Duel 35 kW: Kawasaki Z900 Vs KTM 790 Duke, recreation A2 !
KTM is strengthening its offering in the competitive mid-displacement roadster segment with its all-new 790 Duke twin-cylinder engine. To gauge it, Le Journal moto du Net pits it against the best French seller in the category: the Kawasaki Z900. Duel MNC special permit A2, in flanged version at 47.5 hp (35 kW).
Duel Z900 Vs 790 Duke – Page 1: A2 caprice
A little reminder: since, all future bikers – regardless of their age – put their boots on the foot via the A2 license, an intermediate format limited for two years to 35 kW (47.5 hp) motorcycles. The A license – without power limitation – is only accessible after this period and a 7-hour paid training course. Direct access to license A from 24 years old authorized by the old system…
- MNC of June 7, 2016 : A2 license compulsory for all future bikers
This questionable constraint – the B license allows you to drive all types of cars from 18 years old, including a Bugatti Veyron of 1000 hp! – involves restraining many large-capacity motorcycles to make them accessible to new motorcycle licenses. Including the sacrosanct roadsters from 700 to 900 cc, a category as popular as it is competitive.
As if that were not enough, this clamping is only authorized on motorcycles whose power in free version does not exceed 70 kW (95 hp), i.e. twice the maximum threshold in A2. In other words: the and the new are in theory out of reach of young drivers, because they develop respectively 125 and 105 hp in Full !
Fine strategists, the manufacturers have however found the solution to adapt their motorcycle too powerful to the requirements of the A2 license: to offer an identical variation … but irreversibly restricted to 95 hp. This is the case of the Kawasaki roadster – best seller in its category in France at – and its new rival from KTM, opposed here in their A2 configuration of 47.5 hp.
In static, Orange passes before Green
Apart from this 35 kW clamping, the Kawasaki Z900 and KTM 790 Duke "A2" are identical to the standard models. Aesthetics, cycle parts and peripherals are exactly the same (see all the details in), as much to flatter the ego as to contain production costs. So there is no need to build two separate motorcycles as Kawasaki had experimented with with the late Z800e. !
However, their equipment seems oversized in view of their power limited to 47.5 hp and their status as "first motorcycle". The remark is especially valid for the KTM: its robust boxed swingarm imposes, as well as its radially fixed monobloc calipers made by the Spanish manufacturer J. Juan and its horseshoe shaped LED optics..
But it is above all on the technological level that the 790 Duke is illustrated – attached to the suffix "L" in version A2 – with its electronic accelerator, its traction control and its ABS sensitive to the angle, four driving modes and its assistant initially, like sports motorcycles. It even receives – still as standard – a bidirectional shifter (up and down without disengaging), equipment worthy of a Superbike !
No rival offers so much to date, but its price suffers: 9,490 euros against 9,099 euros for the Z900 A2 (currently on sale at 8,499 €). The young people will cough … Except that "young permits" does not necessarily mean "young bikers": the quadra or the quinqua A2 – with generally higher purchasing power – can ignore these prices to afford the pleasure to start on a top motorcycle !
Still, the Z900 accuses the blow in the face of this debauchery of equipment: it’s quite simple, apart from the compulsory ABS, the Kawasaki is devoid of any form of assistance! Its axially fixed calipers and its swinging arm of square section reinforce this aspect "basic" vis-a-vis the KTM, which still marks points with its angled valves, its reinforced hoses and its large color screen controlled from the handlebars.
Has the static round of our MNC duel been folded? Not necessarily because the Z900 goes green again – necessarily! – thanks to its finish a notch above, with an irreproachable presentation except for the plastic (oc) ic cover on the middle part of its tubular lattice. Above all, its suspensions offer a much wider range of settings.
The need to make compromises is actually felt in two areas usually treated at KTM: the quality of damping and that of certain materials. The excessively sharp scoops along the tank of the 790 Duke are notably quite "cheap", its mirrors seem dated and the electrical circuit could in places be better integrated .
But the main disappointment comes from its suspensions, very basic despite their origin from WP (KTM brand): the mono-shock absorber – mounted without connecting rod – is only adjustable in preload, while the inverted fork is completely deadlocked. on any form of adjustments. The Z900 has an adjustable preload and trigger at the front and rear..
