Kawasaki introduced the retro-styled Z900 RS to much fanfare in 2018. Harking back to the original Z1, Team Green designers not only replicated the ‘70s silhouette but also lifted the iconic orange and brown colorway from the superbike of yore. Now, the brand is following in its own footsteps by releasing a new color scheme that imitates a later iteration of its 900 Super Four platform.
Launched in 1972, the first Z1 flaunted a candy orange and brown livery in the U.S. that earned the nickname “fireball” from Kawasaki enthusiasts (a second candy yellow and green colorway was available in Europe and the U.K.). Encapsulating the era with its warm hues and two-tone paint, the fireball colorway timed its return perfectly, giving Kawi an instant competitor in the hotly-contested modern-classic segment.
When the model was due for an update in 2020, Team Green dove back into the archives and emerged with a Candy Tone Green Z900 RS. Known for its graphic yellow stripes, enthusiasts coined the livery the “yellow tiger”, and Kawi carried it over into 2021. By borrowing from the Z1’s classic color palette the bike honors yesteryear while appealing to today’s customers.
The trend only continues with the 2022 Z900 RS. In predictable fashion, Kawasaki’s self-referential paint jobs persist in chronological order. While the 2018 RS copied the 1973 Z1 and the 2020 update replicated the 1974 model’s looks, the 2022 Z900 RS gets its hand-me-down color scheme from the 1975 Z1. Commonly referred to as the "blue jewel beetle", the new bike sports a Candy Tone Blue base and gold accent.
Under the newly coated tins, the Z900 RS harnesses the same liquid-cooled, 16-valve, DOHC, 948cc, engine that made it such a strong performer in the modern-classic class. Unlike its predecessors, the RS matches its sharp looks with technology like a slipper and assist clutch, ABS, and traction control. While Team Green only updated the color for the new year, the Z900 RS goes up to $11,499 in 2022, a $200 markup from the 2021 model.
While Kawi has repeatedly returned to the Z1 well for inspiration, it's worth noting that the platform was replaced by the original Z900 after the 1975 model year. With that in mind, we can’t wait to see where the brand takes the RS in the upcoming years.
Sources: Young Machine, Kawasaki, Mecum