Like the fat kid at school running for the empty bus stop only to find the timetable has changed Kawasaki has been weirdly absent from the custom scene over the last decade or so. Which is maddening considering they had a perfectly good donor in their W800. Sure, the recent Z900RS has been errr, a triumph, but languishing in the wings has been the faux retro W. Plenty of workshops have produced great builds from the 650 and 800, in fact the foundations of the hugely successful (and first proper custom blog) Return of the Café Racers was based on one man’s love of his ally tanked 650. Dutch had an 800 after his Beemer, and before his Triumph, and a few of our members enjoy some exceptional examples by deBolex Engineering. As a donor the W is a bit of a slam dunk, the bevel gear drive engine is a stunner (to look at, rice puddings are safe) and the bike’s overall proportions are spot on.
It was no surprise then that the big cheeses at Kawasaki killed off the W800 as it wouldn’t adhere to the new EU4 emissions regs. What was a complete surprise though was the press release from Team Green a fortnight ago announcing the W800’s comeback, and today it’s been officially unveiled at the NEC. Apparently the motor is 90% new (their abacus might want recalibrating, I can see way more than 10% of old from here) and there’s now ABS, plus a disc on the rear – how jolly modern. Most importantly though the regs have been met and lavendar scented potpourri now wafts from the peashooter zorsts.
With all the new bike releases in recent weeks why have I spent time prattling on about this rehashed dinosaur? Well, I’m not really too sure, venting is apparently good for one’s health. Maybe it’s simply useful to catalogue just how strange big manufacturers’ behaviour is.
Provided the price isn’t ridiculous, at least there’s another option out there for nostalgists looking for the style of yesteryear but actually want to ride through the capital without being fleeced by Sadiq Turpin and his ludicrous ULEZ. So if you don’t want a new Triumph Street Twin (review of the 2019 bike on the way next week) and Royal Enfield 650 Twins don’t float your boat, there’s now an alternative. Unless you’d like a Benelli Imperiale…..
I shouldn’t give Kawasaki too much grief though, at least they’re at the bus stop heading for retroville… someone tied Suzuki’s shoelaces together and locked them in the bog.