2018 Kawasaki Z900RS First Ride Review

If you were expecting a cosmetic makeover of the Z900, you’d be mistaken like I was. I mean, it’s called Z900RS, but apart from the basic engine, this one’s nearly a completely redesigned animal, designed to bow deeply before Kawasaki’s Holy of holies (when it comes to motorcycles), the 1973 Z1. The steel-tube frame is said to be all-new, the engine’s tuned completely differently, the ergos are totally revised, the suspension is tuned for gentlepeople – and in general Kawasaki says this one’s supposed to be a mellow ride, not a raw high-performance one like the regular Z900.

Everybody’s cashing in on their heritage these days. Why shouldn’t Kawasaki? The original Z1 really was quite the atom bomb when it got here with its big DOHC engine in ’73. The RS picks up the thread with a new 4.5-gallon gas tank that closely mimics the original before flowing into side panels with original-look badging, then rearward into that duck-tail rear end and period-correct round taillight – though illumination at both ends is by modern LED.

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