Kawasaki’s Z900, the successor to Team Green’s popular Z800, is available in Malaysia in 2 different configurations – Standard & Special Edition (SE). The difference between both variants is the inclusion of several Kawasaki genuine accessories for the SE version, such as USB port charger, radiator cover, single seater (pillion seat replaced with a special cover), dual engine sliders, dual fork sliders, extended windshield and a tank pad.

These accessories if purchased separately to be installed on the Z900 Standard variant would end up paying more than the difference in sales prices of the Z900 Special Edition over the Standard model.

So for riders who would like to have those accessories included, it makes sense to go for the SE variant.

Officially, there’s no improvement in performance between the 2 variants of the new Z900. However, I did request for both variants to be reviewed. And my overall verdict between both Z900 variants, is… fascinating.

Before I get to that, let’s have some introductions of the new Z900 first. Technical specifications-wise, the Z900 is powered by a DOHC 948cc liquid-cooled, 4-stroke inline-four engine with 6-speed transmission.

Accordingto Kawasaki, instead of increasing the bore & stroke of the Z800’s inline-four engine; it decided to do the reversed – downsizing from the 1,043cc inline four engine used on the company’s Z1000 model for the final 948cc configuration.

Designated as the successor to the afore-mentioned Z800 by Kawasaki, personally I would liken the new Z900 as the “indirect successor” to Honda’s CBR1000RR instead.

The difference in performance and handling of the older Z800 and the new Z900 is like Day & Night. The closest bike that is similar to the new Z900’s superb performance and handling is the recently discontinued (2011-2016) CBR1000RR non-SP from Honda.

Both the Honda CBR and the new Z900 do not have electronic aids. The only electronics they have is ABS. Everything else about these bikes are depending on the rider’s ability to make the best out of them.

The older Z800 did not have any electronic aids either but it is not as agile as the Honda nor as quick on twisty roads. But the new Z900/Z900 SE gives the rider to have similar (if not better) performance and handling as the discontinued Honda CBR.

Typical of Japanese-made products, whenever they launch a new model that is reasonably-priced, but on similar performance level as their flagship model, certain features would be omitted.

In the case of the Z800, at half the selling price of the Ninja ZX-10R, it is 200cc less in engine capacity. It is, utilizing axis brakes for the front instead of radial types, and being a naked sport, has lower acceleration and lower top speed than the ZX-10R.

It is also heavier than the Ninja ZX-10R, which translated to further performance handicap for the Z800.

The routes that Z900 was used for this review

The customary stop for the Z900 SE at Sang Lee New Village’s iconic hand + durian sculpture

The new Z900/Z900 SE, is much lighter than the Z800 they are replacing, by some 20kg overall. With the increased in engine capacity to 948cc, both the new Z900 variants offer riders the performance that is quite similar to Kawasaki’s flagship Ninja ZX-10R for most situations.

Of course, being priced at similar selling point of the older Z800, certain features are omitted from the design as the Z900 is not the flagship bearer of Kawasaki’s motorcycle line-up.

Unlike the Z800, the new Z900 Special Edition zips thru twisty roads and city traffic as easy as any 125cc motorcycle. That’s a vast improvement Kawasaki has made for the Z900 Special Edition.

When I took the Z900 Special Edition to the routes as outlined in the photo above, the bike handles the journey superbly. It is easy to ride, and able to swoop down both sides when cornering without the front/rear ends feeling like they would wobble in the process.

Posted by Philip Chong

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