The 2018 Kawasaki Z900 RS broke cover at the Tokyo Motor Show, and it’s almost exactly what we expected. And, that’s a good thing.
The bike is based on the Z900 platform, just as we expected. The powerplant is a liquid-cooled 948 cc inline-four, tuned for more low-end power, just like the original Z1 900 model. Peak output doesn’t match the Z900, but if that’s what you want, we’d guess a competent tuner could easily bring the bike up to speed, no pun intended.
In other ways, the Z900 RS surpasses the modern naked bike it was based on, with two-mode traction control (that can also be turned off), LED lighting and radial brakes.
However, the biggest talking point is the styling. In an age where naked bikes from the Japanese manufacturers have hit new aesthetic lows (with a couple notable exceptions), the Z900 RS has some tasty retro bodywork without being silly. This isn’t just a paint scheme with a few throwback colours thrown in; the tank, seat, bodywork, headlight and taillight all look like they could have come off a classic UJM. The rest of the bike that couldn’t be as effectively masked has been tastefully blacked out.
A few styling cues show the bike isn’t stuck in the ’70s (the exhaust looks much more modern, and the gauges are obviously not off an OG UJM), which helps the machine avoid the impression of desperately pandering towards a doddering customer base.
Of course, looks are subjective, and some readers may find the new bike’s lines repulsive. If that’s how you feel, that’s fine, but we’ve already predicted this machine will be a huge seller for Kawasaki. Now that we’ve seen the finished product, we’d double down on that prediction.
Unless, of course, the MSRP is too high. We haven’t seen Canadian pricing or availability yet, but we’ll share that with you when we can.