If a praying mantis had wheels, it would be the Kawasaki Z900. Rakish and aggressive to the extreme, this 948cc DOHC inline-four “epitomizes” (Kawasaki’s word) high-performance naked bikes. And the company may have a point because the Z900 does deliver a lot for riders who want audacious style dosed with function. For instance, despite the bike’s maniacal appearance, the seating position is reasonably upright and comfortable. Built-in rider aids include a clutch-assist feature that reduces lever effort, a slipper clutch that helps keep the chassis stable when you’re downshifting quickly, and antilock brakes (optional at $400).
If you enjoy computer games, you’ll like the Z900’s stacked color LCD instrument cluster, which features a sweeping analog-style tachometer up top and a gear-position indicator and digital speedometer below. The annunciators and odometer live in the peripheries. While the previous Z1000 had a terrific LED headlight, the Z900 offers only an LED taillight/brake-light combo. This decontenting aside, the Z900 is still a worthy competitor in the now hearty naked-bike segment.
Likes: Radical Transformers styling, good performance
Dislikes: Close-ratio gearbox requires frequent shifting
Verdict: Maximum aggro at a competitive price