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.

3 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.

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