The question on everyone’s mind during EICMA: How much will these new bikes cost?
Kawasaki announced some answers today.
The Ninja 400
Kawasaki’s bigger little Ninja drove some serious discussion in the comments section when Common Tread previewed it back in October. Displacement creep was the topic of the day as Kawasaki reached the outer limits of the 300 class (399 cc). Torque and horsepower have grown, weight has gone down, and U.S. pricing... will stay the same. Yes, even with all the changes, the Ninja 400 in all trim levels will cost the same as their 300 predecessors. Base is still $4,999, $5,299 for ABS, and the KRT Edition remains $5,499. More displacement, same price? That’s a bold strategy, Kawasaki. Let’s see if it pays off for them.
The H2 SX
Kawasaki’s H2-based sport-tourer made waves during EICMA, and for good reason. 200 horses of supercharged power with less neuroticism than the H2? And removable hard bags for long-range blasts of aerodynamic grinning in your helmet? Sounds like fun, but at what price? The base H2 SX has been reported at $19,000 in the United States, or $22,000 for the H2 SX SE. That’s nearly $10,000 less than an H2, if you spring for the base model. The SE package adds a quick-shifter, cornering lights, and a full TFT dash. Yes, that’s still an expensive motorcycle.
Kawasaki’s retro darling, the Z900RS, also got plenty of attention this EICMA season. Thanks to their teaser campaign, fans knew to expect a Z1-lookalike on an upgraded Z900 platform. Kawasaki delivered exactly that, plus the cafe racer variant in Milan. The MSRP in the United States will be $10,999 to $11,199, presumbaly depending on which paint job you get. Accessories are coming too, including an Akropovic exhaust and a 1970s-era KAWASAKI tank badge set.
If the Z900RS is supposed to reference the legendary Z1, then I won’t resist comparing them in a little. Since we’re talking prices, MSRP on a 1973 Z1 was $1,895. Adjusted to 2017 dollars using the first inflation calculator Google showed me, that’s $10,972.45, right in line with the cost of a 2018 Z900RS. The new bike gives you some things the original didn't, such as ABS and three times as many disc brakes. Add traction control, a slipper and assist clutch, and liquid cooling. LEDs, better frames, and suspension cost money too.
Now the counterpoint. Spec sheet for spec sheet, it’s easy to call the Z900RS technically superior, but is that a fair comparison? All the Z1 owners muttering to themselves now are right: the RS and the Z1 are apples to oranges. Candy Brown and Oranges, to be specific. Here’s why. The Z1 was a superbike in its day, a top contender that put performance first. You were an apex predator for your $1,895. The Z900 is a modern bang-for-buck blaster that delivers loads of fun for the price, but it wasn’t meant to rule the street the way the Z1 was. By retuning the Z900RS to make less horsepower in exchange for torque, it’s clear Kawasaki never intended it to.
The Z1 and the Z900RS are inline-four Kawasakis, and they have similar paint options. That’s about it for similarities, and that’s not a bad thing. They’re different bikes, from different times, for different people. Is heritage what we remember, or the ways in which we celebrate it? I’m not sure, but the first thing I’d order for my Z900RS would be those tank badges.