Canadian Content: Kawasaki Z900RS Cafe and Honda CB300R

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Being the Canada-based staffer of a primarily U.S.-targeted site like, it’s hard not to feel jealous of my American colleagues sometimes. In between minding the three-hour time difference between me and the other MO editors, and remembering to omit the “u” in words like “color” and “rumor”, I get to read about their exploits in sunny California from my desk in grey gray Toronto.

Okay, I admit, I’m not actually as bitter as I made that sound. I’m more upset that Canada was shut out of the medals in both Olympic men’s and women’s curling, which is probably enough to prove I’m better suited to life in “the Six” than the City of Angels. I love Toronto and wouldn’t trade my life here in Canada for anything. That being said, I have to admit, the motorcycle industry up here is just not the same as it is in the U.S.

I mean, yes, we have a much smaller population and we do have shorter riding seasons than most of the United States, and the difference in the market, plus the gulf in the value between the Canadian Loonie and the American one dollar bill, makes MSRPs up here higher than you’d see south of the border. But what sometimes helps make up for that is the rare occasion the Canadian importer offers a motorcycle that isn’t available in the U.S.

The 2018 Gold Wing has been making the rounds at various motorcycle shows, and both Evans and Sean have had the chance to ride it. For me, this was the first chance to see the new Wing in person.

I got to see some of these unicorns first hand last week at the Toronto Motorcycle Show. Usually held in February during the dreariest part of the Canadian winter, the Toronto show offers some respite from the snow, and a reminder that spring will eventually come. Compared to the big shows like EICMA and Intermot, plus AIMExpo and the International Motorcycle Shows in the U.S., the Toronto show is relatively late in the calendar, meaning most of the bikes shown here have already appeared elsewhere.

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Still, it was neat to two bikes that aren’t (yet) offered in the U.S.: the Kawasaki Z900RS Cafe and the Honda CB300R.

The Kawasaki Z900RS will be available in both the U.S. and Canada, but as of this writing the Cafe variant has not been announced stateside. Given the positive reader reaction in our story on the bike’s announcement, we expect that to change eventually, but until then, Kawasaki Motors Corp. USA will likely be paying attention to how the Z900RS Cafe is received in Canada.

This particular example is actually the first Z900RS Cafe in North America, having only just arrived shortly before the start of the Toronto show. The Cafe version adds the bullet fairing, a humped seat and lower handlebars and a gorgeous green with white stripe paint job, but is otherwise almost exactly the same as the Z900RS. Priced at $13,599 Canadian, the Z900RS Cafe costs $600 more than the regular model.

While the cafe-style front cowl is the obvious standout, one small detail found on the Cafe that isn’t on the regular Z900RS is the DOHC label on the engine. It’s actually in the exact same font as the “DOHC” stamped on the original 1973 Z1’s engine.

Honda Canada has a history with bringing small displacement bikes before their American brethren. Even before the CBR250R was introduced in 2011, Canadian riders were already scooting around on Honda CBR125s. After Honda debuted the CB300R at EICMA, Honda Canada jumped at the chance to bring it over as an early 2019 release as a replacement for the CB300F.

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The CB300R uses the same 286cc Single as the outgoing F model, but adds upside-down fork, a radial-mount four-piston caliper, IMU-based ABS and a (claimed) 40 pound weight advantage. It also shares a similar “Neo-Sports Cafe” styling as the new CB1000R which is coming to the U.S.

The CB300R shares the same “Neo-Sports Cafe” styling as the CB1000R (which is confirmed for the U.S.) shown in the foreground here.

As with the Z900RS Cafe, we expect the CB300R will also eventually make it to the U.S., but not before Canadians will see it in showrooms this spring. Canadian pricing remains to be determined.

Gigantic exhausts are becoming the norm, thanks to toughening emissions standards, but the CB300R’s can looks especially oversized on a bike of its size.

Both the Kawasaki Z900RS Cafe and the Honda CB300R will likely come to the U.S. eventually, but until then, I can hang onto some Canadian pride in saying that we got them first. Yeah, I know, that’s being petty. But I’m a Toronto Maple Leafs fan too; you’ve got to give me something.

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