Thirty Minutes on Kawasaki’s Retro W800 Street

. By Jon Row and Bikeland Staff

When Kawasaki offered a spin on their new 2020 W800 Street retro at the Long Beach Motorcycle show we quickly grabbed the key. Bypassing afternoon-clogged freeways we found a half hour of urban delight, snaking the lovely 496-pound air-cooled twin through nearby Seal Beach’s winding streets.

The W800 Street joins last year’s Café version and up till now has only been available in foreign markets. We’re glad Kawi brought it here. The bike sports a 19”/18” front & rear wheel set up and a great ride platform. Staring at it, as people obviously like to do, Brit bike bloodlines are everywhere. The proud “W” on the nicely detailed tank is emblematic of Kawasaki’s Whitworth connections dating back to their 1960s W-1.

Eye candy abounds, a tuck and roll “bread-loaf” seat, lots of polished bits, chrome fenders and a bevel drive cam tower you can’t help but notice. Dual pea shooter mufflers confirm Kawasakis’s avowed dedication to the art of “aural engineering”. Making bikes sound good. How good? You can almost hear Sam Elliot’s testosteronic voice from those Ram truck TV commercials in this exhaust note.

The air-cooled 773cc vertical twin with 360 crank speaks strongly with 46 pounds of torque. An estimated 45HP delivers quite peppy acceleration at mid and high revs. The five speed tranny has Kawasaki’s positive neutral finder and snicks through gears more smoothly than the last Big K twin we rode. Retro nuances we could feel were seat and peg vibes above 4,000 RPM and some buzz in the rubber mounted mirrors. Modern, single front and rear disc anti-lock brakes are more than adequate and the ride was compliant enough even with shock preloads set on the 4th notch.

Discreetly covered twin injectors handle fuelling and the cable operated throttle’s response is favorably linear. It’s a nice ride position with good ergonomics for local or distance trips.

Hopping off the comfy, 31-inch high seat at rides end, we popped down the included center stand. After turning the key on one more time just to watch the retro style gauges do their electro-wiz start sequence, only one thought remained: 1960s Brit bike riders never envisioned things would be this good!

Colors: Candy Cardinal Red
SRP $9,199

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Photo credit: Julia LaPalme

Photo credit: Julia LaPalme

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Tags: 2020, new models, kawasaki

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