Kawasaki Z800 motorcycle test



Like few models, the Z can boast of having built a first name within its own brand. After eight years of hegemony in the flagship motorcycle segment, the 750 does not intend to give up the case to a competition however dynamic. 2012 crowns, once again, the model as the best seller, welcoming worldwide success with 158,674 copies sold since 2004, of which more than 30% in France….

Kawasaki Z800

Refined in 2007, available in a more rigorous version in 2010, the goddess Z owed her many followers a stylish new appearance. The manufacturer of Akashi therefore makes its irreverent creature evolve again, changing its numbered particle having now increased its displacement to 806 cm3. This rise in the safe is accompanied by an inevitable hardening of the lines. Will the tone follow? Because if the plastic seems to announce the color to make its challengers green even more, the new Z 800 is also expected in the dynamic chapter…. First elements of answers on the soggy roads around Monaco.

Kawasaki Z800 and Z800e

Mutant dilettante

Best seller in the roadster category since its launch in 2004…. such is the highly envied status of the Z 750. Like few models, the Z can boast of having built a first name within its own brand. Since its inception, 158,674 units have found buyers around the world, the French market alone contributing to 30% of registrations of this model. 2012 is no exception to the established rule, once again positioning the "Z" at the top of sales. Kawasaki is also celebrating the fortieth anniversary this year of its legendary 900 Z1, which appeared in 1972. An elegantly sporty machine, its 82 horsepower at 8,000 rpm and more than 200 km / h at the top then forged its legend..

Kawasaki Z800

The last letter of our alphabet seems to assure the Japanese manufacturer a guaranteed success. However, the Z 750, like its upgraded R version, cultivates contrasts. Thus, despite an assertive plastic choice, Akashi’s roadster seduces a very large clientele. Conversely, some testers do not necessarily make it out on the podium of comparos. Because the machine is actually less popular with the press than the public. This does not prevent it from pointing at the top of sales: the public vote. To her fans, the Z, she talks to them. This is one of the keys. On its base with its almost outrageous lines, its owners often feel free not to modify anything as the result is already strong, aesthetically powerful. Or on the contrary to still force the line.

Kawasaki Z800

Refined in 2007, available in a more rigorous version in 2010, the goddess Z owed her many followers a stylish new appearance. Especially since the market now has many competitors watching for the slightest flaws in the Kawasaki. Also presenting a Z 800 e version adapted to new European regulations, the manufacturer of Akashi therefore mutates again its irreverent creature. This opus seems to confirm the reputation of outrageous queen of paradoxes associated with the Z.

Discovery: the big bad look

Changing its quantified particle having now brought its displacement to 806 cm3, the Japanese firm brings to its surly roadster many other alterations. The most obvious being obviously its appearance. Essential strong point of the Kawa roadster, the aesthetic impact marks a new step.

Kawasaki Z800 headlight

Previously suggestively aggressive, the novelty is now in ostensible ferocity, each of its components having been reworked in this direction. Even more collected on itself, ready to pounce, the midsize plays shoulders and her plunging war mask. Composed mainly of protruding edges, lowered still on the front axle, the optics accentuates its evil look. In its extension, the 17-liter tank (down by a liter and a half….) Raises its back and adds two plastic-coated side elements widening its build. On these appendages are, moreover, grafted scoops whose sheathed internal faces form a qualitative fork half-well..

Kawasaki Z800 sideways

Further complicating its sharp lines with numerous angle references, the Z 800 is also dressed in more sensuality. Thus, the studied curves of its front part are notched, revealing the engine, and contrast with the sheathed narrowness of its size and the rear hull. It features a new LED light with two mirrored Zs…. From its end to those of the engine shoes, the aesthetic dynamics are obvious, animating the machine even in static.

Covers and small fairings cover the surface of the roadster, largely obscuring the frame elements. This one, in tubular steel, evolves discreetly. Reinforced to withstand the increased displacement, its geometry hardly changes, based on that of the Z750 R. curves of the four in line Japanese.

Externally, the latter sports a more evolved covering of its two-colored black and beige surfaces and housings. Half-hoofs also dress its lower part Now made of die-cast aluminum, the block is lighter by one kilo. Winner in displacement, its bore goes from 68.4 to 71 mm. Although wider, the pistons lose 10% of their mass by reducing their height (40.2 instead of 47.2 mm), limiting any inertia taking. Finally, larger oil jets optimize their cooling and therefore their longevity. However, the inflation is not the only argument because the increase in volume alone is not enough.

