Kawasaki Z 900 (2020) in the driving report

Kawasaki Z 900 (2020) in the driving report

Kawa bestseller just got better

The Kawasaki Z 900 rolls out onto the streets in the 2020 model year with a few updates. The first driving report reveals how the new Z is doing.

"Dominate the road" is Kawasaki’s motto for the revised Z 900. Or the markets? The 900 series has already found 32,000 buyers in Europe in three years and was the best-selling in 2019 Kawasaki in Germany – third most popular model after BMW R 1250 GS and Yamaha MT-07. Do you have to upgrade a top seller? Yes why not?

Motor receives software updates

"Frankenstein’s great-granddaughter "Z 900, with 125 hp and 948 cubic meters, breaks the usual categorization of the so-called middle class. In terms of hardware, the famous engine remained unchanged. But thanks to the new software, it hangs fine and direct, but at the same time wonderfully soft on the gas, is very smooth. Electronically operated throttle valves smooth the gas flow and optimize the filling. That is tangible technology. Even idling is as constant, stable and even as the firing order: Every half crankshaft revolution ignites one of the four cylinders. The dull, calm, sonorous sound of this extremely casual engine fits in with this. At the same time, Kawasaki wants the sound of the outwardly unchanged exhaust to be even more “Full”. Samig pushes the 950er, runs nice and smooth even at 50 km / h in city traffic with just over 2000 tours in sixth gear. Elasticity has a name: four-cylinder!

On the winding streets of the pre-Pyrenees you are always up a gear than you think. The Zett easily circles even the tightest of turns in third gear. As is usual with big bikes, in real life you are always up a gear than you think. Looking at the gear indicator in the brilliant, crystal-clear new TFT display is often an aha experience. Everything is so relaxed here. The velvety engine works softly, but is not a softie. Woe to you, kick the tiger’s tail! Then he pulls the chain. If you downshift and willfully drive the speed into the second half, the quadruple changes behavior and tonality: from 8000 tours at the latest, the speed jumps up at lightning speed. Now the tree is on fire. And certainly not just before Christmas. A full 98 Newton meters stand for plenty of power. The manifolds 2-3 and 1-4 are connected to one another in an interfering manner to promote torque. You don’t need more power on the country road. Basta. Okay, a quickshifter for shifting gears without clutching is missing. Yes and? After all, the transmission works unobtrusively in the best sense of the word. The gears just click in. A great partner here is the super-adjustable cable coupling that can be pulled with one finger. A point of honor: Both hand levers are of course five times adjustable in reach.

Dunlop series tires leave a good impression

The new KTRC traction control, which regulates three intervention thresholds, takes the fear out of damp or sandy areas. It is coupled with the three newly added driving modes. Early on, the traction control straddles in between in rain mode. When turning on the straights, the rain mode has a castrated effect, turns tough and does not slow down: Logically, the power is now limited to 69 hp. In good conditions, the “Road” mode with full power output and later intervening traction control is better suited. The latter allows even more slip in "Sport" mode, plus high wheelies. You should still have a feeling of being in the gas hand: On actually quite cold, sometimes quite slippery streets, the rear wheel slips from time to time, even before KTRC intervenes.


Kawasaki has given the Z 900 lots of updates for the 2020 model year.

Apart from that, the Dunlop Road-sport 2 tires, specially adapted to the Z 900, leave a good impression: They roll right up to the edge of the tire and, on the one hand, drive the motorcycle over themselves in the special code "Z" (Kawasaki obviously has a good standing at Dunlop) 200 km / h stable, on the other hand wonderfully handy and accurate. And even neutral: they hardly stand up when the brakes are applied when cornering. Most of all, the feedback is right. Yes, friends, for an almost 1000 cc, the 212 kilo Kawa is wonderfully agile. She gratefully accepts course corrections and enables other lines, even narrower ones, at any time. That creates a lot of trust. Kawasaki’s chassis is not sloppy: the balance between feedback, suspension comfort and reserves is absolutely successful.

Nissin brakes are convincing

Upside-down fork and horizontal mono-spring strut with progressive deflection are well cushioned and swallow a lot. Still depict the asphalt relief well. Great. Even with around 200 things, the straight-line stability is absolutely stable. Not a matter of course on a naked bike. Nissin four-piston calipers bite the serrated brake discs so powerfully and, above all, transparently that you ask why not all motorcycles in this price range can decelerate so well. In this respect, the sharpened (should one really say "more aggressive") fighter look of the 2020 Z 900 appears as a pure attitude. In reality it is a tame, easy to drive motorcycle. That only takes the knife between your teeth if you expressly force it to do so. Front-wheel-oriented, perfectly integrated into the action and integrated into the motorcycle, it sits as usual on the Z 900. The knee-lock is compact and good – the beefy-looking 17-liter tank is only wide at the top. The fairly straight handlebars are great at hand. The standard is now the higher seat, which allows people 1.70 meters to stand securely with both legs. The best place is clearly in front.


The new Z 900 will be available from 9,845 euros.

A passenger does enjoy an open, relaxed knee angle. But squats on a hard, tightly cut bun. There is a higher than extra. Plus lots of extras: tank bag, USB charging socket, crash pads, and so on. Connectivity with a smartphone via the Kawasaki app is modern. It loads a lot of vehicle information onto the mobile phone, saves the route traveled via GPS (according to Kawasaki only for the owner) and, if necessary, even projects incoming calls and emails onto the great TFT display. Well, we really enjoyed driving even without such "newfangled stuff". Compliment. Spring may come. For a total of 9,845 euros, the modernized Z 900 means a more stringent challenge to the KTM 790 Duke, Triumph Street Triple and Yamaha MT-09 – two- and three-cylinder with significantly less displacement. Kawasaki heard them and quickly implemented the signs of the times.

2020er-Z 900 – what’s new?

  • New engine control software, revised clutch damper springs
  • Four driving modes with three intervention thresholds of the likewise new traction control, which can also be switched off: "Sport" and "Road" with full power, "Rain" with a maximum of 69 hp, "Driver" freely selectable)
  • 95 PS version: "Low mode" releases a maximum of 52.25 PS
  • 48 hp version with fuller torque curve at low and medium speeds; “Low mode” also delivers 48 hp, but with the linear power output of the previous model
  • Full LED lighting (position lights, turn signals, redesigned headlights, taillights and license plate lights)
  • Reinforced steel frame in the area of the swing arm mounting
  • Original equipment tire Dunlop RoadSport 2 "Z"
  • Spring elements with adapted damping (modified shim packages)

High bench now standard: seat height 820 millimeters (lower bench optional)

  • New, digital 10.9 cm TFT color display with extensive on-board computer: gear indicator, gear indicator, fuel level indicator, current and average fuel consumption, range, average speed, total driving time, battery voltage, service and oil change reminder

  • Front mask, tank cover, "underfloor covers" and the swing arm cover redesigned, "more compact"

  • Smartphone connectivity via app: vehicle information and recording of the route traveled are sent to the mobile phone, notifications about phone calls and incoming emails are sent to the cockpit


    After more than 32,000 copies sold across Europe to date, the Kawasaki Z 900, which has been revised for 2020, continues the success story seamlessly. Because it stays what it was: an extremely lively, active and uncomplicated naked bike. Now much better again, thanks to driving modes, traction control and many other goodies.

    Related articles

    Related articles

    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *