on muffler and a center stand.

Make Model 2018 Kawasaki Z900RS Café Yamaha XSR900 Abarth
MSRP $ 11,499 $ 12,815 (Est)

COMPETITION

Yamaha XSR900 Abarth

Yamaha XSR900 Abarth Exterior
- image 718837

The child of the Japanese Blue team and the Italian powerhouse Abarth looks absolutely stunning. The XSR900 Abarth is a limited-edition "Sport Heritage café racer special" based on Yamaha’s XSR900 847 cc inline-triple neo-retro motorcycle.

It is a lightweight, high-performance retro special whose authentic café racer design reflects the true spirit of the motorcycles in the 60’s era. The first thing you notice is the carbon-fiber lightweight front cowl gives the bike a ‘faster sons’ appeal. Behind are your clip-on style swallow handlebars and a round all-digital instrument cluster.

At the heart of this beautiful machine, lies the same 850cc, liquid-cooled, in-line three pot, 4 stroke power mill that is regarded as one of the most exciting power plants running on any two-wheeler. The motorcycle’s three-cylinder engine produces 115 bhp and 65 lb-ft of torque. Equipped with a traction control system and an assist slipper clutch mechanism, this powerplant provides high levels of controllability in varying conditions. Then there is a full Akrapovič titanium exhaust system.

The production of this Abarth XSR900 is strictly limited to 695 units. According to their website, the price of this motorcycle is £9,999 inc. VAT ($ 12,851 appx.). When got here, expect another $600 up mark on the price.

VERDICT

2018 Kawasaki Z900RS Cafe Exterior
- image 744165

Although inspired by the legendary motorcycle which had defined the term “Superbike” back in the ’70s, the RS models from Kawasaki are nowhere close to feeling old. Rather they depict a much more modern take with thoroughly done modish mechanical features, fit and finish.

The Cafe is no different. It’s underpinned by the same mechanicals as the standard RS but gets the obvious headlamp cowl, scalloped lower seat that is ribbed and lowered bars to give it a sportier progress and feel. The Cafe also gets pampered with higher spec components like the radial-mount brake calipers and LED lighting all around.

2018 Kawasaki Z900RS Cafe Exterior
- image 744166

Produced in limited numbers, the RS Café brings back the nostalgia to Kawasaki’s retro style line of motorcycles. Doing so, the brand is giving us “one of the most authentic retro-styled machines in appearance and design, paying homage to an era of motorcycles that shaped the Kawasaki brand.”

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