The new Kawasaki W800… Not available in the US. What the heck is wrong with us?

Seriously? I find it hard to believe that this bike couldn’t compete with the TONS of new Bonnevilles out there… WTF Kawi?

The SE version

The Standard Version



  1. I like it too, but read a test against the triumph where they both behaved very similarly, i.e., under powered, under braked, under suspensioned, poor lighting,…. Why buy a recent motorcycle (beautiful nonetheless- I like the green) with the “character” of the old bikes, at least they could put better parts, although there is very little plastic around.

  2. Americans (and perhaps Canadians) ARE spoiled, and Kaw seems to know it. The W800 won’t compare well with the sport bikes of today, it will be underpowered and the suspension won’t measure up. For some reason Europeans don’t care about this and buy the bikes anyway. I’ve ridden the Tiger and the Bonneville, and as cool as the Bonney is, the Tiger trumped. So I sympathize with Kaw on this.

    1. in how far are americans spoiled? in europe we have good bikes too which big moorcycle brand can you buy in america and not in europe???

    2. Not every Canadian and American Kaw fan “needs” to have the fastest sports bike – that’s why we won’t ride them and keep pouring money and time into our Kaw classics (KZ650). A bike like this in Canada WOULD sell, and gain a loyal following all it’s own.

  3. Haha guys, calm down, they even sell a cooler version in here in europe, the special edition cafe style, here it is:

    it costs 9300€ and comes only in black/gold

    afaik it is aviable in japan also in a goldish coulour like old beemers and green

    But i have to say it´s pretty weak, 47hp… id rather buy an old motorcycle which has maybe even more power, costs less and i allowed to be noisy 😉

    1. Oh…that IS rather anemic.

      But Kawasaki knows how to make horse power so that should be no problem.

      Even if they do though that’s not enough machine for that money.

      1. Everyone is missing the point. The idea behind Bonneville and W800’s is the retro style not performance or power. Comparing to a sport bike is not even on the same planet or fair. You purchase these because they bring back memories of the past and the cool factor. Would you rather have a P51 mustang or a F16 ,a sixties MG or a 1990 Miata. Its all being able to relive something from the past…a classic. And if you think these cost to much , check out 1970’s Bonnies restored , they bring $15,000 all day. That is with much older tech.
        So thats my take, and from a guy in his 60’s with 50 plus bikes behind me….If I have to explain it you wouldnt understand anyway!

  4. I completely agree with Rhino. I meant the same thing, you can’t compare the two. You have to love the bike. I said the Tiger trumped in terms of performance, but I prefer the Bonney and I would love to give this Kaw a try. Sorry if I didn’t make myself clear.

    1. It’s all cool Jim!

      I have just come to the point where not many of the new bikes float my boat. Triumphs, Harley Davidson, and even Royal Infield’s are still back to the looks of what bikes are about. I am just as guilty as the next, I have had Harley’s FZ1’s dirt bikes you name it. But what it all comes down to is the ride and what you are looking for. A Harley is a Harley and a R1 is a R1 they do exactly what they were designed to do…and unless someone is a Pro. NONE of us will ever see what an R1 will really do…so how much power or CC’s do we really need.

  5. Sorry Rhino but I rode most of the bikes around in the ’50’s and ’60’s and what I WANT is a bike that looks like that but handles MILES better and RIPS!

    No way I want to replicate the experience of wobbling suspension, wooden brakes and lack of respectable power.

    If you don’t want all the performance a bike can bring then by all means, ride sedately and don’t open the throttle, but NO amount of throttle twisting will get you anything if there’s nothing in the engine!

  6. I think it´s not necessary that it has 150hp, but 70 (maybe up to 90) could it have… we´re living in 21st century

    Well I don´t know if you guys know about the w 650, it´s the same bike which was sold for a short time some years ago, it had 650cc (obviuosly) and 50hp, i´d rather buy that in a very very good condition for half the money.

    Wiki says that the w650 was not sold so much in the US and Canada, so that could be a reason for kawa not offering it over there

  7. sorry but I need to rant a little…

    It breaks my heart that there are so many people who completely do not “get” these bikes.

