Kawasaki’s Z900RS Cafe Comes To America | Sport Rider
Kawasaki Motors Corp., USA

Kawasaki’s Z900RS Cafe Comes To America

Kawasaki formally announces the addition of a limited-edition café racer-styled Z900RS to its 2018 US model lineup

After teasing us with a café racer version of Kawasaki’s new Z900RS at last fall’s EICMA show, Kawasaki USA confirms the Z900RS Cafe ($11,499) is coming to US dealerships this summer as a 2018 model.

The Z900RS Cafe cranks up the volume in the nostalgia department with its tidy Vintage Lime Green front cowl—loosely resembling the one fitted on “Steady” Eddie Lawson’s 1982 KZ1000R race replica. It encapsulates the bold and bright six-chamber LED headlamp affording a racier look while also providing wind protection. It’s further complemented by a short clear windscreen.

Six-chamber LED headlight

A six-chamber LED headlight is placed in a Vintage Lime Green cowl, giving the Z900RS Cafe its most recognizable styling change from RS.

Kawasaki Motors Corp., USA

The Cafe trades the standard RS’ chrome handlebar for a black component with a lower rise and more swept-back bend. Similar to its brother, the handlebar is mounted above the triple clamp making it more cozy for casual rides. After all, cafe racers are known for their low-rise bars and demanding riding position. Not so with this one.

Teardrop fuel tank

The lower and more swept-back handlebar drops the rider deeper into the Z900RS Cafe as they reach over the teardrop fuel tank.

Kawasaki Motors Corp., USA

It also gets a different saddle with a deeper dish. A pronounced passenger hump invokes a sense of speed while positioning the passenger well above the rider. Seat height is a hint taller (0.8 inch) and listed at 32.3 inches according to Kawasaki’s press materials.

Cafe seat

The Z900RS Cafe seat is slightly taller than the standard RS with a deeper dish and an elevated pillion position.

Kawasaki Motors Corp., USA

Other changes include a brushed aluminum four-into-one exhaust (the RS’ pipes are chrome) and different engine case covers emblazoned with “DOHC”—referencing double overhead camshaft valve train employed inside the 948cc inline-four engine.

4-into-1 exhaust

The brushed aluminum 4-into-1 exhaust adds a racy touch to the 2018 Z900RS Cafe that recalls the glory days of Eddie Lawson and the KZ1000R.

Kawasaki Motors Corp., USA

Kawasaki engineers did a marvelous job with the RS’ liquid-cooled engine. Thankfully, this configuration is the same one powering the Cafe version. Not only does it look the part with faux cylinder air fins, it’s smooth with plenty of usable torque. The kind you want when blasting past the Tesla next to you. But what really sets the RS apart from its retro competition is the mesmerizing intake and exhaust howl that has to be heard to be believed.

The 16-valve engine drinks fuel from an eye-catching and teardrop-shaped 4.5-gallon gas tank. Two-way-adjustable Kawasaki Traction Control (KTRC) is standard, as is ABS. A manual six-speed transmission, slipper action clutch, and chain final drive transfers power to pavement.

DOHC inline-four

The same DOHC inline-four that powers the standard Z900RS finds a home in the Cafe.

Kawasaki Motors Corp., USA

Instrumentation is a mix of old and new. A pair of round-face gauges are set outside a negative LCD (white on a black background) that displays fuel level, gear position, and other assorted trip functions.

Round speedometer and tachometer gauges

Round speedometer and tachometer gauges flank a more modern LCD info screen that displays fuel level, gear position, traction control setting, and trip functions.

Kawasaki Motors Corp., USA

The Cafe rides on the same chassis as the RS, backboned by a steel-trellis main frame that harnesses the engine in a rigid configuration. Front suspension is handled by a compression and rebound damping adjustable 41mm inverted fork moving through 4.7 inches. Rear suspension duties, on the other hand, are taken care of by a horizontally mounted back-link shock and an alloy swingarm. The shock offers spring preload and rebound adjustment with 5.5 inches of travel. Wheelbase is listed at 57.9 inches—0.2 inch shorter than the Z900RS.

Cafe wheels

Dunlop Sportmax GP300 rubber is mounted to contract-cut alloy wheels on the Cafe.

Kawasaki Motors Corp., USA

Handsome contrast-cut alloy wheels are shod in Dunlop Sportmax GPR-300 rubber (120/70-17 front, 180/55-17 rear). Braking hardware consists of twin 300mm rotors gripped by a stiff set of radial-mount four-piston calipers. A sturdy radial-pump master cylinder pushes hydraulic fluid through the system. A single 250mm disc is used at the rear.

Twin 300mm discs

Twin 300mm discs matched to radial-mounted four-piston calipers proving front braking while a single 250mm rotor controls the rear wheel.

Kawasaki Motors Corp., USA

Although Kawasaki states that the Cafe will be a limited-edition model, there’s no word on how many units it will be importing. Later today, we’ll be attending the Green Team’s official unveil in Malibu, California, where we can see, look, and touch the motorcycle. But we’ll have to wait until another time to swing a leg over it. Stay tuned…

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