The Z750 was a great seller for Kawasaki and when it came around to freshening it up, Kawasaki did it proud. The upshot was, in 2013, the Z800 was born. If you like a no thrills middleweight that’s got a cheeky side, this could well be the motorcycle for you.
Going in the ring against bikes like the Yamaha FZ8 and Suzuki GSR750, the new Zed had to prove that it wasn’t punching above its weight. With 111bhp on tap and no fairing, this isn’t a bike for race rep fans, nor for those who want sedate two wheel transport. There’s plenty of punch in the reworked Z750 engine.
Kawasaki took the old 750 motor out to 806cc by giving it a longer stroke. While they were poking about, they also made several other changes to the older engine. These ranged from revised ports for the inlet and exhaust valves and a new die cast cylinder head to various other tweaks to the gearbox and clutch. Funnelling more fuel was dealt with by upping the size of the throttle bodies to 34mm, which was 2mm more than the 750 had at its disposal. The chassis also got some attention. Sure, the steel back bone style frame remained constructed from heavy steel, but some excess weight was lost with a new alloy sub frame. You might be thinking that it’s just a Z750 on steroids, but you’d be wrong. The styling was one area where less is more. The whole appearance of the bike is slimmer, thanks to a skinnier tank and clever design of the panels. The Transformers looks aren’t to everyone’s taste, but they were very much on trend at the time. The result was a brilliant bike that holds its own in the ever popular middleweight naked class.
What’s it like to ride?
All of those nips and tucks work in harmony. The extra cc achieved by giving the motor a long stroke means Kawasaki have built a peach of a motor. You might expect it to be just another rev hungry four cylinder motorcycle, but it’s not. The red line is at 10,200rpm, the strong point of the Z800 is its delicious midrange. Riding a Z800 is a real hoot! The minimalistic bodywork hides the weight of the bike well. The midrange isn’t just down to the reworked engine, the exhaust is specially shaped to achieve maximum torque. The final part of extracting maximum traction is the gearing. The Z800 comes with a 45 rear tooth sprocket, that’s two up on a Z750, which makes for a lively and responsive ride.
Brakes are ace within legal speeds, but if you were on a track day, the 310mm twin discs would quickly show up their limits. The four pot calipers play a part in the overall braking ability of the Z800. With no fairing ahead of you, the small LCD clocks get your full attention, although there is a real lack of any wind protection.
There’s no shortage of bikes to compare it to in its class, and the Kawasaki has got the edge on most of them.
What to look for when buying one?
We spoke to Vinny Styles, Sales Manager at Wheels Motorcycles, the official Kawasaki dealership in Peterborough. He says: “The Z750 was a great used bike but the Z800 is much better. The attention to detail always impresses any potential buyers. Things like the embossed seat cover and the cool LED rear light that displays Zorro type Zeds when applied. Build quality is decent. The oldest bikes are now five years old so corrosion is the obvious thing to look for. The higher the miles the higher the likelihood it will be losing its shine. Engines are exposed so people tend to wash the easy to reach parts like the sides! Have a good look behind the down pipes as radiators should be free from road muck and salty exposure. There are lots of extras out there on the market; aftermarket screens and noisy silencers are the most common. Not too many people fit a full aftermarket exhaust system. Handlebars are another item that’s often changed, check that it’s not because of a mishap.”
What goes wrong with them?
We spoke to Chris Tombleson who runs Grumpy 1260. They service all manner of motorcycles and he added: “It’s a great motor and ‘bulletproof’ is not an exaggeration of the truth. Keep them serviced and they’ll keep on going. We see loads of the Z750 models. They are capable of 100,000 miles with no bother. In time these will do the same sort of miles. Discs are a bit soft, especially if you leave it late to change worn pads. Always feel for any nasty groves. Exhaust studs are also soft, they tend to get covered in road crud. That and age means that snapped studs are common when removing the exhaust headers. Check that there are no bodged repairs with oversized studs or worse!”
Insure your Kawasaki through Carole Nash.