    Seriously… 90 HP and a bike with this sort of character (air cooled, double downtube frame basic brakes etc) are impossible to mass produce for anything approaching affordability AND safety. Not in this regulatory climate anyway. Oh you might be able to do it but it would be totally illegal from an emissions/noise standpoint and it would be be, frankly dangerous.

    But lets say you did give it a big tub of oil in the crankcase to cool it. And you upgrade the components so that it would be safe and fast and quick etc etc… do you know what that would cost?

    I do. because that bike does in fact exist.

    It’s called the 2012 Norton… but you better bring your wallet to the tune of $20,000 US and probably get on a waiting list. Most of us will dream of a bike like that and never come close so why bother. As the old saying goes, “The enemy of good is perfection”.

    EDIT for another thought: Another possibility (as has been mentioned) is that you can buy an original… or better yet, call a company like Colorado Norton Works and have them build you a one-off original cu$tom!! But again bring your $$$$$$$$ (but you HP specsheet junkies should be prepared for disappointment when it’s still not over 80HP). Or could go totally authentic!! Get yourself educated with a few thousand hours of tinkering and trial and error home engineering and build your own! It does happen! Those folks are out there! Hell I’ve posted a lot of those bikes on this blog and they deserve HUGE respect. but don’t kid yourselves… no matter how many “Cafe Racer” shows there are on TV that build the bikes in 3 episodes (or less)… It is NOT easy and it is NOT cheap.

    so now where are you? You still want a cool old looking bike with character and you don’t want a PHD from england and you want a starting point you can actually ride while you build for sane dollars that will put a grin on your face from day one. You’ll also get more attention at the gaspump than a parade of radically customized HD clones or GSXR1CBRNINJA’s…

    And… if you have patience (allow me to repeat that… IF YOU HAVE PATIENCE!!), a steady job, access to some online catalogs and you are not afraid of turning a wrench (or even learning as you go) on weekends, if you don’t mind joining a few message boards and politely asking questions to the “old salts”…. then you can truly have a one of a kind bike that goes like stink, and stops safely, gets HUGE attention and is probably magazine cover worthy, for a fraction of all the unobtanium out there.

    But sadly I think that by and large the urge to tinker is vanishing. I see it in my own neighborhood. Grown men who look at their own simple lawnmowers and are utterly lost to the most basic functions. I don’t blame them. It’s the world we live in. Break it, throw it away. It’s why we have junkyards. I mostly accept that… mostly (that rant is for some other time).

    It’s clear that many/most folks no longer want to build/significantly upgrade their bikes beyond the fundamentals that are mostly handled at the dealership… or the simplest bolt-ons. Such is life. Jetting has been abandoned for injection mapping. etc etc etc.. It IS simpler and today’s bikes are immensely “better”… I get the benefits there. I really do…

    Technically, I am wrong and modern bike owners are right.

    But dear god in heaven are they ever boring….

    I’d also wager that many of you have swallowed the horse-crap that 60 HP can’t possibly be “fun” on a road going motorcycle. Sad. I’ve been more thrilled with 45HP at 110mph than anything that ever happenned at 175 on a hyperbike. I have gone through more RD400/350s, Kawasaki H1’s and now I’ve got my motarded DR650 with all of maybe 40HP. If you don’t know how to have fun on those bikes then I can’t explain it to you. The manufacturers have won. You’ve been brainwashed into thinking that a motorcycle is the sum of the data on the magazine spec sheets.

    Second EDIT: I wrote this in a rush… I just reread it and I do realize it’s filled with poor grammar and massive contradictions in logic… sue me… I still stand by the general sentiments!


    1. I agree %100 with Steve…nice DR also I had a 350 and was a Sweep rider for many Dual Sport rides with it and had a blast.
      Smooth is fast!!

    2. It’s the holidays. 😀

      To clarify my position, I’m only talking of 70-75 hp, no V Max or Busa range necessary at all.

      THAT’S what I wanted back in the ’60’s!

      Hell, an SV 650 is a bunch of fun!

  8. So booger, go look up 1967 w650ss and get back to us on where the origins of this bike came from. and before anyone jumps the gun it was a greatly improved on bike AFTER Kawasaki got their hand on it.

