Six-time WSBK champion Jonathan Rea is one of the fastest motorcycle racers in the world. Whether he’s nearing 200 mph on the home straight or making a block pass on a rival, the Kawasaki Racing Team (KRT) is at home on the track. Aside from his WSBK-prepped ZX-10RR, Rea doesn’t personally own a road-going motorcycle. However, that all changed after the Northern Irishman passed road training courses and attained his motorcycle license.
Now, Rea needs his own set of wheels for the road, and there’s no better place for the KRT racer to head than the local Kawi dealer. With the number 65 piloting the flagship Ninja in the World Championship, you may think that a road-legal ZX-10R or ZX-6R would suit the accomplished racer.
Of course, a KRT version of the ZX-10R actually catches Rea’s eye when he enters the Coleraine Kawasaki showroom. Unfortunately, the bike was already reserved for another customer. After training on a Z650 and swinging a leg over the Versys 1000, you may have assumed that the WSBK champ would prefer one of Team Green’s modern-styled machines. Instead, Rea throws us a curveball, unveiling a 2021 Z900RS in the Metallic Spark Black colorway.
With a liquid-cooled, DOHC, 16-valve, 948cc inline-four at its core, the modern-retro packs more than enough punch for the road. However, Rea’s first ride is just like anyone’s first road outing. He worries about wearing the appropriate gear. He reminds himself to keep a comfortable cushion to the cars ahead and even worries about riding in the wet. The six-time titleholder may have total command of the track, but on the open road, he’s just like us normal folk.
In the past, the KRT rider has poked fun at himself for constantly checking his speedometer and forgetting to use his mirrors. After all, WSBK bikes don’t need them. Now, Rea will be able to sharpen his road riding skills. For most, that may not include a traction control test at the local beach, but the number 1 WSBK rider might know more than most in that category. Rea’s retro Z900 RS isn’t a fire-breathing race bike, but it will get him and his wife down to the café just as well.