Kawasaki W800 – All you need to know
Modern superbikes are certainly very sexy and appealing, but for those who’s hearts lie in the yesteryear, retro-themed motorcycles are the only solution. We take the Kawasaki W800 for a spin to see if this W1-inspired motorcycle has what it takes to impress buyers.
The Kawasaki W800 is a great-looking motorcycle, taking you back to the good old times. However, Kawasaki Bikes have kept the design rather simple. There’s nothing that is in-your-face about its looks and there’s no unnecessary chrome either. The design of the Kawasaki W800 is minimalist and elegant, which is perfect. The fuel tank has a lovely rounded shape to it and is finished in matte black; it also features a matte grey side panel, all looking great on the steel double-cradle chassis. The black metal fenders are well incorporated and we like the manner in which the tail light juts out of the short rear fender. The smoked-out handlebar gives the Kawasaki W800 a modern look and the engine contrasts well with the chrome wire-spoke wheels and those gorgeous pea-shooter exhaust pipes. Up-front, Kawasaki Bikes have given it an LED headlight that juts out inappropriately. Also, the switches feel a bit basic and rather dated. What’s worth a mention is the twin-pod analogue instrument cluster, featuring a classic font and unique illumination. You will find the warning lights, a small digital readout for the odometer, trip and time. But there is a low-fuel warning lamp instead of a fuel gauge. As far as the looks of this bike goes, it leaves little to complain about. Kawasaki Bikes have put together a solid machine, just what the Japanese bike enthusiasts want. However, the levels of finish don’t match some of its rivals and we seriously think features like the current number plate holder design and the saree guard need to be deleted.
Old school character
The engine is creamy smooth; power comes from a 773cc, twin-cylinder, air-cooled engine that features a shaft drive along with bevelled gears for its SOHC, 8-valve head. The motorcycle sounds great, reminding us of old-school Kawasakis. Start up the bike, and the pea-shooter exhausts give out a nice thrum at idle. It gets louder as you open up the throttle. The engine develops 51bhp and 62.9Nm of torque, enough punch for what is needed in real world conditions. It accelerates from a nought to 100 very quickly, which is surprising for a bike that weighs 224kgs. Whack the throttle open and the bike will do speeds of up to 170kph. However, the W800 is a bike that likes cruising; this is when the bike enjoys being ridden with the exhaust note in the background, but this also when the buzz seeps through. It gives you that typical, old-school motorcycle feeling. Within the city, torque is delivered in a smooth manner, the gear ratios are well spaced and the levers feel light, thanks to the slip-and-assist clutch. The engine doesn’t heat up too much for what is an air-cooled engine.
On the saddle
The suspension seem to be setup well and the ride is pliant so it soaks in the rough stuff without any hassles. But the rear suspension travel is limited and that results in the shocks bottoming out over ruts. With a pillion astride, you will also have to keep tabs on ground clearance so the underbelly doesn’t scrape. In terms of handling, the W800 feels neutral and predictable and the steering is light, to say the very least. It isn’t hard work cornering and the long wheelbase of the W800 makes sure the bike is stable. The tyres provide good grip, but the foot pegs scrape often if you lean often. Up-front, the W800 features an axially-mounted Tokico front brake caliper that provides good bite, and ABS is standard equipment.