Best Standard Motorcycle of 2017

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By John Burns

Best Standard Motorcycle of the Year Winner: 2017 Kawasaki Z900

This could’ve gone several ways and almost did. As all the world’s manufacturers scramble to fill a burgeoning need for what we used to call just plain old motorcycles, choosing just one becomes more difficult – especially since eligible new players have only recently been made available to us for testing. I liked the new 2018 Suzuki GSX-S750 very much a couple of weeks ago, also the heavily revised 797 Ducati Monster reviewed way back in March. It doesn’t help that “Standard” is such an amorphous category… last year, the new Triumph Street Twin took home the trophy.

The bike that bobbed to the surface this time turns out to be this truly sweet new Kawasaki Z900. T. Roderick heaped a ton of praise on it following its launch, also way back in March, and turned in an Emmy-winning video performance as well.

Kawsaki Z900 Review: First Ride

What’s going on here is a classic Kawasaki tried-and-true inline-Four, sleeved from the Z1000’s 1043cc down to 948cc (via 77mm bores becoming 73.4mm ones) and inhaling through 36mm throttle bodies instead of 38mm ones. A lovely new steel frame is supposed to lop something like 25 pounds off the less-Sugomi-styled package – down to 463 lbs. But the biggest cut came to the bottom line: A Z1000 with ABS is an $11,999 motorcycle. The Z900 ABS is $8,799 ($8,399 no ABS), and it’s hard to put your finger on any area where Kawasaki economized.

If the smaller-motored bike is any slower than the bigger Z, you’d be hard pressed to tell anywhere up to 6000 rpm or so; the Z900 feels to have more low-rev torque than the 1000. Could be just the reduced weight at work… but this bike has tons of …read more

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