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The 2018 Kawasaki Z900RS Café blends retro vibes and modern muscle

The 2018 Z900RS Café is Z1’s heir that promises to take off where the old icon left off

Arguably one of Kawasaki’s most iconic two-wheelers, the Z1 is anything but history, thanks to a new heir that promises to deliver the same thrilling riding experience and even more so. Meet the 2018 Kawasaki Z900RS Café, and its higher-spec Performance twin, two bikes that hark back to the golden age but embed top modern-day features and technologies.

Keeping true to the old-school precepts, the Z900RS Café brings two analog dials for speed and rpm, complemented by a multifunctional LCD screen for essential readouts. It’s impossible to miss the analogy to the monstrous H2 beast thanks to the negative lettering on the LCD, and honestly, it looks just right!

The lights on this bike are also on the retro side, visually, but they’re packed with Kawasaki’s latest LED technology, both in the tail and in the front, while the teardrop, flowing tank enhances the Z1-inspired looks. Even the wheels are engineered to mimic the old-school wire-spoked ones, albeit we’re dealing with high-performance cast rims for top tarmac performance.

At the heart of the lightweight tubular trellis frame sits a smooth yet brawny in-line 4 engine painted in sober black, with contrast accented fins. The front suspension is a 41mm upside-down sport-inspired fork with compression and rebound damping adjustability for precise rider feedback. 

The dual 300mm front brake discs are squeezed by radial-mount monobloc calipers with four opposing pistons, and the stopping power also comes from a radial pump. In the back of the Z900RS Café, we have the usual horizontal back-link suspension, a 250mm rotor, and a single-piston caliper.

One of the nicest features Kawasaki decided to implement in this modern classic is the Ergo-Fit, a function that allows a good degree of adjustability to the handlebars and footpegs, providing a hefty number of ergonomic possibilities for pretty much any rider. Also on the tech side, the 2018 Kawasaki Z900RS Café comes with the usual Eco Riding indicator light, assist & slipper clutch, KTRC (Kawasaki Traction Control) and dual throttle valves.

When it comes down to numbers, we’re looking at a 948cc in-line 4 liquid-cooled, an injected powerplant that can deliver 111 horsepower @ 8,500 rpm and a sweet torque value of 98.5 Nm @ 6,500 rpm. The engine comes with a 6-speed gearbox and sealed chain final transmission.

With a fuel economy of 5.3 l/100 km, it looks like the 17-liter tank packs a decent range, especially if you watch out for that green Eco Riding light from time to time. A curb mass of 216 kg doesn’t make the 2018 Kawasaki Z900RS Café the lightest bike in the market, but neither does it make a fat, heavy slacker. In fact, thinking about the bike’s ancestors, we’re more likely to believe it will ride like a charm.

The Performance trim also brings in the usual Akrapovic muffler engineered specifically for the model, adding some extra nerve to the bike, plus the sought-after throaty tonal presence. A tank pad and lateral engine guards are also part of the Performance pack. We heard that the top-spec machine will be available for around 12,800 Euro, meaning that the standard Café should be some one or two grand cheaper.

READ MORE: Kawasaki H2 SX & Z900RS Prices announced

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