RIDEFAST SEPTEMBER

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A Rich heritage:

Let’s chat briefly about the Z900’s

family history.

The Z800 claimed 113

horsepower, had a -32.5inch

seat height, and weighed more

than 225KG’s with a full tank.

The monster Z1000 boasts 142

ponies, very similar seat height,

and weighs in at just on 220, all

fueled up. Lighter, incredibly with

a whole lot more power.

The first-generation of Z900 was

already lighter than both of those

bikes, and made a claimed 125

horsepower. A great addition to

the family, slotting seamlessly

between her predecessors.

For 2020, the meaty 943 cc

four cylinder engine is largely

unchanged, except for an update

on the intake funnels in the air

box to meet emission control

regulations.

The Chassis is pretty much the

same as the original. Kawasaki

updated the tubes of the frame

around the swingarm pivot

to be stronger, and made the

rear shock spring a bit stiffer.

Mechanically, it is a fairly

straightforward traditional inlinefour-cylinder

Kawasaki power

plant, bolted to a trellis-style

frame with flat handlebars and not

too much else.

Electronic features:

ABS, switchable traction control,

individual power-mode selection,

and four ride modes to choose

from. All controlled via a neat TFT

display behind the screen. This is

now standard-issue hardware for

Kawasaki in 2020, you’ll also find

it on the H2 and Ninja 1000SX.

The screen also offers Bluetooth

connectivity to Team Green’s

Rideology app, and changeable

night/day backgrounds. And then

there are the cool styling updates

— little bits around the LED

headlight, more compact shrouds,

and an updated fuel-tank cover.

Who Came Along?:

For this ride we roped in four

different riders to take The Zed

for a spin. Sean and Glenn are

effectively the older gen riders

here – they grew up riding the

early GPZ’s and Zeds and have

ridden pretty much every rendition

since then.

Did you know that Kawasaki once

built a GPZ750 Turbo? A KR250

Tandem Twin -2stroke? Well we

rode em too.

Then there are two newer models

who have grown up around

some of the latest and greatest

innovations in the motorcycle

world. Kyle lawrenson and Mieke

came along to give a younger

perspective on this big machine.

Where we went:

We all decided that a track day on

this would be completely lost. We

wanted to see what the bike was

like to live with every day – and

we undertook an urban adventure

of some note, from the Far East

Rand, through the winding passes

of Primrose, the suburban sprawl

of Bedfordview to some pretty

frikken dodgy Jo-Burg alleys that

we used to terrorise when we

were lighties in search of a cool

skyline pic.

Lots of time was spent carving

the back roads – and a bike like

this is built for blasting along the

freeways. We turned a full tank of

fuel into nearly 400 kilometres of

absolute fun.

What’s the bike like?

There is a sense i indestructability

that comes with any big, naked

Kawasaki. She is really comfortable

with wide bars and ergonomics that

will suit just about any rider. We did

not find her tall, which is a good

thing. The TFT dash is clear. For

a naked, the bikini screen offers

reasonable protection from the

elements. We can tell you all about

the amazing tech that goes into a

bike like this and very often, things

get lost in translation.

This is a compact, comfortable

smooth muscle bike. It has

impeccable manners when you

feel like doddering along, but

she loves to be opened wide and

pointed at the nearest corner.

Her road manners are impressive

– although we need to tell you

that at speeds above the speed

limit, the front end starts getting a

bit light. In the right hands, she’ll

point her front wheel at the sky,

or happily back into the corner all

with a great big howl from that ohso-smooth

inline four.

Short squirts on the throttle are

ridiculously good fun as she

steams her way well past legal

street limits – but, as with most

nakeds, wind buffeting will limit

any sustained top-end runs.

We are pretty sure that guys like

Trickbitz can hook you up with a

taller aftermarket screen for those

longer rides. We saw speeds

around the 200kph mark in a blink

and she was still accelerating.

Best of all, getting there is a simple

twist of the throttle away. The

clutch is light, the gearshifts, silky,

the brakes are fantastic with a firm,

planted chassis suspension to

match – even the nasty potholes

failed to ruffle her tail feathers.

But she loves to be ridden fast.

Not only from a sheer naked

acceleration perspective, but

listening to that brawny engine

howling away from robot to robot

is one of those very cool things

in life…She’s a bike that we

could happily live with. So much

sweet power in such a fun to

ride chassis…

Take note of the 'Z' Tail light

Sean says:

I am a huge, huge fan of the

naked bikes, they are real lookers

and proper riders bikes in my

humble opinion. Being an old

school rider I am more familiar

and comfortable with slightly more

upright sitting position.

I also lust after the power

and agility of a sports bike

and really enjoy all the new

technology being thrown at the

sports bikes in particular, so

bikes like the Kawasaki Z900

are right up my alley.

I don’t know why, but I have

always been a fan of green,

and paired with black it is just

completely irresistible to me,

especially the metallic green

and gloss black of the Z9. Then,

Kawasaki has really put some

special effort into the detail,

simple little things that make you

look twice and go, “Really, did

I really see that?”, like the LED

tail light configured into a ‘Z’,

might not be much but that really

appeals to me.

If they are putting that much

effort into something as utilitarian

as a tail light, then how much

more effort have they put into the

rest of the bike?

Settling into the saddle is

surprisingly comfortable for

the taller rider such as myself,

everything was where I

instinctively expected to find,

which is a really good feature,

often I climb onto bikes for

the first time and almost end

up crashing in the first 3 km’s

looking for the indicator switch

or the display and mode

navigation controls.

The relationship between the

seat, foot pegs and handle bars

were more than comfortable

for me at 2 metres tall even

with the relatively low seat

height. You sit in the bike as

opposed to on top of it inspiring

much more confidence for me.

Sometimes I feel a bit exposed

and awkward sitting on top as

opposed to in a bike.

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