Kawasaki Z800

So, the greatest benefit should come from admission. Its 5 mm longer ducts, for the inner cylinders, and the diameters of its injection bodies increased by 2 mm help shift maximum torque to lower revs. Now displaying 8.3 da.Nm at 8,000 rpm, the engine power is up 0.5 units at 300 revolutions less. The exhaust line also contributes to these figures. Particularly elegant, the curves of the elongated manifolds are assembled in pairs: tubes 1 and 4 are welded to 2 and 3. This assembly flows directly into a short silencer, integrating the catalyst in its lower part, making it possible to optimize dynamic responses at low and medium speed.

Kawasaki Z800 Exhaust

Reduced in length to follow the new shapes of the Z 800, efficiently profiled, this pot displays a triangular design to follow your craziest angles without suffering ….

Thus boosted, the heart of the Z is based on an equally reinforced gearbox (output pinion of the 1st and input and output pinions of the 5th report). It will thus better support the new shortened final transmission, adopting a 45-tooth (+2) crown wheel, for better acceleration and pick-up..

More efficient, the Z 800 does not however take up certain qualitative elements of its "avant-si-R". Radial calipers and braided hoses are becoming more common again. On the novelty, a classic pair with 4 pistons pinch petal discs of 310 mm at the front. The rear retarder squeezes a 250mm petal fret. The whole can receive, as an option, a new ABS, with perfectible integration at the rear, whose central is reduced by 800 grams. The aesthetic cast aluminum swingarm of the 750 R disappears for a classic element of rectangular section, lengthened by 12 mm and embellished with decorative plates.

We will find with more pleasure an adjustable Kayaba fork of 41 mm, adjustable in preload and rebound, just like the shock absorber with aluminum body. From the same supplier and with a separate tank, its position is offset to the left of the machine axis, to accommodate the new silencer.

As for the Z 800 e model, the latter is designed to follow the new European regulations. Thus, its engine will deliver a power limited to 35 kW (48 hp) for A2 licenses. It can then be released at 70 kW (95 hp). Don’t expect to get more out of it. Strictly respecting the new laws, the block is not modifiable. Its specific manifolds, for example, narrower, testify to reduced exhaust diameters at the cylinder head. Its equipment is also more basic. The footrest plates have a gray tint, the upholstery is mono-color and without decoration and above all, its fork is devoid of adjustment, its steel body shock absorber only offers a pre-load adjustment..

In the saddle

Narrower, the pilot seat perched at 834 mm seems very accessible and features a pattern made up of the Z logo for a rather successful material effect. The same cannot be said of comfort, the saddle making no progress on this point. The passenger folding seat forming the backrest will suffer the same complaints, its angular end touching the driver’s seat. Much more qualitative, the footrest plates with sharp lines support the metal lugs of the two crew members. To protect them from friction, two aluminum elements adorn their surface. Their upper profiles form two tie-down hooks, to be combined with those appearing on the rear mud flap. Other practical aspects, the space under the passenger seat just accommodates the rather well-stocked tool kit. Finally, the new style of the mirrors would make them more efficient … unlike a crutch that is impractical to unfold..

In the rolling position, the legs are still noticeably flexed, the knees better accommodated by a slimmer waist and the feet thrown back on the rear controls. The bust therefore leans forward to catch the handlebars. Its handles, now advanced by 20 mm at their ends, are also higher for better control of the front axle and increased comfort. For the same purpose, the caster angle closes, going from 24.5 to 24 °, giving hope for better liveliness. The flat bar overhangs a particularly neat upper triple tree, and hides the hydraulic fork adjustment systems a little..

Overcoming the lowered optics, the instruments offer a whole new face. Kawasaki likes to innovate on this point and offers a fully digital speedometer unit divided into three windows. In the center, a pyramid-type bar-graph tachometer. On the left, engine temperature warning light, two-part total odometer and clock. On the right, tachometer and fuel gauge topped with information on average, instantaneous and range consumption. These different functions run through two rubberized push buttons. Pressing them simultaneously enables the display of the tachometer to be personalized: either the increments gradually fill the space, or they empty it as well. Strangely enough, a gear indicator is still missing.

Kawasaki Z800

Stockier, more compact, the Z 800 is ultimately 3 kilos heavier than the R version of the previous model, ie 229 kg. However, its geometry, evolving slightly, and its larger displacement, should mitigate the previous criticisms made to the rowdy midsize.
Its finish, on the other hand, does not stand criticism. Sheathed cables run through a steering column with neat surfaces. The coating of the various plates and the adjustment of the components take care, of course, of the image..

In the city

Impressive by its plastic, the Z 800 is less impressive when starting up. Carbon or titanium, Akrapovic will help you solve this point, if you wish, by adopting its dedicated silencers.

Kawasaki Z800 Pot

We therefore set off with strong sound discretion, quickly won over by the good balance of the machine. Stable, the Z is also easier in the narrow universe of Monegasque streets, demonstrating an increasing agility..

