When Kawasaki introduced the Z900 in 2017, the plan was to replace the Z800 and Z1000 models with a machine that would deliver the best aspects of both in performance and useability. The Z900 has been updated for 2020, and now that we’re a few years out from it stepping into the spotlight, it seems like a good time to take a ride and reflect on whether it really is the best of both worlds.
Before we get going here, I should recognize that the Z1000 is still available in Europe. However, it’s not for sale in the United States anymore. Hence the past tense. From a specification standpoint, let’s remember the Z900’s former siblings for what they were. The Z800 claimed 113 horsepower, had a 32.5-inch seat height, and weighed more than 500 pounds with a full tank. The ultra-sugomi Z1000 boasted 142 ponies, flexed a 32.1-inch seat height, and tipped the scales at around 490 pounds all fueled up. On paper, the Z1000 was much better — it was lighter (amazingly) and packed more power. Then again, at $12,000, it was nearly $4,000 more than a Z800.
An elegant solution
The first-generation of Z900 was already lighter than both bikes, only a shade more expensive than the Z800, and pumped out a claimed 125 horsepower. Arguably an ideal blend or compromise, and for 2020 much of that is the same. The 943 cc engine is largely unchanged, except for a tweak to the intake funnels in the airbox to help keep up with emissions requirements. Most of the chassis architecture of the bike is the same, as well. Kawasaki updated the tubes of the frame around the swingarm pivot to be stronger, and the rear shock spring is now stiffer. Mechanically, it remains a fairly basic inline-four-cylinder powerplant, bolted to a trellis-style frame with a flat handlebar and not a lot of frills.
Electronic features really differentiate the 2020 model from the previous version. It’s more than just ABS now, with switchable traction control, individual power-mode selection, and four ride modes to choose from. Plus, all of it is controlled via a new, 4.3-inch TFT display in the cockpit. This is standard-issue hardware for Kawasaki in 2020, being applied to the Z H2 and Ninja 1000SX, as well. The full-color screen also offers Bluetooth connectivity to Team Green’s Rideology app, not to mention changeable night/day backgrounds. As a cherry on top, there’s refreshed styling — little bits around the LED headlight, more compact shrouds, and an updated fuel-tank cover.
The updated ride
My first impression of the 2020 Z900 was simply that it looks and feels premium. The shine on the plastics is bright, the rim stripes are exactly the right kind of flashy, and the TFT dash is sharp. Even if the reptile-skin effect on the seat cover or the honeycomb graphics aren’t really my style, there’s no denying that the Z900 has presence and kickstand appeal. Cranking the engine to life you get what you expect from a full-size Japanese inline four — a smooth grumble at idle and quick revs when you twist the grip.
Fiddling with the dash, I linked my phone and got set to track my ride. I’m an old millennial, admittedly, but I immediately felt a little baffled by the switchgear. An up/down rocker with a “Select” button in the middle offers most of the same functionality of Kawis gone by. Tap the lower part of the switch to toggle through options on the lower part of the screen (range, mpg average, etc), and tap the upper part for the options resting above (trip meters, odometer, etc.). Simple enough. Two rubber-coated buttons on the bottom of the screen essentially mirror these functions for cycling through information. But, in order to reset the trip meter, for example, the button on the dash must be held down rather than the rocker. That’s in part because holding up or down on the rocker also moves through the ride modes.
It’s a little tricky, but no worse than some other bikes. Unfortunately, it got worse when I dove into the menu (by holding down the right-side rubber button) and found a vertical list of settings. Oddly, the up/down rocker and “Select” button are useless here, and you have to navigate through the list by tapping the left-side rubber button. What followed, for me, was a hilarious and frustrating trial-and-error session of trying to figure out what button selects, how to go back, and trying not to screw up the stock settings.
I don’t want to make a federal case out of this; if you owned the bike you would figure it out, and it’s not like most of us live in the menus before every ride. But I can’t help but feel like the beautiful TFT dash is betrayed by some pretty basic user-interface hurdles, and I think that’s notable.
Fortunately, dropping the bike in gear and taking off got me right back to thinking what a nice machine the Z900 is underneath. The clutch feel is excellent, the throws on the shifter are short and quick — it just feels like it was tuned by people who know what they’re doing. The big, four-pot Nissin binders are sharp, with lots of power, and make me wonder why some other companies don’t bother to make their brakes feel like this. Scooting along city streets, the suspension is firm and sporty. For 2020 the shock spring got about four percent stiffer, which I’m not sure it needed. Still, it’s not the hardtail torture rack that the Z1000 was.
