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Old 20th November 2017, 17:02   #1
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Default My Kawasaki Z800

Thanks to fellow tbhp members for encouraging me to write this review after I wrote a small travelogue of a ride on my Z (link (Riding the Z800 on Shiradi & Charmadi)). This is not exactly a review of the bike but a story of my emotional connect with the monster that is as crazy as it looks and sounds.

My Kawasaki Z800-img_2277.jpg

How It All Started

January 2011, I was planning to move to Bangalore for job. I wasn’t any kind of automotive enthusiast at that point of time but I wanted to buy a nice bike on getting back to India. “Nice” was my only criteria. So I browsed the net and looked at Pulsar, Karizma, CBZ etc. I came across the news that Honda was going to launch CBR250R in India. The bike looked “nice” in the photos which meant that it met my criteria of choosing a bike. So I called up my friend in Bangalore and requested him to go to Honda showroom and book the bike. By next day, he messaged me that the bike was booked, price will be around 1.75 Lakhs, delivery will be around April and that mine was 4th booking in Bangalore. I was excited!

Next 3 months, nothing much happened. Just that I returned to India, got married, moved to Bangalore and joined a new job. April is when something big really happened. I got to see the CBR250R in flesh for the first time!

Bikes had started to arrive at dealerships. I was in Hyderabad that weekend and went to the showroom to see the bike. It took my breath away. I had never seen a bike so beautiful up close till then. I could not wait to get back to Bangalore and get the delivery of my bike.

The following week, got a call from the Honda dealership in Bangalore that delivery was planned for a particular date and time since it was the first delivery of CBR250Rs in Bangalore and there was going to be media coverage. So I and my wife took day off from office and headed to the showroom.

We were greeted by the staff and introduced to a senior person from Honda who was there for delivery. He started talking to us and asked us where all we plan to take the bike to? I thought hard and then with a proud face answered him that I will be using the bike to travel to places as far as Mysore. He smiled and answered that the bike is capable to take us places. It took me about 1 year to understand the extent of foolishness in my answer and what he meant by “places”.

Oh wait….this is supposed to be a review of my Z800. I am just lost in those beautiful thoughts of buying my first “nice” bike.

So fast forward to January 2017, I was a novice automotive enthusiast now. I had just 35k kms on the CBR now but 80% of them were highway miles. I was looking for something bigger now. The criteria had grown from “nice” to inline 4, reliable, comfortable for 500 km day rides and in my limited budget. The Indian biking scene was exploding with new launches and there were a lot of good motorcycles out there but most were out of reach for me. Luckily, a fellow CBR rider who had upgraded to Z800 a few months back was moving out of country, so his bike was up for sale. The bike was in impeccable condition, had all the necessary accessories, even had an Akrapovic Titanium slip on, had 6k kms on the odometer and was barely 10 months old. There was no way I was going to miss this opportunity. So went to see the bike, discussed and finalized a fair price and got the bike home the next day.

Likes:
Impeccable build quality.
Proper superbike stance.
Japanese reliability.
Inline 4 sound enhanced by Akrapovic slip-on.
CRAZY acceleration.
Fairly comfortable for long rides.

Dislikes:
Hard clutch.
Hard Seat.
Costly maintenance.
Poor after-sales and service experience.

The Experience

September 2017, its Saturday morning 5 am. I take the elevator to the lower basement of my apartment. As I approach my parking, I am greeted by a mean predator face. I get close and the predator exposes its sheer brute muscular body that is tightly fit into a closed package. The adrenaline has already started pumping. I slot the key and the cluster wakes up.

The digital meter dances and I wake up the engine. It’s LOUD! The Akra is singing and echoing in its deep bass tone in the closed basement. It’s enough to wake up the alert security guards, a proof of their ability to wake up and save us from “Dhoom” style robbers who would arrive in superbikes to loot us. While the engine warms up, I take time to admire the handsome rear of the bike. The Z pattern LED rear light looks smashing. The rear 180 section tyre is ready to put down 111 horses on the road.

