Retro classic bikes are hot right now, as Americans who still have jobs and savings accounts can rationalize the purchase of bikes from their youth. Unlike heavy duty cruisers, retro classics tend to have reasonable prices, which adds to their appeal. Triumph’s Bonneville has done fairly well for them over the years, and it’s low cost of entry means that you don’t have to sell a kidney to buy one. Now Kawaski is rejoining the party with their W800, which looks suspiciously like a Triumph Bonneville to me.
Like the Bonnie, the Kawi is powered by a parallel twin motor, but the Japanese version gives up 65cc to the British version. The W800 is really a relaunch of their earlier attempt at retro, called the W650, which had dismal sales in the U.S. and was canned after just two years. A lot has changed since 2000, and Kawasaki feels that the W800 is good enough to challenge Triumph at their own game. Only time will tell if they’ve made the right call this time.