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.