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6 December 2017 -

Even since the short time ago that the Z900RS was launched at the 2017 Tokyo Motor Show, the white heat of interest in Kawasaki’s definitive Retro Sport classic has been incredible. Matching just a few weeks of worldwide interest to over 40 years of Z heritage a re-energising of the Z legend has begun along with demand for more news and information.
EICMA in Italy answered one question: “Will there be a second machine in the RS line for 2018?”. The Z900RS Cafe indicated well how broad the RS concept could be, how imaginations could be stimulated to think wider, further and “beyond”.

Making that lateral thought tangible, Kawasaki commissioned three leading Japanese style houses to create their own “re-imagination” of the Z900RS. With unique access to pre-production models and a chance to converse with factory staff, Bito R&D, Moto Corse and Doremi Collection each returned to their workshops determined to create alternative custom models, the sort of personalisation that started with the 1972 Super Four model Z1 and has continued ever since.

BITO R&D of Toyooka, Hyogo province is driven by Jo Bito, world famous tuner and recognised universally for such definitive products as JB Magtan wheels. His first impressions of the Z900RS were that; “It’s a beautiful bike that conveys its Kawasaki-ness everywhere. Even though it’s liquid-cooled, the engine has fins carved into it; the tank has a rugged presence; the suspension and brakes are good quality, and the bike handles well. You can really sense the heritage of the Z1,”.

Of course, there will always be customers who feel that in stock form the bike is missing something. Bito-san, a master craftsman who knows the original Z1 series inside and out, built his Z900RS custom as if he was his own client. Adding his signature Magtan wheels Bito-san also crafted many other parts – some easy to spot, others more subtle to create his vision of what a customer might create using the Z900RS as a base.

A true fan of Kawasaki, Jo Bito has created a stunning and thought provoking machine that will set minds and hearts racing.

For Moto Corse the direction differed. As the leading specialists in Japan for Italian machines one would at first think their task to be the hardest. Not the case as Shin Kondo of Moto Corse not only owned a 1972 750 Mach IV H2 but admits to being seduced early on by the Japanese market Z2 version of the legendary Z1.

“Riding down the Nishi-Meihan Expressway, I fell in love with the refined feeling of the 4-stroke In-Line Four, and the note from the collector-equipped exhaust. On that ride we happened upon some other Z riders. The bikes looked great in action. Ever since I started this work, I’ve always wanted to work on a Z and see how it would turn out.”

The result is a distinctive machine that whispers exclusivity rather than shouts about its many subtle changes. Carbon abounds while seemingly simple changes have been painstakingly undertaken with perfection in mind; one such being the chrome pin-striping to the fuel tank. Add touches like the quilted seat and numerous dry carbon replacement parts and the Moto Corse Z900RS takes its place in the trio of machines understated and essentially elegant.

Doremi Collection were thinking more of racing functionally than elegance  in creating their Z900RS, the third and final of these amazing examples of what is possible when the creativity of leading motorcycle customiser is unleashed.

At a glance their machine is a faithful reimagining of the famous Yoshimura Z1 raced by Wes Cooley in the AMA Superbike series. Complete with matt black four into four exhausts like the Cooley machine, Hiroshi Take of Doremi Collection added many clever Z1 references such as the DOHC “ignition points cover” and chrome Z1 style direction indicators.

Take is passionate about the Z series and his deep understanding of machine modification is highly refreshing.

“We are entering the age of cosplay,” asserts Take-san. “Simply adding rear-sets and an aftermarket exhaust will not be enough to stand out. If everyone who sees it doesn’t’t think, ‘Hey, that’s different,’ then there is no point in customising your bike”.

Like Bito R&D and Moto Corse, the approach of Doremi Collection has worked on two levels. Firstly each builder has absorbed the ethos of the Z900RS and its place in the venerable Z line. Secondly they have applied their own unique approach to create three thought provoking and distinctive machines.

Perhaps these will be the starting point for others across the globe to imagine what they might do. Even it is just a dream, the desire to make a motorcycle personal is something well understood by Kawasaki fans and most especially devotees of the Z brand.

Please visit the Beyond Z web site for more details and images plus the specification of each machine.