To start with, this isn’t a successor to the Z800. Kawasaki will be selling the new Z900 alongside the Z800. We recently got to sample one of the latest iterations of the Z family and it is by far one of the most exciting motorcycles that have arrived so far in 2017, especially in the Indian context. It’s properly intimidating and packs enough firepower to keep experienced riders involved while being sufficiently subtle to accommodate all the requirements of folks who are graduating from the 600-650cc class.
Visually, the motorcycle is quite a stunner. It gets the trademark Sugomi design which makes the Z1000 so desirable. It gets the predator style stance with an aggressively styled twin headlight. Again, there are no LEDs here which came as a bit of a surprise but nothing complain worthy. The body coloured headlight masks which wrap the illuminator from the top and from the bottom add to the aggressive look of the motorcycle. Behind the headlight is the tall windscreen which helps to a certain extent with the wind protection. A pilot lamp sits exactly below the windscreen.
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Behind the wind protector is the compact instrument cluster which is identical to the Z650. So you’d find the tachometer which sits on the top of the console. At the centre of the console is the gear position indicator followed by a digital display which shows the speedometer, odometer, trip meters, fuel gauge, engine oil temperature, range and time. A gear shift indicator light can be spotted on the left of the digital console along with the engine malfunction notification light and left turn indicator. To the right of the display is a neutral gear indicator, ABS light and right turn indicator. The Mode and Set button sit on either side of the console. Next to the speedometer is a power socket which would take care of the charging duties during those long weekend rides. The entire setup is installed on the flat, single-piece handlebar.
Following the handlebar is the muscular, dual tone fuel tank which also gets extensions for a beefier look. The tank shrouds run all the way to the radiator.
The fuel tank dips into the rider saddle which sits an inch and a half lower than the Z800 which would make the ground easily accessible and easy to move the motorcycle, even for folks who are vertically challenged. It’s also lighter than the Z800, about 21 kilograms to be precise, which makes it easier to paddle in parking, as well as on the go. The pillion saddle is topped by a removable cowl. The cowl doubles up as a support while going down a straight at full throttle. At the rear is the new X-shaped LED tail light which is also used on the 2017 Ninja 650 and Z650. The number plate holder and illuminator along with rear blinkers occupy the rear fender.
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Overall, we like the way it looks, dropping the angular shape of the Z800 for a curvy design. As we said before, it looks quite a stunner and the build quality exceeds the industry standards, just as it’s the case with most premium Kawasaki machines. It’s built around a new, lightweight trellis frame with an aluminium swingarm which helps it shed some serious weight when compared to the Z800.
Now here’s the deal. Kawasaki gives you a set of accessories with the Z900, which you have to necessarily buy. This package includes the front windscreen, a power outlet socket, radiator guard, crash bobbins, tank pad and the rear cowl. We’re not complaining as those are bits which we extra cautious blokes would install anyway and it’s good to have them installed right from the factory but it may bother someone who might be limited by budget as those accessories would definitely cost at least INR 50,000, if not more.
How well does it ride? Oh, this one’s special. The Z900 uses a 948cc inline four-cylinder, liquid cooled engine which is a re-bored version of the Z1000. The engine is tuned to produce 125hp of power @ 9,500 rpm, which is a good 12hp above the Z800, and 98Nm of torque @ 7,700 rotations. The engine comes mated to a six-speed gearbox and features assist and slipper clutch. What makes it special though is the short-ratio gearbox. The first five are on the shorter side while the sixth works as an overdrive. The engine is revvy in nature but there is sufficient amount of low and mid-range power too.
The dual 300mm petal-type rotors with four-piston calipers upfront and single 250mm petal-type rotor with single-piston caliper at the rear, along with ABS are pretty solid. The Dunlop sourced tyres gripped the dry tarmac pretty well and we didn’t have any complains but we had the motorcycle for short time, so we’d hold our detailed comments for an exhaustive review.
The flat handlebar gives the typical naked roadster riding stance which will be a boon on city roads. We had a pretty good time and found nothing complain worthy with the ride quality, ergonomics and handling department. We’d hold our detailed comments about the ride and handling for the exhaustive review.
The Z900, as aforementioned, is by far one of the most exciting motorcycles to reach the Indian shores in 2017. It looks pretty solid, built with the Kawasaki standard and packs the good amount of firepower to keep experienced riders involved and entertained. It’s pretty subtle in lower revs too for it to cruise through city traffic without scaring the rider much while being a proper rocket once you venture into the higher rev-band. At INR 9 lakh (ex-showroom), it isn’t exactly affordable but it’s a reasonable amount of money for the package (inline-four) and there aren’t any offerings out there which could better this proposition.