Skip to main content

Praga ZS 800 (2024) - Review

BikeSocial Road Tester




from £77,000




142kg (dry)

Overall BikeSocial rating


If you have never heard of Praga, don’t worry – you are far from alone. The Czech manufacturer started life in 1907, first producing cars under licence before designing its own cars in 1910. Praga? It's from the old Slavic for Prague where the company was based.

In the 1930s the brand boomed, producing budget and luxury cars. After the Second World War, the new communist government dictated that Praga should build transmissions and commercial vehicles. But after the collapse of communism in Czechoslovakia in 1989, Praga was able to set its own goals. In 2010 it returned to racing, mainly trucks at the Dakar, and in 2011 produced the 3.8 litre V8 RS4 race car.

Now, in 2024, Praga has introduced the ZS 800, an exquisitely detailed Kawasaki-powered retro, to be sold alongside the new 1.43 million Euros 700hp Praga Bohema hypercar. The ZS 800 pays homage to the 1928 Praga BD500, which at the time was considered cutting edge. Back in 1928 the original bike featured a four stroke DOHC engine designed by a young engineer, Jaroslav Frantisek Koch. To prove the bike's speed, reliability and innovative design, Koch himself rode from Rome to Prague, 1480km in just 35 hours 40 minutes. Not bad for 1928.

The 2024 bike is a modern day take on the famous BD500 and is the brainchild of Jan Zuzi, an engineer from the Bohema project. Jan and fellow engineer and bike enthusiast, Redek Sebesta, wanted to produce a replica of the 1928 bike, but using modern lightweight materials and technology.

The engine is the air-cooled parallel twin unit taken from the Kawasaki W800, chosen mainly for cosmetic reasons. The rest of the bike is handmade and completely bespoke.

The chassis features a chrome molybdenum steel frame, forged carbon wheels with carbon spokes and hydraulic drum brakes.  There's a girder-system/style front suspension and a hardtail rear, and titanium throughout, which helps explain why the ZS's weight is just 142kg. This is a bike like no other on the market.

With a starting price of £77,000 – although our very limited-edition carbon bike on test here is more like £83,700 - this was never going to be a high-mile, in depth road test. But to ride in the English countryside on such a special machine was a unique and surprising experience.

  • Looks and style

  • Craftmanship and exclusivity

  • Not just a style project

  • Very expensive

  • Only sold in limited numbers

  • You won’t want to park it anywhere out of sight

2024 Praga ZS 800 - Price

The asking price starts at £77,000 in the UK, and you don’t need me to tell you that’s big money, and what’s more that is just for the base model. Praga are limiting the ZS production run to just 28, five of which will be £83,700 carbon specials. Our test bike was one of these five.

The ZS 800 is eye-wateringly expensive but, sold alongside the £1.32 million Bohema car, is relatively ‘cost effective’ for the typical Praga customer. And when you compare the ZS to its two-wheel competition that sky-high price tag doesn't seem quite so shocking. Californian bike builders Arch, famously fronted by Keanu Reeves, produce the hand-built KRGT-1, whose prices start between 85,000 and 90,000 Euros. Brough are still in production, producing a range of hand-built exotica in France, with prices at £60,000 and above. If you want hand-crafted builds and limited-edition production, then you are going to need millionaire money.

2024 Praga ZS 800 - Engine & Performance

Praga could have chosen almost any engine for its BD500 tribute but opted for the air-cooled, Kawasaki W800 power unit because of its simplicity, looks and unique bevel gear-driven cam. Installed in the ZS, it's hard to see why other custom bikes builders don’t use the same engine as it’s such an attractive unit.

As simple as the 773cc parallel twin is, Jan and his design team obviously didn’t choose it for its performance. The standard W800 makes just 47bhp (35kw) at 6000rpm and 46.39 lb-ft (62Nm) of torque at 4800rpm. Praga claim its bike produces a fraction more than standard due to the freer-flowing, titanium exhaust and revised fuelling, but 39kw/52.3bhp is the quoted max. Each bike can be registered for the road as ‘Single Vehicle Approval’ in the UK, which means it does not have to comply with Euro5+ as the bike will only be sold in very limited quantities.

