Kawasaki announced today that 2017 will be the last model year for the Kawasaki W800, as the retro-classic machine is going the way of the dodo, thanks largely to the advent of Euro4 emission standards.
Any hope of a model refresh down the line seems to have been squashed, as Kawasaki says that this is “the end of the iconic W series of four-stroke vertical twin motorcycles” and that the “W800 ‘Final Edition’ marks the end of an era” in its press release.
This is as much of the death of a motorcycle line, as it is a shift of focus by one of the largest motorcycle OEMs.
From the bean-counter side of things, we can assume that the cost to make the Kawasaki W800 meet the new Euro4 emission regulations isn’t justified by the volume of units sold worldwide.
From a marketing perspective though, we can see this move as a rejection of post-aesthetic trend that has taken the motorcycle industry by force the past few years.
A quick look at Kawasaki’s lineup though, and we can see than the Japanese brand has no interest in developing a retro line, beyond its Vulcan series of cruisers.
Instead, Kawasaki’s range of motorcycles are positively modern in look and approach, and try to set themselves apart from the other three Japanese motorcycle manufacturers by being edgier in design and meaner in application.
As one of the few “modern” motorcycles that hasn’t strayed too far from its roots, the Kawasaki W800 can draw direct lines to the Kawasaki W1, which debuted in 1966. With that kind of pedigree, there is an opportunity willfully being missed here.
That being said, we aren’t exactly sad to see the W800 leave. It doesn’t speak our dialect of motorcyclese. It’s quite fluent with other motorcyclists though, so it will be interesting to see how that pays off for Kawasaki.
Source: Kawasaki EU