2020 Kawasaki W800 First Look: Upright and Shinier
Following up on last year’s introduction of the W800 Cafe, a standard 2020 Kawasaki W800 is delivering the W800 into the retro scene.With roots in the 1966 Kawasaki W1 four-stroke twin—which started life as a BSA-licensed design—the 2020 Kawasaki W800 brings traditional British styling into the 21st century. Let’s check out what differentiates the W800 from its café-going brother.
1. Ergonomics lead the differences between the W800 and W800 Cafe. Rather than the Cafe’s competition-style low bars that are painted black, the standard W800 gets a chromed handlebar that sweeps up and to the rider. This puts the W800 rider in an upright position, rather than leaning forward over the four-gallon fuel tank. Further, the Cafe’s faux solo seat—it does accommodate two—is replaced by the W800’s semi-stepped bench seat with a tuck-and-roll finish.2. To slow down the 2020 Kawasaki W800’s handling, it is fitted with a 19-inch front wheel. The Cafe has a pair of 18-inch hoops, compared to the 19-inch front on the standard W800. Of course, wire-spoke wheels are retained for the classic look. Era-appropriate bias-ply Dunlop K300 GP tires are mounted on the rims. ABS is standard on the W800, just as it is on the Cafe version.3. Silver is the color for the SOHC vertical twin, which puts out 46 ft/lbs of torque at just 4800 rpm. Rather than the contrasting black/silver look of the W800 Cafe, the standard W800 is pure silver, as part of the overall effort to brighten its look. Oh, and what looks like pushrod tubes instead house a bevel gear to drive the overhead cam—well done, Kawasaki. The dual Keihin 34mm throttle bodies are tastefully hidden behind a cover, so you don’t have the visual indignity of not having carburetors. The five-speed transmission is mated to an assist-and-slip clutch—much better than what the W1 had.4. Chrome fenders adorn the W800. That’s in contrast to the painted fenders on the W800 Cafe.5. The Café’s bikini fairing is a no-show on the W800. That’s as it should be. The 2020 Kawasaki W800 is pure naked retro goodness.6. Instead of the plain racing-inspired paint on the tank of the W800 Cafe, the standard W800 gets flashy. The W800 has a Candy Cardinal Red paint job, with a chrome W tank emblem and sweeping silver racing stripe.7. If you’re budget-minded, you will be happy to discover that the W800 is $600 less expensive than the Cafe. MSRP on the 2020 Kawasaki W800 is $9199.
This week, Senior Editor Nic de Sena rides the all new Ducati Monster. Big changes have been made by Ducati–has the company ruined the considerable heritage of the iconic Monster–or are the changes worth it? In the second part of the show, we chat with Nick Ienatsch, Founder and Head Instructor at the Yamaha Champions Riding School. He says: “We aim to change your riding life by introducing you to Champions Habits: The techniques, approaches, skills, and the mindsets of the best riders in the world. These Champions Habits are the foundation of safety and consistency to whatever speed you ride, in any venue on any bike. Street riders, this is just as much for you as track riders. The best way to make safe riders is to make good riders.“ We hope you enjoy this episode!