2018 Kawasaki Z900RS Reveal Legend Return Official Video & Photo detail
Kawasaki finally unveiled their new Z900RS retro naked roadster in Tokyo today, ending two years of rumour and speculation that a Z1 homage was waiting in the wings. Not only does it invoke the spirit of the legendary Z1, it’s currently Kawasaki’s only retro offering (after the demise of the W800 last year) and looks set to have a serious impact on the market with superbly authentic looks, the engine from the Z900 – and an even higher level of spec than its more modern-styled donor.
At the heart of the new Zed is the liquid-cooled 948cc Z900 engine, re-tuned to give a slightly lower peak power, but a swell in the midrange that means the RS actually pulls harder than the Zed below 7000rpm. The new RS has a few additional strings to its bow, too – boasting traction control and higher spec cycle parts like radial-mount brake calipers, and LED lighting all round – none of which feature on the Z900.
The centrepiece of the new Z900RS is the 17-litre teardrop fuel tank that’s so reminiscent of the Z1. Kawasaki say the frame was completely redesigned to accommodate the tank’s ideal position and slim shape. Only after the fuel tank position was fixed were the seat length and Z1-aping tail cowl length all decided. The flat waistline is particularly appealing for retro purists.
The exhaust system – which is a slightly disappointing departure from the iconic Z1’s four-pipe layout – is a simplistic 4-into-1 arrangement. The header pipes and collector are one piece, with no connector pipes or exhaust valve, allowing authentically uncluttered retro styling. All are formed from high-quality stainless steel, and treated to a buff finish.
The wide, flat handlebar contributes to the retro sport styling while offering a wide grip to facilitate decent leverage. Relative to the Z900, the bars are 30mm wider, 65mm higher, and 35mm closer to the rider, also giving a more upright riding position. While the seat height is reasonably accommodating at 835mm, there’s also an ERGO-FIT low seat available that reduces the seat height by 35 mm. Compared to the Z900, the footpegs are 20mm lower and 20mm farther forward, meaning an even more relaxed riding position.
The dual clocks boast analogue-style speedometer and tachometer dials, with a multi-functional LCD screen tucked between the two – which can be blanked off with an accessory panel for a more 70s aesthetic. 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.
Unlike it’s modern stablemate, the Z900RS is equipped with traction control featuring two modes, and an ‘off’ setting. Mode 1 prioritises maximum acceleration, while Mode 2 provides a bigger safety net on slippery surfaces. The system is also able to distinguish between smooth torque wheelies and ham-fisted clutch-ups. In Mode 1, torque wheelies are allowed, but deliberate hooliganism will cause intervention. Mode 2 allows neither, while you can always turn it off.
Pleasingly modern rim sizes mean that owners will be able to spec a wild array of tyre options, from the standard-equipment retro styled Dunlop GPR-300s, to all-weather touring rubber, or trackday-friendly sports tyres.
The one surprise yet to be revealed is the café racer version which MCN believes is also in development. It wasn’t shown in Tokyo, so the assumption is that the Milan show will be the venue for its unveiling, in early November.
Kawasaki are giving no word on the UK price, or availability, or the Z900RS just yet – but expect it to be in dealers by the end of the year with a price tag of around £10k