How can a couple of boys in their mid-50s scratch the performance itch without an appearance of suffering midlife crises? The modern sport-standard offers a good answer that might even fly under the spousal radar.
The Kawasaki Z800 and Yamaha FZ-09 are prime candidates at filling the moto mistress role. Both possess seductive styling and sporting capability yet are practical, affordable, and epitomize the contemporary multi-role platform that gives them the kind of cross-generational appeal few other bikes have.
To help find out which is the better overall choice, I enlisted Steele Kennedy, an executive jet pilot by trade and former WERA roadracer, to serve as my wingman on our flight.
While new to American soil, the Z800 pounded pavement abroad prior to arriving in response to one of Yamaha’s best-selling Stateside models. Taking on a two-time Cycle World Ten Best winner is no small calling for the 816cc liquid-cooled inline-four-powered naked. “It’s what I’ve come to expect in Kawis,” came Kennedy’s vote of confidence on a stint aboard the new Z. “Nice fit and finish, smooth power that is responsive and tractable, and suspension that inspires confidence in a variety of riding situations.” While the engine produces less peak power than Yamaha’s 847cc liquid-cooled inline three, delivery is ultra-smooth below 7,000 rpm and very linear throughout its entire rev range. Shift action is light and slick, and the positive neutral finder eliminates guesswork at stops.
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