The 2018 Kawasaki Z900 RS: Finally, an attractive retro naked bike


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.


  1. I got a z 900rs se in the candytone brown and orange. I had a very difficult time finding one that wasn’t already spoken for as the production is quite limited. I wanted a stablemate for my original z1 900’s. I agree with TK4 in that it really needs the 4 into 4 pipes but I am positive the aftermarket will have a set available before the end of the riding season next year.

  2. I have my z900 RS cafe ordered I got the only one coming to the dealer in my city .and let me tell you .I’m 48 and I haven’t been this pumped since I bought my first hayabusa… This will stay in the coral for sure.

    • Enjoy…a lovely ride and I’d have one if I could liquidate some toys lol. I regret selling my ELR and think this one will be a collector as well…

    • Nice…I’m only short $13198 lol…a decent deal… could’ve flipped my ’83 ELR upwards to $20K in Japan when I was there… paid 4.5k in 1983 and settled for 10K in 2012… regretted it ever since but it’s in a great collectors home…hope you love it as much as I did Mike Fairburn!…

    • Took awhile for me to consider the ZRX – after owning and letting my beloved ELR go after 29 yrs…almost bought one and would enjoy this as a second ride…ZRX should only be green…this is a Z1 colour and green would be so wrong for 2018.

  3. Yeah, I’d be all over that but I’m one of the oldsters who aged onto a Hawg…I couldn’t give up my ultra mule and just passed the stage where I unloaded my secondary ride (Hammer) due to chronological,logistical and pecuniary challenges. Beautiful ride and I’d still be stiff for that Asian hottie…

    • Yup agreed…or at lease the spline shaft there capped with the option to add…did that for my 1978 Z1R as it had an emergency one under the seat lol. Put one on from a 1977 KZ1000LTD…scary that it sounds like this bike will run likely around 18-19K here in Canada…limited edition, collectible and more like $13-14K and I’d be tempted…would keep it for my estate lol.

  4. Nice but those old enough to remember the original are in their 50’s and have moved onto Goldwings or Harleys.I’ll keep my Roadking though I do miss my 99 ZRX 1100 with Muzzy megaphone which was a nicer looking retro

  5. Time to trade my 2015 Ducati Monster 821! Excellent job Kawasaki!! Retro, yet modern.
    Now I wish i can find a titanium 4-1-4 exhaust system for it and some drag bar with bar end

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