The 2018 Kawasaki Z900RS Is the Shake-Up Vintage-Style Motorcycles Need

A loud and proud callback to one of the most iconic motorcycles of all time.

The motorcycle industry is in the throngs of a full-fledged vintage-style sport-standard brawl. Kawasaki just entered the ring: After months of teasing, the Kawasaki Z900RS has finally broken cover at the Tokyo Auto Show, and it’s a stunner.

By now, no one would blame you for being a little fatigued from all the motorcycle brands digging back through their archives for styling inspiration and paint schemes. But what Kawasaki has to offer is distinctly unique from the rest of the sport-standard bikes thumping around: it has an inline-four cylinder bolted in the middle.

From the Ducati Scrambler to the Yamaha XSR700 to the Triumph Thruxton, the market is flooded with two-cylinder twin engines. It’s getting a bit stale. The Z900RS takes the 948cc inline-four from the current Z900 naked sport bike, but with a slightly different tune to give it more power down below 7,000 rpm. The trade-off there is that the engine makes a little less power overall at just 111 horsepower (down from 125 horsepower) while peak torque drops to 53.5 lb-ft (down from 72 lb-ft). That still outguns the Ducati by 36 horsepower, which is a significant lump of push for something that weighs 474 pounds.

Styling-wise, the Z900RS hits the mark with a loud-and-proud nod to the iconic Z1 of the ’70s. Earthy-toned colorways, a wheel design so thin it looks like spokes and, lastly, a gauge cluster that combines a digital readout with an analog speedometer and tach, making for an excellent balance of old and new.

There’s no mention of the price just yet, but expect it to be competitive with the Yamaha’s $8,499 tag.

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