Kawasaki Z900 Review: Graceful Belligerence
Priced at around INR 7.68 lakhs ex-showroom, the 2017 Kawasaki Z900 offers great bang for your buck. Here's what we think about the new Kwacker on the block.
Kawasaki has been on an onslaught off late replenishing every bike in its lineup. From the delectable likes of the new ZX10RR, Versys 1000 or the gargantuan ZX14R- what caught the fancy of the African performance motorcycling segment was the launch of the new Kawasaki Z900. Earlier the Kawasaki Z800 was met with great fanfare by biking aficionados. It clocked healthy sales numbers owing to its aggressive Z styling, a refined punchy motor with symphonious inline four melody that we crave for.
Though we were impressed by the engine refinement and the build quality- a high perched position and the weighty feel into the corners was somewhat of a put off. The new Kawasaki Z900 is the redressal towards this very concern. Lighter, gruntier and sharper than the Z800- the new Kawasaki Z900 offered buyers a better scheme placed bang in between the 800 and the beasty Z1000.
We put the new Kawasaki Z900 through the paces with the rainy Pune weather playing hide and seek. It actually turned out to our advantage as we also got to gauge the bike in soaked climatic conditions. Here’s what we could all learn of the motorcycle in our 2017 Kawasaki Z900 review.
STYLING AND BUILD QUALITY
True to the Z genes, Kawasaki’s new streetfighter equably balances the styling ingredients of both the Z800 and the Z1000. It steps up the aggression quotient from the Z800 but doesn’t punch your face with that visual violence of the Z1000. The Z900 amalgamates flowing body work with combative incisions offering a harmonious blend of art and aggression. The H2R inspired steel trellis frame looks absolutely gorgeous hugging the four pot motor which seems to have just stepped out of a gymnasium.
The Z900 looks aggressive from every quarter, but not so much when viewed from the front. We felt Kawasaki could have given it a more angry face. Even the Z800 or for the matter the earlier gen Z1000 looked far more belligerent than the Z900. The headlight looks sedate for the angular bodywork- we wish Kawasaki could have amped up the Z800s face with angry LED brows (just wishful thinking)- but it doesn’t look out of place anyway.
The motorcycle imparts a big bike visual feel while still being a compact package. The fuel tank flanked by extensions, the bulging engine, the bulbous exhaust and even the full sized rear fender- all add to an imposing street presence. The metallic black-matt green combo adds a contrasting effect nicely exposing the cuts in the design. But we still love the grey-black combo with the frame treated to a green shade. The tail light concludes the aggression by way of a big single Z pattern LED strip when compared to twin-Z tail of the Z800.
Build quality is top notch- though it might not look as good, thanks to the rain gods spoiling our static shoot. The only imperfections on the motorcycle have to be the weld joints on the frame- but it’s the case with best of machines. As for the rest, it’s difficult to spot a rough edge on the motorcycle. The Z900 is well finished and looks well worth the dough one tenders while making a purchase decision.
PERFORMANCE: ENGINE & GEARBOX
Kawasaki just hasn’t been at the fore when it came to churning out motorcycles, but have been pushing the refinement envelope further. The refinement of the Z1000 derived motor is at its engineering best and similar to the Z800, but the induction howl is more pronounced owing to a new airbox shape and revised intake funnels. The liquid cooled 948cc inline four yields a healthy 123 bhp @ 9500 rpm and 98.6 nm of twisting force @ 7700 rpm. Thanks to the engine tune and short throw gear ratios for the first five and an overdrive sixth- the Z900 would pull effortless from as low as 2500 rpm. The strong midrange would push you back into the seat with the motorcycle pulling with the same grunt throughout the rev range as you work your left foot through the slick six speed gearbox.
The bottom end is in fact so good, we ended up riding in bumper to bumper traffic in fifth gear till we got a shock glancing at the gear indicator. We would stop at red lights in fourth gear and pick up in third. You could lazily chug away at 120 kph with the digital tach hovering around the 5000 rpm mark while enjoying the inline four symphony emanating from the 4 into 1 stainless steel exhaust. The mid-range is so punchy that any misadventure of the right wrist in the first three gears would end up getting the front air-borne. It continues to pull in a linear fashion till its 11,000 rev limiter in a silken smooth composure. We had assumed a dull performance at the top considering oodles of low and mid-range grunt on tap- but the Z900 would keep you exhilarated even at higher revs.