The engine temperature has reached 45 degree Celsius. I get on the Z patterned seat and immediately thank Cadburys for making Bournvita that helped me grow tall enough ( 5’10”) to be comfortable on the 834 mm high seat. I engage the first gear and negotiate the 231 kg behemoth through a W-I-D-E ‘U’ turn to the exit ramp. It’s still dark but the headlight does a decent job of illuminating the road ahead. The first few kms are taken easy to warm up the tyres and the engine. Good low end torque allows me to happily amble at 40 kmph in 6th gear as I approach the highway entry point. I decide to have some fun and downshift to 1st gear and open the throttle. In less than 3 seconds I am already hitting the highway speed limit with 5 gears to spare! The maniac acceleration from 83Nm of torque at 8000 RPMs is enough to tear my arm apart. My heart is throbbing with excitement but given the unforgiving limitless power from the 800cc powerhouse, I decide to upshift to 6th and enjoy the butter smooth engine do its job.

My Kawasaki Z800-dsc07989.jpg

As I get away from the city, the traffic gets sparse and I decide to up my cruising speed. As I hit 6000 RPMs, some buzz creeps in but it’s not unsettling and disappears as soon as the RPMs rise further. There is not much wind blast at the speeds I’m doing. The Puig copy windscreen that I sourced from Aliexpress is not of much use in deflecting any wind. I’m glad I bought the copy for Rs 1200 instead of the original Puig one which retails close to Rs 10,000. If I ever decide to spend money on a windscreen, I would go for Puig Rafale which is a bigger model that actually helps deflect wind.

My Kawasaki Z800-1.jpg
My Kawasaki Z800-2.jpg
My Kawasaki Z800-3.jpg

As I am enjoying the rising sun and the cool breeze and the exhaust music and the smooth tarmac, the odometer tells me that I have already done over 150 kms which means that I will soon be entering double lane beautiful country roads on the hills.

The Z loves corners and so do I. I start having fun on the winding smooth roads. The bike is super stable and handles the corners very well. The fully adjustable front KYB upside down forks and rear monoshock are at factory settings and they are providing me a good balance of ride and handling for my 72 kg body weight and my limited riding skills. My newly installed soft compound Michelin Pilot Power 3 tyres are hugging the road from all sides. As I enter blind corners, I use my Denso Dual Horns to alert any oncoming traffic. I had to get these extra horns because of a design issue with the Z. The stock horn is placed to take the heat directly from the radiator fan which fries the horn and it stops working. I got the Denso horn installed a few centimeters away from the stock position to avoid malfunctioning due to heat.

My Kawasaki Z800-6.jpg
My Kawasaki Z800-7.jpg
My Kawasaki Z800-8.jpg

The last stretch has some broken roads and I tread cautiously. Small stones from the road are flying and hitting the bike’s underbody. I’m glad that I have the Evotech Radiator Guard to avoid any stone hit mishaps. The loose stones and sand on the road is looking dangerous. I don’t want to skid and lose balance as it’s next to impossible to hold the heavy bike once it starts to lean and fall. If such a situation does arise, I’m glad I have the Kawasaki OEM engine guard and axle sliders, and some good frame sliders and exhaust slider sourced from Aliexpress to protect the bike.

I finally reach a small town on the hills where I stop for breakfast and refueling. I’ve already done 250 kms and I am feeling a little tired. The fuel gauge light is on and it tells me that I have just 30 kms range left. I fill in the 17 liters tank with regular 91 octane fuel. The sticker on the tank yells at me to fill minimum 95 octane petrol but little does it know that this is India and it will have to make do with whatever it gets to drink. I know from experience that 95 octane petrol will make the bike smoother and more eager but its limited availability in just 2 fuel pumps in Bangalore makes it impossible to give the bike what it needs.

A 30 minutes break and some yummy breakfast re-energizes me to start the ride back home so I get back on the bike but as soon as I slot in the first gear, the engine stops! Oh, I’ve forgotten to raise the side stand! I just shudder at the thought of going in hot into a left corner with the side stand scraping the tarmac and sending me off-balance. This feature is a life saver!

