Kawasaki re­turns

NT News - Motoring - - FRONT PAGE - By MARK HINCHLIFFE www.nt­news.com.au

IT won’t set the world on fire with its per­for­mance, aero­dy­nam­ics or tech­nol­ogy, but the Kawasaki W800 (pic­tured) will put a lump in the throat of many mid­dleaged bik­ers.

The Tri­umph Bon­neville look-alike was in Aus­tralia a few years ago as a W650 with car­bu­ret­tors.

It’s now re­turned with 800cc and fuel in­jec­tion.

The 1970-style naked bike com­petes against other ret­ros from Tri­umph, Du­cati, Har­ley-David­son and Moto Guzzi.

While it doesn’t have the per­for­mance of these mod­els, it isn’t lack­ing in tra­di­tion.

The Kawasaki W se­ries ac­tu­ally be­gan as the K1 in the early 1960s, then the leg­endary W1 a few years later. To­day it looks much as it did back then with its Brit-style par­al­lel twin.

So the new W800 isn’t some Ja­panese im­i­ta­tion. It’s the real deal.

At $500 less than the stan­dard Bon­neville it comes with a few ex­tras such as tra­di­tional chromed guards, rub­ber tank pads, fork ga­tors, lock­able petrol cap and a cen­tre stand.

De­spite that, it’s a ba­sic bike with only one trip me­ter.

Build qual­ity is ex­cep­tional with deep and lus­trous me­tal­lic green paint, gold pin-strip­ing and metal parts such as the side cov­ers where oth­ers would use plas­tic.

But the high­light is the beau­ti­fully pol­ished en­gine with a chrome bevel cam cover and shaft.

When Tri­umph con­verted to EFI they re­tained the carby look. Kawasaki’s in­jec­tor unit is ugly but it’s small.

It’s a bike you sit on, rather than sitting in it or crouch­ing over it. Rid­ing po­si­tion is neu­tral and the bike feels small; no, tiny.

The seat is ribbed and com­fort­able and the cor­ner pip­ing ends be­fore your thighs so it doesn’t cut into them.

The pre­vi­ous W650 put a lot of lumps in a lot of throats, yet few wanted to buy it be­cause it was only a 650cc bike. The big­ger ca­pac­ity may per­suade a few more con­verts.

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