Tag Archives: Kawasaki

It has been so nice to get this extra day after Jerez

It has been so nice to get this extra day after Jerez, because we got really decent weather, the track was dry and we managed to put in a lot of laps. We were able to back-to-back some items that we were not sure about with the weight balance of the bike in Jerez. In the end we tried something on the front suspension and did some practice starts. The big positive is that I really enjoyed the track and the bike works really well here. I think it sets us up in a good frame of mind now. I feel fast and consistent and this positive test has prepared us to go to Australia, where we will start the new season. Thanks to the team for pulling out all the stops to get us a proper test day here because I know it was not in the plan. Next is the team launch where we get to be all excited about our new colours and then move on


Source: Jonathan Rea On Facebook

Video Of The Week | Kawasaki Z1300 six-cylinder

When people think of six-cylinder motorcycles they naturally think Honda. From the six-cylinder 250cc GP racers that enjoyed great success at the Isle of Man TT and in Grand Prix Motorcycle Racing during the 1960s. Then of course there is the famous in-line six of the Honda CBX1000 of 1978, through to the flat-six of the current generation Gold Wing. Honda is somewhat synonymous with six-cylinder motorcycles.

Honda CBX 1000

Honda CBX 1000

Honda CBX 1000

Of course BMW currently has the very impressive K1600 line-up of touring motorcycles, and the likes of Benelli turned out six-cylinder motorcycles as far back as 1973 with the original Benelli Sei, the first production road going model to utilise six-cylinders.

Benelli Sei PA BenelliSei

Benelli Sei PA BenelliSei

Check out the Benelli 750 and 900 Sei through the lens of Phil Aynsley

And then of course there was the incredible V6 Laverda endurance racer! Just look at that beautiful bank of six Dell’Orto carbuerettors nestled in that 90-degree vee. Art!

Phil Aynsley features the Laverda V6 1000

Phil Aynsley features the Laverda V6 1000

Check out the incredible Laverda V6 through the lens of Phil Aynsley

Many though forget the muscularly handsome Kawasaki KZ1300 that was released in 1979.

It looked tough, with a sculpted modern style to its crankcases and cylinder block which, thanks to water-cooling, was notable at the time for its absence of cooling fins.

The shaft-driven beast tipped the scales on the wrong side of 300 kg but found many followers during its ten-year production run. It also had a spin-off touring variant known as the Voyager.

Power from the original 1286cc engine was a claimed 120 hp at 8000 rpm with 116 Nm of torque peaking at 6000 rpm. The engine was of an undersquare configuration with the 71 mm stroke much longer than the 62 mm wide bore size, to help reduce the width of the engine and boost torque.

The first model years saw the DOHC 12-valve engine fed by three Mikuni 32 mm CV twin-throat carburettors before Kawasaki then switched to fuel-injection in 1983. With EFI came an increase in power to 130 ponies.

UK tuner Allen Millyard also made a V12 version of the Z1300 by mating two of the six-cylinder donks to make a 70-degree V12! Give me some of the drugs that man is on! A bit of his engineering brilliance wouldn’t go astray either…. We have included a video of the Millyard V-12 further below also.

Kawasaki Z Millyard V

Kawasaki Z Millyard V

UK tuner Allen Millyard also made a V12 version of the Z1300 by mating two of the six-cylinder donks to make for a 2.3 litre V12! – Image by Phil Aynsley

In an earlier column for MCNews.com.au Phil Hall reflected on the efforts to race the Z1300 in Australia that we also include here. Back in those days if the company made it, then the company ensured someone raced it!


Kawasaki Z1300 Australian Racing History

In 1979 a well funded team entered two Kawasaki Z1300 machines for the Bathurst races at Easter time.

One was to be ridden by the Kiwi ace, Graeme Crosby and the other by one of the Blanco brothers (sorry, I can’t remember which one). However, after the first practice session, Croz returned the bike to the pits, jumped off and threw the bike against the wall of the tent, muttering in terms that were undeniable in their meaning and unrepeatable here that he wasn’t going to ride that *&&^%^%$ thing.

