Retro Classic Motorcycles – Has the Kawasaki W800 Stolen the Market?

For 20 years or more motorcycle manufacturers have been trying to recreate the magic of old classic motorcycles and with it a hopeful market for the rider who is perhaps seeking the classic look and riding experience, but without the notorious mechanical failures that often beset the real old bikes and somewhat tainted many a riders’ enjoyment of two wheels.

Triumph first started this trend by rebuilding their Bonneville and Trident range from the 1960′s. They had some success with this venture with worldwide sales outselling many modern models from the biggest bike builders. However the Japanese big four jumped of the retro bandwagon and started making their own takes on the classics, together with developing the more custom looking bikes. During the last 7 years most manufacturers have been building a wide cross section of bikes styles including many British styles classics.

Kawasaki developed the W series in 1969 at a time when the original classics were being built the first time round. It was closely modeled on the BSA A7 500cc and the engine and frame configuration clearly showed. They later developed the machine during the 1980′s into the W650 to compete with the Yamaha XS650 another British twin clone bike. In the end it was excess emissions that killed this classic bike which was well loved within the classic bike circles. In 2010 Kawasaki revealed the bike was back with an 800 fuel injection engine, but most other aspects of this latest bike is almost identical to the 650 older brother.

The bike press has universally loved the new W800 and placed it above the Bonneville and the Ducati V7 which is another modern version of an original machine from the 60′s. It’s success appears to be in the quality of build. Everything about this bike is realistic to the classic bikes of yesteryear. Where chrome should be it is, not plastic. The paint is a high quality two tone paint. The engine is finished in polished alloy and the frame is traditional gloss black to a high standard. The wheel rims are allow instead of cheaper chrome which the Ducati V7 and the Triumph opts for. The tyres are replica Dunlop TT100 which featured on many British twin bikes of the 60′s and 70′s. Everything about this bike is old style quality. No short cuts have been made or compromises put in place to cut cost.

The performance of this bike is very 1960′s and certainly will not be making waves with those who like to race their normal routes, however it goes plenty fast enough for most riders who favor the older bike. Ridden normally the W800 will return 55mpg with a fairly short tank range of 170 miles.

The W800 handles like the best of bikes from any of the big four ever came came up with. Kawasaki have tried to break no boundaries here, but have produced something very special indeed. Many would argue that this bike is so good that retro may not be able to get any better. Anybody in the market for this machine should test ride this machine before committing to any other classic.

More information can be found on The Kawasaki is a modern classic which may well be the best retro motorcycle ever produced. If it is who can ever beat it? If no manufacturer can could the market be beaten.

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