One press of the carbon – yes, carbon – starter button and the usually muted long-stroke twin barks into life. The handmade exhausts don’t have a catalytic convertor or any significant noise cancelling properties, and sound distinctive and charismatic as well as loud. Grab first gear, open the throttle and the ZS is notably livelier than the W800 because it’s considerably lighter:  142kg (dry) compared to the 221kg (kerb) of the Kawa. The Czech machine may be inspired by a machine from 1928 but, road surface permitting (more in a moment), you can have a brisk and spirited ride on the new ZS 800.

There’s no rev counter, just a delicious analogue speedo (in km/h). I was initially a little disorientated (and nervous) but the long-stroke motor churns out a lovely spread of torque and pulls away effortlessly. Once rolling, it's all about relaxed short-shifts through the standard Kawasaki gearbox as the ZS drives impressively for what it is. There are no rider aids or traction control or riding modes – not even ABS – but its lightness adds extra zip and makes safe overtaking that little bit easier than on a W800. It's not fast but it's certainly not slow either, and will surprise plenty of road users who encounter one at the lights. My guess is that it makes more than the 50bhp Praga quote.

2024 Praga ZS 800 - Handling & Suspension (inc. Weight & Brakes)

I had no intention of pushing the handling boundaries of the Praga – even its footpegs are titanium, so no peg scraping here, thank you – but the chassis is intriguing and unlike any other.

The designers were inspired by the 1920s, which explains the drum brakes (twin up front, single at the rear), while the front end is essentially a very old-school girder-style system. The drums are hydraulically activated, thank goodness, and that girder front end has a modern, fully adjustable Öhlins shock and titanium spring but the rear is unadulterated hardtail. There isn’t any rear suspension at all: any damping is done via the air in the rear Dunlop alone.

Alongside all this rethought and updated old technology are some thoroughly modern touches, including lightweight 18-inch carbon wheels, complete with carbon spokes, which save on unsprung weight, and a lightweight chrome molybdenum frame, which weighs about that same as the frame on a typical 125.

I’ve ridden hardtail classic bikes before, and while they are often amusing at first, agony quickly follows unless the road is perfectly smooth. The Praga isn’t as bad as I was expecting because under, and connected to, the seat is an adjustable Öhlins shock that softens the ride with gentle damping. This isn’t suspension, of course, as it has no effect on the rear tyre, meaning that the ride quality is dictated by the quality of the road itself. At times, you can feel it working, smoothing out the ride, but I could also feel the rear tyre skip when I got a little carried away, quickly followed by a nervous twitch of my wallet.

The girder front end has little-to-no dive, and in this respect is similar to the BMW system you’d find on a big GS, but it’s mesmerising to watch the beautifully sculpted arms moving up and down as it strives to iron out road imperfections. The overall ride of the ZS is far better than the hardtail bikes I’ve ridden previously – but speed humps and potholes still have to be navigated with caution.

Braking is interesting. The Praga is light and speeds are relatively modest but drum brakes take a little getting used to. I’ve ridden and raced Nortons with shoe brakes, which usually start strong before fading significantly as the race progresses. The Praga, however, appeared to do the opposite, but I’ll put this down to very low mileage on our test exclusive test bike. Combining the front and rear brakes with strong engine braking was the most effective way to halt proceedings – but this isn’t a bike you’d trail brake to the apex.

2024 Praga ZS 800 - Comfort & Economy

As mentioned, with a hardtail rear I was expecting to have to call my chiropractor after a full afternoon in the saddle but, thanks to the shock under the seat, comfort is better than any hardtail I’ve ridden before. If you move forward on the sculpted seat, there is less cushioning, but if you sit further back there’s more leverage through the shock, and the ride is softer. And you don’t get propelled out of the seat on the rebound as I’ve discovered on other hardtails with crude bed springs under the seat to supposedly soften the blow.

The fuel tank is an integral part of the frame and just 11.5 litres in capacity, while the 'tank' you can see is simply a carbon cover that hides most of the electrics and modern parts you never had in 1928. In standard form the low revving W800 motor returns a frugal 55-60mpg and I expect the Praga to do the same. I’m unsure who or why anyone would go touring on this expensive retro cruiser, but maybe someone might ride one from Monaco to Nice, and for a short blast on a smooth road you won’t have too many complaints.

