2019 Kawasaki W800 Cafe Review and Test Ride: The Ultimate Cafe Racer?

Written by The Duke of DC.
Written by The Duke of DC.
 
 

Overview of 2019 Kawasaki W800 Cafe Test Ride:
The Cafe Racer is a Time Machine

 
Gone are the days of yesteryear… or so I thought.
 
See, the 2019 Kawasaki W800 Cafe is more than a motorcycle, it’s a time machine. When you look at a retro-mod bike, the most important factor is, well, that it is actually retro. Does the bike pay tribute to its legacy? Could you ride around in 1965 without turning a head or being questioned by the authorities for harboring futuristic tech? With the Kawasaki W800 Cafe, the answer across the board is yes. Kawasaki has more than paid tribute to the 1966 W1, of which this bike is based on, they’ve created a living legacy.
 
Watch me take the W800 Cafe for a Test Ride:
 

 

2019 Kawasaki W800 Cafe Engine, Horsepower, and Top Speed

With a 773cc 4-stroke, SOHC, 8 valve, air-cooled vertical twin, the W800 produces 46 lb-ft of torque at 4,800 rpm and 46.2 horsepower at 6,200 rpm. Keep in mind, this motorcycle has been everywhere except the United States over the last few years, so that horsepower figure coming in just below 47hp makes this an A2 compliant bike in the UK. All this power gets you up to a top speed of 110 miles per hour, and unlike its 1960’s predecessor, you’ll use it. That being said, you’ll also be able to cruise perfectly at 70 mph.
 
I can’t begin to express how great the throttle response is on this bike. Power delivery was smooth and crescendos at around 4500 rpm when the 46 lb-ft of torque really come on. The power delivery of the Kawasaki W800 Cafe was very similar to the 2019 Yamaha MT-07 that I recently road (read more about the MT-07 bike here)
 

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What is the price of the 2019 Kawasaki W800 Cafe?

The 2019 Kawasaki W800 Cafe Racer has an MSRP of $9,799, almost $2,000 less expensive than its Italian competitor, the Ducati Scrambler Cafe Racer. This bike is not a top seller, so it could be challenging to find at local dealerships. There are only a few dealers within the GoRollick dealer network that carry the W800. You will most likely need to do some online sleuthing to find this bike. Use GoRollick’s upfront, transparent price as an example when you’re ready to buy. And if you need to finance the W800, you should read the definitive guide to motorcycle financing to learn all the tips and tricks to get the best deal possible.
 

2019 Kawasaki W800 Cafe Specs, Tech, and Features

As an homage to its former glory, the 2019 W800 Cafe sticks to its roots with analogue tac and speedometers, retro instrument lighting, a two-tone stitched seat, clubman style-drop handlebars, and bevel drive. The ladder of which running the cams in place of traditional, modern chain drive. A feature of the W800 Cafe that stands out more than most is the sound. That air-cooled twin produces a deep, strong note through the twin low slung exhausts. The perfect melody for your ride.
 
My only gripe throughout the review was the placement of the kickstand, or perhaps more appropriately the material used. When up, you’ll be hard pressed to differentiate it from the metal framing under the motorcycle. Small thing, but something a rider would get used to with a few uses. A huge benefit to this bike is the addition of a slipper clutch, making downshifts during spirited riding as smooth as butter.
 

2019 Kawasaki W800 Cafe Seat Height, Chassis, Weight, and Gas Mileage

That magnificent engine is propelling a 490 wet weight held together with Kawasaki’s new double-cradle high-tensile steel frame. This translated to a smooth riding experience with minimal, but expected, vibration from the twin cylinder. Suspension consists of non-adjustable 41mm fork, with 5.1 inches of travel in the front, and spring-preload adjustable shock, with 4.2 inches of travel in the rear. Regardless of its cafe racer heritage, the W800 Cafe is very comfortable to ride, even with regards to the lack of wind protection.
 
The foot pegs are high enough for a few faster, leaned bends, and the handlebars are within comfortable reach, with minimum weight on wrists. When stopped, you’ll have no problem getting your feet down on this 31.1-inch seat height, and if you’re in a lane-splitting state, the 32.5-inch overall width shouldn’t be a problem either. With a 4-gallon gas tank and mileage varying around the 50mpg mark, you’ll never be the first to need a fill-up. Unlike your buddies on Ducati Panigale V4R’s, where you’ll become a frequent filler.
 

Final Say

The Kawasaki W800 Cafe takes a page from the history books and doesn’t try to alter its future, rather take what’s been learned and improves upon its legacy. With over 50 years of motorcycling improvements, the W800 Cafe shines as a true tribute and a really fantastic example of what a retro-mod bike should be. You can tear through back country roads, roll to your next bikes & breakfast, or hit the interstate on a Monday morning and start the week off right. It’ll never leave you wanting for anything but another go.
 

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About the Duke of DC

You know, my father tells me that one of my first words was “carburetor” and after my 8th car and 5th motorcycle in my relatively short time on this earth, I’m starting to believe him. I’ve been riding motorcycles since I was 15 years old, and when I started DukeOfDC it was during a really difficult time in my life. I’m just an average Joe that loves anything on two wheels and wants to share that passion with the world. Check out my YouTube channel and follow me on Twitter.

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