The 2018 Z900RS: Kawasaki's answer to the retro standard

Kawasaki has just pulled the wraps off its upcoming Z900RS motorcycle, a retro-inspired standard based on its Z900 streetfighter, at the Tokyo Motor Show.

Rather than simply give the Z900RS the motor from the Z900 (which we loved enough to choose as the winner in our Z900/Yamaha FZ-09/Triumph Street Triple comparison), Kawasaki claimed it has retuned the motor to deliver more power below 7,000 rpm. That reworking does come with a cost, however, with claimed horsepower dropping from 125 hp to 111.

First gear is also now shorter, to make pulling away from stops easier for potential new riders, and sixth gear is taller for reduced vibration at highway speeds.

The 2018 Z900RS will be available in matte green as well as brown/orange and black. (Courtesy of Kawasaki)
The 2018 Z900RS will be available in matte green as well as brown/orange and black. (Courtesy of Kawasaki)

It features the same 41mm inverted fork and horizontal back-link, gas-charged shock, both of which are fully adjustable for spring preload and compression and rebound damping.

The steel trellis frame is new as well, getting a redesign to better fit the stylish new tank and make for an even more upright riding position than the Z900. The new, wide bar is 30mm wider, 65mm taller, and 35mm closer to the rider. The footpegs have also been repositioned and are now 20mm lower and 20mm farther forward.

The RS gets an upgrade in the braking department, with a radially mounted four-piston Monoblock front setup instead of the Z900's traditional twin four-piston setup. Additionally, the Z900RS is will have traction control, which for some reason did not make it onto the Z900. The Z900RS will have two riding modes, one for sportier riding and the other more relaxed.

(Courtesy of Kawasaki)
(Courtesy of Kawasaki)

As with many of the bikes being produced in this category, the Z900RS gets a smattering of style bits to give it a retro vibe. The cast wheels have more spokes, and the cylinder heads now have fins to copy the look of the '70s machine, and the RS gets a Z1-inspired tail section and analog speedometer and tach to complete the look. Kawasaki even goes so far as to claim that its new 4-into-1 exhaust was tuned to give the bike a "deep rumble at low revs."

The 2018 Kawasaki Z900RS will be available in brown/orange, black, and matte green. Finally, there are still rumors of a second version of the RS floating around, presumably a café racer version, that might likely break cover at EICMA in a few weeks.

Some more images of the new model, all courtesy of Kawasaki:

This piece originally appeared at

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