Kawasaki W800 Cafe...yes or no?

Discussion in 'Road Warriors' started by John E, May 14, 2021.

  1. John E

    John E Long timer

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    Debating purchasing my first brand new bike since my 2001 Concours.

    Really struck by the newish Cafe styled Kawi.

    Local dealer has a brand new 2019 on the floor and a dealer in CA has one as well.

    Anyone have one? Thoughts?

    Just want something for local weekend rides.

    Thanks.
    #1
  2. LuciferMutt

    LuciferMutt Rides slow bike slow

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    Big thread here: https://advrider.com/f/threads/return-of-the-kawasaki-w800-cafe-version.1349190/
    And the even bigger regular W800 thread: https://advrider.com/f/threads/kawasaki-w800.614615/

    I bought a 2019 Cafe last october, and am nearing 3500 miles.. A lot of people don't like the Cafe styling and colors, but they really grew on me and I love them now. What's hilarious is that there is written record of this change of heart occurring for me in the first thread I linked, where my early posts were making fun of the bike and color, and then, slowly coming around and culminating in me actually buying one. It is a motorcycle that looks infinitely better in person than photographs.

    I strongly recommend a test ride, if possible, to anybody considering a W800. They do not ride like modern bikes. If you are looking for a bike that only looks retro, you are barking up the wrong tree. Everything about the W800 is retro, except for the reliability and build quality, which are stellar.

    If you want modern performance, brakes, and handling but you want the retro look, you need a Triumph. If you are looking for that genuinely classic motorcycle experience without the maintenance and reliability headaches, then the W800 is worth a look.
    #2
  3. John E

    John E Long timer

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    Yeah, dumbass that I am I didn’t find those threads until after I posted.

    Thanks for the input. I’ve never bought into the latest and greatest when it comes to motorcycles. I’m looking for something pretty much as you described. Classic looks and reliability. Every review I’ve read agrees with your description.

    Just waiting for on an out the door price from 2 different dealers to come in.
    #3
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  4. Subito

    Subito Been here awhile

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    Leftover new CB1100 would also be a tempting choice...

    Oops, never mind, Cycle Trader is showing zero news ones left on the market.
    #4
  5. LuciferMutt

    LuciferMutt Rides slow bike slow

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    I noticed you're also in NM. I've never seen another W800 on the road, much less a Cafe. Good luck with the possible purchase.
    #5
  6. ddavidv

    ddavidv The reason we can't have nice things

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    For the money, I'd get a Royal Enfield twin if I were buying new.
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  7. LuciferMutt

    LuciferMutt Rides slow bike slow

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    And we do have a dealer in NM now, so it's certainly worth a look. I missed the boat on that by literally a few months when I bought my W.
    #7
  8. rider33

    rider33 Long timer

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    "If you want modern performance, brakes, and handling but you want the retro look, you need a Triumph. If you are looking for that genuinely classic motorcycle experience without the maintenance and reliability headaches, then the W800 is worth a look."

    that is perhaps the best basic summary of what the W's are that I've seen, 'nicely done. It's not a retro looking bike, as Egan said in a comparison of the W650 to the then new Bonnie relaunch, the W is the better Bonnie impersonator & Peter knows his way around classic brit bikes. The Enfield 650's have that as well but the build quality on the W's I think are a few notch's higher.
    #8
  9. Skidmarkart

    Skidmarkart Dirty Middle Age Man Supporter

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    I like it.

    I love my CB1100 and it's got the same "It doesn't look retro, it is retro!" thing going for it. There really is something to the riding a slow bike fast thing. I routinely push my CB1100 to the limits of its suspension, braking, power... and I am not going all that fast. When I had a ZX12R, winding out second gear would put you into triple-digit speeds. I've owned several high-performance bikes, and they are fun, but damn near useless if you do not want to break the law (very much). What I like about this type of bike, in general, is that you can really take it to the limits of its performance at a rational speed. It makes for a more fun ride IMHO. I never thought I'd keep my CB1100 for very long, it was dirt cheap, and a new Honda, so I thought I would ride it for a year or so, then sell it and move on. That was five years ago. I just like the bike, it's not fast, it doesn't handle particularly well, the technology is ancient, but it is great fun to ride. That big-ass heavy motor and antiquated suspension has me holding on for dear life while my friends on their more modern bikes are snoozing along, sleep walking through their ride because their bikes are capable of so much more speed, but they cannot use it.

    I think one of these W800 Cafes would be great fun in the same way. Yes, it's an ancient platform, and no it doesn't match modern performance standards, but IMHO that's much more of an asset than a caveat. You'll be having much more fun than your friends on the same ride. That said, if you do go with one of these retro bikes, be careful keeping up with your hommies on modern bikes. I've gotten myself into situations that my CB1100 just wasn't meant to handle while riding with other riders on modern bikes. The last of these ended up my me getting the whole bike 100% airborne at about 65mph, 100% unintentionally. That was not fun, in fact, it scared the s**t out of me. So, just know what you are getting when you buy.
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  10. John E

    John E Long timer

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    I don’t typically ride with other people any more and I got over the need to try and keep up when I did over 20 years ago...but I take your points.

    I’ve done my best to remove my ego from my riding decisions.

    I want something to cruise around on that isn’t one of my BMW’s or my DR 650, the W800 looks like it’ll be fun to do that with. Going to look at one today.
    #10
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  11. markk53

    markk53 jack of all trades... Super Supporter

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    There ya go! Do what you want! I liked the video, very honest and straight forward.
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  12. Bobbrecken

    Bobbrecken Been here awhile

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    I bought a left over 2019 and it is exactly what I was looking for. Not much power but bags of torque, quiet and relaxed riding. I am too old for the cafe bars so I put on a set of adjustable Laverda Jota bars that let me sit back on the saddle and took off the useless fairing and installed a small flyscreen on the headlight. Kawasaki doesn’t make a centre stand anymore which is a big drawback but I have a Harbor Freight motorcycle lift for chain maintenance.
    I am very happy with my choice.
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  13. LuciferMutt

    LuciferMutt Rides slow bike slow

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    The center stand from the standard W800 is a direct bolt on with a minor modification to the "heel guard" wires over the exhaust on the shifter side. You'll need the center stand, the center stand spring, the rubber damper on the exhaust cross over, two center stand bolts, and two center stand bolt nuts. Check the parts fiche for a 2020+ standard W800 for the parts.
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  14. Bobbrecken

    Bobbrecken Been here awhile

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    I asked Kawasaki Canada about it and they said there wasn’t one and the older 2016 stands didn’t fit. It probably is the stupid toe guard kso I will look closer. Thanks, Bob.
    #14