Kawasaki Motors Australia long term supported team Kawasaki BCperformance Racing Team has been at the top of Australian racing, along with Australian local rider Bryan Staring.
Not many of the top Australian Superbike riders actually ride on road; Bryan however, has been riding on road for sometime. Kawasaki Motors gave him the opportunity to learn all about the Z900 Supernaked.
This is his story:
Z900, The Perth Hills Lover.
"Over the past 6 months I have been fortunate enough to have the 2019 Z900 at my disposal for zipping around Perth’s streets, hills and sunset coastline. This weapon has seen me take on the adventures that are common to Perth’s long-term motorcycling community. Destinations like York and Gigdegannup have been the biggest attractions for me. As every motor enthusiast knows, the appeal isn’t the destination, it’s the journey that makes it special. Combining my knowledge of Perth’s hills and top lunch spots mostly through my experience as a cyclist, has allowed me to enjoy the same places in a more relaxing and yet excitable manor. Bickley Valley and Pickering Brook banked great ‘bonus points’ with my partner where the art of the long Sunday lunch has been executed exquisitely. The Z900 could be alternatively known as the ‘freedom machine’.
Recently, the crew at Kawasaki Australia asked me to highlight my five favourite things about the latest Z900. This was easy for me, I casted my mind back to my first rides to recall my impressions. Personally, I find the appearance of the new Z900 as ‘HOT, SLEEK and RACY’. So, looks aside, here are the top 5 attributes.
It appeals to me because I’m young, energetic and want something that can be both exhilarating and comfortable simultaneously. It provides a position that can be ‘racy’ enough to enjoy a track day, of which I completed at Collie Motorplex, or relaxing enough to commute. Let me explain this contradiction, the Z900 has a high-rise handlebar so the body weight is relieved from the wrists. This puts slightly more of the riders’ weight through the seat and encourages longer sessions on the Z900. The seat foam density provides great feel and comfort, with riders’ thoughts primarily occupied by suspension, the seat can often be overlooked. Kawasaki also positioned the footrest where ground clearance isn’t an issue making it compliant for the track and the hills. The ground clearance doesn’t compromise the relationship from the seat to the footrest as a relaxed bend in the knee is maintained. Of course, this is subjective to an individual’s height, so Kawasaki have different seat heights available so each stature can be accommodated. For the sportier rider, a simple rotation of the hips, lowering the upper body and the center of gravity returns weight to the front wheel providing more grip mid-turn, compensating for the higher handlebar. This is the same technique you would use on any race bike, although with the Z900, this riding position is what makes the bike conveniently versatile.
Modern and precise – they are the words I would use to describe the Z900 gearbox. Kawasaki have geared the bike quite short with the final drive ratio, however ripping through the gears is a breeze with minimal clutch input. The sensation at the lever is very solid and it’s obvious to when the gear has engaged. My only suggestion would be a quick shifter, letting her pop through the gears more aggressively on your own or smoother with a passenger.
The inline 4 is surprisingly torquey. The engine configuration is very similar to the ZX-10R although they gave the Z900 the ability to rip away from the lights. Again, the clutch action is easy and getting her away fast doesn’t involve hammering the left hand with a lung full of right hand. On the roads 3rd and 4th gear both have the biggest potential. Depending on how you want to ride the bike will determine which gear becomes the preference. For me, the roads out through Death Valley to Gidgygannup were brilliant to understand the engines power characteristics. I found that the subtle speed limit of 80 was an acceptable pace and either slowly winding her up in 4th or being gentler on the gas and using the higher RPM of 3rd both worked well. Without question, the freeway miles were fine and small accelerations aren’t a challenge for the Z900 even in top gear.
Chain and Maintenance:
To my surprise and my delight, until I’d ridden the first 1000km the Z900 chain didn’t need any attention. I couldn’t believe the lack of maintenance required. It stayed quiet, and within its tension limits and didn’t throw lube or wax all over the wheel, chain guard and tail piece. Other than the 1000km first service I never placed a spanner on her.
ABS has been a talking point for road and race bikes alike for many years. The systems were bagged in the early days by both parties, of which I have been guilty. However, as the technology improved the ABS system has also been enhanced. I bagged the first systems because on the race track the ABS would engage at too lower brake pressure, long before the wheel would ever lock. That is no longer the case and the system is very efficient. I felt it engage when pulling off the bitumen onto the gravel and when I trialled an emergency braking drill for the sole purpose of testing its functionality. The system empowers freedom to the advanced rider in pushing their boundaries, yet the less experienced rider can remain confident the ABS will prevent the wheels (yes both wheels) from locking in an emergency.
If you are a rider who is starved for space in the garage, or only seems to manage just a few track days a year yet still likes to commute or enjoy your days off in the hills. If you can’t justify owning 2 bikes, the Z900 is the perfect all-rounder. My partner and I have used the Z900 for zipping down for a coffee, touring through the hills or ripping around the racetrack. Given my position on the Kawasaki BC Performance Superbike team you could expect bias in my report, however I can assure you I have only spoken the truth and this machine is truly awesome."