The underpowered W650 was a flop in the US. The W800 never truly caught fire before being axed in 2016.
So why has Kawasaki created the W800 Café? Two reasons seem to stand out. One is the continuing growth in the popularity of retro machines here. The other is the success of its other retro bike, the Z900RS.
The W800 Café is a callback to the original W1, made by Kawaski in 1966 to take on the Norton Atlas and the Triumph Bonneville.
Mechanically and visually, it’s staying in the tradition of the W line that’s sporadically disappeared and reappeared ever since.
Visually, it has a bikini café fairing, a LED headlight with a chrome surround, 18-inch wire spoke wheels, and rubber gaiters on the 41mm front fork.
The instrument cluster is easy-to-read, big old separate dials for speedo and tach.
Mechanically, the W800 Café keeps the torque-centric focus of its predecessors, something that made the W650 particularly popular in Europe as a commuter bike.
The lump is an undersquare 773cc air-cooled, vertical parallel-twin with bore-and-stroke dimensions of 77.0 x 83.0mm. It retains the bevel gear cam drive and the SOHC four-valve-per-head design, with the delightfully retro cylinder-head bevel cover standing out in shiny aluminum against the otherwise blacked-out engine.
The five speed gearbox has an assist and slipper clutch. The twin pea-shooters mufflers are supposedly tuned to extract a throaty pitch from the vertical twin.
It has a double cradle steel frame, and Kawasaki say the tubes have been computer-modeled for stiffness.
ABS-braking is supplied by a single disc front( 320mm) and back (270mm.)
2019 Kawasaki W800 Café comes with a decidedly un-retro price. It’ll cost $9,799 with a $370 destination charge in the US, which puts it over the ten-grand mark. Just one color scheme, too: Metallic Magnesium Gray/Galaxy Silver.
We’ll have to see if a five-figure hit scares away buyers. Based on their success with the similarly-priced Z900RS, Kawasaki are betting that it won’t.