16 Oct 2012

2013 Kawasaki Z800

Kawasaki reinvents the ultimate middleweight - Say hello to the new Z800!

Following on from the Z750, which recently has become outclassed, out-performed and out-styled by the competition - namely by the Triumph Street Triple, MV Agusta Brutale and Yamaha FZ8, Kawasaki proudly presents the newest model in the Z family.

Forty years after the birth of the original Z, Kawasaki’s designers were given free reign to pursue a more vivid expression of the brand to compete far more closely with the competition, and going by these press release photos they seem to have come up trumps!

Apparently Kawasaki’s engineers were also equally unconstrained when it came to engine and chassis design…

Key Features

  • Larger bore size increases displacement from 748cc to 806cc 
  • Strong torque from low rpm, but retaining the high revving top end power that the in-line 4 cylinder engine is renowned for. 
  • Ultra-smooth power delivery, which should help with city riding and filtering. 
  • Reduced-power variation for Europe: 70 kW versions will be available to meet European restricted licence regulations.
  • Improved chassis: Sporty yet with a light, rider-friendly handling character, increased suspension and front braking performance, and slimmer ergonomics all yield increased chassis performance. Riding position looks to be more upright too. 
  • "Ferocious” design: New front cowl design is a key element of the Z800’s more aggressive styling. According to engineers, this styling apparently gives the bike a ‘fiercer glaring appearance. The image of the bike as a whole with the lower fairing appearing to grip the engine is like a snarling beast holding prey in its mouth’. Scary stuff! 
  • New instrument panel design complements the bike’s exterior design and features multi-function LCD screens and a level-meter-style tachometer.  
Let’s be honest, the Z750 was starting to look a bit dated – it was also pricey, overweight, too peaky with its power delivery and didn’t handle as well as it should’ve done. The competition had moved onward and upward and the Z750 was quickly being left behind.

The Z800 looks amazing in these photos, and definitely sounds worthy enough to deserve its place as the little brother of the Z1000, which itself is an awesome arm-wrenching brute of a bike.

It’s about time that the middleweight naked sector had a kick up the backside from Kawasaki, as many could accuse them of sitting on their laurels and neglecting a very popular market in motorcycling. I for one am hoping that this bike lives up to the hype and does just that!

The seating position looks quite comfy, assuming that the rider in the promo pictures is of average height, say between 5ft 8ins and 5ft 11ins. The pegs are set a fair way back but it doesn’t look to be compromising the reach to the upright bars.

I’m glad the side mounted exhaust has stayed, underslung exhausts may look tidy but it can reduce the choice for aftermarket cans somewhat - and also with the British weather, finish can be compromised when it gets coated with crud and salt.

Hopefully there will be a comprehensive accessories list on offer, I can see this bike being popular with riders wanting to do the odd track day but also needing something comfy and practical enough for longer journeys; good mounting points for tailpacks and extra luggage would be a good idea.

I wouldn’t say it was ideal for pillions, the seat looks increasingly narrow and precarious; the lack of pillion pegs on the promo bikes prevents me from guessing as to how cramped it may be on the back though. Perhaps on short journeys it would be ok but I don’t think taller pillions would fancy going much further than 30 miles on the back!

I for one love the styling – it’s great to see the green and black paint scheme back; and it looks very aggressive, I’m sure it will, and should be, a serious competitor to the Street Triple (which personally I’m not a fan of, as the new headlights make it a bit too feminine looking) especially with the retuned engine.  Perhaps Kawasaki have managed to get the 4 cylinder as near as they can to the flexible power delivery of a triple? The Yamaha FZ8 has been criticised for being a bit too rev-dependent, and the price is also a bit salty, unless you can get a good deal on an ex-demo bike from your local dealership.

I’m guessing that pricing on the Z800 will be competitive as it always is with Kawasaki bikes, and the finishing (especially chrome and paintwork) of recent models looks to have improved greatly; so with a bit of TLC, i.e. frequent rinses after riding, it should easily see itself through the worst British winter without any major grumbles.

Overall, I’m looking forward to seeing the bike in the flesh and having a go on one – waiting list permitting that is!

Article by Angela Freeman