CLASSICALLY retro with an updated modern twist. That’s how we’d describe the 2020 Kawasaki W800 Street. With a history that spans more than 50 years, Kawasaki has created a café racer that delivers rider friendly handling and usable power.
The W800 features a long-stroke 773cc vertical twin air cooled motor, offering solid low to mid-range performance. We were most impressed by its capabilities when we built up the revs. It bares its teeth and gets very exciting at 4,500rpm.
By no means is this a full-on sport or super sport model from Kawasaki, but the power output is zippy, and more than adequate for a bike of its nimble stature. Fuel injection and an effortless 5-speed transmission helps deliver a smooth riding experience too.
The combination creates an easy to ride bike, with 35kW of power and just on 63Nm of torque. Twin peashooter mufflers run down each side of the 2020 W800 Street and not only look the part but have a nice note, especially at higher revs.
Simplistic front and rear fenders help reinforce its retro cafe racer character, with the Street variant looking slightly sportier than its Cafe sibling. The look is matched with 18-inch alloy wired rims front and rear.
Seating position on the W800 Street is upright and relaxed. All controls are within easy reach of the rider and we found them to be simplistic and easy to use, which again fits the overall theme of this bike.
With a seat height of 770mm, the Street is easy to maneuver, and great for lane filtering in city traffic. The traditional instrument cluster, with its classic display, is a nice touch too. The multi-function LCD screen provides odometer, trip meter, and clock.
A full range of indicator lamps are also incorporated, including turn signals, low fuel warning light, neutral indicator and oil warning light.
One of our favorite features on the W800 Street though is the super cool LED headlight. It was a perfect example of modern technology being incorporated into a retro design perfectly.
Handling on the 2020 Kawasaki W800 Street is a little Jekyll and Hyde. The good side is that it’s light and nimble, with great mid-range cornering. Ducking between your favorite café and pub and relaxing rides are an enjoyable experience.
Fitted with telescopic front forks with 41mm tubes, it soaks up the bumps well and provides the rider a good amount of comfort and support. A rear swingarm and 130mm ground clearance also means it’s a lot of fun in 60–90km/h bends and twisties.
Stopping power is good too. Fitted with a 320mm disc brake setup on the front and a 270mm on the rear, and with ABS as standard, the W800 Street can certainly pull you up in a hurry.
But there’s a downside. This is definitely not a freeway bike. At highway speeds above 115km/h the bike feels twitchy and a little unstable. It’s a little disappointing, but the reality is the W800 Street is designed to be ridden around town or on the twisty stuff.
There are other bikes in the Kawasaki range if you want to harness speed or tour. The 2020 Kawasaki Street W800 is instead a rider friendly, cool café racer. Pitted against the Royal Enfield 650 Interceptor and Continental GT, the W800 will win a lot of hearts.
Pricing starts at $12,999 ride away, and the W800 Street comes in just one colour, Metallic Flat Spark with Metallic Graphite Gray. A 24-month unlimited kilometre warranty also comes standard with your purchase of the 2020 Kawasaki W800 Street.
Our test bike was provided by Kawasaki Australia. To find out more about the 2020 Kawasaki W800 Street, contact your local Kawasaki dealer. Pictures courtesy of Cameron Cooke Photography.