When the name of Kawasaki strikes in our minds, we have always drooled over the flashy supersports under the ‘Ninja’ brand and the ‘Z’ range of naked streetfighters. These motorcycles from Kawasaki offer a perfect amalgamation of sharp looks, sharp performance and sharp riding dynamics, making them modern by all means which are stuffed with cutting-edge technologies as well.
Though, there’s another side of the story of Kawasaki, which most of the Indians are unaware of. Much like its European rivals, Kawasaki also makes some motorcycles in off-beat segments, with that of the retro roadsters being one of them. In the European markets, Kawasaki has been highly successful with the W800, a retro roadster which is high on retro design ethos and make you feel astonished that it comes from the same factory of Kawasaki which makes one of the most futuristic looking and high performing motorcycles of current times.
As we all know that how serious is Kawasaki for the Indian market, so much that it is contemplating to bring in the W800 to the Indian shores, which is quite understandable considering the amount of success other retro roadsters in its segment such as Triumph Bonneville range as well as Ducati Scrambler range are tasting in the middleweight segment of India. So, let’s have a quick look on one of the most unique offerings from Kawasaki, the W800:-
As said above, compared to the glitzy and aerodynamic design of all the supersports and street fighters from Kawasaki, the W800 offers a very different flavor. The design of the W800 belongs to the bygone eras of 1960’s which make it look timeless and classy.
At the front, the W800 has got a typical round headlamp encased in a body colored housing with a chrome ring running around it, giving it the required necessary retro roadtster appeal. Besides the headlamp, there are chrome clamps attached to the headlamp which act as mounts for the round turn indicators, which too get chrome surrounds. The front fender too gets the retro treatment with the unit being made up of chrome with two horizontal clamps on either sides, which join the front and rear of the fender.
The side profile of the W800 continues to feel as old school as the front, with the curvy fuel tank having a very simple flair in its design. The fuel tank has got a dual tone color treatment, which gets a chrome emblem of ‘W’ and black tank pads on either sides, adding some more character to it. The side body cowls too look rather simple and get the ‘800’ nomenclature. As with all the retro roadsters, the W800 too doesn’t get proper rear body panels, with the long and curvy chrome bathed rear fender running straight from the side body cowl to the rear most portion of the motorcycle. The tail lamp is mounted on this rear fender, and just like at the front, the tail lamp as well as turn indicators get treatment of chrome. Adding more bling to the motorcycle are dual chrome exhaust pipes with one on either sides and chrome bathed engine.
Increasing the nostalgia factor of the W800 is the twin pod instrument console, which again gets dipped in chrome like most of the cycle parts. This simple looking unit is adequately informative, with the analog meters for speedometer and tachometer and a small LCD screen for digital readouts of odometer, with all the tell tale lamps positioned in the right pod, that of tachometer. The chrome rear view mirrors are fairly large, while the handlebar is wide and ends up in meaty palm grips with alloy levers at both the ends. The build quality, like every other modern Kawasaki motorcycle, feels top notch and built to last.
All in all, the abundance of chrome and simplicity of its design make the W800 a very much likeable motorcycle for all the mature set of minds. Though it lacks a number of modern gizmos and features, but then, so do the other retro roadsters!
The Kawasaki W800 sources its power from a four stroke, air cooled, vertical twin, fuel injected, 773cc engine, which develops a maximum power output of 48 PS and a peak torque output of 60 Nm. Now, the numbers might appear to be much less for an 800cc motorcycle, however, the engine has been tuned to make it feel torque rich.
The W800 pulls off nicely in a linear feel, unlike the drama filled powerful bottom end of the ‘Z’ roadsters of Kawasaki, with the midrange being the most lovable part of this vertical twin engine. The mill is coupled to a 5-speed gearbox with long gear ratios. As with other Kawasaki engines, this 773cc engine feels extremely refined and vibration-free even in higher revs.
Like its overall design, the W800 comes with some very simple mechanical bits which are high on the factor of strength, though. The motorcycle comes fitted with conventional 39mm hydraulic telescopic forks at the front and a set of 5-step adjustable hydraulic coil springs. At 217 kgs, the W800 might not feel as spirited and hardcore to ride as the other lightweight and dynamically stronger Z roadsters, but then, the W800 is not meant to ride wildly. It’s simple and understated design clearly signals that it is a calm beast, which loves to be ridden sedately. The overall handling is quite decent, however, the ride quality feels plush in all conditions.
When it comes to braking, the W800 has a large 300mm single disc brake at the front and a 160mm drum brake at the rear. While the bite from both these brakes is adequate enough for halting duties, we would have liked to see a disc brake at the rear as well. In the name of electronic riding aids, the W800 comes equipped with only ABS, which is offered as standard though.
Kawasaki is keen on bringing the W800 to Indian shores, and has already put the W800 in couple of its Indian showrooms to gauge in public response towards the motorcycle. The W800 is expected to be officially launched in the first half of 2017 in India, and given the killer pricing strategy of Kawasaki in the Indian market, the W800 is expected to have an attractive and affordable price tag, which would most likely exist in the range of Rs. 7-7.5 lakh.
Internationally, the W800 is available with only one dual tone color option of Metallic Ocean Blue with Pearl Alpine White, which is expected to be available in India as well.
Given its retro design and old school appeal, the Kawasaki W800 has the Triumph Bonneville T100 directly in its crosshairs. Like the W800, the Bonneville T100 has the quintessential retro design, which is unmistakable British. While there is nothing much to differentiate between the design of both these motorcycles, the Bonneville T100 has a richer and talked about history behind its brand name.
The Triumph Bonneville T100 sources its power from a four stroke, liquid cooled, inline twin, 900cc engine, which pumps out 55 PS of power and 80 Nm of torque, numbers which make it much more powerful over the W800. Also, there is not much difference in the weights of both these motorcycles, thus making the Bonneville T100 a more spirited ride, which gets complemented by fatter front forks and rear disc brake over the W800.
Unlike other razor sharp motorcycles from Kawasaki, the W800 offers an altogether different experience – that of riding an old school machine which is built to last and can look as ageless as ever. Though the abundance of chrome might not appeal to some, but it makes the motorcycle look classy and elegant. The performance from the vertical twin 773cc mill is adequate enough to make it feel fast enough to justify its 800cc badge. Though it may not offer focused riding dynamics as the other Kawasaki offerings, but then, it is comfortable enough to be on the saddle for long hours, something which cannot be said about other Kawasaki motorcycles available in India. All in all, if you have been a follower of Kawasaki, and an even bigger fan of retro roadsters, the W800 offers a very unique proposition which might not be as flashy as its stable mates, but then, it is its simplicity which will appeal to those riders who are mature enough to understand its elegance.