The assist and slipper clutch provides effortless pull of the lever and worked well during the review. We kept downshifting in a hurried manner at triple digit speeds hoping for at least a minor fishtail- but the system worked flawlessly well.
HANDLING, BRAKING AND RIDE QUALITY
From the time we swung our legs over the Z900- we kept recollecting our experience with the Z800 and how good this motorcycle is over its lesser displaced cousin. One can feel sitting into the Z900 when compared to on top seating of the Z800. A lower seat height (31.3 inches as against 32.8 on the 800), lighter load- thanks to weight saving (20 kgs less) through a lighter chassis, extruded aluminum swingarm and new five spoke wheels- the Z900 feels an effortless beast to chuck around. Addition of a 41mm damping and preload adjustable KYB front suspension with a back link rear shocker feel slightly stiffer in travel but offer the Z900 with better road holding etiquettes.
The motorcycle feels more agile than the 800 and effortless too when going around bends. But if you are hopping off from something like a Street Triple, you might sense that the 900 needs more muscling in comparison to cut down on lean angles. Also the fact that the media bike allotted to us had slight front end issues only escalated the situation. But once coming to terms with the Z900’s behavior- the feedback from the front became more predictable. It was fun knowing how effortless this motorcycle was and we would focus more on our cornering line than being bogged down by the weighty feel as in the case of the Z800. The Dunlop Sportmax tyres at both ends ample bite during turn-ins and under harsh braking conditions. Also the grip under wet conditions felt impressive and there were no instances of creepy slides during the entire review run.
The Z900 comes equipped with four piston Nissin calipers mounted over 300mm twin discs at the front and a single piston caliper pinching a 250mm single disc at the rear (ABS Standard). The braking system provides for ample stopping power and the bike could be squeezed with a two finger effort on the adjustable brake levers. Feedback is predictable and braking is linear in nature- though we’re not complaining, we wished for that slight extra bite particularly while dropping anchors from high speeds. The ABS feels non-intrusive and would only intervene in case one tries to be too adventurous or harsh on the levers.
Talking of ride quality- the Kawasaki Z900 is an extremely comfortable bike to ride. The upright ergos, a broad supple seat offering comfort and enough real estate to move around during prolonged rides. With a creamy motor nestled between your legs, it’s a motorcycle you would love munching miles on well paved blacktops with fewer butt breaks. However the suspension that makes this bike a better handler than the Z800, somewhat backfires and loses its composure over rough surfaces. Minor undulations could be well dealt with, but anything over and the suspension would send complaints up your arms and spine. Hence thoughts of hurriedly rolling over undulations isn’t a great idea on the Z900- take it calm and just get the motorcycle rolling slowly over the rough patches and you should be happy.
So is the new Kawasaki Z900 a worthy successor to the Z800- we’d give a BIG YES. It scores well on every performance facet vis-à-vis the 800 and is overall a well-balanced beast. It’s better looking, has lost weight but gained power and not only does it feel elating to ride but more tractable throughout its rev range. Handles better, brakes better and offers a more comforting ride in comparison. The engine feels bomb proof and the kickass bottom and mid-range would have you grinning from ear to ear in everyday riding scenario. Also the engine offers great restraint from heat and doesn’t end up roasting your legs. It does lack the electronic wizardry i.e. riding/ power modes and traction control- but the Z’s have always been a more purist offering. Also we feel buyers won’t be complaining considering it’s a near litre class motorcycle at the price of a middleweight. So if you are looking for a motorcycle with looks and performance bundled into one- the new Kawasaki Z900 should be on your shopping list. And now with a revised pricing of INR 7.68 lacs (ex-showroom)– makes it an even more tempting package.
2017 KAWASAKI Z900 TECHNICAL SPECIFICATIONS
2017 KAWASAKI Z900 IMAGE GALLERY