A few weeks ago, our friend Abhi from www.bike-urious.com stopped by our shop on a brand new Kawasaki Z900RS. I’m not going to get into the technical mumbo-jumbo, if you’re into that sort of thing, feel free to read up on the specs on Kawasaki’s website. I purely want to talk about my first impression as an average rider.
I’ve heard about the bike but it wasn’t a model I was super excited about or really looking forward to riding. Seeing the bike in person made a much bigger impression on me than what I previously saw in marketing photos. The bike is absolutely gorgeous! As girlie as it may sound, I don’t think any professional photographer can capture the exquisiteness of the orange and brown paint scheme or how it shimmers under sunlight. Even bone stock, the bike looks awesome. The frame, the exhaust, the headlight, the seat, everything flows together really well and the bike looks custom off the showroom floor. The overall construction of the Z900RS reminds me of the Yamaha XSR900, where it looks retro but completely modern at the same time. So I was completely sold on the look but how does it actually ride?
I had zero expectations when I threw my leg over the Z900RS and hit the starter button. I knew very little about the bike or its technical specifications. As I got warmed up, I figured I was ready to see what this bike can really do. As it turns out – I wasn’t really ready. I was taking off from a stop sign and I opened the throttle a bit wider to see how quickly the bike accelerates. It’s a 948cc bike so I was expecting it to be relatively quick but I did not expect to have the front wheel come up off the ground as fast as it did. The torque kicked in hard and my ass got a little sweaty. From that moment on, I knew this bike wasn’t some sissy wannabe. The Z900RS meant business and I was excited to see what else this bike can do.
The Z900RS stops just as good as it accelerates. Even without having the suspension adjusted for someone my size, the bike seemed to stay leveled and did not dive forward under hard braking. It was very easy to maneuver through traffic, the throttle is responsive but not overly “touchy” and the slim frame of the bike made it easy to split between cars. The bike is very fast but it doesn’t feel fast. Because of the smooth throttle response and gradual distribution of power, the Z900RS doesn’t feel “threatening”. It is surprisingly easy to ride and I would have no problem recommending the bike to relatively new riders. One thing that always throws me off about certain bikes is hard engine braking but I did not feel that with the Z900RS. Laying off the throttle during regular “city pace” doesn’t deliver immediate, drastic reduction of speed. However I did notice the bike bogs a bit when laying off the throttle at elevated RPM’s and at that point the bike felt a bit jerky. I suppose that’s something that may not be as noticeable as you get used to the bike more.
Our friend Abhi mentioned that Kawasaki’s goal was to give the rider of the Z900RS a “stress-free” experience and I think they definitely delivered. As I mentioned earlier, it feels extremely easy to ride. The bike feels really light both in motion and while standing. I had no issue getting it off the kick stand which is unfortunately a common issue for me with bigger bikes. It has a really comfortable neutral / standard riding position and I can see having no issues riding it long distance without getting tired quickly. The motor doesn’t seem to deliver excessive vibration so I don’t foresee there being extreme hand and foot fatigue. The exhaust is loud enough for drivers to hear you coming but not so loud that it gives you a headache on a long ride.
Overall I was very impressed with the bike. My main gripe with this Kawasaki is the price tag. The Z900RS model retails for about $11k before any added on options and dealer fees. That seems a bit steep considering the bike’s main competitor, the Yamaha XSR900, retails for about $2000 less. Although I would not buy it new for that price, I’ll definitely look for one once they start popping up used on Craigslist sometime next year. Great bike, great look, great performance.
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