With numerous Honda CBX’s still entered and circulating, it was vital for Kawasaki to find a good rider to replace him, and find one they did. The by-now legendary Kawasaki stalwart, Gary Thomas was drafted in and quite unwittingly helped to tell one of the great Bathurst stories.

The Production Race soon became a brawl between Thomas on the amazing six and Honda’s trump card, Tony Hatton on a more conventional CB900/4 Bol d ‘Or.

Rumours and protestations continue to this day concerning the legality of Hatton’s mount but, that aside, the race was a cracker. Against all the odds, Thommo took it to Hatton and made old 55 pull out every bit of skill and daring that he possessed.

Gary was blindingly fast on the two long Bathurst straights aboard the Kawasaki, leaving Hatton in his wake. But, over the top of the mountain in the twisty bits, Hatton regained the ascendency as the Kawasaki added lightness by grinding large parts of its undercarriage away on the unforgiving track surface.

Hatton, cagey devil that he was (still is), waited till the end and, knowing that the big heavy K was running out of brakes at the end of Conrod Straight, he pulled out and executed the perfect inside pass and won the sprint to the line.

It was an amazing race and prompted the Crawford brothers to use the bikes again in further races, but never with the success that Thomas had achieved that day.


Kawasaki sold over 20,000 of the Z1300 variant over the ten-year production run of the model. Kawasaki Australia living legend Murray Sayle told us that, from memory, the model only had a three-year run in the Australian market.

This video below demonstrates the unique sound of the Z1300, which differs greatly from that emitted from Honda’s air-cooled CBX. Enjoy.


Kawasaki Z1300


Millyard Kawasaki V12


Source: MCNews.com.au

2020 Kawasaki W800 Street and Cafe Review | Motorcycle Tests

Kawasaki W800 World Launch

Motorcycle Test by Adam Child ‘Chad’ – Images by CAPS


Kawasaki’s new W800 Street and Café deliver bags of character and soul, something that’s regularly missed by Japanese manufacturers. We travelled to Japan to test Kawasaki’s new heritage range, which can trace its routes back to the W1 650 of 1965.

The old W800 was loved by many. It was simple and straightforward, which appealed to a generation who remember when bikes had kick-starts. Equally a younger audience enjoyed personalising and modifying the W800 and the older W650.

Kawasaki W Street Review Japan DSC

Kawasaki W Street Review Japan DSC

The W800 enjoys a reputation as a characterful refined machine, as well as a platform for modifications

However, the discontinued now ‘old’ W800 was in desperate need of an upgrade, and no longer conformed to tighter Euro-4 legislation. From 2019 Kawasaki have delivered an all-new W800 and there are two variants to choose from, the laid back Street and the racier Café. Although both bikes may appear almost the same as the old model, they are entirely new.

Thankfully Kawasaki haven’t wondered too far from the path of the successful W800, and older W650. In a country led by technology where toilet seats are automatically warmed, they haven’t been tempted to chase horsepower, nor over-complicate a proven recipe. Kawasaki have kept it simple as a retro bike should be.

The 783cc powerplant remains air-cooled and retains the unique bevel gear driven cam, which Kawasaki admit is for cosmetic reason only. They could have opted for water-cooling and even conventional chain driven cams, which would have resulted in more power, but instead have kept with traditional air-cooling.

Kawasaki W Street Review Japan

Kawasaki W Street Review Japan

The W800 remains air-cooled, and pumps out 35 kW at 6500 rpm

Internally the engine has been upgraded with new pistons, but essentially it’s the same, with a quoted 47 bhp at 6000 rpm which means the new W800 is still A2 compliant.

The steel double cradle chassis is all-new and thicker to improve stiffness. The brakes have received a significant upgrade, the rear shoe brake has been replaced with a more modern disc item, and the front also sees an increase in the single disc diameter, up from 300 mm to 320 mm.

