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OPINION

Ride Review: The Kawasaki Z900RS really does have it all

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The Z900RS is a pretty amazing bike.

Literally, everyone that spoke about it to me on the launch was unanimous about the way it looked and how pretty it is when looked at up close. And then, after the ride, not a single person felt the need to nag about the lack of stereo-suspension in the back, spoke wheels being missing, or even grunt over the chrome bits and fenders. Why?

Because quite simply, the four pot engine is stunning – because of it’s massive torque down in the rev range – and it pulls through nicely to the limiter. Even though the RS feel heavier than the Z900, I’m pretty sure it accelerates faster. It’s a beauty.

After spending some time with the bike, it’s clear that Kawasaki have spent some serious effort on the design of this bike and even though you might be tempted to think that it’s just a reworked Z900, it’s not.

Frame, engine, suspension, brakes… Basically everything got a complete overhaul and the result is truly impressive.

I know that our friends here at Motofire have had reservations about the machine, but actually – in my opinion – it’s genuinely the very first bike that combines actual, real 1970s heritage (there are soooo many small hints of the original Z1) with modern day ride qualities.

Yes, there is the BMW RnineT,  the Yamaha XSR or the Honda CB1100, but the first two don’t really have a link with bikes from the seventies and the latter is overpriced, under-powered and not nearly as beautiful as the Z900RS.)

After spending some time with the bike, it’s clear that Kawasaki have spent some serious effort on the design

The Z900RS really does have it all… Radial four-pot brakes, adjustable suspension, adjustable levers, traction control (3- stage) and it’s quite clear that Kawasaki wants to present it as a premium bike. And here in Belgium where MaxxMoto are based, the pricing is competitive too, starting at €11.599 which is about €4k cheaper than the average BMW RnineT. So it’s fair to say that you get a lot of bike for the money.

Now, before I completely come away sounding like a Team Green press representative, there are a few, minor flaws.

First of all, the throttle response is quite ‘twitchy’ with an on/off feel that can initially seem disconcerting; possibly because of the transmission, the injection, or a combination of both. It’s not as bad as on a Suzuki GSX-S1000 or the first gen Yamaha MT-09, but even though the 4 cylinder engine is very smooth, the pick up of a closed throttle is rather abrupt.

Basically everything got a complete overhaul and the result is truly impressive.

The same thing goes when you close the throttle – for example when entering a hairpin corner. In that situation you get a bit too much off the engine brake delivered back at you, which can get the bike a bit off balance at times. This is a minor issue and it gets better when the bike warms up, but it never really disappears.

Speaking of things that get better after they’ve warmed up: let’s talk tyres.

On the cold Catalonian asphalt (7° and less) it took forever for the Dunlop Sportmax GPR 003 tires to warm up, and it was a good thing that the bike had traction control. It’s a rather typical Kawasaki thing to put cheap ass tires on a good bike here in Belgium – the Z1000SX, Ninja 300, Versys… All of these come on less than desirable rubber – and for a bike that feels so premium elsewhere, this is a bit of a shame.

Apart from that, it’s a struggle to come up with much more by way of criticism. I think the seat is quite high – if you are smaller that 1m 75 this might become an issue, especially if you’re a less experienced rider, and the transition from the seat to the polished, slippery tank is rather, too smooth. So when you brake hard during some spirited riding, you better squeeze your knees hard to help in holding on.

Oh, perhaps you could argue that despite the retro dials looking nice, the lettering on the analogue clocks (‘the same as on the Z1 in 19-seventies’ blah blah blah…) is just too small and hard to read. But now we’re literally nitpicking.

So the takeaway conclusion from our couple of days riding the Kawasaki Z900RS around the Catalonian roads?

The Z900RS has an excellent looks/performance/price-balance and really takes the whole neo-retro thing to a higher level than anything else before it.

For more photos from the launch – including lots of images of the details on the new Kawasaki Z900RS, visit MaxxMoto.

