MotorcyclesKawasaki Prepping New W800 Model For 2020
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You can get these retro styles fresh from the factory. Whether you’re a purist, casual admirer, or serious buyer looking at the wide range of current production cafe-racer offerings, you’d have to admit this current collection is pretty damn cool. Snobs may turn their noses up at these factory-produced bikes looking to capture retro aesthetics, but that’s their prerogative. We, on the other hand, absolutely love seeing brands looking to experiment with the boundaries of what the cafe genre is capable of, not just where it’s been.
When it redesigned the Bonneville-rivalling W800 for 2019, some might think Kawasaki threw the baby out with the bathwater because while both the blacked-out, not-for-the-US W800 Street and the racier W800 Café both have their own brand of retro-style appeal, neither model bears the truly authentic 1960s styling that had been a hallmark of Kawasaki's W-series since the W650 first joined the range 20 years ago.
Now Kawasaki is preparing to address that issue, adding a third version of the W800 to its range in 2020 that will closely ape the classic style of its predecessors.
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In case you’ve forgotten, the 1999–2007 W650, which later evolved into the original W800 that ran from 2011–2016, was an out-and-out homage to the original 1966 W1. That bike was actually a distant relative of the BSA A-7, via a licencing deal to Kawasaki-owned brand Meguro in the early ’50s. And in an era when “heritage” bikes are an increasingly important segment of the market, that’s a history Kawasaki doesn’t want to turn its back on.
Thanks to some leaked type-approval paperwork from Europe, we know the third version of the W800 goes under the internal name “W800 D1”—which makes sense, as the 2019–on W800 Street is internally known as the “W800 B1” and the W800 Café is the “W800 C1.” Dimensions of the new W800 D1 are revealed on the paperwork we’ve seen. They show it’s fractionally longer than Street and Café models at 2,190mm (86.22 inches) compared to 2,135mm (84.05 inches), but shares the same 1,465mm (57.67 inches) wheelbase. It’s also lower than both the Street and Café at 1,075mm (42.32 inches), and narrower with an across-the-bars measurement of 790mm (31.1inches).
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It didn’t take long to work out that those measurements perfectly match the numbers for the last-generation W800. Its extra length came from a 19-inch front wheel, replaced by an 18-incher on the Street and Café models, while its bars were lower and narrower. Given that the old bike was evicted from the European market because it couldn’t hit emissions limits and lacked the legally required ABS brakes for that market, it’s clear that the new version joining the range in 2020 will effectively revive the old W800’s style while featuring the revised engine, chassis, and running gear of the latest model.
That means it will get a rear disc instead of a drum, ABS at both ends and the same modified frame design as the Street and Café. The documents revealed it has the same emissions-compliant, 47 hp version of the 773cc parallel twin.
Further evidence of the new model comes from US emissions documents filed with the California Air Resources Board (CARB). For the 2019 model year, those documents showed two versions of the W800 were certified for sale in that state, using the model codes “EJ800BK” (reflecting the W800 “B1” Street model) and “EJ800CK” (equivalent to the W800 “C1” Café). The equivalent document for the 2020 model range again shows just two models, but this time they are the “EJ800CL” and “EJ800DL.” The change from “K” to “L” simply reflects the model year, but the addition of a “D” model is surely an indication that the US market will adopt the same W800 “D1” that’s coming to the European market in place of the “B1” Street version, which actually never appeared in US dealers despite being certified for sale as a 2019 model.
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In terms of appearance, we can be pretty certain that as well as the low, narrow bars and the 19-inch front wheel, the new W800 variant will get the longer, chrome fenders that were a key styling cue of the previous-generation W800 and W650, as well as chrome tank badges and rubber knee pads, a plusher seat, and more luxurious look, probably including a part-chromed or two-tone tank.
We know that it’s a few kilograms heavier than its siblings, with the European documents listing the D1 as weighing 226 kilograms (498 pounds) wet, compared to 223 kilograms (492 pounds) for the Café and 221 kilograms (487 pounds) for the Street.
As usual, all will be officially revealed later in the year when Kawasaki confirms its 2020 model range.
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