The most significant change to affect the handling is the change in front wheel size, the older 19 in front has been replaced with a 18 in front, matching the rear. The non-adjustable fork has also increased in diameter, up from 39 mm to 41 mm. Kawasaki have tweaked the handing characteristics to improve the responsiveness of the steering, to give the W800 a sportier edge.

Kawasaki W Street Review Japan

Kawasaki W Street Review Japan

The front wheel is also now an 18-inch item, with a larger 320 mm rotor

Cosmetically it’s all new. The Japanese built W800 has some lovely detail touches. I love the fact they’ve stayed with the bevel gear drive cams – they’ve gone to that extra effort. The air-cooled engine is a thing of beauty.

The twin swept back exhausts appear to have been stolen from the original Kawasaki 650W, which was launched in 1965 – the first mass production large capacity four-stroke to leave Japan. Everywhere you look there are nice little detail touches, the metal flakes in the metallic paintwork, the ‘old school’ switch gear looks like it’s been taken directly from the ’70s. The seat couldn’t be anymore retro, with the Kawasaki logo printed on the rear.

In Japan on the exclusive product launch, Kawasaki cleverly had an original 1965 W1 on display, which clearly highlighted the similarities between the original and new bike. The family resemblance was obvious.

They both looked like they been produced by the same man, in the same era, only the modern-day bike disc brakes hinted at the new bikes true age. On looks alone Kawasaki need to be applauded. Over the years Japanese manufactures have attempted to build in character and induce some soul but fall short – not this time.

Kawasaki W Street Cafe Review Japan DSC

Kawasaki W Street Cafe Review Japan DSC

The W800 Cafe (left) and W800 Street (right)

There are two variants to choose from, the Street or the pricier Café. Both share the same basic platform, identical engine, performance, chassis and brakes. The Street is easily identifiable with laid back bars, wide retro seat, chrome spoked rims and small details changes, like a black only bevel cover. The Café comes with racy drop bars, black wheels and engine, plus side tank pads, chrome bevel cover and obviously the front cowl.

Choosing which bike to ride first was the hardest decision of my two-day road test. After a flip of a coin I headed for the laid back Street. The relatively low seat (770 mm) makes the W800 as intimidating as Morris Dancing. I’m 5’7 and was securely flat-footed, while some of the shorter Japanese test riders at even 5’2 didn’t have any issues. The laid back bars, soft seat and wide rubber pegs immediately relax the senses – let’s take it easy.

Kawasaki W Street Review Japan DSC

Kawasaki W Street Review Japan DSC

The W800 Street offers an unintimidating ride

The view from the retro seat is throw-back to the ’70s. I love the simplicity of the switchgear, the ornate clocks are simple with large faces, analogue rev-counter on the right and speedometer on the left. There’s also a small digital display for multiple trips and clock.

The parallel twin, with a long-stoke 360-degree crankshaft starts with a rewarding burble. The twin exhausts sound as good as they look, a blip of the soft throttle results in an authentic exhaust tone and the odd ‘pop’ on the overrun. Kawasaki admittedly spent a huge amount of resources on the exhaust tone.

Obviously it’s Euro 4 compliant, there’s a cleverly hidden cat-converter, but even so they’ve successfully created a charismatic exhaust tone.

Pulling in the one-finger-light clutch with a new back-torque limiter, a neat click into first gear and our Japanese adventure begins.

Kawasaki W Cafe Review Japan DSC

Kawasaki W Cafe Review Japan DSC

The W800 is also a standout for boasting strong character

Kawasaki’s new W800 is as effortless and easy ride. You can smoothly change gear at any rpm, even as low as 2000 rpm and then simply short-shift to the national speed limit. The torque is very flat, and the fuelling at low speed is soft, effortless. Once in to fifth gear – top – your left foot can become redundant, the W800 will happily pull from low rpm.