While we’re on the topic of comparing to the other bikes, the Z900’s 31.3-inch seat height came to mind early on in my ride, too. That’s nearly an inch lower than the Z1000, and 1.2 inches lower than a Z800. The scoop on the seat is a little extreme for me at six feet, two inches tall, and it makes the legroom feel a bit cramped. However, at a stoplight I can easily put both feet flat on the ground and stand up with daylight under my buns. I would want a thicker, softer seat for more comfort and legroom, but I appreciate that the Z900 has brawny performance and is approachable for riders of all sizes.
Right, the performance. Sorry, where are my manners? If you’re reading a Z900 review you might be wondering if it screams up to the rev limiter and power wheelies off corners. Yes to both. The engine isn’t a snarling beast — it’s tremendously linear, with a silky rush of power that builds in a predictable but exciting way. Below 5,000 rpm it’s strong without being impressive, but if you fan the clutch and tug on the handlebar in third gear, be ready. You’ll get a proper wheelie. At the same time it’s as polite as can be, with smooth throttle response and an easygoing character at low rpms.
It’s worth mentioning that the suspension, which feels a little firm in the city, really comes into its own on a smooth, twisty road. The bike feels planted and confident, and might even coax you into leaning over a little too far. I never dragged anything, and by the time I was at full lean it occurred to me that if I want more than that I should go to a race track. It’s no race bike, but a track day here and there would be a blast on the Z900, in part because it’s capable but also because it has a fancy new set of electronics.
Controlling power output through engine maps is something Kawasaki has been doing for a while now — typically “F” for full power and “L” for low power. Similarly, the KTRC system (Kawi-speak for traction control) has offered other green bikes the option of three levels of TC adjustability plus the option of turning it off. All of those controls have been added to the 2020 Z900, in addition to Rain, Road, and Sport riding modes, which use predictable combinations of power modes and TC for their namesake conditions. The fourth option, Rider, can be adjusted to any combo of power mode and TC you choose.
I already complained about the controls being a little clunky, but let me be clear: The software behind these systems that Kawasaki has developed is great. Level 1 of KTRC will quickly save a rear-tire slip over a manhole cover or patch of sand, and yet it allows gentle power wheelies. Best of all, when the TC does limit power it rapidly puts control back in the rider’s hand — it’s a performance system, always wanting to keep driving forward as long as it’s doing so safely. As much as I like the Kawasaki suite of safety settings, I love that KTRC can be turned off as well. Plus, if you have TC off and cycle the key, it stays off. Every kid’s favorite chaperone is the one that understands boundaries.
Maybe it’s because I’ve tested Kawasakis against some oddball bikes over the years, but it often strikes me that the company understands how to properly mix practicality with fun, and affordability with build quality. The Z900 is flashy, and a little futuristic, but the mirrors work pretty well and the levers are adjustable. It’ll blow your hair back on your favorite strip of tarmac and still putt around town or cruise gently down the highway, getting about 45 mpg along the way.
Give me context
When I posed the question on social media of what people wanted to know about the Z900, most asked for a comparison to Yamaha’s MT-09. Not having ridden an MT-09 recently, I’m not going to pretend to compare them fully. What I will say is that where the MT-09 is often dinged for being too soft in the suspension department the Z900 delivers just the opposite, with a firm, planted chassis. On the flipside, the Yamaha’s engine snarls with an energy that this Kawi doesn’t match, even if the Z does make more power.
Others wondered about BMW’s new F 900 R, which uses a similar-sized (albeit two-cylinder) engine, a TFT dash, and costs about the same. The F 900 R offers a little more refinement and certainly more factory options, but at its core the Beemer is mild and mature compared to the Z900. If the Z900 is your fun-loving college buddy, the F 900 R is his girlfriend who is always rolling her eyes and making sure he has his wallet. Whatever bike you’re using as a yardstick, the Z900 will compete one way or another.
Three bikes in one
One could complain, if they were so inclined, that the green on the plastic doesn’t quite match the green of the frame, or that the seat is too stiff. And yes, I whined about the dash controls being convoluted. But when I step back after a spirited ride along a twisty road or a blast across the city, this is a nice motorcycle. It’s satisfying and exciting to use, intriguing to look at, and at $8,999 is priced very, very reasonably.
