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"Fast Bikes", April 1, 2013

THE VERDICT

PIC BY: DOM ROMNEY

So, what have we learned here? For one thing, the Kawasaki is fantastic. Everyone who rode it commented on what fine a performer it is. We’re all agreed it’s a huge improvement over the Z750. The Z800 is a real looker. The way that ‘Z’ is woven into so much of the design; on the seat, the rearsets, even the tank from a certain angle, shows the love poured into it. The 750 was always the best in class from Japan, but that’s really not saying much. Only Suzuki’s GSR gave it a bloody nose, but the 750R held the edge over that particular parts-bin special, just about.

Anyway, the best thing about the 800 is that it will murder a 750R dynamically, especially in the handing department. Mission accomplished in that respect, and then some.

In this winter weather, it did hold the edge quite easily over the Triumph. It was more comfortable to ride, and that otherwise handicapping 40kg gut works out well twice for it. It gives it a real assured feel when it’s wet and miserable. In this instance, use the torque and superb fuelling to keep moving smooth. In the dry, the weight helps again, keeping that solid feel. Grunty as the engine is though, it always feels as though it’s not quite enough to beat the meat.

Once again, however, Triumph’s Street Triple R reigns supreme. We’re confident the stocker would also take the plaudits. The ST-R needs a little more care, or a lot of softening up in the January drink. Yet the R is still perfectly usable, and then when the sun came that weekend, the ride was inspiring. The kind of thrash, on a faultless machine, that makes you feel young again. Truly priceless.

What an astounding motorcycle this is, it’s the TZ250 powered go-kart of the middleweight class – we love it. That this level of excellence, on both machines, is available to us was a long time coming. Two decades, in fact. It started off with flair, though went backwards from there...

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