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After months of teaser vids, spy shots and loose details,  Kawasaki's retro styled Z900RS has made its debut in Tokyo. 

After the demise of the W650 and W800, this is now Kawasaki's only real retro offerring, and rather than giving us a lower spec, thrown together bike, we've got 100+ horses and a few higher spec components in the mix.

A completely redesigned frame now accommodates a new 17-litre teardrop tank reminiscent of the Z1, and has altered the riding position towards a more relaxed upright layout. 

Compared to the Z900, the bars are 30mm wider, 65mm higher, and 35mm closer to the rider.  The seat height is a reasonable 835mm, but there’s an ERGO-FIT low seat option that reduces it by 35 mm. Compared to the Z900, the footpegs are 20mm lower and 20mm farther forward.

At the heart of the new frame is the liquid-cooled 948cc Z900 engine, retuned to give stronger midrange pull below 7000rpm. Peak power is down from 125hp to 111hp and peak torque drops from 72.2lbft to 53.5lbft, but Kawasaki say the payoff is that stronger torque. First gear is also shorter than the Z900 which will help with traffic stalls, and a taller sixth gear reduces vibrations at speed. 

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Happily, the Z900RS gets a radial-mounted four-piston monobloc front calipers upgrade. The Z900 has a conventional twin four-piston set-up. Like the Z900, the Z900RS has an assist-and-slipper clutch.

But, unlike the Z900 the retro funnily enough gets more tech in the form of traction control. The KTRC system offers two riding modes, one for ‘enhanced sport riding performance’ and one for ‘peace of mind to negotiate slippery surfaces with confidence’.

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Keeping with retro styling the Z900RS has a Z1-inspired tail cowl,  finned cylinder heads to mimic air-cooling and the new cast wheels have more spokes. There's also along dual analogue-style speedometer and rev-counter, with a smaller multi-functional LCD screen tucked between the two.


For purists this can be blanked off with an accessory panel. But it might be worth keeping since the LCD screen does feature a gear indicator, odometer, dual trip meters, fuel gauge, remaining range, current and average fuel consumption, coolant temperature, external temperature, clock and the Economical Riding Indicator.

Owners will be pleased by the modern rim sizes which will allow for a wider range of tyre options. The standard retro styled Dunlop GPR-300s can be swapped out for all-weather touring rubber, or trackday-friendly sports tyres.

We can't help but be somewhat dissapointed by the 4 into 1 exhaust, but Kawasaki says the sound has been specially tuned for a deep rumble at low revs.



Like the Z900, the Z900RS has 41mm inverted forks with compression and rebound damping and spring pre-load adjustability; and a horizontal back-link, gas-charged shock with rebound damping and spring pre-load adjustability.

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The Z900RS comes in a pleasing range of retro colour schemes with detailing including brown and orange, black or matte green.

There's talks of a cafe racer version in development as well, but you can expect the Z900RS to be in dealers by the end of the year. Kawasaki haven't give any word on a UK price tag yet, but we are guessing it will be around the 10k mark.