If you’ve read my ride review of the 2018 Kawasaki Z900RS or its cafe racer counterpart, you’d know I‘m rather fond of them. In fact, if I had the spare cash sitting around I’d go out and buy one tomorrow. So it goes without saying that I’ve been eagerly awaiting to see more workshops customising them. When Kawasaki unveiled the Z900RS at the Tokyo Motorcycle Show in 2017 they also showed off 3 custom variants built by Japanese workshops, Bito R&D, Doremi Collection and Moto Corse. Soon afterwards Deus Australia built two Z900RS customs including the rather controversial Mad Max-inspired ‘Goose’. After that the custom Zed scene seemed to go a bit silent, that is at least until now.
This custom Kawasaki Z900RS is the work of French workshop MRS Oficina. MRS frontman Mario Raphael Soares built the bike for his 3rd collaboration with Kawasaki Europe. Their previous collaborations include a dirt track styled Z650 and a Vulcan S cafe racer. For this build, Mario has chosen to take a cafe racer approach once again. He’s completely stripped the Zed down to its bare essentials and prepped it for fast times out on the track.
As with most modern motorcycles, the biggest hurdle Mario had to overcome with the Z900RS was its electrics. As a result, the Zed is still running the factory switchgear and dials. Thankfully Kawasaki did a decent job when designing them. Mario also opted to retain the stock headlight since it also has plenty of visual appeal. What he did change though was their location and he packaged them in a much more compact, and sportier looking front end.
Up front, the MRS Z900RS cafe racer wears a sleek half fairing shaped from aluminium. The stock dials are recessed deep into the fairing and the handlebars replaced by clip-on numbers from Renthal. Mario has also done away with the unsightly brake fluid “pee cup” reservoir. In its place is a race inspired capped off section of tube. Although the switch blocks are standard the brake and clutch assemblies have been upgraded to Beringer items. The stock Kawasaki headlight sits flush at the front of the fairing and rather than bolting indicators to the unit he opted for bar end equivalents. The forks and brakes remain standard but the plastic fender was binned in favour of another custom aluminium component.
The front half of the MRS Z900RS cafe racers frame is untouched, but the rear section is far from standard. Mario wanted to give the bike a look more in line with the motorcycle that inspired the Z900RS designers. So a new subframe was made that could accommodate twin shocks rather than the factory mono. The stock swingarm has been modified by adding mounting points and a pair of Ohlins shocks and their external reservoirs installed. These modifications also allowed Mario to completely open up the rear of the frame. This raised a few questions regarding the location of the battery. Mario informed me with the monoshock gone there was space in the front of the swingarm big enough to hold a lithium battery. So, he welded a box section into it and secured the battery using a leather strap.
Perched on top of the subframe is another hand-shaped aluminium component. The tiny cowl converts the bike to a single seater and a small LED strip at its rear functions as the brake light. The seat itself is wrapped in suede leather with colour coordinated stitching. There’s another custom fender hugging the rear wheel and a few alloy side panels to balance out the negative space in the frame. Since it’s a track destined build Mario also installed Borani rear-set footpegs for maximum lean potential. Another difficult aspect of the build was having to retain the Kawasaki’s notoriously large tank. To add his own touch to the stock unit Mario frenched an MRS Oficina badge into it.
Despite a lack of modifications to the Z900RS powerplant Mario says his Zed will easily outperform a standard example. A basic remap tunes the engine appropriately for the titanium 4-into-1 headers and K-factory muffler. The biggest improvements, however, come from a huge reduction in weight. Along with removing any excess and replacing stock components with alloy parts Mario had swapped the cast wheels for a set of eye wateringly expensive alternatives. The Rotobox carbon fibre wheels are responsible for a huge 10kg drop in weight alone. Combine that with all the other reductions and Mario’s Zed now weighs a fraction of its former self.
Now after 6 months of hard work the MRS Z900RS cafe racer wears track ready rubber and that’s where it will make its debut run. Whether or not all his hard work paid off in faster lap times is still unknown, but I’m willing to bet it has.