I really felt like this would be a bike I would have to own.
When I first saw the 2018 Kawasaki Z900RS I really felt like this would be a bike I would have to own. Somehow I showed some restraint and waited hoping against all hope that a nice one would show up at our shop for consignment and I could scoop it up. Fast forward to August of 2019 and I’m visiting my new grand daughter in New Orleans when my son Brent, the other son in French and Sons Motorcycles, and he spots one on Cycle Trader. The bike looks great and only has 2400 miles on it. So my waiting paid off. It didn’t come through the shop but it was a great deal and in perfect condition. This is my personal review of the bike with a twist. We currently have two 1973 Kawasaki Z1 900s in the shop for sale so the chance to compare old and new was exciting.
I had read many tests and reviews of the Z900RS before ever swinging a leg over one and I was astounded that it seemed as though everyone who tested it loved it. It was a good indicator that the bike would be great because with all new bike reviews there is always someone who has negative impressions or things to nitpick about the bike they’re testing.
The first thing I noticed was the sound of the exhaust. It is perfect for me. Not too quiet and not to loud. Once on the road I instantly felt that the throttle was too sensitive to my wrist input. I had to concentrate on takeoff to do so smoothly. After a few miles I started settling in and checking things out. At one stoplight I noticed that the levers were adjustable and that the clutch was set on position 5 which is all the way out. I turned it down to 3 and take off was much smoother. At the next stop I turned it down to 1 and the problem was solved. My clutch and throttle hands were now in perfect sync and takeoffs were now smooth as glass without effort.
About 10 miles into my ride I was really getting used to the bike. It really feels small and light, and reminds me a lot of our BMW R-Nine-T. The handling is effortless and intuitive. No surprises in turns and all you have to do is think about which direction you want to go in and it’s happening.
The sound of the engine is fantastic. I already mentioned how much I like the exhaust sound but the real surprise is the intake sound. The two sounds combined make possibly the most wonderful inline four sound I’ve ever experienced. Interestingly, the sound is very reminiscent of the 1973 Z1. I wonder if Kawasaki did that on purpose.
This is a fast bike! Yes there are modern motorcycles that are much faster but this bike is still very fast and of course much much faster than the 1973 bike. I took a route that had me on small curvy two lane roads, a long straight beach boulevard stretch and even a 10 mile run on the Interstate. One thing that I noticed and can’t quite explain is that the bike is very comfortable at 80+ in terms of wind. For a naked bike it was no strain to ride at those speeds and it almost felt as though the bike had a bikini faring on it. It doesn’t.
The bike scores high in every category. It looks great, it sounds great, the suspension is comfortable and competent and engine performance is more than anyone needs to satisfy the need for speed, I love it.
My sons and I have a pretty good collection of old and new bikes and we are fortunate enough to be able to ride many others that we don’t own because of what comes through the shop. As it happens we have in our collection a 1975 Honda CB750K5 in original near new condition and we have a 2013 Honda CB1100. The temptation to compare the Honda CB1100, which is a modern retro version of the CB750, to the Z900RS which is a modern retro version of the Z1 900 is understandable. I love my 1975 CB750K and it’s pretty much the same bike as the original 1969 CB750 which has been called the first superbike. It held that title until the 1973 Z1 900 came out. Ride the CB750 and then ride the Z1 and the Honda doesn’t seem so super. It’s amazing that 40 years later the relationship between the Honda CB1100 and the Kawasaki Z900RS is exactly the same. The CB1100 is silky smooth, quite and jewel like, a truly wonderful bike. The Kawasaki Z900RS is slightly less sophisticated and alot faster and makes beautiful sounds. History repeats itself.