Kawasaki Z 900 RS and Ducati Monster 821

Table of contents

Kawasaki Z 900 RS and Ducati Monster 821


Kawasaki Z 900 RS and Ducati Monster 821

Kawasaki Z 900 RS and Ducati Monster 821
New items for the 2018 model year

With the Kawasaki Z 900 RS and Ducati Monster 821, two new motorcycles are in the starting blocks for the 2018 model year.

Stefan Kaschel


Especially in the age of increasing specialization and differentiation, it can be a boon, the normal average. As before. There is a current one Kawasaki Z 900 RS was simply “motorcycle”. At best with the addition of “heavy machine”, because at that time 900 cubic centimeters and 111 hp were almost unimaginable.

Buy complete article

Kawasaki Z 900 RS and Ducati Monster 821

Kawasaki Z 900 RS and Ducati Monster 821
New items for the 2018 model year

6 pages) as PDF

€ 2.00

Buy now

And today? Today is one of those Z 900 RS first and foremost a modern classic, at least. And middle class in terms of performance data, at best. Definitely not a street fighter or a power naked. And not an all-rounder either. You have to sort the Zett between the BMW R nineT, the extremely successful upper-class classic, and the Ducati Scrambler, the almost equally successful lower-middle-class classic, which, however, is basically not a classic at all because of its air-cooled V2 heart, but just a scrambler. Confusing, isn’t it?

As you can see, things are not that easy. That’s why we just take the new Kawa as it is. As a motorcycle, nothing more and nothing less. But as one made from real shot and grain, which is precisely why you can predict one thing: It will be a success – guaranteed. And why? Because it imitates what the R nineT and Scrambler did. Their recipe is amazingly simple. You take a reasonably contemporary engine, put it in a fast chassis with modern components and pack the whole thing in a stringent design far from the ubiquitous showmanship. That motorcycles looked exactly the same a good 40 years ago – for free! Even if Kawasaki in the case of the new RS, of course, the copious quotations from the legendary Z1 cannot resist. Who could do that in the face of such an icon in the family tree??

But that’s not the thing. The Z 900 RS would also work without a historical model. Simply because this longing for clarity cannot be overlooked. The straightforward shape of this tail rump was style-defining at the time and is still unmatched today. The new Z 900 also looks great, as does the teardrop-shaped tank and the brown / red paintwork. The Kawasaki 900 Z1 was a desirable motorcycle in 1972, the new Z 900 RS is today. Because of its successful design, but also because it is likely to drive at least as well as it looks.

Of course you can’t know that yet, but you can guess. Even more: You can even assume that on the chassis side, the RS takes over the famous chassis ensemble of the Z 900 practically one to one. Regardless of whether it is a tubular space frame, 41 mm upside-down fork, shock absorber with deflection or tire formats – nothing is retro here , but the latest in (Kawa) chassis technology, which soars to considerable heights in the Z 900. The tubular space frame in particular deserves the highest praise in the RS. Why? Because it scores in two ways. From a technical point of view with its low weight and optically, because its construction makes the classic design of the RS possible.

With one caveat, of course, and that affects the tank: Because of the splayed covers of the tubular space, it has to be significantly wider than the historical model with its classic double loop. This is especially noticeable from a bird’s eye view, because the RS looks a little chubby from above.

But that is the only view that leaves something to be desired. Okay, the four-in-one exhaust system may not suit everyone. The pipe composite made of stainless steel with double walls is always of high quality. In addition, the system should also sound really good. “Sound engineering” is what the experts call it, and at Kawa they are mightily proud of the deep rumble in the low rev range and at medium revs.

In this speed range, the 900 in-line quad should also push significantly better than the standard Z-900 drive, because the technicians designed the timing more tame. The result in figures: 111 instead of the previous 125 hp, but a maximum torque of an unchanged 99 Newton meters, which is 1200 rpm earlier (at a digestible 6500 rpm). Of course, this fits in wonderfully with the overall very relaxed character of the RS, to which a higher handlebar also contributes.

It is held in place by an opulent riser that sits enthroned in the middle of the fork bridge, in front of which round instruments of classic design provide information in a very traditional way – that is, in proper style with correct pointers – about engine speed and speed. However, the Z 900 RS cannot do without digital support between the two watches, a multifunction display provides the information overkill that is common today. This does not include the display of the current mapping, because the technicians have rightly avoided this ultra-modern circus. As in the Z 900, a properly tuned engine should be enough. Just like in the blissful Z1 times.

Or sometimes unhappy. As far as the poor brakes are concerned, these days are fortunately over for good. The new RS even affords the luxury of upgrading again compared to the Z 900. Radially screwed four-piston fixed calipers now bite into 300-millimeter discs instead of the previously conventionally mounted pliers, and a radial pump at the right end of the handlebar meters the pressure. Should it ever get too big, the modern ABS intervenes, while compared to the Z 900, new, two-stage traction control watches over the rear wheel slip. In addition, there is an anti-hopping clutch – this means that the central issues of modern driving safety systems in the modern classic Z 900 RS are ticked off.

At the end there is one more crucial question. Will Kawasaki manage to continue the price offensive started with the Z 900 for the Z 900 RS? Probably not, the consistently high-quality workmanship and better features take their toll. The German importer speaks of the “medium to high 11000 range”. That’s fair, but by no means a bargain like the Z 900, which is sold for less than 9,000 euros.

Ninja 400

Would you like a little more? Kawasaki answers this question of all sausage and cheese counters with the new Ninja 400 very clearly. With 45 HP, the Greens saddle up a full six HP on the Ninja 400 compared to its 300 predecessor, compared to the strong competition from Yamaha (YZF-R3) it is still three horses more. But the next generation of motorcyclists will love the ninja, and let’s be honest: Just five horsepower more – that was an insurance class of its own, everything over 50 hp was pure performance luxury. And such a great chassis (the new Ninja also relies on a new tubular space frame) and such a brake with the mighty 310 mm disc were not far and wide on offer at the time.

So it is absolutely likely that even experienced bikers or women will be enthusiastic about the combination of a playful 164 kilograms curb weight, a manageable 785 millimeter seat height and a powerful 45 hp. All the more so because the little ninja also adopts the current brute design of the powerful H2 series. And the price? Will be above that of the current 300 ninja. It currently costs around 5500 euros.

Mellow yellow – Ducati Monster 821

And another one referring to a famous ancestress. The reworked little monster is now back in that yellow. In the color in which the first Monster M 900 conquered the motorcycle world.

And another clear case of the middle class, at least in terms of displacement and performance. The second smallest monster has 821 cubic centimeters, from which it gets 109 hp in the new 2018 configuration with a new exhaust. It is therefore exactly in the Kawasaki Z 900 RS target corridor. Yes, there is even a reference to the famous ancestor, the Monster M 900, because the first Monster was also available in squeaky yellow.

From then on, the similarities stop again, because massive formal borrowings like those of Kawasaki cannot be seen in the new 821. But there are some similarities with its big sister Monster 1200, from which it takes over the exhaust system as well as the tank and rear end. The little and big sister also have the headlights with LED daytime running lights in common, as does the four-color TFT display with numerous functions.

Also not retro at all, but definitely advanced: As is usual with the Italians, everything can be set and programmed that the creators of modern assistance systems can think of, riding and power modes can be freely combined so that in the end you won’t recognize your 821.

Those who just want to drive, on the other hand, are well served with the small, balanced monster. The balanced V2, the powerful brakes and the stable, manoeuvrable chassis almost certainly form a fascinating symbiosis in the new 821 with monster-typical independence and middle-class controllability.

Leave a Reply

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