  9. I have a W800 here in Australia and I can assure you Americans that even though the dyno might only say 50HP this bike has no trouble keeping up with any touring bike on a winding road.The whole point of this bike is to let the torque do all the work for you.Once your over 40MPH there is absolutely no need to change gears as maximum torque is developed at a lesuirely 2500 RPM [I kid you not] just open the throttle and the bike accelerates briskly without any chain snatch or other mechanical complaints.The secret to this bike is low weight combined with plenty of low to mid range torque.I know how exciting quick acceleration can be as I used to own a Mach IV in my youth but there is more to a bike than just dropping the clutch at the lights.I suggest that as many of you as possible contact Kawasaki and pester them until they bring them to the States I promise you won’t be disappointed.

  10. Everyone says only 47hp, hey…the Kawaskai 900 Vulcan only has 53 and I am sure it weighs a lot more, plus a parallel twin is faster than a v twin. Plus, what a cool, well made looking bike. Yup, I would be riding one now…..I will not buy another bike until a decent jap parallel twin comes here….I hate all these friggin’ knock off cruisers. Harley will always beat Jap, and Triumph never will beat Jap due to limited dealerships…

  11. jf keep the politics off here please. And in point of fact it’s nothing to do with emissions. If the bonneville is legal over here then there is no reason on earth this bike can’t be sold here. Kaw tried for a short while (with almost zero marketing) with the 650 and it languished on the sales floor with little interest. They’ve basically just given up before making any serious effort. Same witj a LOT of great bikes. Somehow KTM can sell singles by the ton buy Yamaha won’t bring the 660 Tenerre. and on it goes…

    1. I think the main problem is Kawasaki is embarrassed to admit it’s basically a very good copy of a T120 Bonneville(it even has the same bore and stroke plus 1 mm as a T140)but the bike is actually much more than that,I think if Meriden Triumph had continued to make Bonneville’s into the 21st century they would be very close to what Kawasaki has come up with.If they stopped worrying about being compared to Hinckley Triumph(they don’t even put Kawasaki on the tank)and advertised along the lines of how good a bike with low weight,good handling and lots of torque is to ride,people would buy it in the US for what it is,which is a much closer tribute to a great bike than the Hinckley Bonneville,after all the original T120 sold like hot cakes in America.

    2. It seems like if a bike isn’t a Ninja/Crotch Rocket, a Harley or Harley wanna be, it just won’t sell in the US of A! Kawi got burned here with its short lived W650 USA foray. Combine that with competing against established niche Truimph Bonneville, we in the US will be deprived of a really sweet bike, the W800.

    3. Steve, It wasn’t the W’s fault!!! very poor attempt at marketing! If they had gone after the baby boomers as a return to their youth they wouldn’t have been able to keep up with the demand!!!

  12. Actually, it started out as copy of BSA twin by Meguro Motorcycle ( that was absorbed by Kawasaki in 1964, or there about. The bike became W1, followed by W2.

    One reason that Kawasaki logo is not on the tank and have “W” on it is that every rider in their 50’s and 60’s in Japan knows W1 and W2. That was the targeted market segment, originally at least. Now a days, non-traditional “bikers” showing great interest in this type of bikes as a starting point for a unique street “statement” . Fashion / life style statement? Perhaps. The point is, folks who doesn’t care about 1/4 mile times or lap times or anything like that are picking up these types of bikes above and beyond the originally targeted market segment. I personally think its a good thing to have more folks on motorcycles.

    I love my new Gixxer but I also love my CB400 Four too. Definitely for different reasons. I would buy W800 as soon as it becomes available in US. The outline of the engine/tranny is much much cleaner and closer to T120 motor. Hinckley twins doesn’t replicate the proportions of the original very well. They cylinder and top end are too blocky and the bottom case/clutch cover is waaaay to big. And the header pipe angle, when viewed from the side is just wrong.

    Then why not get the original T120? Price, reliability, and right side shifter. If I was retired I could do it but not as a working stiff. Just don’t have the time.

    It’s not about the lap times folks.