As you can image with only 47 bhp, the air-cooled long-stroke engine could never be described as quick, it’s slow revving and almost lethargic, but it perfectly matches the bikes laid-back feel. If you find yourself constantly revving the W800, then sorry you’ve bought the wrong bike, this is laid back cruising at it’s best.

Cogging back one gear will result in a punch in power.  Peak torque is at 4800 rpm but there is more than enough punch from 3000 rpm, which takes care of brisk overtakes with safety.

Kawasaki W Street Review Japan DSC

Kawasaki W Street Review Japan DSC

Peak torque was moved up to 4800 rpm on the updated W800

I only wanted more power when exiting slow uphill corners on many of the mountain passes we encountered. The air-cooled donk was more than enough for 90 per cent of the time, squeezing out an indicated 100 mph without too many woes, in fact the punch from 70-80 mph was more than I expected from an A2 licence legal bike.

The handling like the engine is easy, simple and lazy. Kawasaki have quickened the steering over the predecessor, with a smaller front wheel, but you could never describe the W800 as sharp. The wide bars allow you to have some fun in the twisties, you can throw it around with relative ease, but when the foot-pegs start scraping you know you’re having a little too much fun.

Kawasaki W Street Review Japan

Kawasaki W Street Review Japan

Wide ‘bars offer plenty of leverage on the W800 Street

Even when the pegs start to leave trails of sparks, the handling is natural, it doesn’t feel like you’re at the limitations of the W800’s handling. The new suspension is softly sprung, but still has reasonable control and damping. Some roads in Japan were poor in places but the new W800 took imperfections without jolts and jarring, the ride is smooth.

When you ask a little too much of the new ABS assisted brakes, the front forks travel a little more than I’d like, but they don’t dive to the ground like a scared toddler after a car backfires. With a full four-fingered approach the stoppers have some rewarding bite, and the rear disc brake is a big step from the old shoe item.

Kawasaki W Street Review Japan DSC

Kawasaki W Street Review Japan DSC

W800 Street


The W800 Café

Despite sharing many similarities with the Street, the Café feels like a very different bike. The seat is taller by 20 mm and firmer. Despite being higher it’s still easy to get two feet securely onto the road, as it’s much narrower than the Streets wider and more comfortable seat.

The Café racer bars dramatically alter your body position, you’re now perched further forward with more weight on your wrists. It’s not as natural as the Street, a tad uncompromising around town, but not uncomfortable.

Kawasaki W Cafe Review Japan DSC

Kawasaki W Cafe Review Japan DSC

The W800 Cafe offers relatively minor differences for a very different feel and ergo

On the open road the Café feels more alive. The aggressive almost racy riding position encourages you to ride a little quicker, hold the revs a little longer and is accompanied by the same charismatic exhaust tone. Once into the mountain region of Kirigamine I preferred the racy Café, despite having the same engine and chassis I was riding a little faster, a little to the annoyance of the Japanese locals who strictly stuck to the speed limit despite being in the middle of nowhere.

But the Café style does come with compromises. The short narrow bars slows down the steering as you simply don’t have the leverage the wide bars give you to throw it into a corner. At high speed it doesn’t feel as stable at the Street, and furthermore as you have more weight over the front, the forks don’t feel as plush, but this may also have been a result of the increased speed.

Kawasaki W Cafe Review Japan DSC

Kawasaki W Cafe Review Japan DSC

In the mountain region of Kirigamine I preferred the racy Café

Despite moving the riders’ weight further forward Kawasaki didn’t change the suspension set up between the Café and the Street. And personally, I’d prefer the standard pegs to be further back, racier but not simply the same as the Street.

Of course, arguably the Café is a styling exercise, and hasn’t been led by performance or handing and in terms of appeal and look, the Café hits the nail on the head. The front cowl is a throwback to the café racer culture, but is more for show than any real wind protection.

