Kawasaki Z 800 versus Yamaha FZ8 in MOTORCYCLE group test

The new naked bikes from Kawasaki and Yamaha

Comparison test between Kawasaki Z 800 and Yamaha FZ8

The middle class is dead? Are you kidding me? Are you serious when you say that. She is more alive than ever. The latest example: the Kawasaki Z 800. But is newer also better? A location determination with the established Yamaha FZ8.

Strictly speaking, the pioneering role of the Yamaha FZ8 deserves the credit. When it replaced the FZ6 in 2011, it was the first to lash down the displacement to 800 cc for four-cylinder mid-range Nakeds.

In the meantime, Kawasaki has rediscovered boring, recently turning the ZX-6R Supersport file into the 636. And now the Z 800 launched as the successor to the Z 750. Thus, the FZ8 and Z 800 now meet at least in terms of cubic capacity at eye level. In terms of performance, the two give each other practically nothing, even if the Kawa with 110 to 106 hp is slightly ahead, at least on paper.

W.but he of the two actually sets the tone? Acoustically clearly the Kawasaki. However the Kawa engineers manage it – this growling babble, this slightly irritated tone, that’s just typical Kawasaki. That sounds voluminous, has authority. In contrast, the tinny protteln from the Yamaha exhaust seems rather thin and shy. However, according to Faust: enough words, let actions speak. As soon as you sit down, you can feel that the two interpret the subject of sporty country road burners in very different ways. The Yamaha integrates its pilot more, who is relatively upright and relaxed when he receives the pleasantly cranked handlebars. Only the sweeping bridge frame pushes itself mightily between the legs. Because the 2013 model with improved spring elements will only be available from dealers in March, Motorcorner in Goppingen helped to determine the location of the Kawa with a 2012 model. The workplace on the Kawasaki is much more sporty. The driver sits higher, more on the machine, the upper body leaning a little forward; the tank is narrower in the knee area, but bulges more strongly in front of his stomach. With its flat, wide handlebar and the slightly inclined seat cushion, the Z 800 makes a little streetfighter.

The new naked bikes from Kawasaki and Yamaha

Comparison test between Kawasaki Z 800 and Yamaha FZ8

Yamaha has fewer problems with it. This gives the opportunity to first swing casually across the streets with the two of them and enjoy the slowly warming air.

The Yamaha rider has the FZ8 under control. The contemplative handling also goes well with a leisurely stroll. It drifts across the country quickly, without nervousness. The chassis is not of super handy nature, on the other hand it does not spread hectic, but pleases with even, neutral steering behavior. In addition, the four-cylinder purrs obediently to itself. Excellent prerequisites for a relaxed and stress-free start to the day, especially since the spring elements respond cleanly to small bumps in the asphalt.


The Yamaha is a bit flatter and more elongated. Less playful in design, it looks a bit more serious.

The Kawasaki makes a much more dynamic claim from the outside. And underlines this even at a moderate pace. Not just because of the driver’s more front-wheel-oriented sitting posture. The first turn in is noticeably easier by hand. The more tightly coordinated spring elements also give it a crisp character. Your four-cylinder runs grumpy, perhaps a shade less soft than the Yamaha four-wheeler, but by no means as rough as its grumpy expressions of life suggest. In any case, the Kawa looks like it is just waiting to get the spurs. Well, meanwhile the temperatures have also climbed into the acceptable range. Even during a leisurely stroll, the Kawa engine caressed itself with a lot of power from the lower speed range. He is in his element on the winding streets. In the lower rev range at 2000 rpm, it tense the muscles and drives the Z 800 out of turns with a swing. Powers evenly through the rev range, squeezing it out is feasible, but not really necessary.