  13. I have a w650 and a couple of the original W1’s and W2’s and would gladly buy the w800 if kawasaki would release it in the USA…hell for that matter id drive to Canada and get one….The W650 is a fit and finish much nicer bike than the triumph , it may not be as quic but apples to oranges…650 versus i think 800 on the bonnie. I think with the added CC’s the w800 might compete with the bonnie but the hipsters that are buying the bonnie have never heard of a early twin other than triumph or norton and they have to make sure they look cool so who knows……maybe it wouldnt do any better second time around…..but the price of a used w650 is about that of what they were new 13 years ago…..but id buy another 13 jap w650 before i bought the new bonnie.

  14. I just re-read the comments on this post. I got a wee bit flared up there. LOL. I still stand by my general sentiments though. I’ve been browsing the Triumph Scrambler listings lately and the new Honda retro aircooled inline four is a hell of a nice platform. All is not lost! 🙂

    1. So, if you look at the specs, the W800 makes less hp than the W650, and only a tiny bit more torque. Here are the numbers from the spec sheets: W800, 47.6 HP 43.3 ft lbs torque. My 2000 W650: 50 HP, 41 ft lbs of torque. I would have expected more from the W800. It’s 100cc larger in the motor, and fuel injected. It’s still a nice ride, and I’m not hung up on horsepower, but I think I’ll keep my W650.

      1. It’s not so much the bit of extra torque John but were it’s made, maximum torque is at 2500 RPM on the 800 which is 3000 RPM less than the 650 and it really makes the 800 pull nicely virtually from idle right to the 7000 RPM redline, but Kawasaki didn’t just bore the 650 out 5mm and throw injection on it, they also put a beefier front end on it which really improves the handling. If you ever get the chance to ride a grey import in North America you will really enjoy what Kawasaki has done with the W800.

      2. Hey John, a W650 is on craigslist near me for just under $5K. It looks good, and started right up, but I didn’t take it around, nor do I know what to look for. Just learned about the W800s (this is all relatively new for me) and was pretty excited, until I saw they’re not in the US. I want to move up from my itty 250 suzuki, not interested in a cruiser, don’t want to buy new, but not sure I want a 15 year old bike either. Any thoughts? Thanks!

  15. I have owned two 2000 W650s, each bought new, and I liked them. But… am I a name brand snob? Partly, yes. You can cite Magura history all you want, but it is obviously the Triumph Bonneville that Kaw is trying to emulate. If you don’t think so, you are kidding yourself.
    I presently own a 2013 Bonneville, and I love it. If the W800 were for sale in the US, it would sell for the same or more as the Triumph, and I would not pay the same (or more) for a Japanese version of the quicker, faster, better handling Bonneville.
    It’s all moot, though: Kaw has no intention of trying the W800 here. They didn’t even really try with the W650.

  16. Craig we have both the W800 and the Hinckley Bonneville in Australia and whether in a straight out drag race or through the twisties both bikes are identical in performance. Your right about the W800 being a copy of the T120 Bonneville, it’s a very close look alike because Kawasaki paid very close attention to the proportions of the T120 and copied them to perfection unlike the Hinckley Bonneville which just doesn’t have the lines of the original and to make things worse they put a kink in the exhaust pipes just in front of the mufflers which just doesn’t look right. Don’t be too dismissive of the W800 being Japanese because the Hinckley Bonneville is actually made in Thailand and the finish is nowhere as good as the W800 which also comes standard with a toolkit and centre stand. I hope the W800 gets released in the US in the future so you riders over there get the chance to appreciate a very good bike.

    1. I have no problem with Kawasaki replicating the T120: to my mind the best looking motorcycle ever made. Too, I have no doubt that the W800 is a great bike (the W650 certainly was). I ride the Bonneville because I always wanted one, and could not afford one at 17. I realize that the W800 is probably truer in appearance to the T120 than the new Bonnies, but I can live with that. Just as the modern day Mustang is not identical tot he original 1965 one, the modern Bonnie is not a twin to the 1966 one: the price we pay for newer and better technology, engineering and improved reliability.

