2022 marked an important year for Kawasaki’s retro-leaning RS range. The flagship Z900RS celebrated the Z1’s 50th anniversary with a stunning, throwback “fireball” colorway. The special-edition livery wasn’t the only addition to the Z900RS lineup, however, as Team Green introduced the up-spec 2022 Z900RS SE version as well. Still, the RS series lacked a real entry point and the 2022 Z650RS filled the void.
After such a crucial 2022, we can’t blame Kawasaki for taking it easy in 2023, and the RS lineup remains largely unchanged for the new model year. Starting with the Z650RS, the classic style standard retains its iconic Candy Emerald Green paint scheme, but adds a new Metallic Spark Black to the repertoire. Beneath the surface, the Z650RS still champions the Kawi’s liquid-cooled, 649cc parallel-twin that’s good for 67 horsepower and 47 ft-lb of torque.
Up the ladder, the Z900RS follows the same strategy as its younger brother, bringing back the 2022 Z1-inspired candy tone blue paint job for another go-around from 1975. However, Kawasaki’s design team returned the paint option in 2023 with the new Metallic Diablo Black/Metallic Imperial Red. Of course, the 948cc inline-four engine still produces 109.5 horsepower at 8,500 rpm and 72.3 foot-pounds of torque at 6,500 rpm, matching the model’s vintage-style aesthetic with modern performance.
Kawasaki Z900RS SE
While the 2023 Z900RS SE runs on the same street-tuned four-banger, it stands out from the pack with an Ohlins S46 rear shock and revised front suspension. Brembo M4.32 front brake calipers, Brembo disc rotors, and steel-braided front brake lines encourage riders to accelerate.
Unlike the base Z900RS and Z650RS, the SE 2023 doesn’t earn a new graphic, but the Metallic Diablo Black is just as eye-catching as last year, especially with the matching gold wheels. Kawasaki’s Z range may fall short on updates and upgrades, but the sleek, retro colorways keep the Z650RS, Z900RS and Z900RS SE attractive.