The bottom line here is that Kawasaki absolutely made the right call in creating this Z900 and pushing the Z800 and Z1000 toward the museum. It doesn’t have the heavyweight punch of the Z1000 but it’s nearly as strong, and sprung for human skeletons, not to mention it’s oh so much cheaper. And the Z800 never stood a chance, with less power, a taller seat, and 40 extra pounds. This Z900 is the best bike of the group, and is a worthy competitor to any machine in this category.
|2020 Kawasaki Z900|
|Engine||948 cc, liquid-cooled, 16-valve, inline four|
|Frame||Trellis frame with twin-tube rear section|
|Front suspension||KYB 41 mm fork, adjustable for spring preload and rebounddamping; 4.7 inches of travel|
|Rear suspension||KYB shock, adjustable for spring preload and rebound damping; 5.5 inches oftravel|
|Front brake||Nissin four-piston calipers, 300 mm discs with ABS|
|Rear brake||Nissin single-piston caliper, 250 mm with ABS|
|Rake, trail||24.5 degrees, 4.1 inches|
|Seat height||31.3 inches|
|Fuel capacity||4.5 gallons|
|Tires||Dunlop Sportmax Roadsport 2; 120/70R17 front,180/55R17 rear|
|Claimed weight||458.6 pounds (463.1 with ABS)|
Can a beginner ride Z900? ›
I think that I can use it as safely as a beginner if I only use rain mode and I think I'm responsible enough to not go beyond my skills. I will probably only use it at full power mode after 5000miles of riding it at rain mode. And from my research, the power delivery of the z900 is smooth.Is the Kawasaki Z900 a comfortable to ride? ›
The seat is comfortable, And the riding position is upright, Making it a great choice for daily commuting and weekend rides alike. Overall, The kawasaki z900 is a well-rounded motorcycle that delivers a thrilling riding experience, And is a great choice for those looking for a fun and practical motorcycle.What is the best height to ride Z900? ›
The bike is also suitable for riders of heights between 5.5 and 6 feet, thanks to its long and narrow design. The only downside is that the bike is quite expensive, but if you are looking for a great superbike experience under 10 lacs, the Kawasaki Z900 is the perfect option.What is the 1 4 mile time for a Kawasaki Z900? ›
Kawasaki Z900RS quarter mile in 11.35 seconds.Is Z900 too much for beginner? ›
As a very generalised answer, I would have to say no. The bike itself is certainly not designed as a beginners bike. This bike has a lot of torque in the low end, so unless you already have very good throttle control, clutch control, and a good deal of common sense, it will get you into serious trouble very quickly!Which Kawasaki bike is best for beginners? ›
- 2022 Kawasaki KLX 110R L.
- 2022 Kawasaki KLX 140R.
- 2022 Kawasaki KLX 140R L.
- 2022 Kawasaki KLX 300R.
- 2022 Kawasaki KLX 300.
- 2022 Kawasaki KLX 300 SM.
- 2022 Kawasaki KX 65.
- 2022 Kawasaki KX 85.
The sound and the exhaust are also a beast or more than a beast. And the price of this bike is also good as per the overall average package of this bike. I'll highly recommend you all to take a look at this beast if you're searching for a beast in a budget of around 10l. Go for it and take a look, guys.Is Z900 good for long rides? ›
The bike gets 948cc in-line, 4-cylinder engine which churns out 125PS of power and 98.6Nm of torque. The Z900 has recorded figures 0 to 100kmph in just 3.7 seconds. Moreover, the bike has a very comfortable riding posture with a great capability of touring.Is Z900 stable? ›
The Z900 features a braking system with dual 300mm petal discs at the front and a single 250mm petal disc at the rear, which provides excellent stopping power and stability.How fast does a Kawasaki Z900 go? ›
The estimated top speed of the Kawasaki Z900 is 155 mph.
Is the Z900 a fast bike? ›
Yamaha YZF-R3 Top Speed & Acceleration
The Z900 is not about top speed as it's a naked bike after all, and it is geared for exceptional in-gear acceleration! But if you must you'll see a top speed of 153 mph on the Z900 right at the redline in sixth though you better be pretty small and in an excellent tuck.
