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Z900 observations


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ok, let's call this a rant. 
man, us Yam owners sure dodged unnecessary aggravation vis a viz the Z900. The world-wide recall resulting from bloody obvious undersizing of the rear suspension tabs aside, the engine mounting tabs are incredibly thin as well and numerous. And guess what, the 'ear' around the bolt (in the direction of tension) is only about 5mm - the same problem that led to the recall. The frame gussets are just ugly as sin and it's one giant thin-metal weld everything job. I am going to be blunt - this frame was clearly designed and built by a 3rd world country - like in some half-assed back-ally garage which only had 3 gauges of sheet metal to work with. I was tempted to buy one - I've owned Kwaks in the past but this one Never!
Such niceties like not having to take the whole bloody gas tank off to get to the shock mount bolt... At least yam put a flange on the tab so it would keep the bolt head from turning. Not so Kaw - you have to fish a 14mm wrench in there to hold it still. Taking the gas tank off requires a bracket to come out first because it's shrouding the gas tank bolts. etc etc. And Kaw of old had zerk fittings at all grease spots. Not anymore.
The bracket holding the front caliper hoses is riveted to the fender, and is made of such thick and stout metal you could hang 50 lbs (100?) from it and it would barely notice. True it was cold but since the bracket is so blasted stiff just trying to get the brake hose out I shattered the damn fender. Why on God's green earth would they think this was a good idea when from as far back as I can remember people have used pliable PLASTIC (ratchet rings) for this job?
The suspension - yikes, I have to create a special tool just to change the spring in the left leg! There is no cartridge bolt nor the hole for one. Which means NO aftermarket company can install a cartridge like they do on every other bike ever made. The main spirng is in the bottom, a push rod sits on top, the top out spring next, and then a cap is screwed into the top of the inner tube. To get the cap off I have to make a 18MM hollow HEX key driver to reach the RECESSED hex. Could they have used any number of other more friendly designs? Of course! You know like putting the hex proud of the cap so you could use a standard wrench/socket, or even an Ohlins-style plain disk with holes for a pin wrench. Or maybe even a notched disk much like everyone has on the shock preload rings that a hook wrench (or ER32 wrench) to spin it off.
The left leg literally has nothing in it except the spring and a crap ton of fork oil (almost 500ml) for what?
The right leg looks very similar to the one on the FZ bikes except that it's shorter and the fluid-lock is considerably harder to remove.
The right leg's adjustable cap has no external reference for preload (nearly 30mm worth) so you're going to have to count turns. Fun!
Somebody in the commercial space might try to make the left leg useful but it's going to be pointlessly difficult. Kaw/KYB went out of their way to make it as cheap-sh#t as they could, with no easy retrofit or way forward. At least Yamaha had the good sense to put 90% of a cartridge in their left leg so it looked just like it's counterpart. If you need springs folks will just swap out the one on the right leg.
I can replace the pistons and valving and make it work better - even add compression adjustment. I suspect the commercials will only tackle the right leg and leave the left in it's sorry state. About the only work-around I can think of is the same trick Andreani did for the KTM R390. They made a foot for the cartridge and you had to remove the caliper/axle block from the stanchion, insert the assembly and screw the axle block on to hold it. That'll easily raise the labor charge for installs since needing to heat the bejessus out of the axle block (if the KTM was anything to go by) and special long-reach tools to service the cartridge any time in the future.
Kaw *really* screwed the pooch on this one.
some pics.
or https://tinyurl.com/yb5uajza
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Guest kernowjim
Kawasaki are really nothing special, they are similar to Suzuki in my opinion, low quality and mostly budget constructed.  However, they are trying to market themselves as 'premium' at least that's the case in the UK and Europe.  The price of the new Z900RS gets me, £10,200 here in the UK, it's an £8500 bike at best!
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Kaw used to be 'an engineer's bike' in the sense that you could tell a real-world, practical engineer was designing things. This one looks like it came from Garage's R'Us.
I haven't gotten up close and personal with the RS but not only does it have radial calipers and proper cartridges in both legs, I wonder if the frame hasn't been redone.
I think somewhere around 2010 Kaw lost the plot.
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I've never been much of a Kawi fan. Had an 09 Ninja 650. Roommate had an 06 650, other roommate had the "old man" Ninja 1000. Rode all of them quite a bit. Helped them work on all of them. Hated every second working on those things.

'15 FJ09

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  • 4 months later...
As a former FJ-09 owner and current Z900 owner I feel I can comment on this thread... Yes, as with a lot of major bikes (cam chain tensioner anyone?) the Z900 had a recall on the rear shock absorber mount. It's unfortunate, but these things happen. It was a 30 minute fix and naturally Kawasaki paid for the repair. I also haven't needed to update the suspension and since it's built to a budget it may be a pain to do.
After putting over 3000 miles on both the FJ09 and Z900 I can provide a couple riding observations;
First, the fueling is light years better than the FJ09, the Z900 doesn't have TC and different power modes and honestly it doesn't need them. Power is smooth and linear and more refined than the triple (IMO). I really like the triple, it has more of a hooligan feel if you're into that sort of thing, but after awhile I was ready for something a little more evolved.
The stock Z900 suspension may be built to a budget, but the ride and handling is still a big improvement over the FJ09 (t least for me).
There's not as much leg room on the Z900, but I added the Kawasaki raised seat (I'm about 5'11") and it's fine for me. In fact I've done 200 mile days on the Z900 and felt great afterwards, but for whatever reason after about an hour on the FJ I was about done having fun.
I've added a PUIG touring windscreen and the wind buffeting and noise are light years better than the FJ. Honestly, I'm surprised any manufacturer could release a bike that had that much noise and buffeting as the FJ does with the standard screen.
I don't think you could call either bike attractive, but I do think the Z900 may have a slight advantage there. The Z900 also has a more quality feel and much more refined ride (IMO). Sorry, but I just always felt the switchgear (handguards) and instrumentation always kind of felt cheap to me on the FJ.
The FJ may be easier for certain services, but pulling the tank is an absolute nightmare. I will say I loved having the center stand on the FJ though...
I'm actually a big Yamaha fan and I'd have to say that Yamaha and Kawasaki are probably my 2 favorite manufacturers. No bike is perfect and they all have their limitations, but for me and the kind of riding I do the Z900 was a big upgrade from the FJ. 
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