Soon clouds start engulfing the hills and there are waterfalls along the hillside. The weather is beautiful. It is so serene. I take a break and sit down to be in the NOW and absorb what’s around. This is why we ride! This ride just symbolizes life. There are ups and downs, rain and sunshine, enjoyment and exhaustion but we must continue. Because it’s only the journey that matters. Destination is the same!

My Kawasaki Z800-9.jpg
My Kawasaki Z800-10.jpg

I don’t want to wake up and end this dream so I get on the bike and take off. The clouds start clearing. The road becomes wider. There is greenery all around and the black Kawasaki feels at home. Suddenly, out of nowhere, a dog runs across the road. I apply brakes and I get a shudder on the lever but the bike stops in time. The bike saved me second time today. The shudder was the ABS kicking in which did not allow the wheels to lock and skid. This bike might have the bare minimum electronics with no ride by wire or riding modes but damn it has ABS without which I can’t imagine riding a bike in India or anywhere.

My Kawasaki Z800-11.jpg
My Kawasaki Z800-12.jpg

Soon, I hit the 4 lane highway and the ride gets boring. It’s a straight highway and there is nothing much to do. The hard seat is hurting my backside so I decide to take a coffee break. As I pull in to the parking of a highway restaurant, people gather around me with curious eyes. Random strangers bombard me with questions.

Which bike is this?
Me: Kawasaki Batmobile

What is the mileage?
Me: 18 kmpl
(People laughing….our cars give more than that)

What is the top speed?
Me: Bike’s is 233 kmph but mine is not even close to that.

How much does it cost?
Me: 3 Kidneys

How many engines does it have? –
Me: 2, one for city and one for highways.

Why is only right headlight on?
Me: Because I ride on right lane.

Why is it making so much noise?
Me: Because it has 4 cylinders and they are banging against each other.

My Kawasaki Z800-13.jpg
My Kawasaki Z800-14.jpg

After a quick coffee, I get riding again and the traffic increases as I get near the city. The last 10 kms inside the city are painful as expected. The Z does not like traffic jams and long signals. The heat from the engine is roasting my legs and the hard clutch is making my fingers numb. Activas and Splendor are cutting through small gaps while I wait behind cars for the traffic to start moving. The traffic and the heat hits me hard and I delve into the harsh reality of owning a superbike in India . Was it sensible to spend nearly a million bucks on a bike? Was it wise to spend over a lakh for accessories and riding gear? I have just 8k kms to go before I’ll have to spend 25k again on new set of tyres. The servicing is due in 6 months, I should keep aside 15k for it. How many more kms will the sprocket last? The sprocket set is going to cost me one complete service cost. And finally, will I have to deal with the unprofessional, unskilled, pathetic Kawasaki ASC for all this? I better sell off this bike and buy a small practical car and a low maintenance bike.

Next day, I wake up and start browsing to see what small bike will suit me. But it doesn’t take more than 10 minutes before I am checking out Tiger, Multistrada, Ninja1000 and R1200GS for my next upgrade!

I am sure that fellow riders will be able to relate to this. These big bikes are addictive. Once you get the hang of them, you are hooked to them for life. They take you places and make every place feel special. They give you like minded friends with whom you can discuss anything and everything bikes for 2 hours straight without the fear of them punching you in the face. They convince you that riding 200 kms and burning fuel worth Rs 1000 to have a Rs 20 dosa makes perfect sense. And finally they take you back to childhood when going out in the rain and deliberately going through that water puddle was fun!

My Kawasaki Z800-15.jpg
Photo courtesy: John from LetsClick Photography who also rides a Z800.
Rider in the photo: BHPian vishwasvr

Last edited by mobike008 : 22nd November 2017 at 11:34. Reason: Changed year as requested..
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Old 22nd November 2017, 09:54   #2
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Default Re: My Kawasaki Z800

Thread moved from the Assembly Line (The "Assembly Line" Forum section) to the Motorcycle Section. Thanks for sharing!
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Old 22nd November 2017, 10:14   #3
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Default Re: My Kawasaki Z800

Excellent report there - straight from the heart! I'm not much of a bike guy, but if at all I own a bike some day, it will be the Ninja 650 in the Kawasaki Green colour. I used to always have a poster of a Kawasaki with me growing up, but after experiencing our roads on 2 wheels, I would be unable to do justice to such an awesome machine. Maybe some years down the line? I've not given up yet.