Personally, I prefer the looks of the Café over the Street, and on day one I did favour the feel of the racer. But after two days and over 300 km of relatively steady Japanese riding, I favoured the Street.

Kawasaki W Cafe Review Japan DSC

Kawasaki W Cafe Review Japan DSC

Kawasaki W800 Cafe

For me the lazy easy handling matches the laid back stance and ride of the Street, it’s the perfect match. And after riding the original 1965 W800 W1, which Kawasaki dragged out of their museum specifically for this event, the new W800 is very much like the original, but with modern technology, better brakes and rideability.

For a short blast to the coast or favourite biker hangout, I’d favour Café, but after two day of touring, I’d choose the Street. And yes, I did say touring. The comfort at legal speeds is exceptional, the ride quality is impressive, I’d certainly take on some serious miles on the Street. This latest model even comes with a larger fuel tank.

Kawasaki W Cafe Review Japan DSC

Kawasaki W Cafe Review Japan DSC

Of the two, I’d pick the Kawasaki W800 Street

We took on all types of roads and weather, the standard Dunlop K300 surprisingly coping with all conditions. There’s even an optional rear rack and heated grips. At high speeds it’s a little vibey, mainly through the rubber pegs and there’s no economy, range/distance to empty measurement or even a gear position indicator, but otherwise it’s a hard bike to fault.

If you’re looking for a retro easy-to-ride middle-weight machine the market is flooded with attractive choices. Moto Guzzi’s A2 air-cooled V7 is the obvious competition. You could even throw in Harley’s air-cooled 883, Triumph’s water-cooled more powerful Street Twin or Enfield’s new 650 twin, and this is where the Kawasaki stumbles a little as it’s one of the more expensive of the wide selection of middle-weight retro machines.

The W800 Street is available for $12,999 RRP + ORC, while the W800 Cafe is available for $13,999 RRP + ORC. The Royal Enfield Interceptor 650 starts at $9,790 Ride-Away and the Continental GT 650 starts at $9,990 Ride-Away. The Moto Guzzi V7 III Stone in comparison was $14,390 Ride-Away in 2019.

Kawasaki W Cafe Review Japan DSC

Kawasaki W Cafe Review Japan DSC

There’s also plenty of competition for the W800, with price being an area some competitors compare strongly

In Kawasaki’s defence, you can see where the money has been spent. The bevel gear driven cam engine, with it’s wide cooling fins is lovely looking, with perfect fuelling. The exhaust has a charismatic tone, the detailing is lovely, the Japanese made Kawasaki feels quality, which arguably justifies the increase in price over the competition.


The W800 Verdict

With over 20-years of professionally testing bikes under my belt, I’ve lost count of the amount of Japanese retro, or cruiser bikes which ride perfectly and look great, but lack character and soul. They simply can’t match the character and soul of similar bikes made in Europe or America. However, the new W800 Street and Café, re-sets that balance. They both have genuine soul, especially the Street which can trace its DNA back to the original W1 from 1965.

Kawasaki W Street Review Japan DSC

Kawasaki W Street Review Japan DSC

Kawasaki W800 Street

Bikes in the class shouldn’t be evaluated on performance, or handling – it’s how it makes you feel; do you feel pride in ownership, does it make you smile every time you open the garage door? Every time I rode the new W800 I smiled, even on day three I wasn’t bored of the easy-to-ride Kawasaki.

Grab your open face helmet, leather jacket, protective jeans and take the W800 for a test ride. Don’t go chasing the revs and performance, relax, turn off your phone and life worries, just enjoy the simplicity and charm the W800 delivers.

Kawasaki W Cafe Review Japan DSC

Kawasaki W Cafe Review Japan DSC

Kawasaki W800 Cafe


Kawasaki W800 Specifications

Source: MCNews.com.au

Arenacross Tour 2020 Tickets | Belfast, Birmingham & Sheffield| Ticketmaster UK

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