Lowered seat Kawasaki Z900
For this solution you have two options: either buy a lowered saddle and install it yourself (or ask a mechanic to do it) or contact an upholsterer to reduce the thickness of the foam of the factory saddle and then reupholster it.
|0-10 mph||0.5 s|
|0-90 mph||6.9 s|
|0-100 mph||8.4 s|
|0-110 mph||9.7 s|
|0-120 mph||10.8 s|
Kawasaki Z900 mileage is 17.5 kmpl (approximate). In terms of performance, the 900cc street motorcycle can accelerate from 0-100 kmph in around 3.7 seconds.Is 1000cc too much for a first bike? ›
The short answer is yes you can start on a 1000cc motorcycle, but before you get too excited there are some questions you should ask and information you should be aware of.Does Kawasaki Z900 have quickshifter? ›
Kawasaki still runs a cable throttle on the Z900 SE, and so cruise control is not possible. The machine is also devoid of a quickshifter, which, these days, should be par for the course.Is the Kawasaki Z900 a superbike? ›
SUPERB BALANCE OF POWER AND HANDLING. With an optimized power-to-weight ratio, the Z900 supernaked delivers the ultimate supernaked performance.What size motorcycle should a beginner start with? ›
For beginner motorcycle riders, the recommended engine is 500cc to 600cc. The lower the cc figure, the easier the bike will handle, and the more forgiving it will be to the inevitable mistakes that new riders make. Just because a bike has a smaller engine doesn't mean you can't still ride fast.Which bike should be my first bike? ›
For example, the Hero Splendor Plus is considered the best bike for beginners in India due to the ease of riding it. The key is to choose a bike that has a manageable kerb weight and is comfortable to ride. A heavy bike with too many complicated features can make the task really difficult.What kind of gas does Kawasaki Z900 take? ›
Kawasaki engines are designed to run on regular pump gas.
Is the Z900 a sport bike? ›
You're reading. A day after launching the 2023 Ninja ZX10R, Kawasaki has gone ahead and announced the arrival of the 2023 Z900 sport bike as well. The naked sport bike will now be offered in two new colour schemes and has also seen a slight price bump on its ex-showroom value.What is the difference between Z900 and KZ900? ›
Building a better Kawasaki KZ900 today
The most noticeable difference between the two is the dual front disc brake setup. Australian and European Z900s were fitted with dual discs, while the U.S. model KZ had a single binder up front.
Power and Riding Modes
There are two power modes for the rider to select from: full and low. The full power mode is self-explanatory while the low power mode limits engine output to 55% of full power and activates a milder throttle response.
Lacking for nothing, the DOHC 948cc motor feels crisp and very powerful. It revs willingly and rapidly to the 11,000 rpm limiter, producing power all the way there.What is the maximum mileage of Z900? ›
And usefully combining the two, the Z900 incorporates selectable Riding Modes as standard linking KTRC and Power Mode to allow riders the facility to set traction control and power delivery to suit a given riding situation.Does Z900 have ride by wire? ›
The Kawasaki Z900 SE is devoid of a ride-by-wire throttle, which also means it's devoid of cruise control.What are the 4 modes in Z900? ›
Riders can choose from four settings: Sport, Road, Rain, and a manual Rider mode.Is a Z1000 better than a Z900? ›
Q: Which bike is better Kawasaki Z1000 or Kawasaki Z900? According to our average user rating, Kawasaki Z900 has a score of 4.8/5 while Kawasaki Z1000 is rated 4.6/5.Can you turbo a Z900? ›
The standard Z900 RS uses a detuned 110bhp version of the 948cc 125bhp Z900 engine, and part of that detune is a lowered compression ratio, down to 10.8:1 from 11.8:1. This means Big CC can bolt on a turbo, putting in about 6-8psi of boost, without worrying about detonation, even on standard pump fuel.
How many gears does a Z900 have? ›
There are 6 Speed gears available in Kawasaki Z900.What happens if bike seat is too high? ›
Common issues resulting from an inappropriate saddle height include knee pain, saddle discomfort (pressure, numbness, sores), hip pain/impingement, hamstrings tendiopathy, back pain, achilles issues, neck pain, and hand and wrist pain/numbness.Is Kawasaki good for short riders? ›
Kawasaki Ninja 400
It is lightweight and versatile with excellent handling and control. If you are into sports bikes and searching for motorcycles for short riders, you just might have found the perfect candidate.
