2019 Kawasaki W800 Cafe

Classic bevel-drive parallel twin gets “ton-up” treatment.

W800 Cafe
2019 Kawasaki W800 Cafe Right SideCourtesy of Kawasaki

They were famously known as “ton-up boys,” post-World War II working-class motorcyclists who hopped up thumping British singles and twins in their quest to outrun each other at triple-digit speeds. The Kawasaki W800 Cafe celebrates that bygone era with a nod to the Japanese bike maker’s own heritage. As its name suggests, the Cafe is based on the earlier W800, now fitted for sporting duty with a small headlight-mounted fairing, a clubman-style handlebar, and a two-tone saddle that gives the illusion of solo-only use while being passenger-friendly. One thing that hasn’t changed is the engine, a fuel-injected, four-valve-per-cylinder, tower-shaft/bevel-gear-driven overhead-cam parallel twin whose roots go all the way back to Kawasaki’s mid-1960s BSA-look-alike W1.

Continuing with the historic theme, a double-cradle steel frame features a 50mm square-section backbone, is suspended by a conventional 41mm fork and twin shocks, and rolls on 18-inch wire-spoke wheels shod with tube-type bias-ply tires. So will W800 Cafe reach the vaunted “ton”? Most certainly, but it will take a lot longer for the 491-pound machine to top that legendary marker than a ZX-6R, Kawasaki’s modern middleweight racer-replica. But that, of course, is missing the point...

Likes: Slipper/assist clutch has light lever feel and smooths corner entries

Dislikes: Sixty mph to 0 in 156 feet? More stopping power, please.

Verdict: Live in an analog era with most of the benefits of the digital age

2019 Kawasaki W800 Cafe Reviews And Comparisons

“The double-cradle steel frame suggests the W800 Cafe is reminiscent of the original W1,” Michael Gilbert wrote in his preview of the 2019 model, “but Kawasaki employed dynamic-analysis software to determine the rigidity for each piece of tubing used. Kawasaki claims use of this technology contributes to a well-balanced ride.”

2019 Kawasaki W800 Cafe Competition

Kawasaki isn’t the only manufacturer that has hitched a ride on the retro-twin train. Moto Guzzi, Royal Enfield, Triumph, and others also have models for buyers who yearn for the days when motorcycle engines were air-cooled, simpler to work on, and not hidden behind acres of expensive plastic body panels.

2019 Kawasaki W800 Cafe Specifications And Pricing

For 2019, the W800 Cafe is offered only in Metallic Magnesium Gray/Galaxy Silver. Kawasaki has, however, developed a number of accessories to help personalize the bike. These include engine guards, heated handgrips, an Ergo Fit reduced-reach saddle, a luggage rack, passenger grab rail, helmet lock, and chrome-trimmed replacement parts.

W800 Cafe
2019 Kawasaki W800 Cafe left sideCourtesy of Kawasaki

Manufacturer Claimed Specifications

Price $9,799
Engine Air-cooled, SOHC, parallel twin
Displacement 773cc
Bore x Stroke 77.0mm x 83.0mm
Horsepower N/A
Torque 46.4 lb.-ft. @ 4,800 rpm
Transmission 5-speed
Final Drive Chain
Seat Height 31.1 in.
Rake 26.0°
Trail 3.7 in.
Front Suspension 41mm; 5.1-in. travel
Rear Suspension Preload adjustable; 4.2-in. travel
Front Tire 100/90-18
Rear Tire 130/80-18
Wheelbase 57.7 in.
Fuel Capacity 4.0 gal.
Claimed Curb Weight 489 lb.

Cycle World Tested Specifications

Seat Height 31.2 in.
Wet Weight 491 lb.
Rear-Wheel Horsepower 46.2 hp @ 6,200 rpm
Rear-Wheel Torque 44.1 lb.-ft. @ 4,500 rpm
0–60 mph 5.1 sec.
1/4-mile 13.84 sec. @ 95.27 mph
Braking 30–0 mph 38.6 ft.
Braking 60–0 mph 156.3 ft.
W800 Cafe
2019 Kawasaki W800 CafeCourtesy of Kawasaki