Japanese have always been the pioneer in technology application be it in bikes or cars. Kawasaki, on the other hand, has been renowned in the biking world for brutal and raw power making the bikes more rider focused. The engines have been so powerful since 90’s that the front tyres would pop up in the air if throttle twisted a little hard. Such example from Kawasaki is Z900 which is the successor of Z800 sold in Indian market earlier.
Kawasaki Z900 is the replacement for the Z800, means that this is the most economical way to get that four-cylinder feel and sound in the market. Z900 isn’t merely an evolution of the Z800 a lot of it has been updated over the latter, like the new steel trellis frame over the beam frame of Z800. The engine is a Z1000 block with a smaller bore and not an evolution of the frankly more-than-adequate 800cc mill.
Kawasaki Z900 is powered by a new 948cc inline-four engine that is based on the Z1000’s downsized unit. As expected from an inline-four engine from Kawasaki, refinement levels of this engine are simply exquisite. From the moment you thumb the starter button, there’s a nice bassy buzz that transforms into a positively manic howl as the revs climb. And, as expected from a naked, the engine offers a nice, meaty mid-range with a noticeable kick after 6,000rpm. The motor offers 12 more horses compared to the 800. The focus has been on torque, which has increased by 17Nm. The absolute figures reach 125bhp at 9500rpm and 100Nm and peak torque figures are achieved at 7700rpm.
The Z800 had few negatives which included a kerb weight that exceeded that of its elder sibling. Not anymore, the Z900 is 20kg lighter than the Z800, weighing just 211kg. That isn’t super sport light, but it is a full ten percent less than before. What’s noteworthy about the Z900 is the cooling system – it’s absolutely outstanding. Even while crawling through heavy city traffic, there are almost negligible levels of heat from the engine, and that’s commendable for a larger displacement motorcycle.
The Z900 gets the new headlight cluster consistent with the ‘Z’ series. While it carries forward the styling of its predecessor, the front bikini fairing is all new, so is the tail section, and it even exhibits a new exhaust design. This new twin headlight has a more fluid look to it, with a forward jutting jawline that accentuates its aggressive look. Sitting atop the headlight is a blacked-out windscreen that offers some amount of wind protection. The negative-lit LCD speedometer is all new. It’s got a nice semi-circular tachometer, a gear indicator, and a large centralized digital speed readout. Like on the larger Kawasaki’s, the tachometer acts as a shift indicator; the needles begin to blink when it’s time to shift up.
The Z900 isn’t as intimidating to sit on as it is to look at. It sits you fairly upright, with little weight on your wrists. That makes it easy to ride around in the city. Out on the highway, this becomes a little hard on the neck because of the speeds it is capable of. The handlebar is a little too high for a completely committed position while hanging off in the corners, but it is not uncomfortably so. Getting on and off this bike needs you to be capable of a decent split – and you’ll need to leave those tight pants at home if they aren’t stretchy. That pillion seat cowl raises the rear to a significant amount.
The suspension setup, on the other hand, hasn’t seen a massive revision of the outgoing model. It retains the beefy 41mm upside- down forks at the front with stepless adjustability for rebound damping as well as spring preload (there’s no compression damping adjustment, though). The rear still uses the familiar horizontally mounted linked mono-shock, and suspension travel at both ends are identical. The brakes have been reduced in size, from 310mm to 300mm dual discs up front. Overall ride quality is quite good over the less-than-perfect road conditions in India. The Dunlop Sportmax tyres provide adequate grip on tarmac.
Kawasaki has provided an assist and slipper clutch which makes action at the lever light and assists with excessive engine braking. In keeping with its street-fighter character, the Z900 gets a short-ratio gearbox with pretty closely stacked gears until fifth; the sixth gear is a relatively tall one. The gearbox refinement can be noticed when driving in 3rd gear at speeds like 20kmph, while the 5th gear can pull you from speeds like 40kmph to all the way to 180kmph plus after that the long 6th gear kicks in and takes you to the top speeds touching 265kmph.
This bike is not loaded with a lot of technology to play with, there’s the ABS and you’re done nothing else. You’re supposed to do the rest. That can be a deal breaker from some at this price, but the Z900 comes with a number of accessories that can be fitted as standard from dealers. These include a radiator guard, shroud slider, tank pad, 12V power socket, that rear cowl and a larger instrument cluster cover that has touches of carbon fibre.
Kawasaki Z900 is a great replacement for the Z800. It’s simple, it’s light, it’s highly effective and it’s got all that you’d need from a really fun bike. The balance between power and handling translates to a rather fun driving experience. But there are some big players in this segment to challenge he Z900 like Benelli TNT 899, Ducati Monster 821 and another Japanese tech laded Yamaha MT-09 and all of these big bikes are expensive than the Z900 which makes the Z900 an appropriate choice for the riders.