Kawasaki Motors Australia's supported Superbike team, Kawasaki BCperformance Racing, are a dominant force in Australian road racing. Ninja ZX-10RR team rider, Bryan Staring, was recently in Sydney preparing for the season. Bryan's choice of transport in Sydney is the Z900RS.
This is Bryan's thoughts on the Kawasaki Z900RS:
"Throughout my motorcycling career, I’ve seen a few bikes that create attention in public. A few of which might be the Honda RC30 and RC45, rare or special Ducati’s and European bikes and to a lesser extent the Suzuki Katana. Whilst I have always known the Kawasaki Z900 was a popular bike throughout the '80s, I didn’t expect it would be the jaw-dropping icon in public that it is. Recently I am fortunate to have had long term use of the super-naked Z900. A great bike (you can read my previous article on it if you look back through Kawasaki Australia’s news), this sporty bike gave me a lot of enjoyment blasting up through the hills in Western Australia and personally I liked the racy styling. The Z900 certainly received attention from the odd passing of a stranger. The Z900RS on the other hand, this is an icon. No matter where I went, people were turning their heads. From the Boomers to generation X and Y, the styling seems appealing to everyone. I struck attention at the café, in the hills and on each social media representation. For the older generation, I believe this bike takes them back to a time where Superbikes were new, exciting and reigned supreme amongst sports fans. To the younger generation, the round lines and retro styling originality make it attractive.
So how did it go? “Like a bat out of hell” (no doubt how the baby boomer might reference it to Meat Loaf). The engine, gearbox and smooth throttle are exactly what I know from my long term Z900 in Perth, however, the first thing that got my attention was the striking exhaust note. The Z900RS only had the standard exhaust system on it, although Kawasaki has managed to give it a rasp that belongs to the 4-cylinder bikes of the ’80s. Yep, that was appealing to me. They’ve also updated this model with a few extra features that I have some experience with from our ZX10RR race bikes, traction control! If you ride sensibly and in good weather conditions, the traction control won’t blow your mind. However, this is such a great feature if you are likely to either push the limits or ride in less-than-ideal weather. The feature maintains a good throttle connection yet calms the torque and rasp of the motor and has the choice of a few different sensitivity modes. For me, it is nice to see the implementation of a device that originated on our race bike and transitioned across to a fantastic safety feature on the road.
I had the delight of riding the Z900RS through the Blue Mountains in Sydney. Up through Hawkesbury pass, Springwood, Old Bathurst Road and around the Warragamba Dam and Wallacia. There’s no doubt these roads would be enjoyable no matter which motorcycle you might be riding. I can only say that my experience with the Z900RS was delightful. The RS features a slightly more relaxed riding position with the handlebar higher and the footpeg lower, slightly wider and longer seat. Personally, the riding position itself is only more appealing due to the more accommodating seat for a pillion (This would make my partner happier). I couldn’t fault the fuelling in any gear at any RPM. 6th gear feels like a real overdrive, this makes for a relaxing ride with low RPM on the highway. Even if you need to pass someone, selecting 5th is unnecessary thanks to the torquey 900cc’s. Of its many attributes, one of the simplest delights is that the rear-view mirrors are completely functional and clearly display an image of what remains behind you, most sports bikes will only give you a good look at the bugs on your shoulder.
The beauty of the RS is the retro styling with all the technology of a modern motorcycle. It is well rounded in that it is sporty enough to take on the hills or a less serious track day, and comfortable enough to tour or enjoy day-long rides. Which is the best Z900? That is subjective, all I can say is the Z900RS has no enemies."