Question: A naked streetfighter is
a) A football fan after the bars shut in a nudist colony.
b) Someone who thinks that naked streets should be brightened up with those nice hanging baskets full of petunias.
c) The small green thing on which I’m hurtling around a corner with a smile on my face.
The answer, of course, is c - in other words, a sports bike which has been stripped bare of any fairings, folderols and fripperies to look more lean, mean and aggressive.
Or in this case, the latest incarnation of the Z900, a very nice 32,000 of which Kawasaki has sold since introducing it in 2017 as an evolution of previous 750 and 800cc versions.
To be honest, it didn’t really need to update this one apart from the pressure of Euro 5 emissions demands from Brussels, but the Kawasaki boffins thought they may as well take the opportunity to tweak a few other things while they had their sleeves rolled up.
They started with the aesthetics, reshaping the nose, side panels and fuel tank for a more aggressive look, and sticking in LED headlights while they were at it.
Thankfully, they didn’t muck about with the seating position, which, while slightly compact for anyone of 6ft 7in like me, is perfect for smaller folk, canting you forward slightly to leave your hands resting lightly on the wide bars and needing only the hint of a nudge to leave you carving into bends like a cornering craftsman or woman on their way to a BBQ for a bit of LOL.
It’s one of those bikes on which you only need to think of where you want to go, and you’re already there.
Anyway, where was I? Ah yes, admiring the new TFT screen, which although only 4.3n compared with some of the 7in monsters out there, shows all the information you need at a glance, including which of the four riding modes you’re in - Rain, Road, Sport or Rider if you want to reduce the ABS or the newly added traction control.
Or even switch the latter off completely if you like the smell of burning rubber in the morning, and your dad owns a rear tyre shop and gives you mate’s rates.
It being the sort of bright, sunny day which makes you glad to be half alive, I spurned Rain, since that reduces the power and I usually get bored with that after five seconds, and launched straight into Road. I know, call me a wild, impetuous fool, but my family motto is Carpe Diem. That’s Latin for Seize the Fish, since you ask.
Anyway, where was I before I interrupted myself again? Ah yes, enjoying the splendidly brisk progress, aided and abetted by a light clutch and slick gearbox and accompanied by a civilised snarl, like a well-brought-up lion.
With a bigger catalytic converter and exhaust, it definitely sounds better than the previous version to my ears, well tuned over the years by waiting for the rare sound of incoming cheques hitting the doormat.
The clutch and gearbox are so good that while a quickshifter would be a nice option, it’s not necessary and would remove that very attractive eight at the start of the price tag.
Time to switch to Sport mode with a quick press of the button on the left bar, and...there was no difference at all, since as I later discovered, all it does is reduce the traction control.
Either way, there’s so much grunt from the engine that you can quite happily spend all day in the top three gears.
With decent Nissin calipers and big twin discs up front, braking is great, although there’s poor feel and bite from the rear brake. Mind you, most sporty riders I know aren’t even aware that bikes are fitted with rear brakes.
The suspension, meanwhile, is nicely balanced between firm and plush, keeping the bike stable in corners but soaking up rough patches without having a panic attack.
Now if you’ll excuse me, the bars have just closed, so I need to get my kit off and go out to start a street fight.
Bike supplied by Phillip McCallen Motorcycles phillipmccallen.com
Engine: 948cc liquid-cooled inline four
Power: 124bhp @ 9,500rpm
Torque: 99 lb ft @ 7,700rpm
Colours: Grey/black; white/black; green/grey, black