The W800 test drive: Retro delight from Kawasaki

The name Kawasaki instantly reminds one of the Ninja series with sporty design and the signature green colour. The touring and motocross models too come to mind. But nobody expects a Kawasaki in the cruiser category. That is mainly because Kawasaki has the image of a sports bike manufacturer in the Indian market. However, Kawasaki is attempting to try its luck in the cruiser segment with the W800.

The 2020 Kawasaki W800 is a throwback to the W1 of the past. Not just Kawasaki, even Honda has entered this segment. Will the W800 make an impact in the segment that is ruled by Royal Enfield, Indian and Triumph? Here is the test drive report.

Simple design

Kawasaki has kept the design simple for the W800. The fuel tank and other body parts are authentically retro. The fit and finish are good. The full-LED headlamp unit is chrome finished. And here ends anything that can be said modern about the design. The retro elements include chrome wire-spoke wheels, tube tyres and the basic fork and rear suspension.

The large fuel tank is teardrop-shaped and features sleek decals with the embossed Kawasaki 'W' badge covered in chrome. The seat is single piece and has stripes. The side panels have a flowing design. The rear fender sticks out with the tail lamps on it. The vintage dual exhaust outlets are finished in chrome.

The W800 has little or no fibre parts; all the body parts are in metal. The twin-pod instrument console is truly vintage. The only modern touch in it is the small digital meter. The handlebar is wide and holds the awkward looking mounts to fix the number plate. There is no sign of any luxury and what you get is an elegant and minimal design.

Double hearted

The retro elements of the W800 can be seen in the engine too. The old-school 773cc air-cooled vertical twin engine retains the vintage feel. It has a long stroke but the higher displacement does not translate into any remarkable power and torque output. The peak power of the engine is rated at 52 ps and torque at 62.9 Nm.

Unlike sports bikes, it does not offer outright performance but has enough grunt for the real world. The engine is smooth, and the thrummy and distinct sound at idle itself is enough to make an enthusiast go crazy. Even a mild accelerator input will show the true colours of the twin cylinders.

The W800 has a manageable seat height of 770 mm. It has a fully upright seating position and offers excellent ride comfort. The five-speed gearbox features an assist and slipper clutch. The gears are smooth as butter.

The W800 is built around a double-cradle, high-tensile steel frame. It offers good high-speed and cornering stability. Though the low ground clearance of 130 mm could be a concern, it is enough to clear most speed breakers. The seat is ideal for long rides and comfortably accommodates two persons. The safety department includes disc brakes on both wheels and dual-channel ABS.

Final lap

If you are looking for a pure retro classic bike and not just retro looks, go for the Kawasaki W800.

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