Quote:
Originally Posted by anshumandun View Post
They convince you that riding 200 kms and burning fuel worth Rs 1000 to have a Rs 20 dosa makes perfect sense.
I can totally relate to this. Just last Sunday I woke up at 4.30am, refueled the car and went on a 400 km trip just to eat a sandwich . This is getting addictive.
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Old 22nd November 2017, 11:37   #4
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Default Re: My Kawasaki Z800

Excellent review in the form of a beautiful write-up. Liked the way in which you have highlighted every feature, wrapped tastefully with an experience! Man, you have a way with words!
The Z800 is an awesome beast indeed! And yes, the pictures are beautiful!

Cheers!
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Old 22nd November 2017, 11:47   #5
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Default Re: My Kawasaki Z800

Congratulations on your bike. That was an amazing write up - crisp and succint.
I like your style of narration of including all the necessary information about the bike and its features, in a narrative.
I can totally relate to the feeling of 'once a bike always a biker'. It is the sense of freedom, one-ness with the moment, a sense of danger and a certain other indescribable feeling that is the attraction of biking for me.

Nice pics too, the bike looks great!.

Keep riding and posting.

Cheerio!
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Old 22nd November 2017, 12:39   #6
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Default Re: My Kawasaki Z800

Great looking bike and a fantastic write up. Enjoy lot more with your bike !

Swami
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Old 22nd November 2017, 14:05   #7
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Default Re: My Kawasaki Z800

Welcome to the Z club, I have a MY2016 Z800 too.

Quote:
Originally Posted by anshumandun View Post

Likes:
Proper superbike stance.
Fairly comfortable for long rides.

Dislikes:
Hard clutch.
Hard Seat.
Costly maintenance.


What is the top speed?
Me: Bike’s is 233 kmph but mine is not even close to that.

The heat from the engine is roasting my legs and the hard clutch is making my fingers numb.
I was pretty surprised to see some of these in your commentary.
The Z has a very comfortable and easy seating stance and not superbike at all. I found it to be extremely easy to ride. But on the same note, it is not a bike that I would use for very long rides or touring as the seat is just not made for that.

Similarly, the clutch while harder compared to the CBR250 is not that bad at all. It is easily adjusted and you need to find what works best for your usage. And if you complain about the heat from the Z800, then don't even go near some of the other super bikes which are known for heating issues.

Where did you hear 233 as the top speed?

Anyway, have fun, ride safe.
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Old 22nd November 2017, 14:20   #8
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Default Re: My Kawasaki Z800

Many Congratulations on joining the Kwakers! Wishing you years of happy and safe riding.

Cheers...
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Old 22nd November 2017, 14:38   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by killjoy View Post
The Z has a very comfortable and easy seating stance and not superbike at all.
I think you are confused between superbike and supersports. Superbike just means a high performance bike. Supersports like Yamaha R1 or Kawasaki ZX10R have aggressive riding postures. By "superbike stance" I meant that the Z800 stands and looks like a big high performance bike.

Quote:
Similarly, the clutch while harder compared to the CBR250 is not that bad at all. It is easily adjusted and you need to find what works best for your usage.
Yes, the clutch is not bad. It's good but it's harder than many other bikes that come with assist and slipper clutch. It doesn't matter on the highways for me but if I get stuck in a traffic jam, it is a pain.


Quote:
And if you complain about the heat from the Z800, then don't even go near some of the other super bikes which are known for heating issues.
Again, there is no heating issue while riding but while standing on long signals or traffic jams, the temperature does cross the 100 deg C mark and it tends to roast my legs. But I get your point, I think you are pointing towards some Italian brand


Quote:
Where did you hear 233 as the top speed?
Top Gear India website. Many other websites too. I think this is claimed by Kawasaki. Source
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Old 22nd November 2017, 15:26   #10
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Default Re: My Kawasaki Z800

Quote:
Originally Posted by anshumandun View Post
I fill in the 17 liters tank with regular 91 octane fuel
Lovely writeup!! Wish you many many safe miles on the Z

Just a question on the fuel. Apart from the slight harshness you mention, have you noticed any other adverse affects of using regular 91 octane?

