Kawasaki has announced its first street model for 2016, the all-new Z800 ABS, a naked sportbike that will compete with BMW’s F 800 R, Ducati’s Monster 821, Suzuki’s GSX-S750 and Yamaha’s FZ-07 and FZ-09, all of which were introduced or updated within the last couple of years. It joins the wild-style Z1000 ABS that was updated for 2014.
Although new to the U.S., the Z800 was launched in Europe for 2013 as an update to the Z750. Each of the cylinders in its in-line four was bored out from 68.4mm to 71.0mm (stroke was unchanged at 50.9mm), increasing displacement from 748cc to 803cc.
If the Z750 name sounds familiar to American ears, that’s because Kawasaki brought the Z750S over for 2005, but, like many naked bikes of that era, it didn’t sell well and was soon dropped from the U.S. lineup. Streetfighters have always been more popular in Europe, where the Z750/800 and Z1000 have been two of Kawasaki’s top-selling models. Clearly, with so many new naked bikes available in the states, tastes have changed.
Tuned for mid-range performance, the Z800’s liquid-cooled, DOHC, 4-valves-per-cylinder in-line four uses ultra-fine fuel injectors with 34mm Keihin throttle bodies and sub-throttles and dual-length intake funnels to optimize engine response across the rev range. Long exhaust headers with equalizer tubes that connect pipes 1-4 and 2-3 and an exhaust valve that controls back-pressure also enhance low to mid-range response. The 6-speed transmission has short overall gearing for quicker acceleration, but an overdrive top gear ensures smoothness on the highway.
A high-tensile steel tubular backbone frame and a cast-aluminum engine subframe are mated to a steel swingarm. A brace connecting the left and right sides of the engine subframe increases torsional rigidity. Engine mounts are located behind the cylinders, which reduces felt engine vibration, particularly through the handlebars. Chassis geometry is sporty, with 24 degrees of rake, 3.9 inches of trail and a 56.9-inch wheelbase.
Suspension is by KYB, with a 41mm inverted fork and a piggyback-reservoir shock, both offering adjustability for rebound damping and spring preload, as well as 4.7/5.4 inches of front/rear travel. Triple-disc brakes consist of two 277mm petal-style front rotors squeezed by 4-piston opposed calipers and a single 216mm petal-style rear rotor squeezed by a 1-piston caliper, and ABS is standard. Six-spoke cast-aluminum wheels are shod with Dunlop Sportmax D214 radial tires, and fuel capacity is 4.5 gallons.
Compared to the radical “sugomi” styling of the Z1000, the angular bodywork and blacked-out engine on the Z800 seems almost conservative. All-digital instrumentation features three LCD screens, with an altimeter-style tachometer that can be customized with three different displays, as well as a speedometer, odometer, clock, dual trip meters, engine temperature, fuel gauge, range indicator and an Economical Riding Indicator. Slender dimensions, a flat handlebar and a 510-pound curb weight (claimed) should make it perfect for urban riding, commuting or day rides in the canyons.
The 2016 Kawasaki Z800 ABS will be available in Metallic Spark Black / Flat Ebony for an MSRP of $8,399. Please note, it is a 49-state model that will not be available in California.