Its new reduction also makes it pleasant on the main arteries. More available, the flexibility of the engine is also tasty. We would use almost only the sixth in town, as the machine takes again low: idle speed for 30 km / h. But that would be an indelicacy in the selection, soft and precise, pleasantly supporting the whole.

Kawasaki Z800 in the virolos

Polite, the monster asks only to appear at the slightest request. On the first reports, the beautiful takes back the hair of the beast from 5,000 laps, demonstrating better skills than before on these mid-revs. In an urban daily life, the roadster shows a lot of ease. Contrasting with its extreme appearance, its ease of handling, deceptive, makes it appear more accessible than it seems. Well trained, would the Z only be a rebel from a good family? Pitbull with a poodle character? Nay. To be convinced of this, let’s stop urbanities.

Kawasaki Z800 on national

Motorway and expressways

If we let go of the bridle, undo the muzzle, the Z shows new teeth. Dynamic from the bottom of the tachometer, the four legs have not forgotten their reach. After 8,000 revolutions / minute, his vocalizations change radically, more hoarse, accompanied by the resonance of the airbox. And it grows more seriously. So at the top of its peak of torque, the Kawa unit lets go of its horsepower: 113 nags (83.0 kW) in good shape then tumble at 10,200 laps (Yes, for you too in 2016). So it’s true, Pitbull gives wings. And the Z continues shamelessly towards the red zone, decreasing its flight all the same.

Returned to legal, the Z purrs again at 6,500 turns, ready to do battle. Benefiting from new silent-blocks and a more centered lower frame positioning, the Z 800 vibrates less than its predecessor. We will talk about tingling in the footrests, present from 4,000 turns for those who linger there but without real discomfort. Another good point, the width of the front trim provides good deflection of air flows at the legs. No salvation for the rest of the body and the head…. After 150 km / h, we will lie down on the hunchbacked backbone, face to face with the machine. Stable at full speed, the Kawa will not grow in the accumulation of terminals due to relative comfort, more sensitive on straight ribbons or boredom awaits.

Kawasaki Z800 on departmental

Departmental: the mouth, but not only.

It is the hour of the recreation that finally strikes the stormy sea on the coasts of Estelle. The Z 800 confirms much better agility. And don’t put this profit only on the rather round backs of the tires. The original Dunlop D 214, Kawasaki exclusive, certainly contributes to this feeling. However, a sportier ride should probably accentuate this dynamic. Positioned between a Roadsmart II and a Sportsmart, these new mono-rubber casings have mainly informed us about their handling on wet roads. Finally wet, even soggy or even totally flooded. Climate change is indeed falling during this test on the Coast, from which the Azur left on RTT. If the second day of riding was more informative about the grip, a more in-depth test will be necessary. Let’s say that this new D 214 seems to cut a good figure in general but stalls quite suddenly under water (it is the case to say it).

Kawasaki Z800 from above

When the sun is back, we take the Z to Les Zallures plus Zusuelles. And without zozing. The stylish roadster revives the crew with more enthusiasm. Thus, devoid of inertia, the block 800 revs up at high speed. On the intermediaries, the thrust is now more noticeable. Combined with a lighter cycle part, we will speak of the same liveliness on the changes of angle, the refined engine shows the Z under a new face. More fun, more sparkling. But without revolution. Its high weight, compared to that of other machines in the segment, remains noticeable. However, the Kawa is fun to take in the ring, now requiring less commitment from its pilot. Rigid, more precise in curves, the Z 800 is placed more easily on its trajectory but its suspensions will require more firmness for better efficiency. The irregularities of the asphalt undermine its neutrality in curves and the front axle thus plunges too noticeably under braking.

Dynamically it’s a better Z. The criticism will come more from some of its equipment and unresolved flaws. Engaging the front brakes at the angle always straightens the machine. If the attack of the calipers seem straightforward, their progressiveness is subsequently very linear, too much for a roadster of its caliber. The rear retarder is timid, its control also shows a high travel before the implementation of the clamp.

Kawasaki Z800 front


Refined, the geometry of the Z undoubtedly progresses, energizing this 800. A little more rigid, a little more lively, the whole is pleasant to ride, both in discovery mode and in more committed driving. We will adjust the hydraulics of its suspensions for better performance.

Kawasaki Z800


As soon as the lever is taken, the bite seems correct but attacks the discs progressively. However, more pressure does not seem to increase the deceleration force much thereafter. The rear element is a little cutesy, requiring insistence to effectively assist the front.

Kawasaki Z800 brakes

Comfort / Duo

Now incorporating elements of qualities identical to the former Z 750 R, the 800 delivers very good comfort. The reactions of its shock absorber are sometimes a little dry on large compressions but the equipment filters out rather well the defects of the asphalt in general.

