Kawasaki W800 – Billys Bikes

11 Jan 2015 | Author: | Comments Off on Kawasaki W800 – Billys Bikes
Kawasaki W800

Kawasaki W800

In all my years of riding I’ve never wanted to ‘bitch-slap’ so many people whilst testing a motorcycle, and they were all bikers who ride ‘modern’ stuff. Wherever I went with the Kawasaki W800 it was ridiculed and I found myself venomously defending it as if it were my own child squirted from the loins of my precious ‘bat and balls.’ These so called motorcyclist would arrogantly laugh and cackle as they shouted, “What fook is this ‘W’ thing, is it another of those Chinese bikes?”

So after ten deep breaths I would abruptly march these heathens around the back of the bike and aggressively point to the gold Kawasaki writing across the back of the seat. “What does that say, you fookin uninformed gibbering idiots?” Then strut back to my table and wait while the scalded would gradually creep over and humbly try to buy me a pint and become my friends again, which of course I accepted. I’d then have a primary school quiet audience as I told them what this remarkable Kawasaki was all about.

The problem is, if you think of a historical Kawasaki people immediately think of a four-cylinder Z1 and / or a three-cylinder two- stroke, right? But if they’d have read their motorbike history books as youths instead of having their hands in their shorts while watching the neighbour hang out the washing, they’d have known about Kawasaki’s first ‘big’ bike, the W1 650 parallel twin, so there.

So here’s a quick history lesson if you preferred a ‘tug’ to a book. Back in 1960 the Kawasaki Aircraft Company acquired the Meguro Motorcycle Company who had a license to produce the BSA A7 500cc parallel twin. So you can see why the W1 from 1966 and now the W800 look like they do. And interestingly in 1966 the W1 had the largest engine size of any Japanese motorbike available at the time. That bike, in 1966, had a big ‘W’ tank badge and that’s why the ‘W’ badge is there today.

Sounds like I’m back in the pub again. So if you want a new BSA, which isn’t made, buy a W800. And if you’re lucky enough to still own a W1/W2 built from 1966 to 1974 it is now the most valuable Kawasaki of all, fetching up to €20,000 in mint condition!

If you don’t have that sort of cash you can go out and buy this beautiful 2012 W800 for only R107,000 and feel like you’ve travelled back to the sixties, but this time it will never leak oil or break down, superb eh? The attention to detail and finish makes the Kawasaki W800 one, if not the . best retro bike currently available in today’s market place. Is this thing pretty to look at or what?

It may sound expensive to some but, to me, this cute 800 is worth every cent.

Obviously the W800 engine is a 21st Century power plant with a 773cc capacity, SOHC, 8-valves and fuel-injection feeding 34mm throttle bodies. Kawasaki claim 50hp@6,500 rpm and 60Nm@ 2,500 rpm of the torquey stuff. But the coolest part of the engine is the bevel gear driven camshaft on the right side of the engine, which means the cam timing will stay the same forever and you’ll never need to fit or hear a noisy cam chain.

Noddy said if you look after this engine it will last for a million miles, and I’d have to agree. Just add petrol to the W800 and ride, all you’ll ever have to do is oil the chain. So if you’re after a unique commuter steeped in history and is infinitely reliable, this is it.

Kawasaki W800

But with its wide and comfortable ribbed seat (for extra pleasure I presume), you can easily take a passenger for a Sunday day out as well. The engine, with its internal balance shaft thingy, is super smooth but with a hint of sixties vibration and noise to keep things ‘real’. The five-speed gearbox is also an effortless experience and it’s most certainly not the stiff clunky affair inherited from the BSA, er, I mean W1.

Thankfully Kawasaki has fitted better brakes to the W800 than the 1966 W1, by using a 300mm front disc but still kept the rear drum brake. It won’t stop like a ZX-10 but the components combine perfectly with the soft handling and a brisk pace can be kept up as you thread through the county hills wearing an open face helmet and goggles. Top speed is just over 170km/h and it’ll cruise all day long at 120km/h, so that type of helmet isn’t a hindrance on this bike, actually it’s a necessity.

In fact the whole riding experience of the W800 is nothing short of sweet. It’s a small bike, even though it weighs 217kgs dry because there are no metals ending in ’ium’ on this bike, so it’s so easy to live with, learn on, and fall in love with. From the old style retro analogue clocks, to the show winning of chrome, to those authentic Dunlop TT-100 tyres (remember those?), the Kawasaki W800 is a master class lesson on how to mimic past machines that still deserve a place on today’s showroom floors.

The only other manufacturer making something similar is Triumph with their Bonneville T100, which is a bit cheaper. But would I choose the Triumph over the Kawasaki? No I wouldn’t.

The Bonne’ is also a fantastic retro tool but the Kawasaki is far more unique and quaint and, to me, that’s what it’s all about, and anyway I just adore telling people what that fookin ‘W’ badge means.

For more info pop over to www.kawasaki.co.za

Kawasaki W800
Kawasaki W800
Kawasaki W800
Kawasaki W800

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