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.