Praga stunned us with its futuristic, ultra-lightweight Bohema supercar last year, but this Czech company has taken a retro angle on its first streetbike in nearly a century. The ZS 800 combines a gorgeous classic look with some nice modern thinking.
This air-cooled beauty harks back to the BD 500, produced in Prague between 1928 and 1933. As with the Bohema, Praga has looked to Japan for an engine rather than developing something in-house – in this case, it’s the big, friendly 50-horse parallel twin from Kawasaki’s W800 retro standard, a bike that has only been adequately described once, by my highly obscene and hysterically funny friend Marlon. Do yourself a favor, go watch everything he’s ever made, we’ll wait.
This fairly humble motor is ensconced in a seriously sexy tubular chrome-moly frame, with a gorgeous-looking girder fork system at the front, rocking fully-adjustable Ohlins suspension at the front and back ends. Mind you, when I say the back end, I’m talking about your back end; the rear shock is there solely for the small seat unit. Yes, the ZS 800 runs fancy Swedish suspension … on a hardtail. Drum brakes, too – did you miss those?
You can’t argue with the visual effect though, this thing looks magnificent. And there’s so little of it there. Dry weight is just 142 kg (313 lb), thanks to the extensive use of titanium (including the whole dual exhaust system, which weighs just 4.8 kg, or 10.6 lb), duralumin alloys, and of course carbon fiber, here chiefly deployed in the hand-woven rims and the tank. Well, it’s not a tank, it’s a false tank cover, since the tank itself is integrated into the frame structure beneath.
If you’re looking at all those bits and thinking this might be on the pricey side, you got it – and then some. Hooley dooley, they want €86,000 (US$92,300) a pop, with deliveries starting mid-this year. They’ll only be making 28.
Just a tad rich for our pockets, but the ZS 800 is undeniably an absolute visual feast, with a smorgasbord of pretty details to immerse yourself in, from any angle that allows you to forget where Praga got that motor. Dive into its magnificence further in the gallery.
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