Way back in the mid-60s, Kawasaki blew the doors off the motorcycling world with the introduction of the W1. With a BSA-inspired, 650cc parallel twin, the W1 was the biggest bike made in Japan at the time. The big bore W-series ran from 1965 to 1974 then passed into motorcycle history as Team Green rolled out bigger, faster bikes. In the late 90s, Kawasaki brought the W-series back with the extremely cool, retro-styled (Euro-only, unfortunately) W650. That bike was replaced by the Euro-only W800, another retro-cool throwback that ran from 2010 until 2016 when Euro4 regulations essentially killed among much wailing and gnashing of teeth from Kawasaki riders and retro bike fans.
So, why the history lesson this morning? Well, Kawasaki announced at EICMA today that the W800 is back after a two-year hiatus as the W800 Café (or, well, CAFE as Kawasaki says it). Not only is the W800 back, but it's also coming here to The Colonies!
Kawasaki's new retro bike is powered by an updated 773cc, air-cooled, fuel-injected parallel twin mated to a five-speed transmission equipped with a fancy-shmancy slipper clutch. The engine burns cleaner and is more efficient than its predecessor to meet Euro4 standards. The new powerplant is wrapped in an all-new double cradle frame with a stout-looking box section backbone that is both stiffer and lighter than the previous model's. Suspension is pretty standard fare—forks up front, twin shocks aft—to maintain that old-school look while still providing solid handling, and braking is provided by an ABS system clamping discs all around.
The W800's styling is heavily inspired by the OG W1, and it works really well. It's a handsome, eye-catching machine and that upright, square-shouldered engine with its massive bevel gear cover is like nothing else in its class. The instrumentation is decidedly old school as well, consisting of a pair of clocks with sweeping needles over easy to read, black and white faces. Overall the W800 is a cup of retro with a dash of modern and the whole package is really evocative.
The W800 should be rolling into your friendly neighborhood Kawasaki dealer soon and will have an MSRP of $9,799. If you'd like to know more, check out the press release below then mosey on over to Kawasaki's website.
Gallery: 2019 Kawasaki W800
The all-new Kawasaki W800 CAFE is Kawasaki’s latest addition to our retro lineup of motorcycles. It’s a true throwback to its 1960’s predecessor, the famed Kawasaki W1. The 1966 Kawasaki W1 is the motorcycle that has come to represent the ethos of Kawasaki’s quest for speed. It had the largest displacement and was the most powerful Japanese motorcycle of its time, and inspired the birth of the legendary machines such as the Kawasaki Z1 and Ninja H2™ sportbikes.
For 2019, Kawasaki brings class-leading authentic styling, sound, and feel to the category of retro motorcycles. In building the W800 CAFE, Kawasaki has meticulously crafted one of the most authentic retro bikes in appearance and design, paying homage to the past, all while tastefully incorporating modern technology and features.
Developed for riders in search of a well-rounded bike that is not only rich in history and character, but also packed with modern technology and handling features, the W800 CAFE is powered by an air-cooled 773cc vertical twin engine, and features an updated modern double-cradle frame design and modern suspension components that bring an unmatched level of authenticity and performance to the retro motorcycle category.
The sleek sweeping contours and meticulous fit and finish of the W1 redefined the standards of motorcycle design in the 1960’s. Kawasaki has applied the same meticulous attention to detail in building the W800 CAFE, from the iconic appearance of the air-cooled bevel gear driven vertical twin engine to the elegant gas tank and muffler design, all the way down to the retro-themed wheels.
The W800 CAFE motorcycle is packed with plenty of modern technology, such as the clean running Euro4 compliant engine, Assist and Slipper Clutch, Kawasaki advanced analysis designed frame, and an LED headlamp.
Highlights of the 2019 W800 CAFE:
- Iconic W1 Inspired Styling
- Comfortable CAFE Riding Position
- 773cc Air-Cooled Vertical Twin Engine
- Kawasaki Advanced Dynamic Analysis Designed Frame
- Lightweight Sporty Handling
- Assist & Slipper Clutch
Iconic, Powerful Vertical Twin Engine & Transmission
The W800 CAFE motorcycle features a 773cc air-cooled, fuel injected, SOHC, vertical twin-engine configuration, with a bore and stroke of 77.0 mm x 83.0 mm, which offers plenty of low-mid range performance and torque. The engine utilizes a heavy-flywheel that was chosen to create the strong low-mid range torque character. The fuel injection offers precise fuel delivery to the engine, clean emissions, as well as easy starting. A pair of 34 mm throttle bodies has been arranged to ensure a straight line from the airbox to the cylinders. Long, slim intake funnels deliver enhanced low-mid range performance. The engine also utilizes sub-throttles to ensure ideal engine response as well as aiding in reduced noise emissions. To ensure broad, widespread, responsive power a bevel gear cam drive and SOHC four-valve per head configuration was chosen. A slick-shifting five-speed transmission has a gear for any occasion a rider may encounter.
The classic, retro muffler design is comprised of smooth curves and long, straight flowing lines. The peashooter-style silencers with slim chambers and long tailpipes contribute to the bike’s classic look. The mufflers emit the throaty exhaust note for which parallel twin engines are famous. The twin mufflers were carefully tuned to bring out the engine note of the vertical twin 360-degree crankshaft configuration, which was also used in Kawasaki’s original W1 to create a hearty roar that complements every twist of the throttle.
