Kawasaki has announced a new member of the Z family for 2017, the Z900, which replaces the outgoing Z800. I’d be hard pressed to find someone involved in motorcycling who isn’t familiar with the modern Z lineup that’s showcased by the powerful Z1000.The Z’s audacious styling alone has cemented its presence in the naked-sportbike world. But it’s more than just looks; the Z family has satisfied both utility and performance desires. We’re excited to find out what the Z900 has to offer, but until then, here are the Ultimate Motorcycling Fast Facts.
1. Kawasaki’s super naked has a new 948cc inline-four engine. The newly developed 948cc engine is a 16-valve, DOHC, liquid-cooled engine with a 73.4 bore and 56mm stroke–numbers much above its 806cc predecessor. Kawasaki has stressed that optimal low- and mid-range power was the focus, but one of the biggest takeaways is the increase in torque. The new 948cc motor will produce a reported 73.1 ft/lbs of torque @ 7,700 rpm, which is significantly greater than the Z800 (61 ft/lbs).A lightweight crankshaft design allows the engine to easily rev, quickly building useable torque for the street. Also included is Kawasaki’s Assist and Slipper clutch, which will help alleviate wheel-hop issues for more aggressive riders.[Visit the 2017 Motorcycle Previews page]Several creature comfort additions were added as well. First, a redesigned airbox is said to produce a more engaging note. More importantly, a secondary engine balancer was introduced to remove excess engine vibration.Additionally, gearing ratios have been shortened to put a further emphasis on mid-range power utilization, and sixth gear has essentially become an overdrive gear for highway use.2. A completely redesigned trellis frame is front and center on the Z900. It’s difficult to miss; one one color choice, the lime-green trellis frame pops out at any onlooker. Weighing just 30 lbs., the trellis frame uses the engine as a stressed member, which allows for less frame material to be used, and thus, a higher potential for weight savings.Something else of interest is the sub-frame, which allows for a low seat height. If the Z900’s older sibling, the Z1000, is any indication of the feel, rider should expect to be cradled and connected with the chassis.3. New geometry awaits. The Z800 was a nimble machine, and the Z900 would be wise to carry on that tradition. With that in mind, the Z900 has a slightly longer wheelbase of 57.1 inches, an eased 25.0° rake, and a slightly longer trail of 4.1 inches.4. The 2017 Kawasaki Z900 features a comfortable, yet sporting riding position. Of course, comfort is subjective, but based on the spec sheet, the Kawasaki Z900 should do a good job of accommodating many riders. With a seat height of 31.3 inches, and a narrow profile, the Z900 will allow people with shorter inseam to reach the ground while stopped.Additionally, the Z900 arrives with wide, flat handlebars that accommodate both aggressive and casual riding. Couple those with adjustable brake and clutch levers, and riders should be able to tailor the Z900 to their liking without too much trouble.5. The 2017 Z900 shed some serious weight over its predecessor. The Z800 didn’t look or feel like it, but official weight numbers came in at a hefty 509 lbs. wet. The Z900 has shed around 40 pounds, coming in at a claimed 463 lbs. for the ABS model, and 458 without ABS.6. The Z900’s suspension will feature some adjustability. The 2017 Kawasaki Z900 uses 41mm inverted forks that feature rebound damping and preload adjustment, and a single horizontal shock with preload and rebound damping adjustments. Kawasaki states that suspension settings are aimed at satisfying performance as well as comfort needs. That’s yet to be seen, and in our experience the Z line has had more performance-oriented suspension. Additionally, the rear shock has been positioned further away from the exhaust so it won’t be negatively impacted by radiant heat.7. Braking power just got a boost. The 2017 Z900 uses 300mm petal-style rotors up front with a dual-piston set of calipers, and a 250mm petal-style rotor in the rear with a single dual-piston caliper. In either case, this is a significant increase in rotor circumference. Braking power has always been strong within the modern Z lineup, and we expect to see more of the same with the Z900.8. The 2017 Kawasaki Z900 arrives with five-spoke wheels and Dunlop D214 Sportmax Tires. Alloy wheels are always appreciated on sporting machines, as are the Dunlop D214 Sportmax tires, which provide a decent compromise between mileage and performance.9. The Z900 has a revised dash over the Z800. A much more compact design solution was put in place with the 2017 Z900.10. The Z900 is available in two colors for the same price: Pearl Mystic Gray/Metallic Flat Spark Black, or Metallic Flat Spark Black/Metallic Spark Black. The Z900 carries an MSRP of $8,399 or $8,799 with ABS.On paper, the Z900 appears like another find addition to the budding sport-naked class of motorcycle. With plenty of updates that have piqued our attention, we’re anxious to get some seat time and see what the new Z is all about. Have any questions? When we get our hands on one, we’ll be sure to get some answers for you.
KTM RC 390 and Gordon McCall of Quail Motorcycle Gathering
byMotos and Friends by Ultimate Motorcycle
Hello and welcome once again to Ultimate Motorcycling’s weekly Podcast—Motos and Friends.
This week’s Podcast is brought to you by Yamaha motorcycles. Discover how the YZF-R7 provides the perfect balance of rider comfort and true supersport performance by checking it out at YamahaMotorsports.com, or see it for yourself at your local dealer.
This week features Senior Editor Nic de Sena’s impressions of the new KTM RC 390. The entry-level KTM has always been an impressive motorcycle that has sold extremely well, however the factory has now taken the bike to another level, with top-spec features that are typically found on flagship machines. Clearly KTM has realized that even smaller engined machines should have high spec suspension, brakes and electronics packages. Nic tells us how well the new RC 390 is equipped, and what he thought of riding the smaller displacement rocket.
In the second segment I chat with automotive and motorcycle industry icon, Gordon McCall. Gordon is the Director of Motorsports at the Quail Lodge & Golf Club in Carmel Valley, California.
This weekend of Saturday May 14th sees the annual Quail Motorcycle Gathering re-start after its Covid-forced hiatus, and having attended every one of the previous Motorcycle Gatherings, personally I’m very happy that the event is back on the schedule. Gordon chats about the event and a little of what’s happening this year. It’s a great event and if you feel like a trip to the gorgeous Quail Lodge in Carmel Valley, you’ll get to meet Gordon, Roland Sands, and of course a large number of stunning motorcycles too.
From all of us at Ultimate Motorcycling, we hope you enjoy this episode!