It works the other way around with the Yamaha drive, which is actually a 779. Although designed with a significantly longer stroke than the Kawa drive, it requires speeds. It releases usable power from 3000 rpm. From 6000 rpm it then becomes vehement and turns lively up to five-digit ranges. But without reaching the level of performance of the Kawasaki. It benefits from its shorter gear ratio when pulling through, which is why it acts much more confidently in sixth gear and the Yamaha mercilessly lags behind in the pull-through test. So the only thing that helps is to diligently dig into the gearbox and onion the FZ8 if you want to keep up with the Kawasaki.

But surprisingly, frequent gear changes and higher speeds are not reflected in fuel consumption. On the contrary, the speed-hungry FZ8 swallows a little less fuel than the Kawa, which is why it offers more range with the same tank size. However, when applying the gas at the apex of the curve, it cannot resist a noticeable jolt in load change.

The Kawasaki masters this much more smoothly. However, the use of power is sometimes a little delayed after rolling phases, while the Yamaha is more directly on the gas.

As far as the gearbox is concerned, neither of the two can set a highlight. With the Kawasaki the gears are bony, but over short distances. With the Yamaha, downshifting in particular is a bit resinous. Despite seeming similarities, the two are of very different natures, which is reflected in many facets.

With the chassis, the two also go different ways. The Yamaha is clearly at home in the comfortable corner. Their mildly damped spring elements glide pleasantly over pitted asphalt. The spring elements of the Kawasaki, on the other hand, act tighter and less sensitive.


Butt up, front down. Aggressively styled, the Kawasaki appears quite dynamic even when stationary.

The scores in the curve crowd through brisk and courageous turning. However, if this inspires the Z 800 like an athlete around the bends, drops the anchor late and brakes deep into the bends or demands quick changes in lean angle at high speeds, you have to work harder on the handlebars. Against the clear erection moment and the high weight. At 231 kilograms, the Z 800 carries a lot of hip gold with it.

The Yamaha, which is quite slim at 216 kilograms, may not seem so handy at first, but it looks more balanced and harmonious across the entire lean angle, circles more neutrally around narrow and long arcs and does not stand up so strongly when braking in an inclined position. So the FZ8 can stay on the heels of the Z 800 with slightly increased physical effort. It is only slowed down by the notches that hit the ground relatively early and the spring elements that are simply too soft for sport, but which should be adjustable for 2013. Above all, the cheap and hopelessly underdamped shock absorber reaches its limits with one passenger and ensures that the Yamaha sways happily over bumps at a stretched gallop.

But the FZ8 behaves very good-naturedly. In your saddle you can feel what is going on between the tire and the road. In terms of chassis technology, the green one offers noticeably more reserves. It parries bumps more calmly, its ground clearance is sufficient for enormous slopes. And thanks to the tighter suspension strut, it can cope better with the burden of an additional passenger. In terms of feedback, however, it does not come close to the Yamaha. But the Kawasaki whets out this gap immediately. Namely, when it comes to converting kinetic energy into heat. Your brakes grip more spontaneously and more directly, and when the temperature comes up even a bit better. Definitely enough for a highway burner. In contrast, the Yamaha stoppers are very tame and could use a bit of bite. In addition, in an emergency, the Kawa ABS regulates more finely and with shorter intervals.

So in the end the Kawasaki has the lead on points. But it should be more decisive which of these two fundamentally different characters fits your personal preferences. And with a whopping 800 euros price advantage of the Yamaha, a fine shock absorber or a set of sharper brake pads are definitely included.

MOTORCYCLE scoring / test results


Curves, curves and more curves, that’s where the two feel most comfortable, but they also have fundamentally different and independent characters.