Finally, if "our" test KTM show off the Pirelli Diablo Rosso III (Dunlop Sportmax D214F on the Kawasaki), its original equipment is normally not as sporty: the 790 Duke receives as standard Supermaxx ST tires from at Maxxis, Taiwanese manufacturer renowned in the world of cycling and off-road motorcycles but almost unknown in the road segment.
Light Duchess, zealous Kawa
To illustrate itself in the category, KTM did not go there with the back of the key of 12: not content to be as "electronic" as an Airbus, the 790 Duke also sets new benchmarks in terms of weight. Announced at 185 kg all full, the "Duchess" immediately sticks complexes to the Z900 and its 210 kg …
This difference of 25 kg (!) The advantage during maneuvers with the engine off, then in traffic: a valuable asset for beginners, reinforced by its ease of handling. Despite a saddle perched at 825 mm (795 mm on the Kawa), the 790 Duke indeed surprises by its accessibility: a biker of 1m75 easily puts two feet flat.
The Austrian owes this quality to its incredibly small size: it is barely stockier than the very playful, despite its additional cylinder! KTM has been able to draw perfectly from the compactness of its parallel twin, the narrowness of its saddle and the small volume of its tank (14 liters Vs 17 on the Z).
Far from rendering the "Z’armes", its Japanese rival replies with its ultra low saddle (-30 mm) which seems to be hollowed out in its frame. The Z900 thus climbs without difficulty from 1m70 despite its more imposing volumes. A nice tour de force insofar as its "4-legged" has two cylinders and additional 149 cc (948 cc Vs 799) !
The other side of the coin: the legs are more folded than on the KTM, because they have less space available. The 790 Duke pushes its advantage thanks to its slightly curved and high enough handlebars, which creates a straight arm and bust posture halfway between roadster and trail. A bit like its other great Japanese rival: the !
On the Kawasaki, the pilot must lean more to catch his handlebars, not only lower but also wider (830 mm against 815 mm for the KTM according to MNC measurements). The position is more aggressive, evoking the "street-fighter" spirit, without being radical for all that..
Air for the KTM !
Between its extra kilos and less favorable ergonomics, the Z900 was not a favorite in urban congestion … And yet, it does better than stand up to the svelte 790 Duke: the "Green" notably emphasizes its ultra turning diameter. short (4.63 m against 5.16 according to MNC measurements) and, above all, its mechanical elasticity.
Its four-cylinder capable of idling in 6th gear is a valuable ally, as is the remarkable flexibility of its clutch lever. Again, young and old alike A2 license will appreciate! Rougher in the first third of the tachometer, the KTM twin requires more dexterity despite a better calibrated injection.
Although the 790 Duke is devoid of that hiccup that taints the go-around on the Z900, its engine grumbles at low speeds: its flexibility threshold is around 2500 rpm (50 km / h in 4th gear). In the city, it is better to favor the third gear to keep the roundness, or even the second in heavy traffic.
And that’s good, because its two-way shifter makes gear changes instant and fun: the KTM device is smooth and responsive, even at low speed. A good surprise in this price range: that of the MT-09, for example, is more recalcitrant in addition to being single-acting (mounted only). And the "Zed"? It is simply devoid of it: "", as MNC titled when it was released in 2017 !
This pleasant efficiency of the "Orange" shifter largely compensates for the relative hardness of the clutch lever of the 790 Duke, insofar as it becomes practically useless: it is only used to start, maneuver and stop! So much ease and pleasure even lead to wonder about the interest of an automatic transmission on a motorcycle….
The fact remains that if the 790 Duke shines on this aspect – especially as the selection of the Z900 is a little rough – other small "crosses" appear in the urban cycle. In addition to its lower availability than the Kawasaki, its engine also expels a lot of calories: in summer, its heat rises towards the thighs are troublesome. No worries at this level on his rival.
The message is clear: quickly, head for clear courses to let the Austrian twin breathe, preferably with an abundance of winding portions to take advantage of the slogan "Ready to Race" dear to the Mattighofen brand. !
Ready to … Race-ter behind the Z900 !
So it’s time for action for the "Scalpel", a very promising nickname given to the 790 Duke in KTMs with very, very sporty accents. The one that comes to expand an offer so far limited to the single cylinder would be an Orange "pure juice", blood type: yum !
Unfortunately, the reality is not so tasty … Certainly, the novelty enjoys exceptional handling, despite the slight restraint exerted by its steering damper at very low speed. KTM does not magnify the line concerning its liveliness: the 790 Duke dives with a flick, then dodges the snitch with a speed that leaves on the bump !