  17. I’ve been riding Kawasaki’s since 1999. I have owned all new a KLR, a Concours, and three No-mads and they were all rock reliable. I realize that the w-600 didn’t sell well in North America but that was 12 years ago and things have changed. Triumph classics are selling well and honda has a new CB1100. it is a different era now and friends of mine will buy the classics now and just crazy for the w-800. I will buy one myself and if need be site unseen. Kawasaki bring the w-800 to the Toronto motorcycle shows and you will see.

  18. If you want a W800 then call the Kawasaki headquarter in California and speak up. I called them 2 days ago and after explaining to the first person was transferred to someone who knew exactly what I was talking about. Kawasaki is not planning to bring in the W800 yet, but they are getting enough calls about it to have noted the interest. If you want one speak up make the call it only takes 20 minutes or less. If enough people call in we can make this happen.
    the squeaky wheel gets oiled. I will also try to copy this forum to Kawasaki’s email address Let’s get this done.

    PS: I want the metallic green standard model. I am going to commit blasphemy though, I will put a 140/90 on the rear and a 110 or 120 on the front plus I like the old style W650 handle bars better, maybe something in between the old style and the new style.

    If we don’t get a W800 here in the next year I guess I’ll just have to get a 2001 w650 mod it and paint it to what I want, but the W800 is already done so Kawi please let’s just bring in some; take pre orders or something. –Dan–

    1. Well I went ahead and bought a W650 a 2001 model with 1750 miles on it. Cost $5000 plus shipping. Excellent bike. I did put on Hagon rear shocks 20mm shorter than the originals. I think the slightly lower rear end looks more balanced and cleaner with less gap between the tire top and the rear fender. While we wait to see if Kawasaki will bring in the W800, this will keep me happy. – Dan-

      1. So how’s that 650 working out for you? Is this a bike that if it’s in good shape just needs basic maintenance or are you frequently tinkering with it? One is for sale near me, same year, similar price, looks great (owned by an older guy who can’t ride anymore). I guess I’m just looking to know from the W650 folks if they love their bike, if getting an almost 15 year old bike means more tinkering or if’ll just go. I’ve got a house that is a project (1865, we’ve done a tone of reno and aren’t quite done), and I just want a nice bike to ride. Still toying with a bunch of options, but this is certainly one.

      2. Lisa, I really like this bike. It has developed a very loyal following. Maintenance is minimal and the lower rpm torque is amazing. If you want to tinker then there are several mods you can do, but it is fine as is. I suggest you take a ride on one. If you are an experienced rider you will love it. If not experienced I would recommend you get a Suzuki GZ 250 and put 2000 miles on it before you get a larger bike. Go to ADVrider.Com and read the thread “new to me” w650 and you will get an extensive in depth overview of this bike. I did lower the rear shocks with Hagon’s, 20mm shorter than standard, a 2 bolt per side simple mod and raised the foot brake lever by moving one nut on the adjuster, simple stuff. Keep a good battery in the W and it will be very reliable. Adjusting the carb idle mixture screws out one extra turn will make it idle better. Other than that just enjoy – Dan –

  19. I’m 73+ years old and have always loved the look and sound of the Bonneville. I just couldn’t take the unreliability so went the Honda route. I still have my 1966 CB77 Honda Super Hawk that I bought new in late 1965. Performance, braking and handling was as good as a then current Triumph 500. I built it into a café racer in 1975 as I lived then in the mountains of Lake Arrowhead, CA. I have gone through many bikes since then, Honda, Suzuki, Harley and Kawasaki. My current ride ia a 2006 Kawasaki Vulcan 2000 Limited. 2000cc’s / 125 cu. inches, but it weighs 950+ pounds. My Harley is an ’89 1200 Sportster modified up to the point it’s no longer reliable. It’s now in need of a 3rd crankshaft as it’s power peak is at over 8000 rpm. The Kawasaki is now too damn heavy for old legs, I’m sick of rebuilding the Harley and the ’66 Honda Super Hawk is too damn uncomfortable to ride with the crotch rocket styling It now has. Should have saved the old tank and seat but I want something with more power. The Kawasaki W800 would be my dream bike and would buy one in a second if it was available in the USA. My wife doesn’t ride with me much any more so a light bike with reasonable power, weight and handling and the sound and looks of a Bonneville would be perfect. I feel Kawasaki is making a mistake by keeping it out of the USA market. I’ve come across Bonneville’s for sale but they are too overpriced and I’m just not up to the potential intense wrenching anymore. I’ll probably end up selling the Kawasaki as it’s showroom fresh, the Super Hawk I’ll keep until I can’t ride anymore, and if I can’t get a W800 anytime soon I’ll just buy a new 1200 Harley engine for the Sportster and that should take me to the end of my riding career.

