In terms of engine specifications, there’s no difference between Kawasaki’s Z900RS Standard variant over its Z900RS Special Edition (SE) version. The SE variant comes ready with special chrome alloy parts. For the South East Asian region, the Standard variant is made available alongside the SE version, but markets in Europe and North America, only the SE version is available.
Due to the chrome parts used, the selling price for the SE is higher than the Standard model, but with the region’s bikers being more price-conscious, both variants are made available by Kawasaki. In Malaysia, all Kawasaki bikes are imported and distributed by Kawasaki Motors Sdn Bhd (KMSB).
While Kawasaki stressed there’s no difference in engine specifications and handling on both variants, we do detect a slight variation when riding the SE model – it’s faster in acceleration, with all electronics setting remaining the same.
This is pretty much evident when the SE is set to #1 for its Traction Control (TC) but both variants gave similar performance when the TC is set to #2. We weren’t sure if the differences felt were due to the tuning of the engine on the SE or the unit we had reviewed here happened to be a freak unit.
Nevertheless, we felt instantly at ease riding the Z900RS SE, preferring to leave the TC at its #1 setting than using #2. TC #1 lets the bike to intervene less, while TC #2 is best suited for touring and wet weather riding. If you are among the riders enjoying to drift the rear tyre while negotiating the corners, setting the TC on #1 or simply switch it OFF allows the Z900RS SE to perform drifting to your liking.
When we first rode the Standard Z900RS, we could feel the acceleration was a bit less exciting as compared to what we had experienced previously with the Z900 Streetfighter version.
Of course, the Z900 Streetfighter has a maximum power of 125hp vs. 115hp for the Z900RS Standard so we didn’t think much of the latter’s reduced acceleration ability then. So it came as a surprise when the Z900RS SE is capable of giving a much faster acceleration that is closer to what a Z900 Streetfighter Standard or Z900 SE could achieve.
We rode the Z900RS SE to Titi and later Karak old town to see how well it could handle the twisty Route 9 Federal road, with a slight difference. Instead of riding straight to Titi from Kuala Lumpur, we decided to go by way of Silk Highway to Semenyih, then Broga, followed by Lenggeng and Kuala Klawang towns before proceeding to Titi.
From Titi, it’s straight (actually negotiating twisty segments all over) until Karak old town. The ride to Karak town took us approximately an hour to complete, which was 5 minutes faster than what we had achieved for the same Titi-to-Karak route with the 2018 Kawasaki Ninja 250! There was a lorry slowing us for less than a minute but it was quickly overtaken, saving us precious time in the process!
The faster acceleration/riding speed of the Z900RS SE could be a factor to the 5 minutes gain we had over the time taken by the Ninja 250 previously. Unlike the Z900/Z900 SE Streetfighter models, which come fitted with Dunlop’s D214T sport tyres, both the Z900RS Standard and SE variants re fitted with Dunlop’s top-of-the-range GPR-300 supersport rubber for excellent cornering in both dry and wet weather riding/cornering!
Although the Z900RS SE is longer in overall length over the Z900 Streetfigthter, getting the former to lane filter thru morning and evening rush hour traffic was s great, if not better than most 1,000cc supersport bikes!