In building the W800 CAFE, creating a beautiful engine was a key concept when designing the air-cooled vertical twin. The classic-styled engine is lightweight, playful, simple and a joy to behold. Iconic bevel-gear-driven cam adds beauty to the cylinder head while also contributing to the engine’s classic retro styling and appearance. The silver bevel-gear cover on the blacked-out engine of the W800 CAFE draws attention to the engine’s unique design while adding a quality accent. The fuel injection components have been cleverly concealed, giving the engine bay a clean, uncluttered appearance. The rich appearance and character of the engine are nicely complemented when coupled with the strong bottom-end response, enhancing the timeless pleasure derived from riding a classic motorcycle.
Assist & Slipper Clutch
Complementing the transmission is an Assist & Slipper Clutch, race-inspired technology that offers both a light feel at the lever as well as a back-torque limiting function.
The assist function is noticed by the lighter pull at the clutch lever, helping to reduce rider fatigue especially in stop and go traffic situations.
The slipper function is noticed when excessive engine braking occurs as a result of quick or accidental downshifts. The slipper cam comes into play, forcing the clutch hub and operating plate apart, which relieves pressure on the clutch plates to reduce back-torque and help reduce rear wheel hop or skidding.
While the double-cradle frame design looks reminiscent of that of its predecessor, it’s in fact all new. The new frame was designed using Kawasaki’s advanced dynamic analysis software to determine the exact required rigidity for each piece of tubing to ensure optimized performance. Then, while keeping the pipe outer diameters unchanged, the pipe thicknesses were adjusted as necessary.
The double-cradle frame configuration uses a sturdy, 50 mm square-section backbone to give the W800 CAFE a very stable ride quality and well-balanced overall design. Complementing the 50 mm square-section backbone, round downtubes were chosen to enhance the retro appearance. Gussets and brackets were kept to a minimum for improved aesthetics and reduced weight. Round tubes with a smooth finish and minimum welds and gussets contribute to the high-quality appearance. A highly rigid swingarm design further enhances handling qualities while minimizing weight.
Staying true to the retro appearance while incorporating modern handling, the W800 CAFE motorcycle is equipped with a large diameter front fork with stiff springs, a highly rigid lower triple-clamp and sturdy dual shocks to complement the more rigid new frame.
A telescopic front fork features 41mm tubes that easily soak up bumps on well-traveled city streets. The dual rear shock absorbers with adjustable spring preload offer a smooth ride and clean look.
Brakes & Wheels
Handling the stopping duties of the W800 CAFE is a full disc brake setup featuring modern ABS. The strong and responsive stopping power comes via a large-diameter 320 mm front disc paired with a 270 mm rear disc.
To maintain the retro appearance as well as ride and feel of a true classic machine, 18” wheels were chosen for both the front and rear, contributing to the dynamic but composed handling of the W800 CAFE. The sturdy, lightweight aluminum rims are highly resistant to corrosion. The spokes and nipples are treated with a coating which allows dirt and grime to be simply wiped off. Tube-type tires offer a traditional tread pattern and plenty of traction.
The W800 CAFE features a sporty, forward-leaning riding position, which makes it ideal for a wide range of riding applications. The “M-shaped” clubman-style handlebar contributes to a slightly forward-leaning position. The riding position is optimized for both leisurely rides where comfort and visibility are a priority, and yet still allows a natural forward lean when riding at highway speeds. The W800 CAFE also features a stylish two-person cafe seat designed for comfort and sporty good looks. For increased rider comfort, the W800 CAFE has been equipped with a five-position adjustable clutch lever and four position adjustable front brake lever to enable riders to fine-tune lever position.
The visual impact from a striking vertical twin engine, classic proportions with large-diameter wheels and a meticulous attention to detail give the W800 CAFE an authentic quality and timeless beauty difficult to find on modern motorcycles.
The chassis of the W800 CAFE follows the design concept of simplicity, functionality, and elegance. Large diameter, spoked wheels and a traditional steel double-cradle frame create a well-balanced package with classic proportions. The stunning contours of the fuel tank make it another point of focus as well as key styling element.
At the front end of the W800 CAFE, a cafe-racer-image front cowl contributes to the classic retro theme of the motorcycle. A blend of retro and modern designs, the W800 CAFE is equipped with a large 170 mm LED headlamp that casts a bright, white light. It features six chambers, four for low beam, and two additional for high beam. Position lamps in the high-beam chambers ensure the whole lamp appears lit, like a retro-style bulb headlamp. Even the smallest details down to the convex lens and chromed headlamp ring were chosen for their high-quality, classic appearance . The front fork uses rubber gaiters to protect the fork tubes and ensure long fork seal life while adding to the retro appearance and styling. Compact turn signals add a custom touch straight from the factory. The black engine and wheels of the W800 CAFE are complemented by the clean, simple lines of the front and rear fenders and contribute to the retro appearance of the bike. The rear fender has an easily removable modular design that makes it easy for riders to customize.
The W800 CAFE is equipped with traditional instrumentation, which includes an individual speedometer and tachometer with classic display. A multi-function LCD screen incorporates an odometer, trip meter, and clock. A full range of indicator lamps include: FI warning lamp, dual turn signal indicators, low fuel level indicator, high beam indicator, neutral indicator, and oil pressure warning lamp. Compact switchgear, designed to add a vintage touch, gives the handlebars a light, uncluttered appearance, but beneath the retro-styled exterior, modern internals ensure the reliable performance of the W800 CAFE.
A number of Kawasaki Genuine Accessories (KGA) will allow riders to personalize the looks of their W800 CAFE or offer added comfort or convenience. Those include chrome trim pieces and engine guards, passenger grab rail, luggage rack, grip heaters, helmet lock, and ERGO-FIT™ reduced reach seat.
The 2019 Kawasaki W800 CAFE is available in Metallic Magnesium Gray / Galaxy Silver.
W800 CAFE: $9,799