  20. Price right, it would be a good choice over the old abused, over priced classic scoots. And 47Hp is plenty, if the chassis is sorted nicely.

    1. As a reminder, 47Hp is about 10 pounds per Horsepower, just a little more then a new 2015 Mustang GT, which is capable of low 13’s to high 12’s 1/4 miles. Plenty fast.

  21. Kawaski , Bring the W-800 to the US for one year and see just how many of these bikes sell, I think they would be amazed !
    I am a lady rider who LOVES the Retro look so much that I bought a Ducati GT-1000 (black and Gold ) .
    Loved the W-800 at first sight and I will buy one as soon as they are available here.
    I am calling Kawaski headquarters in Callifornia tomorrow and I suggest everyone do the same if we want this bike.

    1. I can only “second” what’s been said above. I understand that, for its displacement, the bike is reportedly underpowered for its size. But seems to me, for a more laid-back riding style (I don’t have to go 150 mph everywhere) it would be perfect — especially for a retro-nut like m’self. The style is truly a damn good homage to bikes of the past, and I agree, they’d sell here. Probably to a “niche” market that’s educated about their machine, but even a niche market can be profitable. Hope Kawasaki considers it.

      1. Having put a few months riding on the W650 I will say the 650 is not underpowered and is a blast to ride. It has a great even pull from 3000 rpm without the peakyness of the rice rocket café bikes and really is stable on the larger diameter rims/tires. The W800 is reported to have even better low RPM torque. Got to be a winner. – Dan-

  22. I put this to everyone….would you pay as much or more as a Bonny for the W800. I think I would the W800 is made in Japan for one and the Bonny is now made in Thialand. The only reason I wanted a Bonny was the history and to have a British bike. They aren’t that anymore!

    1. Dollar for dollar even out the door I think the W800 will be the better deal. I just bought in November 2014 a pristine w650 for $5000 so I believe that the market is there. -Dan-

  23. Hi I am looking at this very model today in the Netherlands. The same limited edition black & silver with gold rims. They have marked it down by almost 2000 Euro’s because it has been sitting on the floor for a while. I guess no one wanted the gold rims. They add color. I like a color like green or the new red diamond. But the price on this one is 1500 less than one in a color today.

    Have had two sportsters (one an XR1200 very fun, just heavy for me now) and a Beemer 1200. Have been trying out a lot of mid sized “budget” new Japanese bikes but this bike made me smile. Might pull the trigger.

    Stopped by the house with one on a test ride and my wife immediately jumped on the back and said let’s go around the block. That’s the spontaneous motor fun which is catching me here. Riding it I liked the engine and found the transmission very good. The narrow tires have me somewhat concerned for bad weather and our freeways.

    Greetings, Tom

    1. The Bonny is now made in Thailand? Oh, that IS disappointing. If that’s the case, I’d definitely go for the Kaw 800. And just might, in any case.

  24. And now I have two W650’s. Both 2001 Green/cream under 2400 miles. Wife is a bit put out and says I have to sell one because she can’t get her car in the garage. Maybe it is the 5 running and two parts bikes sharing the garage, I think It is time to reduce the fleet. Anyone want a 2300 mile 2001 W650, $4500 before I put it on ebay and then it goes to a $5000 start bid. I have to release a GZ250 (2200 miles or #2 at 4500 miles) also to make space. Dan

  25. I own a 2000 w650 and a 1968 w2 650 since 1970. Like em both but the w2 is way more fun to ride. More low end torque, solid and agile in the curves and gets plenty of attention.
    By the way, there’s a w800 in Peoria craigslist $8500. If you buy it please let me take it for a spin.

  26. Have you lot checked out the Triumph T120? More HP, far torquier and a handsome bike…especially the Matte Graphite..

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