Kawasaki Australia shows off Z1-inspired Z900RS — but classic bike buffs might be disappointed

CAPTION: Unlike Triumph with its retro range that actually look like the Bonnevilles of old, Kawasaki has taken a light touch to a modern bike to create a Z1-inspired machine for the 21st Century. Classic tragics might be disappointed that the retro project budget didn't stretch to 4-into-4 pipes, spoked wheels, chrome fenders, twin shocks or old-style front forks.

KAWASAKI’S new retro-styled Z900RS has broken cover in Australia, with a public appearance alongside a pair of custom bikes at Deus Ex Machina in Sydney.

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Wearing classic jaffa colours on a teardrop fuel tank, a ducktail rear end, twin circular gauges and a round headlight, the 900RS has obvious styling cues to the original Z1 and Z900. But there’s no four-into-four exhaust, the forks are upside-down, the rear suspension is a single central shock, and the wheels are cast, not spoked — so you’re certainly not going to mistake a new one for the real McCoy.

“We did not try to recreate the Z1, which is a model that stands alone in the heritage of Kawasaki,” the company said in a statement.

“Today, the all-new Kawasaki Z900RS is an evolution of the original Z1 and is set to again make Kawasaki history, by marking our long awaited entry into the Retro category and being our first 948cc in-line four retro model. 

“The Z900RS connects heritage and model history, with contemporary thinking. Any visual, technical or engineering references to the Z1 have been moulded in light of the demands from today’s rider expectations and today’s riding environment.”

Kawasaki let Deus loose on a pair of the new Zeds, proving any bike can be a blank canvas if you have the creativity and the vision. (And maybe a few mates, a bong, and a few colourful pills.)

CAPTION: One of the two Deus customs. Looks tough.

Kawasaki launched the original Z1 in 1972. It proved to be a milestone motorcycle and it made history in the Kawasaki model line-up. The four cylinder, four stroke 903cc Z1 was rated at over 80ps, making it one of the largest capacity and highest power, mass-production machines available in the 1970s.

The next scheduled public viewing of the Kawasaki Z900RS will be at this weekend’s Sydney Motorcycle Show.

CAPTION: Deus custom #2. Looks, er, whacky.

There’s no word yet on when we might see one at a showroom in Perth.

UPDATE: Looks like January 2018 for the RS (around $18k rideaway), February for the Cafe ($18.5k).

CAPTION: Colour scheme and badging are the strongest connections to the old Zed.

CAPTION: That’s an original on the left; the newbie on the right. Obviously.

CAPTION: Ducktail looks vaguely familiar but doesn’t quite work visually … a bit like trying to squeeze your mother’s bum into your daughter’s shorts.

 

1972 Kawasaki Z1 SPECIFICATIONS

2018 Kawasaki Z900RS SPECIFICATIONS

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4 Comments on "Kawasaki Australia shows off Z1-inspired Z900RS — but classic bike buffs might be disappointed"

  1. Kawasaki always provides the best bikes and their built-in quality or performance of the bike is amazing — but the bad thing is they are expensive. Thanks for updating us on the Kawasaki latest news.

  2. Not for 18k they won’t; try 15k ride away & demand will outstrip supply here in Aus

  3. Richard Easton | November 23, 2017 at 3:49 am | Reply

    Everyone’s a critic. Have you ever tried to clean spoke wheels? Most 4 into 4’s were swapped for 4 into 1’s in the era. I would have liked to see conventional forks though. I like the look of the riding position. Footpegs not too far back. Not trying to be a racer or a cruiser or a dirt bike. Looks like a good bike to ride.

  4. I’m kinda glad Kawasaki only refer to the Z900RS as being Z1 inspired, rather than a retro or tribute bike. It is, by the look of it, a thoroughly modern naked bike, which just happens to get the Jaffa colour scheme and a couple of styling cues. It will, no doubt, perform superbly – far exceeding every performance criteria of the bike which inspired it – but I suspect the bike buying public will be a tad underwhelmed. One has to wonder about the intended market for this bike; apart from ‘gentlemen of a certain age’ who were around in the ’70s and remember the original Z1s, to whom will this bike appeal? It will not inspire awe as the original did back in the day, as a naked ‘all rounder’ it faces lots of very stiff (superior?) competition, and as a retro bike it doesn’t deliver as well as say the Bonneville, Guzzi V7, or even Kawasaki’s own (now discontinued) W800. Arguably, the Kawasaki Zephyrs of 20-something years ago were probably a better Z1 inspired bike than this effort, but despite them being very functional machines, they hardly set the world on fire with their sales. Having said all that though,I do hope Kawasaki get enough interest in the Z900RS to inspire them to release a Series II version, which works a bit harder to capture the look and feel of the original Z1.

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