Donington Burnout, Boasty’s last road race and much more…
AFORTNIGHT ABOARD ON a Z900 RS, trips to London, the coast and my magazine printers oop norf. I couldn’t resist, especially as I loved the original Z1 that trounced Honda’s hitherto class-leading CB750F back in the day. But the day was 1972 and plenty of scribblers since, some of this parish, have correctly pointed out that today’s Z900, and its RS sibling, are modern bikes competing with other moderns for your hard-won cash and shouldn’t really be judged as re-imagined museum pieces. But that’s difficult because they look uncannily similar. Lot’s already has been said about this too and it’ll bear no repetition here other than to say its old-school ergonomics, born out of that wide, teardrop tank, long well padded seat and pulled back ’bars suited this old fart very nicely. Oh, and at a steady 75-90mph the reported vibes never numbed me. Another nod to nostalgia immediately hit me when I picked up Bike’s long-termer on a rainy Peterborough day: like its forebear, the big Kawa’s formidable power delivery can lead you quickly beyond temptation and straight into trouble… until you get the measure of it. Which on a wet road is the sooner the better. That said I never did quite figure out how to set the traction control, so I just rode the thing as fast as I could. Which, I hasten to add, was faster than anything
‘Its old-school ergonomics suited this old fart very nicely’
else since I owned a race-tuned Laverda Jota which had the same belt-in-the-gut acceleration from around 2000rpm. But the Laverda didn’t go round corners anything like the RS, didn’t stick to the road anything like as well except maybe in a straightline, which flat-out astonished me. Throw this RS into a corner, any corner at speeds I wouldn’t have dared contemplate on anything else I’ve ridden in recent years and it goes round as if on rails. Okay, I haven’t ridden recent, cutting-edge sportbikes, but so what? The RS is incredibly surefooted with a ton of linear power instantly on tap. However, there’s a glitch in the mapping which causes that power to hiccup or hunt a little at lower throttle openings, especially before the engine’s properly hot. Disconcerting, because of its unpredictability. Lack of centrestand also niggled. And top gear, though flexible as all hell could usefully be higher for comfier cruising. But it’s a beautifully finished, solid-feeling bit of kit that I’d very happily own as my monumentally muscular daily ride down to the shops… or down to Tuscany.
Teardrop tank and long padded seat – just the job Modern and throwback in one binnacle