Prefer an optional seat cowl for the passenger. Although benefiting from handles judiciously hollowed out in the rear shell, the accompanying person will not taste the jump seat covered with a highly slippery material. His falling position on the pilot will not encourage the duo any more.

Kawasaki Z800 seat cover


According to the on-board computer, we are flirting with 5 liters per 100 km shot. More reasonably, a non-deluge driving should fix the appetite of the Z towards the 6 liters. To be confirmed during a longer test.

Kawasaki Z800 at night


The successful 2013 Z800 opus improves dynamics and reinforces its bad bike look, without including all the R equipment that some would have dreamed of (brake system, swingarm). Mr. Yamamoto, the project manager, confirms that the 800 replaces, not the former R version, but the two Z 750 models. Suddenly, if you do not see certain elements, the possibility of a future again Radicalized version seems more than likely; probability currently refuted by the Japanese team.

Anyway, offering its Z 800 to € 8,899 and € 9,449 in ABS version, up € 200, the Akashi manufacturer intends to retain its leadership in the segment. A wish for success now coveted by many others, because in recent years, the competition has been stirring. Suzuki eventually responded with its GSR 750. Lively and powerful, the Suz ‘does not, however, have the powerful stylistic aura of the original, so envied. At € 8,399, the GSR nevertheless retains a pecuniary advantage. Another Japanese, the Yamaha FZ8 S ABS (9 499 €) seems very sullen in the face of the unbridled look of the Kawa and its new character..
Hooligansque behavior, racy line…. the new Triumph Street Triple is perhaps the only real rival. If, since 2007, the Street only lets the Kawa go ahead in terms of sales…. its 2013 R ABS vintage at € 8,990 could muzzle the green creature. So far, it has only reached fourth place in the market. Could it be his style less outrageous? Bad memories of language studies abroad, of cooking across the Channel….? Because for the rest, not watching the Englishwoman would be spitting in the pudding.
Finally the MV Agusta Brutale 675, mechanical splendor with a volcanic character, at 8,990 €, is also displayed.

Sharp, the Z 800 sets itself many challenges. In the end, it remains a real Z, aesthetically impactful even without all the R.adical attributes. Enough to relaunch the model and consolidate its sales pole position ?

Strong points

  • Engine character and availability
  • Quality of finishes
  • Agility in progress
  • Mouth

Weak points

  • Rising weight
  • Rising price
  • Equipment level lower than the former R version

Test conditions

Itinerary: rain, various small roads (departmental, national, with a little town)


black, white, green.


BMW F800R, Honda Hornet 600, Suzuki GSR 750, Triumph Speed ​​Four, Yamaha
Fazer 600

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8 thoughts on “Kawasaki Z800 motorcycle test

  1. Certainly BMW is a reference for road cars but I find the price prohibitive and everything is optional on a machine of this price

  2. I had an R1150RT for 3 years and for 4 months (3000km) I drive a 1200RT bought used and I am very satisfied with my purchase. It is an excellent motorcycle to live on a daily basis alone or in pairs

  3. Absolute lack of reliability of the clutch. I am at the 3rd clutch in 28,000 km. This bike is a real pain, especially as BMW refuses any participation, perhaps considering that this is normal with the degradable auto clutch. I would like to point out that this bike has only been driven by experienced riders. A tip: prefer a Japanese motorcycle

  4. This bike is really top of the line !!!!

    I am on my second, the first of which sold at 67,000 km and it is a motorcycle that will certainly do double without worries. …

    To find better it’s really not easy…

    Incredible handling, extra duo depending on the passenger, torque and power always there. Never a single problem for 3 years …

    Nothing to say !!!

  5. > RG12RT.

    Much better for you. However, the clutch is a known black spot in recent RTs, with some releasing in less than 20,000 and although in the hands of experienced pilots….

    More generally, BMW gearboxes and clutches have a sometimes rough design. Some will however hold 100,000 at least…

    Note that on its latest GS, the German firm has chosen an oil bath clutch and a completely new architecture.

    To be continued…

  6. My boss innocently asked me if I was thinking of thinking of a motorbike, while he was looking for a way to keep me in the box and I announced my intention to go sailing elsewhere. And … all the executives of the box, cashiers of course, have beautiful BMWs, rather in the high end, paid by the company (it’s more interesting than paying wages for the box. Ditto for the employee given the levels of taxation) … Personally, I would never finance an RT out of my funds because my motorcycle preferences go elsewhere and I would never ever put such a sum in a motorcycle (or then in an MV Agusta Turismo Velocce … let’s be crazy), but if it’s offered, I’ll think about it wink

  7. I find it a shame to buy an R1200RT a bit by default, just because it would be free, when you don’t really like it. And then there are other models at BMW that might attract you more?


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