How much distance have you covered on your bike so far?
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Old 22nd November 2017, 16:01   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by udainxs View Post
Just a question on the fuel. Apart from the slight harshness you mention, have you noticed any other adverse affects of using regular 91 octane?

How much distance have you covered on your bike so far?
With the regular fuel I didn't feel anything until I topped up with Speed 97 one day. The bike became smoother and more punchy with the high octane fuel. Haven't noticed any other adverse effects of using the regular fuel. I think that bikes like ZX10R will be affected more since they have higher compression ratio.

I've done around 11k kms in last 11 months and the odo is now at 16xxx kms.
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Old 23rd November 2017, 09:38   #12
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Default Re: My Kawasaki Z800

Very nice write up and entertaining choice of words.
Nice to see more Kawa's joining in on the Bandwagon here.

Good clicks too. Loved the water puddle pic.
What is your experience with the headlights. Are you running on stock or are there any add-ons in place.
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Old 23rd November 2017, 11:20   #13
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Default Re: My Kawasaki Z800

Quote:
Originally Posted by anshumandun View Post
They convince you that riding 200 kms and burning fuel worth Rs 1000 to have a Rs 20 dosa makes perfect sense. And finally they take you back to childhood when going out in the rain and deliberately going through that water puddle was fun!
I totally loved this paragraph and can imagine many of us relating to this as we ride for the sake of riding and not actually to eat breakfast (Well, some of us like me actually ride to distances if the food is really good)

Great write-up and wonderful pictures (Puddle pic is iconic)

I also note that despite riding an "uncomfortable" bike you have clocked decent miles on this bike with an average of 1000kms/month which incidentally is my thumb rule.

IMHO, if anyone is riding less than 1000kms/month then their purchase is not justified and will remain like a prized trophy

I rode the Speed Triple and Z800 back to back and there are a couple of videos of me riding both these bikes which I will refrain from sharing on the forum due to our rules but, surprise, surprise, I loved the Z800 more than Speed.

It felt more comfortable, I4 was music to years and engine was way smoother than the Triple and didn't feel any less powerful than the liter class Speed. This was BHPian IDPSharma's Z800 and he made some minor changes to bike (handle bar riser, touring screen,gel seats) to make it little more comfortable (but, he is still not happy with results of gel seats when touring)....

Z800 is a great bike no doubt but, if you are looking forward to touring then go the ADV way (Tiger, Versys, AT etc) as comfort you get for long distance riding is in a different league

Cheers
Mobike008

Last edited by mobike008 : 23rd November 2017 at 11:22.
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Old 23rd November 2017, 13:41   #14
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Default Re: My Kawasaki Z800

Congrats on the sweet bike. Wonderful write up of all the stages and emotions. Enjoyed the part when you told the showroom guy you would ride to Mysore!
Nice pics by John. His Z features in one of my videos

I used to have the Z1000 ten years back and it was an absolute fun bike. The wind blast to the chest (esp after a certain kmph (!), you have to hold the hand grips real tight or you could fly off the bike. And of course the wooden seat were the only two major negatives for me.

I am sure the Adventure bike upgrade itch is hard to resist.....

Ride safe and wish you many many miles of enjoyable riding
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Old 23rd November 2017, 13:55   #15
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Default Re: My Kawasaki Z800

Nice writeup about a brilliant motorcycle!

Kawasaki probably outdid themselves with the Sugomi designs of the 2013-on Z800 and the 2014-on Z1000. Never before have I been so awe-inspired by the aggression seen in bikes, than in these machines. Infact, they might have done so well that the current Z900 had to be toned down rather than improved upon as compared to the earlier generation!

You'll surely have fun on the machine, no doubt!

Ride safe.
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