2024 Praga ZS 800 - Equipment

The base price starts north of £75k and, to be frank, aside from the base bike you don’t get any tech goodies. The ZS 800 has drum brakes, no rear suspension, very basic (carbon) switchgear and ornate but basic clocks. Rider modes, TC, ASB?  Sorry, you’re looking at the wrong bike.

However, the level of craftmanship is like no other bike on the market. The hand-woven carbon rims, with intricate carbon spokes are works of art. The construction and welding on the frame must have taken days not hours, possibly weeks. Almost every screw, nut and bolt are titanium. Okay, the ZS may lack a quick-shifter and even ABS, but it’s almost too stunning to ride.

2024 Praga ZS 800 - Rivals

Brough Superior | £60,000

Read more

102bhp / 64.2lb-ft



Arch KRGT-1 | £72,000 – £76,000

Read more

93.54 bhp / 115.3lb-ft



Norton Commando 961 | £18,999

Read more

76.8bhp / 59.7lb-ft



2024 Praga ZS 800 - Verdict

There are those who are simply going to look at the price and say, ‘you must be joking’. A base price of £77,000 is crazy money most of us can only dream about. It's a deposit on a house or enough to put two children through university – and if we were lucky enough to have that much disposable income, we could fill the garage with several excellent bikes for the price of this one.  

But for its hugely wealthy clients, those who pay 1.4 million for their Praga Bohema hypercars, the ZS represents but small change.

For the very few who are going to be lucky enough to afford the ZS 800, this Czech masterpiece is not just a work of art but a motorcycle that works well for what it is. Skilled engineering and craftsmanship have been given the opportunity to shine. Archaic concepts such as drum brakes and hardtail chassis are rethought, updated and given a welcome outing in 2024.

I particularly love the way Praga's enthusiastic and clever engineers have been given the opportunity to pay homage to the original bike and do so with such individuality and pride. The only sad news is you’ll probably never see one on the road as most will be sold to private collectors or stored in museums.

If you’d like to chat about this article or anything else biking related, join us and thousands of other riders at the Bennetts BikeSocial Facebook page.

2024 Praga ZS 800 - Technical Specification

New priceFrom £77,000 (Bike tested: £83,700)
Bore x Stroke77mm x 83mm
Engine layoutParallel twin
Engine details8-valve, SOHC, air cooled
Power52.3bhp (39W)
Torque47.9ftlb (65Nm)
Transmission5 speed, multi-plate wet
Average fuel consumption55/60 mpg (estimate)
Tank size11.5 litres
Max range to empty140/150 miles
Rider aidsNone
FrameChrome molybdenum steel frame
Front suspensionGirder front fork with Ohlins suspension TTX22
Front suspension adjustmentFully
Rear suspensionHard tail (TTX Ohlins air suspension under the seat)
Rear suspension adjustmentN/A
Front brakeDrum x 2 200mm
Rear brakeDrum single 200mm
Front wheel / tyreDunlop Roadmaster TT100 GP 100/90X18
Rear wheel / tyreDunlop Roadmaster TT100 GP 130/90X18
Dimensions (LxWxH)Width 800mm
Seat height795mm
Weight142kg (dry) / 158kg (wet)
WarrantyTwo years
MCIA Secured RatingNot yet rated

What is MCIA Secured?

MCIA Secured gives bike buyers the chance to see just how much work a manufacturer has put into making their new investment as resistant to theft as possible.

As we all know, the more security you use, the less chance there is of your bike being stolen. In fact, based on research by Bennetts, using a disc lock makes your machine three times less likely to be stolen, while heavy duty kit can make it less likely to be stolen than a car. For reviews of the best security products, click here.

MCIA Secured gives motorcycles a rating out of five stars (three stars for bikes of 125cc or less), based on the following being fitted to a new bike as standard:

  • A steering lock that meets the UNECE 62 standard

  • An ignition immobiliser system

  • A vehicle marking system

  • An alarm system

  • A vehicle tracking system with subscription

The higher the star rating, the better the security, so always ask your dealer what rating your bike has and compare it to other machines on your shortlist.