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Since launching in December of 2015, Arno and the team from the Belgian motorcycling site MaxxMoto have made a name for themselves with impartial, up-to-the-minute, honest and free motorcycling news, reviews and videos online. We're proud to call them friends of Motofire.

OPINION

How to: Film your motorcycle tour

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There’s little doubt that the availability of compact cameras, and the ease at which you can get published online, has made cameramen and directors out of many motorcyclists.

And why not? Filming a trip not only gives you the opportunity to relive it from the comfort of your own home, but can inspire others to do so – and might make you a few bob in ad click-throughs in to the bargain.

There’s more to filming a bike tour than just sticking a GoPro to your helmet though, to come back with consistent, quality, usable footage takes a lot of planning , a good helping of discipline on the road, as well as plenty of creativity and at times some outright brass neck to get those really good shots. Here’s how not to make complete hash of recording your next tour:

Can you cut it?

First things first: ask yourself if you really want to stop enjoying those lovely, twisty mountain roads, pull over and set up your tripod, ride back and forth ‘till you get the shot you want and then pack it all up and carry on. If the answer is no, then filming is not for you.

Sort your set up

Think about the shots you want to get and how you can get them: want a rider’s eye view? You’ll need a helmet mount; fancy some tracking shots? A tripod is easier than balancing on rocks etc. Either way, decide on your kit before you go and keep it as simple as possible.

Shoot some cutaways

Cutaways are ‘atmospheric’ shots that help paint a picture of your trip and can help guide a viewer through the film, eg: zipping up jackets, pointing at maps, putting the bike in and out of gear etc. Even if they seem mundane to you, you’ll be glad of them when you come to edit.

Keep it rolling

You’ll sometimes meet situations where maybe you shouldn’t be filming eg: crossing a border, talking to someone in a cafe etc. If you think you can – safely – get away with it, keep the camera rolling, as situations like that can often produce some fab footage.

Angles and positions

Don’t just stand there with the camera at your face pointing it at things, or it’ll start to look like your dad’s old VHS holiday films. Shoot a few different angles and perspectives to help bring the subject alive.

Hold the shots

Don’t stop shots abruptly, hold them for longer than you think you need – when filming people riding off from a stop etc. – that way you’ll have lots of room to play with when editing and you might just catch something unexpected.

Catch some context

Keep an eye out for things that are country-specific, like signs in foreign languages, flags, local people in traditional dress, well-known landmarks etc. and try to capture some sounds like people talking in native tongue etc. to give a real sense of where you are.

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OPINION

One LOVE

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All motorcycles have a singular beauty. However, if it is YOUR motorcycle, there is a deeper connection.

Your relationship is one of trust and respect that transcends time.

From the first time you meet, a connection is established. Your one love is hard to find. I have been out at the dealership and seen some hot Italian bikes but in the end, they are high maintenance, expensive to keep up, and they will not stand the test of time.

Looks are important, but a relationship is more than skin deep.

How does that bike make you feel? Every time you gaze upon your bike, you should smile; you have found the right bike. The worst thing you can do is settle for a bike you don’t truly feel a connection with.

I am a one-motorcycle guy – truly monogamous. Having two bikes is hard to juggle. I think a small, fast motorcycle that is good-looking, handles well, and has a classic appeal is what I always
wanted, and I think I have found it.

Stay with a motorcycle that has stood the test of time. A bike that’s made you smile, given you a thrill, and stuck with you through thick and thin. A solid, well-built motorcycle is a thing of beauty.

Be smart, and cover that motorcycle so no one steals it at night. Buy your motorcycle expensive accessories, and take it on trips to exotic lands. Up or down, thin or flush, treat your motorcycle well.

Respect it, and it will return to you amazing experiences, expand your world and open your eyes.

Understand that this is a partnership. From the first ride to every terrible bump in the road, stay with that reliable bike and remember she is your one LOVE.

Happy Valentines Day, Mrs. Sterling.

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