Kawasaki will launch the 2019 W800 in India in the coming months. While the retro motorcycle was previously on the cards for India in 2016, it was discontinued internationally in the same year since it didn’t meet Euro-IV emission regulations. However, Kawasaki unveiled a heavily updated version of the bike at EICMA 2018 and this is the model that will make its way to our shores in the coming months.
The Kawasaki W800 is a successor the brand’s W series motorcycles that were clones of British vertical-twin standard motorcycles, like BSAs. Now, while you can’t go out and buy a brand-new vertical-twin BSA, you will soon be able to buy a W800 in India. A vertical-twin is essentially a parallel-twin with a different firing order, the crank is 360 degrees (which means both pistons rise and fall together), instead of the traditional 180 degrees ( where one piston goes up, the other down) or more the contemporary 270 degrees (seen on the current Triumph modern classics and the Royal Enfield 650 Twins). The different firing order doesn’t only give the motorcycle a unique sound, but also, as Kawasaki claims, ‘a strong low-mid range torque character’.
Additionally, the bike also uses an old-school bevel gear cam drive, which is a set of gears with curved teeth on the crankshaft that turn a propeller shaft running vertically up the right side of the cylinder. This propeller then meets another set bevel (curved) gears which connect to the camshaft. The system was famously used in older Ducatis and will give the W800 a unique identity in the retro bike space, although, these systems are known to produce a fair amount of heat.
The vertical-twin motor in the W800 is a 773cc, air-cooled, fuel-injected, SOHC unit that makes 47.5hp at 6,500rpm and 62.9Nm of torque at 4,800rpm. This one-of-a-kind engine in today’s age comes paired to a 5-speed gearbox. Now, while the specifications may appear underwhelming, one has to understand that this is what the company calls a ‘true’ classic and not just a retro-styled bike with a modern powertrain like in one of the company’s other offerings, the Z900RS.
Prominent styling cues include minimalistic front and rear fenders, with the latter not curving downwards, like you would generally associate with a classic motorcycle. The single seat unit remains flat for the pillion and curves downwards for the rider. The shape of the tank is oval, just like you would expect from a motorcycle of this genre. Interestingly, the updated 2018 onwards model has ditched all of chrome bits for blacked-out bits. The twin-pod instrument cluster on the W800 doesn’t display much, aside from a rev counter and speedometer. It also misses out on a fuel gauge and makes do with a reserve fuel light.
That said, the W800 does feature some modern-day features. The headlight on the bike is an LED unit. It also gets a slipper clutch and the large 320mm front disc and 270mm rear disc come equipped with ABS. Suspension on the bike is taken care of by a 41mm telescopic fork and twin shock absorbers. The wheels, meanwhile, measure 18 inches at both ends.
The W800 is sold in two variants in international markets – Street and Café; the latter features a café racer-esque cowl around the headlight and a sportier seat. It is safe to assume that Kawasaki will enter the classic twin-cylinder segment in India with the Street. The Café is a handsome machine and, if it does bring it here, it will give the W800 some much needed uniqueness in a space where the Royal Enfield Twins offer unbeatable pricing.
The W800 is manufactured in Thailand and will come to India as a CKD. Competition to the W800 comes from the Triumph Street Twin and the Royal Enfield 650 models. A price tag around the Rs 6.5-7 lakh mark is fair to expect, putting the W800 a good deal above the Kawasaki Vulcan S, which costs Rs 5.48 lakh. However, the W800 will sit well below the new Triumph Street Twin, which is expected to be launched in India soon at around Rs 8 lakh, and much higher than the RE Twins that begin at Rs 2.5 lakh.
It is worth considering that Kawasaki has pulled off very competitive pricing in the recent past for a few of its models, and given the pressure of competing with the new Royal Enfields, we may just see Kawasaki give the W800 a rather aggressive pricing, possibly closer to the Rs 6 lakh mark or perhaps even lower. We expect to see the bike go on sale in the coming months, between now and August 2018.
All prices, ex-showroom, Delhi.