Final Thought. Of all the bike fit adjustments, saddle height is considered the most important. Optimal seat height allows you to maximize every spin of the pedals while keeping your knees healthy. You will make over 7,200 pedal revolutions in just a leisurely 2-hour bike ride.How many HP is the z900? ›
|Engine||948cc, 4-stroke, 4-cylinder, DOHC, 16-valve, liquid-cooled|
|Bore x Stroke||73.4 x 56.0mm|
|Manufacturer||Kawasaki Motorcycle & Engine Company|
|Top speed||253 km/h (157 mph)|
|Power||92.2 kW (125 hp) @ 9500 rpm A2 35.0(47.46 hp)|
|Torque||98.6 N·m @ 7700 rpm|
|Transmission||6-speed constant-mesh, chain final drive|
What is the #1 fastest bike in the world? The turbine-powered MTT 420-RR is currently the fastest bike in the world with a top speed of 273 mph (439 km/h). Check our list of the fastest bikes in the world to see the full ranking.Does Z900 have power modes? ›
The Z900 has four power modes: Sport Riding: This mode gives you the full power and torque of the engine, with sharp throttle response for an exciting and thrilling ride. Road: This mode offers a balance between performance and fuel efficiency, ideal for everyday riding and commuting.What is the worlds fastest bike 0 100? ›
By 0–60 mph, 3.5 seconds or less.
|Make and model||Year (model)||Time (seconds)|
We will get multiple views of this drag racing history as Larry McBride's Nitro Bike clocks a speed of 268 mph in just 1320 feet or a 1/4 mile. The FASTEST Motorcycle in the World!
What was the first motorcycle to go over 100 mph? ›
1925 Brough Superior SS100
Each bike was test ridden prior to delivery, certifying its ability to meet spec. The SS100 is credited as the first production bike to achieve 100 mph.
- Aprilia RSV 1000R Mille. ...
- MV Agusta F4 1000R. ...
- Kawasaki Ninja ZX-14R. ...
- BMW S1000RR. ...
- Honda CBR1100XX Blackbird. ...
- Kawasaki Ninja H2R. ...
- MTT Turbine Superbike Y2K. ...
- Suzuki Hayabusa.
The short answer is yes you can start on a 1000cc motorcycle, but before you get too excited there are some questions you should ask and information you should be aware of.Are Kawasaki motorcycles good for beginners? ›
Kawasaki is one of the most popular motorcycle manufacturers because its Ninja lineup of sport bikes is ideal for beginners and experienced riders alike.What is the easiest Indian motorcycle to ride? ›
The Indian Scout Bobber has all the makings of a very good first bike. In particular, the Scout Bobber Sixty is an ideal entry to Bobber ownership although all 3 Indian Bobbers are low to the ground and have a smooth power delivery so despite being big displacement bikes, they are easy to handle.How powerful should your first bike be? ›
It's tempting to grab a powerful motorcycle, but beginners should be wary of taking on more than they can handle. Anything under 600cc is recommended for new riders so they can keep in control and stay safe. Many riders aren't aware that horsepower is more important than engine size.How many cc is good for a beginner rider? ›
For new riders, two-cylinder bikes with under 600cc are a good starting point. Purchasing a motorcycle that is too powerful can be dangerous and put you, your bike, and other drivers at risk.Is 600cc too much for first bike? ›
Yes, a 600cc Sport Bike is Too Big for a First Bike
This is the question we get the most so we're cutting to the chase and answering it straight up and as emphatically as possible. Yes, stay away from riding a 600cc motorcycle if you are starting out as a motorcycle rider.
For beginner motorcycle riders, the recommended engine is 500cc to 600cc. The lower the cc figure, the easier the bike will handle, and the more forgiving it will be to the inevitable mistakes that new riders make. Just because a bike has a smaller engine doesn't mean you can't still ride fast.What is the best motorcycle weight for beginners? ›
For smaller riders or beginners, it's easy to find a bike between 300 and 400 pounds with a low seat height and desirable handling. For bigger riders or those wanting a touring bike or one which can keep a passenger comfortable on long rides, there are bikes up to 1,000 pounds, too.
What is the safest Kawasaki motorcycle? ›
If you're looking to stay comfortable behind the wheel, look no further than the 300-X from Kawasaki. It comes with many of the industry's leading safety features, including an anti-lock braking system and stability control. But this bike is more ergonomically friendly than some of the others on the road.What are beginner motorcycles called? ›
Adventure motorcycles can make great beginner bikes. They are designed for long-term travel, have a very comfortable upright seating position, and can be ridden both on and off the road.