Kawasaki Z800 vs. Yamaha FZ-09 – COMPARISON TEST

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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.

Kawasaki Z800 and Yamaha FZ-09 group static

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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