Building over the Z800, the Kawasaki Z900 is modern, easier to ride and brilliant. Replacing the Z800, the new bike flaunts a head lamp cluster that is in-line with the Z-Series. The Sugomy styling gets carried forward, keeping the connection with the earlier bike alive. The front fairing is new. Having a more slippery look to it, the twin head lamps as part of an extended jaw-line makes for an aggressive appearance. The blacked-out windscreen above the head lamp offers some wind protection.
The LCD instrument console is new, and is shared with the Z650 and the Ninja 650, and has a semi-circular tacho that cascades. It also acts a shift indicator. The needles begin to blink as the time to shift up draws near. There’s a gear indicator and a large centralised digital speed readout. The organic shape of the tank adds to the aggressive stance of the bike and is a part of the Sugomy design philosophy. The wide seat is well padded and comfortable for long rides. The rear seat cowl, which is optional, comes handy for single riders. The tail is new, and is in-line with the styling of the ‘Z’ series. The LED tail lamp is the shape of ‘Z’. Impressive fit and finish standards of the Z900, which is structured on a new tubular steel trellis unit that weighs 13.5kg, add to its organic looks.
The 124bhp, 948cc inline-four engine is a stressed member of the chassis. With a seat height of 795mm, the Z900 can be ridden by riders of varying heights.
Very refined, the Z900 produces a bassy buzz at idle and turns into a howl as the engine speeds mount. A nice, meaty mid-range with a strong thrust past 6000rpm makes the bike quick and responsive. Feeling refined as high engine revs, thanks to a balancer shaft, the Z900 feels quite sporty. Equipped with a slipper clutch and a short ratio gearbox, the bike makes easy work of powering out of corners and tipping into them. Nimble and stable, the Z900 does feel a little eager going into corners at times, calling for an amount of restrain. Even when the throttle is opened, or shut, a certain abrupt feel is experienced. What impress at the end of the day is the performance and an ability of the bike to pick up speed. The top gear is tall and helps. A super-efficient cooling system of the bike means even in traffic, the Z900 does not give out as much heat to the rider’s legs.
The suspension, consisting of 41mm upside-down forks at the front and horizontally mounted monoshock arrangement with a link at the rear, makes for a good ride quality on a variety of surfaces. The suspension travel is almost identical, and many irregularities are well absorbed. The tyres do a good job of complementing the dynamic abilities of the Z900, they could, however, offer more grip. Sans any power modes or traction control, the ABS-equipped brakes with 300mm petal disc at front and 250mm petal disc at the rear feel light at first, but go on to exert a strong bite as more force is exerted. Apply more force and the brakes get the machine to shed speed quickly.
Light and responsive, the Kawasaki Z900 is fun to ride. If the balance between power and handling contributes to the fun factor, the bike offers good value at Rs 7.68 lakh. The absence of traction control calls for an amount of restraint for less experienced riders, but the Z900 is a good step up from the Z800.
Pros: Styling, light, responsive, handling
Cons: No traction control