The Z900 accuses the blow, and severely: its additional mass does not allow as much improvisation, the additional inertia it generates impacting all phases of piloting. To summarize: one twirls in a relaxed atmosphere while the other requires more concentration.
On the other hand, the "surgical precision" praised by the Austrian manufacturer is not at the rendezvous on the 790 Duke, the fault of its depreciation quickly exceeded in dynamic driving. Too flexible and not particularly well tuned, its suspensions do not offer the rigor expected of such a bike. Casting error ?!
Their insufficiency is significant when the bitumen crumbles: maintaining a high rhythm generates poorly channeled movements, in addition to highlighting a perfectible stability at high speed. When subjected to strong constraints, the fork and shock absorber sag without restraint, to the detriment of precision and driving pleasure…
Driving fast with the KTM requires a smooth ride and a nickel coating, like the one borrowed during our. Here, there, curious chance! In the end, the "Scalpel" is singularly lacking in sharpness. Who would’ve believed that ? Certainly not the current owners of 690 Duke! Beginners, less demanding at first, will probably be less disappointed.
Much firmer suspension, the Kawasaki shakes more in the brittle portions: the Z900 pays here its more restricted travel (120 and 140 mm against 140 and 150), retained among others to contain its seat height. Sitting which turns out to be extremely hard on these two motorcycles: to believe that no one has exceeded 100 km in one go during their tuning ?!
Still, the green damping compromise is more effective: despite its dry absorption of bumps, the Z900 has this cohesion that is lacking in its Austrian rival. Healthier, the Japanese take the opportunity to take – and keep – the lead in the successions of turns.
Akashi’s bike, however, loses a few points when braking, quite inconsistent when taking the lever. The power is present, but asks to be summoned firmly. The radial calipers of the KTM are much more efficient and easier to dose. At the rear, both are efficient enough to correct a trajectory.
Another area in which the 790 Duke takes its revenge on the Z900: the engine temperament, very – too – smooth on the Kawasaki in this version limited to 47.5 hp. The explosive and torquey character of the original "4-legged" is totally watered down by its specific "A2" mapping. Result: the "Zed" accelerates vigorously, but in an extremely linear manner.
Our comparisons of times are clear: the Green is dominated by the KTM at 3000 rpm as at 5000 rpm, whatever the report. Its excess weight also explains this striking difference in performance. Too bad finally that the vibrations specific to the whole "Z" series are still there, despite serious progress compared to the old one …
The 790 also vibrates noticeably, especially under the boots and the hands, but we readily forgive this "little" inconvenience because of its communicative mechanical good nature. The twin rumbles and backslash generously in its raised exhaust, and it’s not just the show off: it works the Katoche, even flanged at 47.5 hp !
The novelty takes its turns with vivacity up to 5500 rev / min, threshold where the clamping abruptly cuts the quid. The 790 Duke then continues to take turns, but slowly and without really accelerating: the cap of 47.5 hp is reached, the engine will not deliver one more !
Its revivals are nonetheless very consistent between 3000 and 5000 rpm, with beautiful peaks of torque which give it a nice and playful character despite its limited power. Of the two, the 790 Duke is clearly the more fun in terms of engine..
The Kawasaki, restrained over the entire rev range, is too timid on this point: its acceleration has practically no peak up to 7000 rpm, then begins to decrease to respect the power limit. Suffice to say that pulling the remaining 5000 rpm is useless…
Verdict: the 790 Duke "A2" serious advantages
Lively, light and extremely well equipped, the KTM 790 Duke wins our MNC duel against the Z900 in this A2 configuration. New bikers who choose it to learn about the joys of motorcycling will appreciate its devilish handling, its reassuring size, its playful engine and its plethora of endowments..
Their satisfaction could nonetheless change at the end of their two-year apprenticeship, when the desire to step up the pace and take advantage of the 95 hp unlocking will arise. The soft damping of the 790 Duke may then disappoint some, especially those who imagined chiseling trajectories and "cutting out" the competition with their "Scalpel"…
The Kawasaki Z900, certainly neglected in terms of electronics, is much more homogeneous and efficient in this area. And as its 4-cylinder regains a large part of its liveliness by going from 35 to 70 kW, MNC thinks that the outcome of this match would very likely have turned in its favor with unbridled motorcycles at 95 hp. !
- All the details of our 790 Duke Vs Z7900 A2 duel with our .
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