For a rider who used a motorcycle as a daily commuting personal transport, I will say any motorcycle that is easy to ride with low maintenance schedule would fit the requirement just nice.
Any 200 horsepower machine doesn’t impress me much other than it having great looks that is not only sporty but also sexy. A Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R or the Ninja H2 is built for track day and speed but such a bike is not meant as a daily commuting transport.
I am happy with any motorcycle that possess 70-90 horsepower, with a generous fuel consumption to boot, enough to last at least 300km distance before needing a refuel.
With camera traps and ridiculously low speed limits nowadays, there’s no point in having a motorcycle that is blazingly fast – what’s the point of owning an RM100,000-plus motorcycle when you are not allowed to go fast with it?
This is where the new Kawasaki Z900RS, a retro class motorcycle in a tribute to the original Z1 bike by Kawasaki during the early 70s, shines. For a start, it shares the same engine as used in the company’s Z900 naked sports introduced for 2017.
The Z900 naked sports has a maximum horsepower of 125, enough for it to have excellent acceleration and a top speed up to 252km/h! But I don’t need that kind of speed for my daily riding.
My usual cruising speeds are between 90km and 120km/h, with the new Z900RS fits my requirements just nice. And the best part of the Z900RS is I could ride it on 5th or 6th gear while cruising at 90km/h and 100km/h easily without the engine sputtering or tendency to stutter.
Kawasaki had the engine retuned for midrange torque to enable riders to be comfortable for both short and long distance riding, rather than sheer speed as found in the Z900 naked sports version.
Shodded with Dunlop’s Sportmax GPR-300 tyres as default, the Z900RS is designed to cope with most riding conditions, be it dry or wet. This is in contrast to the Z900 naked sports, which is fitted with Sportmax D214 – great for dry weather cornering but tends to go aquaplaning when the tarmac is wet with running rain water.
My first day ride with the Z900RS upon collecting it from Kawasaki Motors Malaysia (KMSB) was met with on/off rain, prompting the feel of the default tyres really doing their job on wet surface, including cornering without risks of the bike wanting to skid or sliding.
Of course, the Z900RS was set to its Traction Control (TC) 2 mode, which is recommended by Kawasaki for tackling twisty roads and wet tarmac, which helped the bike turns better.
Throughout my entire session the Z900RS was with me, I never set it for TC 1, which is for full power with minimal intervention from electronic aids. But I did switch the TC mode offonce I had sampled what TC 2 could accomplished.
Riding the Z900RS without its TC is similar to the Z900 naked sports. I could find sliding/drifting the rear tyre a much easier task as the electronic aids didn’t prevent me from doing so.
Granted, as a retro bike, the Z900RS isn’t designed primarily to tackle corners as that is reserved for its naked sports sibling. It is meant to be used as a daily commuting machine that takes the rider from Point A to B, C, D, E, F and back to A. And does that without breaking a sweat.
Well, almost. All the Z900RS bikes for Malaysia, both Standard and Special Edition (SE) versions, come with a lower (thinner) seat height, making them a boon to ride for shorter riders. However, that by itself presents an issue, at least for a tall rider like me who could ride any bike for long distance up to 2 hours or more non-stop.
It isn’t that comfy for my butt after 150-minute period of non-stop riding, at precisely the time where the Z900RS needs refueling, having traveled approximately 343km!
But the original, higher seat cushion is available for local tall riders as an optional accessory to buy. But I guess I won’t be able to verify how comfortable it will be, though.
But that’s during my 3rd day riding the Z900RS. 2nd day was a washout due to heavy rain, so didn’t go for any long distance ride.
The first day ride took me almost 3 hours to complete, starting from Jalan Duta Toll Plaza to enter PLUS Highway then proceed at 110km/h till the Bukit Beruntung exit point.
From there, rode the Z900RS via Persiaran Kuala Kali to Rasa town and resumed ride to Kuala Kubu Baru for the journey to Gap, Sang Lee New Village, Bentong town, Karak Highway and finally home. All these were achieved under 3 hours!
The ride was a combination of wet/dry conditions, with the Selangor side been mostly wet with medium drizzling rain and mostly dry after passing by the Gap where the Selangor and Pahang borders meet.
Despite the twisty roads were filled with numerous bumps and uneven patches (mini potholes), the Z900RS was able to absorb most of the inconvenience encountered. This by itself made the ride easier to handle, resulting in an almost 3-hour trip to complete the distance.
On the 3rd day, which was a 5-hour ride on dry tarmac, the full potential of the Kawasaki Z900RS was realised – twisty roads, braking power & stability, fuel consumption and navigating the corners on roads with narrower widths, were handled very well indeed, particularly on Route N123 leading to the Sri Menanti Royal Palace in Negeri Sembilan where there were also slight hazards, such as herds of cows and goats crossing/resting in the middle of the road.
Now if only Kawasaki could make the tank capacity larger, that would be perfect for the Z900RS. The bike’s full capacity is 17-litre but the size of the outer tank looks like it is designed to house an internal 30-litre tank.
Of course, for a retro bike in the style of the Z900RS, it doesn’t really need more than 17-litre of fuel to ride to anywhere as the most important aspect is to be seen riding the bike as it is in full view of everyone encountered along its journey.