2020 Kawasaki W800 | First Look Review

2020 Kawasaki W800 in Candy Cardinal Red. Photos courtesy Kawasaki.

When the sharp-looking W800 Cafe was announced for the U.S. market for 2019, reactions were predictably mixed. Yes, the cafe racer look was cool…but there was a vocal chorus of Boomers who yearned for the classic look and feel of Kawasaki’s latest “W” iteration, but could you please lose the drop-down handlebar and give us something with a “sensible” riding position? Perhaps the standard W800 the rest of the world gets?

Someone at Kawasaki must have been listening (even if it was just to sales figures), as for 2020 Team Green has announced the W800 is coming to America, with its bench seat, chrome fenders and — thank goodness! — standard handlebar.

2020 Kawasaki W800 in Candy Cardinal Red. Photos courtesy Kawasaki.

The 773cc air-cooled vertical twin with its distinctive exterior cam shaft-drive is unchanged except for the polished aluminum finish, as opposed to the blacked-out look on the W800 Cafe. Other parts are also less modernized, like the classic large, round turn signals with orange lens covers, silver spoked tube-type wheels (though now a 19-inch up front rather than the Cafe’s 18), aforementioned chrome fenders, chrome tank badging and polished finish on the gaitered fork tubes.

Other modern conveniences carry over: standard 2-channel ABS, an assist-and-slipper clutch and a bright LED headlight. Notably, the standard W800 gets a centerstand, which was missing on the Cafe.

Best of all, the W800 is priced a bit more competitively than its Cafe sibling, at $9,199. The 2020 Kawasaki W800 comes in Candy Cardinal Red and exact availability is TBD.

2020 Kawasaki W800 in Candy Cardinal Red. Photos courtesy Kawasaki.

8 COMMENTS

  1. It’s nice, but how can it possibly compete with Triumph or for that matter, Royal Enfield? This isn’t a rhetorical question, I’d really like to hear informed opinions about Kawasaki’s marketing.

  2. W.W. makes a valid point, at least in cases where there are Triumph and Enfield dealers. But they are thin on the landscape and often not viewed as first-rate, albeit unfairly in most cases. Kawasaki dealerships are usually bigger and more willing to welcome a trade-in. The W800 has more torque than the Enfield and the cachet of a gear driven valve train (even though it lacks the sixth gear of the Enfield — and Triumph). And while the Triumph T100 and T120 models outperform the W800, those looking for blazing performance are likely going to look at Kaw’s retro 900 models or the other big Kaw four bangers rather than a big parallel twin.

    • I agree, that would be great. I know it’s not considered retro, I would have preferred belt drive rather than chain. Excellent bike though.

  3. I agree with Ironhorseman…WHY the chain drive? Belt is worth the extra $100 added to MSRP, if even that!

    I really want a Triumph Bonneville T120, but the dealer network along with a British history of the bikes being a little troublesome at times, makes me want the Kawasaki. I owned a W650, and drove it/owned it longer than any other bike, as I have purchased 41 bikes in my lifetime.

    The W800 reminds me of the W650 I owned, only a little better bike. They handle much better than you would expect them to, and have a little bit of that British character that makes them very fun to ride. Although I didn’t use the kick starter much on my W650, I DID enjoy using it when I knew I had an audience watching, and I could throw them off as to how old was my bike!

    I don’t think the price is too far off, it appears to be a beautiful bike, wish electronic cruise control would be offered, as I enjoy taking these “purist” bikes out on the open road, click it in top gear and just kick back and enjoy the road for an hour or two.

  4. I had a 1969 TT back in ’71 and loved it. M. Dempsey, chain drive? Absolutely !!!! Retro bike, retro features. With this type of bike for us old geezers, the choices are overpriced English Triumph, inexpensive Royal Enfield made in India a mere shadow of it’s predecessor , Or a Japanese up dated icon. Ill be taking the W800 thank you very much, Kawasaki has been building bikes for a long time.

  5. Hello everyone, really bugs me when uninformed squids say things like, “Why not buy a real Triumph” They are similar looking but have very different features that make for a very different character and soul; simple air cooling vs water cooling, long stroke engine vs short stroke, 360 degree crank vs 270 degree crank, distinctive bevel driven cams vs chain driven cams. Ya pays ya money and ya takes ya pick, but don’t put them in the same basket.
    After thinking about the features I wanted and comparing the Triumphs, W800s and RE Interceptor, I bought the W800 Street (though I may have bought the Classic if it was offered in Canada at that time). I am absolutely delighted with my choice. It’s a really great bike that ticks all my boxes

  6. Hi,
    I’m 66 and lusted at owning a 69 Triumph Bonneville when I was a kid. I’ve owned about (40) motorcycles in my days and still have (3) and a Scooter in the Garage (2014 Honda CB1100, 2016 KTM Duke 690, 2020 Kawasaki W800 and a 2018 Yamaha xMax). In the past I have owned (2) 2000 Kawasaki W650’s and regretted selling them, that is until I got my new W800. The W800 has a power/torque curve that is so smooth, it is hard to describe. The (5) speed transmission on the bike is perfect for cruising at speeds unto 75 MPH. My modifications have been to ad Kawsak’s Electric Grips and the Chrome over the Rear Fender rack. I so enjoy casual ridding on this bike. If I want to scream through the corners, I jump on my KTM, but just for about every other type of riding, I prefer the W800. If I was limited to only (2) bikes, it would be the W800 and the xMax. My choice of the xMax may surprise some, but it is a excellent scooter, has tons of storage (mine has the optional Trunk installed) and gets 72 MPG at 70 MPH. Back to the point ……… well done Kawasaki!

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