We’re sort of surprised it took them so long in the end. Kawasaki, together with Honda, pretty much invented the superbike class in the early 1970s, when the firm went nuts and built a full-fat 900 inline-four megabike. Compared with the lame singles and twins being churned out by the competition, the Z1 was probably a bigger leap forwards than the FireBlade, R1, GSX-R1000 and supercharged H2 all put together.
And now, 45 years on, Kawasaki’s finally come up with a worthy homage to the mighty Z1 of 1972, with this new Z900RS (‘Retro Sport’, apparently). The styling is pretty much spot-on we’d say, with plenty of nods to the old bike. Under all the styling of retro fuel tank and ‘spoked-style cast wheels’ is a very modern engine and chassis. The motor’s been fettled to look like an old ‘un with polished fin effects, but is a proper 948cc water-cooled 16-valve fuel-injected 21st century lump. And Kawasaki says it’s been specially tuned for massive low- and mid-range grunt, rather than extreme peak power.
The frame is a trellis unit rather than the old twin cradles of the 1970s and 80s, while the tech level is impressively high. LED headlamp, Kawasaki traction control, USD forks with radial ABS brakes, and even a slipper clutch all points to a pretty serious level of performance for a retro styled roadster.
It’s going to be here soon as well - Kawasaki reckons it will be in the shops by Christmas, woo! The firm’s being shy about the full specs for the moment though: we’ll get them live and direct from the Milan show in a fortnight. BSN will be there, and will bring you more on the Z900RS as it comes…
KAWASAKI Z900RS video: