Kawasaki introduces a new mid-level streetfighter with aggressive styling, smooth acceleration and sporty, stable handling for back-road fun
The aggressive styling and powerful punch of the Kawasaki Z1000 has won it many fans, and now it gets a sibling in the form of the new-to-North America 2016 Kawasaki Z800 ABS. This mid-level streetfighter brings the same attitude as its bigger brother, with similarly aggressive styling, sportbike heritage and a powerful 806cc four-cylinder engine. Whether it’s being used on back roads for a Sunday fun run or city streets, the stripped down style and sporty handling will deliver grin-inducing performance. What’s more, it is delivered with Kawasaki’s legendary reliability and durability.
The 2016 Kawasaki Z800 ABS is a 49-state model, which will not be available in California but can be purchased in every other state.
SPECIAL FEATURES OF THE 2016 KAWASAKI Z800 ABS
• Aggressive, stripped down streetfighter styling
• Reliable and torquey 806cc four-cylinder water-cooled engine
• Smooth power delivery with strong performance at high RPM
• Sporty, stable steering thanks to responsive chassis geometry
• Natural riding position ideally suited to back-road fun or city commuting
• Adjustable KYB front and rear suspension allows the rider to tailor the handling
• Modern instrumentation provides plenty of information with stylish design
• Legendary Kawasaki reliability, durability and build quality
ENGINE & TRANSMISSION
The 806cc, DOHC, liquid-cooled, 16-valve engine boasts strong performance in the mid-range where most street bikes spend their time. Its fuel injection system combines ultra-fine injectors with 34mm Keihin throttle bodies and sub-throttles that offer smooth response across the rev-range. It also has two different length intake funnels to optimize airflow at various engine speeds, providing good response, no matter what the speed.
The exhaust system has large radius curved header pipes to make them as long as possible, while equalizer tubes connect header pipes 1 and 4 as well as 2 and 3. Both these measures are designed to provide superb low to mid RPM engine response. An exhaust valve is positioned upstream of the muffler entrance to help “tune” the back-pressure waves for enhanced response in the same low-mid range. Finally, a short-style exhaust system eliminates the center pipe and uses a short muffler to aid mass centralization and present a strong streetfighter image. The muffler’s complex cross-section allows good lean angles while meeting the necessary noise regulations, although it has been tuned to give a more aggressive sound to suit the motorcycle’s character.
For durability, the engine uses wide radius crankshaft journals as well as large 1.2mm piston-cooling oil jets and a low-friction camshaft chain to reduce operating friction.
In the smooth-shifting six-speed transmission, short overall gearing complements the responsive engine to deliver impressive thrust on command. When the road opens up, the stylish streetfighter can stretch its legs thanks to a tall sixth gear that maintains a more comfortable cruising RPM for highway riding.
The Z800 features a high-tensile steel tubular backbone frame for rigidity. It also has a steel swingarm and lightweight cast aluminum engine subframe. The latter allows the front engine mounts to be positioned behind the cylinders, close to the engine’s center of gravity. This helps to reduce engine vibration (particularly through the handlebars), contributing greatly to ride quality. The inclusion of the engine subframe allows the frame construction to be slimmer, contributing to its overall rigidity.
A brace is used to join the front of the engine subframes (from left to right), again providing ideal frame rigidity, particular in torsional rigidity for increased handling stability.
Kawasaki engineers then used a combination of rigid and rubber mounts so the chassis delivers a planted feeling with a high level of feedback. The result is a superb level of control, with the rider easily able to understand what the bike is doing.
Building on this sturdy platform, the chassis geometry has resulted in nimble, responsive handling together with great stability. The motorcycle’s stance is forward leaning, with the rear raised slightly to further contribute to the aggressive posture of this muscular streetfighter.
SUSPENSION & BRAKES
Suspension duties are handled by an inverted 41mm KYB fork up front. It is adjustable for rebound damping and preload, allowing the rider to fine-tune the characteristics to suit their favorite roads.
At the rear, the Kawasaki Uni-Trak® suspension system includes a KYB shock with a piggyback reservoir. Like the front, the stepless rebound damping adjuster allows the rear shock’s performance to be tuned to match changes to the spring preload or passenger loads.
The 2016 Kawasaki Z800 suspension has been set up so that whether you’re hammering along deserted back roads or prowling pothole-infested city streets, the motorcycle will remain poised, predictable and entertaining. The brakes on the Z800 include dual opposed four-piston front brake calipers offering progressive stopping power and feel. The system uses 277mm petal-type front rotors and a lightweight Nissin ABS unit. A 216mm petal-type rotor and single-piston caliper provide good rear brake feel for maximum finesse. The power and progressive feel of the brakes at both ends provide supreme confidence when slowing the bike from speed. The Z800’s standard anti-lock brake system (ABS) promotes additional confidence when riding in slippery conditions.
The wheels are six-spoke supersport-style units manufactured using the latest lightweight production technology. Not only do they help reduce unsprung mass, which allows the suspension to function better, but also carry the latest Dunlop Sportmax D214 radial tires. The result is superb grip, precise handling and extended tread life.
BODYWORK & STYLING
The sculpted styling of the Z800 is one of its most stunning aspects. The thin, compact headlight cowl was positioned as low as possible, extending the line that starts from the top of the tank and drops down to create a menacing “face” with its angular lines. The fierce appearance is one of the key styling elements of the aggressive design. From the side, the curvature of the upper engine shrouds combine with the chiseled lower cowl to create a distinctive shape. The designers intended for these parts to appear to grip the engine, creating the image of a predator holding prey in its mouth.
The visual weight of the front is contrasted by the sleek rear, which features a slim tail section, contributing greatly to the Z800’s aggressive mass-forward stance. And finally, the narrow proportions of the LED tail light add visual interest.
Although not strictly a styling element, the Z800 incorporates useful luggage hooks. These can be found on the neat design of the rear footpegs, as well as behind the license plate holder. Both sets of hooks allow luggage to be secured using tiedowns or bungee straps.
The Kawasaki designers went to great lengths to create elements that would reinforce the streetfighter theme of the 2016 Kawasaki Z800 ABS. These include the characteristic naked engine, which has black engine covers that are a key visual element. Furthermore, the attractive bends in the exhaust header pipes add to the appeal of a “naked” motorcycle, especially with their “buffed” finish that bring added visual interest.
Other streetfighter elements include the handlebar, which has a flatter bend than a sportbike handlebar, and the risers ensure the grip position is wider, giving the rider more leverage and allowing an upright yet sporty riding position.
Details such as the inner rear fender are another clue to this motorcycle’s purpose, helping to keep the under-tail and rear suspension less cluttered, more pared down, as a streetfighter should be. It all adds up to the perfect style and ergonomics for maximum agility without sacrificing comfort.
The Z800’s futuristic looking instrument panel features three LCD screens in an angular housing that echoes the motorcycle’s edgy styling. The central LCD display contains an altimeter-style tachometer. In fact, three tachometer display patterns are available, allowing riders to customize the display to suit their preference.
In addition, there is a speedometer, odometer, clock, dual trip meters, engine temperature, fuel gauge, remaining range, as well as an Economical Riding Indicator. The latter illuminates when the user is riding efficiently, reducing the motorcycle’s fuel consumption and increasing its range.
The 2016 Kawasaki Z800 is equipped with a standard electronic immobilizer, which is built into the standard ignition key. The key operates conventionally, but the engine won’t start without the correct key being used. The system is fully integrated and requires no additional action from the rider, but will help to protect the motorcycle from theft.
Kawasaki Heavy Industries, Ltd. (KHI) started full-scale production of motorcycles over a half century ago. The first Kawasaki motorcycle engine was designed based on technical know-how garnered from the development and production of aircraft engines, and Kawasaki’s entry into the motorcycle industry was driven by the company’s constant effort to develop new technologies. Numerous new Kawasaki models introduced over the years have helped shape the market, and in the process have created enduring legends based on their unique engineering, power, design and riding pleasure. In the future, Kawasaki's commitment to maintaining and furthering these strengths will surely give birth to new legends.
Kawasaki Motors Corp., U.S.A. (KMC) markets and distributes Kawasaki motorcycles, ATVs, side x sides, and Jet Ski® watercraft through a network of approximately 1,100 independent retailers, with close to an additional 7,700 retailers specializing in general purpose engines. KMC and its affiliates employ nearly 3,100 people in the United States, with approximately 300 of them located at KMC's Irvine, California headquarters.
Kawasaki’s tagline, “Let the good times roll.®”, is recognized worldwide. The Kawasaki brand is synonymous with powerful, stylish and category-leading vehicles. Information about Kawasaki’s complete line of powersports products and Kawasaki affiliates can be found on the Internet at Kawasaki Motorcycles, ATV, SxS, Jet Ski Personal Watercraft.
Pricing: 2016 Z800 ABS: $8,399