Three years after its release we look back on Kawasaki’s 2018 Z900RS. Those who recall the Z1 from the 1970s could reminisce with fond memories of the super-fast bike that was affectionately dubbed the “York Streak.” It was a prestigious bike in its day, and the 2019 Z900RS was inspired by its ancestor with a few throwback features that gave it a vintage appeal. It’s a bike that came out with some anticipation, but it was not without its drawbacks. Today, we’re taking a short stroll down memory land to the merits and frustrations of owners as we remember the 2018 Kawasaki Z099RS.
Overview of the 2018 Z900RS
Money Inc, points out that the 2018 Z900RS was a model that tugged on the memories of those who were owners of the 1970s predecessor, the Z1. It was the ultimate model in its day, so it’s only natural that a new bike that promised to showcase a few features of the high speed and performance bike from yesteryear would pique some attention. Vintage bike enthusiasts also felt a twinge of excitement at the notion of a prestigious new model entering the market. What would it look like and could it stack up against the hype? We’re about to find out.
The same DNA with new genetics
2018 Z900RS at first glance was aesthetically pleasing to the eye. The silhouette was simple and clean that drew you in for a second look. A closer examination revealed contrast-cut fins with classic styling that delivered a liquid-cooled machine that looked like it was air-cooled. The exhaust was made of stainless steel with an upswept muffler and high polish. Those familiar with the vintage bikes would get the design intention immediately but newcomers, perhaps not until it was explained to them. A horizontal subframe with a 25.4-degree rake and a 58.1-inch wheelbase promotes lighter steering. This was one of the more modern modifications. A few other modifications made to the overall structure allowed for a laid-back feeling of the vintage bikes, however, this is where the old and the new design features begin to part ways. The Z900RS has a distinct personality and attitude.
It’s a descendant of the Z1, not a carbon copy or a remake. It’s nice to respect your elders with an occasional nod, but evolution dictates that we step into modernity. This bike was granted a low to midrange torque to establish its character. The 948cc Kawasaki engine was redesigned for low-end power. This is an intentionally nostalgic bike that was designed for a specific audience who have aged since the 1970s and ’80s but still enjoy a good ride. The bike is a bit toned-down with more relaxed steering for those who enjoy the simple pleasures of downshifting and enjoying a simple and relaxing ride. Don’t get me wrong, the power is there when desired, but it’s a fun bike to take out for a tool around town or a scenic drive down country roads.
Recalls issued for the 2018 Kawasaki Z900RS
It’s tough to find a perfect bike that doesn’t experience its share of growing pains through its lifecycle. Motorcycle.com, points out a few of the problems that were encountered with the Z900RS. The brand issued a recall for both the Z900 and the Z900RS due to issues with the rear wheel speed sensor wire and the rear brake hose. Only the 2019 models were affected, minus the Z900 Cafe. In the United States, some 1,173 motorcycles were affected by the recall. It seems that the affected components were in some cases, placed too close to the tire, and sometimes contact occurred which caused damage leading to loss of brake fluid, and issues with speedometer readings and ABS performance. The NHTSA mandated the recall based upon their findings and it was a widespread event that resulted in all affected bike owners receiving a free fix from Kawasaki.
A second recall
Motorbike Writer, recounts a second recall issued for the Kawasaki Z900RS. By 2019, the previous kinks had been worked out and were no longer concerns for the 2019 models, but the new model year had its issues. The second incident featured only 2019 models, along with Cafe models over a second issue with the brakes discovered. This was far less widespread with just 21 of the models affected. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission caught this one. It was a manufacturing issue in which some units were manufactured with possible debris contamination n the ABS hydraulic unit. The dealership offered a free fix for the situation for all affected bikes.
The 2018 Kawasaki Z900RS kicked off a new generation of motorcycles that paid their respects to an ancestor from several generations back. The DNA of the famous Z1 from the 1970s era was a calling card for some. Those who remember its tremendous power and speed were likely relieved to learn that it had been toned down for a more relaxed ride, suitable for those enjoying their retirement. Still, it held enough reserve for those moments when you want to let the hair go with the hide and open it up on the freeway. It’s been a pleasure reviewing the event that provided many of us with a stirring of emotion, if for no other reason, the sake of nostalgia but it was much more than that. The Z900RS was not without its problems, but they were not of the magnitude that would make one hold it in any lower regard. There were sound and permanent solutions that provided an easy enough and free fix to the braking and other minor design flaws. Once corrected, the bike was stellar for those who were looking for a modern bike with a laid-back personality and vintage appeal.