Kawasaki is known for some iconic bikes. Starting from the B8125, launched in 1962, to bikes such as Kawasaki Ninja ZX-12R to its latest blockbuster, the Z1000, Kawasaki has a long history of creating good bikes. The Kawasaki Z800 is one of the latest entrants to this list.
The Z800 belongs to a new breed of bikes called ‘naked bikes’. The bike was first launched in Europe in 2013, as a replacement for the widely popular Z750. The bike may not be very well-known in the UK, but it is one of the largest selling bikes in Europe, selling more than 6200 units in 2015. The Z800 has been positioned as a competitor to Yamaha’s popular FZ-09.
The engine on the Kawasaki Z800 is the same as the engine on the Z750
The Kawasaki Z800 has an engine which is an upgraded version of the engine on the Z750. The bike does pick up speed once you are on the road. But we have to say this for the pickup- the bike feels lazy and subdued in the beginning. The engine wakes up somewhere between 5000-6000 rpm. By the time it reaches 8000 rpm, the bike is positively roaring. This is not all- you can take the bike all the way up to 12,200 rpm.
We can see that Kawasaki built the Z800 for the street. You can glean this much by analyzing the bike’s suspension. Kawasaki has installed a KYB inverted fork on the front tire and a single shock on the rear tire.
Here, we have to say, we were skeptical at first about the suspension. When you look at it for the first time, you may think Kawasaki has cut corners there. But once you get on the road and you see how well the suspension works, your doubts will be dispelled.
The Kawasaki Z800 is not as technologically advanced as some other sports bikes
True to the ‘naked bike’ niche to which the Kawasaki Z800 belongs, Kawasaki has kept the bike, bare bones on the technology front. The Kawasaki Z800 has a fuel injection system and ABS but they are not of the fancy sort you will find on some other sports bikes.
There is no traction control, throttle by wire or rider modes. The dashboard is also very simple. It tells you only what you have time to notice when you are riding at 70mph and nothing else.
The bike weighs at 510 pounds but it feels much lighter than that, thanks to its excellent weight distribution. On the tire front, Kawasaki has partnered with Dunlop, which has lent its Sportmax D124 tires to the K800. The tires warm up quickly and give excellent grip in different situations.
The bike has a seat height of 32.8 inches. This, coupled with the bike’s ergonomics gives taller riders an edge over shorter riders. However, the seat is nothing to rave about. It is quite average. We also noticed the handle bars are low rung but they don’t tire your hand. The engine is quite powerful and delivers once the bike gets going. Braking is good and predictable.
Final comments on the Z800
We think the Z800 is a solid bike but without the frills you see on other sports bike. In this, it manages to remain true to its ‘naked bike’ image. For sure, if you buy this bike, you are going to have a short learning curve. The controls on the bike are basic and simple. So if you are looking for a value for money sports bike, the Kawasaki Z800 is a good bike. But if you are looking for power, the FZ-09 will probably be a better buy.