This chapter clearly goes to the Kawasaki. Significantly higher performance and more homogeneous power delivery, the FZ8 has nothing to opposite in terms of performance despite the weight advantage. Especially since it has been translated longer. Their pronounced load changes are offset by the delayed use of power in the Z 800. Only mediocre: the gears.
Winner engine: Kawasaki

landing gear
The matter looks closer then. The Kawasaki is more manageable, plus it has more chassis reserves and greater freedom from lean angles. But the more neutral FZ8 finds the chosen line more naturally and scores with better feedback. Hopefully the revised spring elements in 2013 will wipe out the notch in this area.
Chassis winner: Kawasaki

everyday life
A stage win for the Yamaha. While the Kawasaki offers the more active driving position, the Yamaha rider stays upright, enjoying the more comfortable suspension elements and the more practical mirrors. More range and the slightly finer workmanship give more points. Likewise, the larger payload, even if the underdamped chassis has its problems.
Winner everyday: Yamaha

The system of the Z 800 is not a vicious racing brake, but its braking power is definitely sufficient and surpasses that of the pale Yamaha stoppers. Noticeable setup moment costs points. No issue: handlebar slap.
Safety winner: Kawasaki

Slightly lower consumption, significantly lower inspection costs – the FZ8 is more easy on the wallet.
Winner cost: Yamaha

Price-performance ratio
On points, the Kawasaki clearly wins. But they gambled away this advantage with their self-confidently calculated price.

Max. Points Kawasaki Yamaha
Overall rating 1000 628 617
placement 1. 2.
Price-performance note 1.0 1.8 1.8


The Kawasaki Z 800 wins the group test – it impresses with its powerful engine.

MOTORCYCLE test results

1. Kawasaki Z 800
The Z-Kawa has gained in chassis qualities compared to its predecessor. But it convinces above all with its powerful engine, which, however, should depend more directly on the gas.

2. Yamaha FZ8
Above all, it scores with comfort, in everyday life and with the lower cost price. Handling and brakes are just average. The speed-hungry engine characteristics are not for everyone.

Technical specifications

Kawasaki Z 800 Yamaha FZ8 engine 
type design Four-cylinder, four-stroke in-line engine Four-cylinder, four-stroke in-line engine
injection Ø 34 mm Ø 35 mm
coupling Multi-disc oil bath clutch Multi-disc oil bath clutch 
Boron x stroke 71.0 x 50.9 mm 68.0 x 53.6 mm
Displacement 806 cm3 779 cm3
compression 11.9: 1 12:01 pm
power 83.0 kW (113 hp) at 10200 rpm 78.1 kW (106 hp) at 10,000 rpm
Torque 83 Nm at 8000 rpm 82 Nm at 8000 rpm
landing gear
frame Bridge frame made of steel Bridge frame made of aluminum
fork Upside-down fork, Ø 41 mm Upside-down fork, Ø 43 mm
Brakes forehead / rear Ø 310/250 mm Ø 310/267 mm
Assistance systems SECTION SECTION
bikes 3.50 x 17; 5.50 x 17 3.50 x 17; 5.50 x 17
tires 120/70 ZR 17; 180/55 ZR 17 120/70 ZR 17; 180/55 ZR 17
Tires Dunlop D 214 "J" Bridgestone BT 021 "BB"
Dimensions + weights
wheelbase 1445 mm  1460 mm 
Steering head angle 66.0 degrees 65.0 degrees
trailing 98 mm 109 mm
Front / rear suspension travel 120/137 mm 130/130 mm
Seat height ** 820 mm 810 mm
Weight with full tank ** 231 kg 216 kg
Payload ** 180 kg 194 kg
Tank capacity 17.0 liters 17.0 liters
Service intervals 6000 km 10,000 km
price 9495 euros 8.695 euros
Additional costs 180 euros 170 euros
Top speed * 230 km / h 218 km / h
0-100 km / h 3.3 sec 3.8 sec
0-140 km / h 5.7 sec 6.4 sec
0-200 km / h 14.0 sec 15.2 sec
60-100 km / h 3.8 sec 4.5 sec
100-140 km / h 4.1 sec 5.5 sec
140-180 km / h 4.8 sec 5.9 sec
Consumption highway 5.1 liters 4.9 liters
Reach country road 333 km 347 km
* Manufacturer information; ** MOTORCYCLE measurements

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