FAM JAM
Motoring World|August 2021
Generation gaps from different planets with contrasting ideologies. Just your average extraordinary motorcycle family, then
Kartik Ware

I envy motorcycle manufacturers. If you imagine being able to build virtually any bike you wanted to, you’ll see where I’m coming from. And few manufacturers are as prolifically adventurous as Kawasaki. Dirt bikes, retro bikes, V-twin cruisers, adventure tourers, sports bikes — every genre and size of motorcycle rolls out of Team Green’s factory in Akashi, Japan. And I doubt any other motorcycle maker today is compelled to make a bevel-driven gem of a motor alongside a superbike of historic WSBK-title credentials. Obviously, the W800 and the Ninja ZX-10R are two ends of the motorcycling rainbow, with nothing in common except the name on their flanks. Only, said rainbow is all green.

With roots that go back to a British design from the 1960s, it’s the W800 that comes across as the family heirloom, while the Ninja is destined to keep sharpening itself for its purpose until it disappears one day. It’s inevitable, really; liter-class superbikes were already hilariously politically incorrect a couple of decades ago, so it’s only a matter of time until 1000cc inline-fours are replaced by 1000cc parallel twins in the quest to save money for everyone, from makers to buyers to racers. It may well come to pass that the W800’s motor proves itself to be the more evergreen idea of the pair.

From somewhere up the road, the Ninja’s inline-four scream echoed back in my direction. At least today, there was no taming the 200-bhp work of art on a stretch of tarmac gliding along hillsides and making all the shapes that leave tires with a good workout. But not on the W800. This laidback machine’s footpeg feeler bolts were lower than Bollywood’s standards and dug violently into the tarmac with even halfway enthusiastic cornering. But I did like the super-wide handlebar; flat track bikes would’ve approved of it, though I couldn’t shake the feeling that the W would be far better off with a pair of low ’bars and rearsets. Maybe that would’ve given the 51-bhp twin a better chance of hanging with its racer sibling on that racer road.

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