Mar 25, 2018

A Review of the 2018 Kawasaki Z900RS

Jo Kelley

A Review of the 2018 Kawasaki Z900RS

You know what’s annoying? Things-and people-that try too hard. That doesn’t mean that we don’t appreciate the effort because we do.

Effort should be involved in everything you do, no matter how small or minimal that thing may seem. But on the flip side, it's awful when someone tries so hard that it feels forceful. This quality exists in all areas of life, and motorcycle brands  are not immune to that.

There are brands that balance a tightrope between "making an effort toward style and innovation" but try to make it "seemingly effortless." I understand that there’s still effort involved, but, personally, I love it when things don’t seem too forceful. When things are forced, I can't help but acknowledge it as not a natural feeling. I don't know about you, but I typically try to remove myself from that. I don’t like when brands try to become something that they’re not. I appreciate it when they stay true to themselves. Right?

When it comes to brands that used to suffer from this forceful nature, Kawasaki used to fit the description. At one point, they started to fear for their stance in the market, so they created bikes that didn’t mesh with their brand or their roots. They worried so much that they forced themselves (there’s that word again) to create bikes that looked eerily similar to competitor bikes, all for the sake of trying to reclaim a stake in the industry. But with that force, they lost some lovers of their brands, because people felt like the brand wasn’t staying true to themselves.

Video source: Ultimate Motorcycling

This is no longer an issue Kawasaki struggles with, and they’re unlikely to in the future. And, if their run with Kawasaki Green has told us anything, they're got the luck on their side now.

A look at Kawasaki’s 2018 Z900RS proves that the history of Kawasaki motorcycles has embraced the future. While innovation and change are important, they’re not going to try to force a specific "look" and "feel" down our throats. This bike doesn’t try to be anything other than what it is, and you know what the fact of the matter is? It’s a damn good bike.

Let’s ride into the 2018 Kawasaki Z900RS:

The first impression I get from this bike? It’s just a really, really interesting look. It seems like it has one tire set in a more classic feel, while the other tire stays a bit more true to the more general Kawasaki look and feel. While these are two very different areas, somehow Kawasaki manages to pull off the look of the bike. Personally, I like it; I really, really like it. That’s, partially, to do with the fact that it looks like a throwback to cafe racer style (which I love), but it maintains a different look all its own. They somehow manage to pull this off without trying to achieve a specific "look" and shove it down our throats. Huzzah for subtlety.

Video source: RevZilla

The paint job on it is great because it’s very clean and simplistic in nature. Yet again, it just doesn’t try too hard. It gives a nice nod to some old, cafe, classic look but still keeps the Kawasaki style. The perfect individual for this bike, according to Kawasaki themselves? “Modern minded, yet values heritage.” I agree wholeheartedly.

While this motorcycle was created by a Japanese brand, it has some great roots in popular American functions. That is, it’s fast and a really easy ride. When it comes down to the clarification of the bike, there isn’t one single family it belongs to. It could be a sports bike, a cruiser, or even a standard, but I  feel that was an intentional decision on Kawasaki’s part to remain ambiguous. They wanted a bike that could adapt to different areas, much as its styles, and not be restricted by a title or label. Which is awesome.  

With its 31.5-inch seat height, it’s not so tall that you’ll feel the bike is a difficult ride, while also not being too low to the ground. Again, it’s a careful balance. It’s got a "sit up straight" seat style, and the handlebars meet you with some relative ease, so it’s a surprisingly comfortable riding position. Maybe not touring level comfortable, but still enjoyable. It’s nimble, quick, and handles turn surprisingly well.

Its teardrop tank is a big focal point for the bike, and it could have easily been a design that stands out for all the wrong reasons. But, again, they nailed it. A great additional feel about this bike? Really, it's an awesome beginner bike. It rides with such relative ease and simplicity that it’s really fun to ride on, without having to worry about the details involved. The 17-inch faux-spoke wheels tip it over the edge into territory that we love, so points for Kawasaki on that one.

Kawasaki Z900RS Specs

  • Engine: 4-strike, 4-cylinder, 16-valve, liquid-cooled
  • Displacement: 948cc Bore x Stroke: 73.4 x 56.0mm
  • Ignition: TCBI with electronic advance
  • Front Tie: 120/70 ZR17 Dunlop GPR-300F
  • Rear Tire: 180/55 ZR17
  • Dunlop GPR-300
  • Front Brakes: Dual disc ABS
  • Rear Brakes: Single disc ABS
  • Length: 83.1 in
  • Height: 46.5 in
  • Seat Height: 31.5 in
  • Fuel Capacity: 4.5 gal
  • Weight: 471.9 lb

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