Up Close and Personal With the Kawasaki Z900RS
Kawasaki makes it official: The Z900RS is Coming to America
Back in October, Kawasaki announced the rad new Z900RS at the Tokyo Motor Show. Up until now, though, we didn't know when or officially even if it would be available in the States (although it was a pretty good bet). This weekend Kawasaki made its official announcement at the International Motorcycle Show in New York: the Z900RS is coming to America.
I got up close and personal with the new retro machine, and I was pretty impressed. Not only did Kawasaki's designers get it right with regards to the retro styling – as you can see, it's the spitting image of the '73 Z1 – but the bike has an amazing presence when you're standing beside it. It's not just a pretty face either, it has the performance and build to back up those stylish looks. Just how good is it? Let's let Kawasaki tell you a bit more.
The Z900RS features a liquid-cooled, DOHC, 16-valve 948cc in-line four cylinder engine that offers a great balance of power and manageability. It claims to deliver strong low and mid range torque that provides all riders the reassuring feeling of control. Utilizing the downdraft positioning of the 36mm throttle bodies was crucial in allowing intake air to travel in the most direct route to the combustion chamber, which is all complemented by ECU-controlled sub throttles that provide silky smooth throttle response.
The Z900RS's gearing ratio was designed to have a short first gear for easy launching. It also features a longer sixth gear for improved ride comfort when touring or cruising at highway speeds. That tall sixth gear also allows the engine to operate at lower rpm, which, in turn, results in improved fuel efficiency and reduced engine vibration.
The Z900RS features a high-quality clutch with assist and slipper function working in unison with its transmission. Additionally, the back-torque limiting slipper function of the clutch contributes to stability by helping to prevent wheel hop during downshifts.
Kawasaki’s First Tuned Exhaust Note
Kawasaki says it has used sound research to craft the model’s ideal exhaust note. Sound tuning on the Z900RS engine was focused on the initial roar to life, idling, and low-speed riding where the rider is best able to enjoy the exhaust’s deep growl. To ensure both performance and the desired sound were achieved, every aspect of the exhaust system was scrutinized: exhaust pipe length, collector design, where to position the bends, even the density of the glass wool fibers in the silencer. More than 20 renditions of the system were tested before finding the perfect match. Clever internal construction of the pre-chamber achieves a balance of sound and performance, and at low-rpm, the exhaust escapes in a straight line, while at high-rpm the exhaust is routed through an additional passage.
The stainless steel exhaust system features a 4-into-1-collector layout. The header pipes and pre-chamber are built as single unit. The exhaust headers feature a double-wall construction, which helps to minimize heat discoloration and provide protection from the elements. To ensure the highest quality finish possible the header pipes, pre-chamber and silencer are all treated with a special three stage buffing process: the first is done as individual parts, the second is done once the exhaust is assembled, the third stage is a final buffing process. The compact stainless steel megaphone-style silencer contributes to the retro design of the Z900RS.
Lightweight Trellis Frame
To achieve the desired weight, handling characteristics, and appearance, the Z900RS received an all-new high tensile steel trellis frame that was developed using Kawasaki’s advanced analysis technology. The frame's lines are as straight as possible, which helps disperse stress and offers very smooth, predictable handling.
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Also aiding in the pursuit of lightweight and performance handling is the rigid-mounted engine. The 948cc engine is connected at five points to the frame: front and rear of the cylinder head, behind the cylinder, and at the top and bottom of the crankcases. Its minimalist design has helped to trim all unnecessary weight while showcasing its retro styling.
Up front, the bike features a 41mm inverted fork that features fully adjustable 10-way compression and 12-way rebound damping. This enables riders to customize the suspension to suit their preference and riding style. Out back is Kawasaki’s Horizontal Back-Link rear suspension design. The rear shock features fully adjustable rebound damping and preload. This arrangement contributes to mass centralization while ensuring that the suspension is located far enough from the exhaust that it is not affected by heat.
Stopping is handled by a full disc brake setup featuring modern ABS. The radial-pump front brake master cylinder commands a pair of 4-piston radial-mount monobloc calipers that grip a pair of 300 mm rotors. The rear brake features a single piston, pin-slide caliper gripping a 250 mm disc. The system is plenty powerful, and hauls the big bike down from speed with ease.
Kawasaki TRaction Control (KTRC)
The Z900RS is equipped with Kawasaki TRaction Control (KTRC), which has two performance settings riders can choose from. Mode 1 prioritizes maximum forward acceleration, while Mode 2 provides rider reassurance by facilitating smooth riding on slippery surfaces and controlling wheel spin.
Pretty impressive, right? Seeing the Z900RS up close was a real treat, and really drove home how much work Kawasaki put into making this a worthy successor to the legendary Z1.
The Z900RS should be available early next year in both Metallic Flat Spark Black and Candytone Brown at your friendly neighborhood Kawasaki dealer. You should totally go test drive one, it'll be worth your while.