Written by Carole Nash Editor
Created: 08 August 2008
The Z1000 has attracted many UK bikers with its funky styling and raw, good old fashioned power. Big retro machines are supposed to be fun, so is this the Kawasaki which will finally knock the Bandit and Fazer sideways?
Insidebikes reader Kevin Russell puts his wallet where his heart is...
It’s a sunny Friday and a rare day off work, so I’m off to ogle the bikes in the local dealer. As I pulled onto the forecourt, it hit me straight between the eyes; the Z1000 in Blazing Orange.
I know the Kawasaki purist will go for the original Kawasaki green (the black with red trim is a non-starter for me, although each to his own) but the orange has that elusive "wow factor". A two hour test ride later and the deal was sealed... Tango Man had arrived.
The styling of the Z1000 is awesome.
It is radical and eye-catching, and shouts "attitude" from every angle. The gold four-into-two-into-four exhaust harps back to the days when bikes had classic lines and real character. The view from the front is designed to tell the granny in the car in front to move over when she sees you in her mirror, and she will, I promise you.
From the rear, the fat 190-section rear tyre (the bike tyre, not the one on the rider) gives a clue to the hidden depths of power in what appears a relatively small machine. The silliest little styling detail must be the red engine covers on an orange bike. Perhaps the budget had run out and Kawasaki couldn’t afford to put orange ones on it? However, they certainly make their money on the official accessory replacements at £30 each.
The "flight deck" is straight off the ZX-9R with a digital speedometer display that can be seen by a blind man at twenty paces. Couple that with Liquid Crystal Displays of odometer, trip, clock, fuel gauge and tachometer and you have a fully comprehensive and state of the art set of displays.
THE JOY OF RETRO
Riding the bike is a total joy. It belies its 198kg weight by exhibiting amazingly agile handling, which makes town and city riding an absolute breeze, with a high up riding position that gives you good visibility over the cars in front (the "granny move over" looks also help).
The handling translates to biking nirvana on the sweeping A and B roads, where you can explore the hidden monster of the bored out, fuel-injected ZX-9R engine, which pulls sedately up to 5000 rpm before unleashing a wealth of power and torque, enabling overtaking in the blink of an eye.
This is all on the standard suspension set-ups, with possible improvements to be made if you take the time and effort to customise the settings to suit your weight and riding style (pre-load and rebound adjustment are available on both the upside down 41mm-diameter front suspension and Showa rear shock).
The immaculate handling is balanced by confidence inspiring braking capability from the four pot Nissin callipers out front, so if granny pulls out instead of in, you can still normally take avoiding action without the corresponding cardiac!
The only area where it falls down a little is motorway work. After a few miles at speed, the generally high revving engine (5000 rpm equates to approximately 72 mph) transmits a certain amount of vibration through the bars which leaves your right hand in particular, going numb. Riding position is comfortable for relatively long distances.
However, by the time the digital fuel gauge was flashing at me to indicate that the fuel tank needs a re-fill (Silverstone Race Track to Brighton is approximately 120 miles) you are ready to step off and stretch your back muscles for a few minutes. The small screen is, however, surprisingly effective on the motorway and cruising is comfortable in terms of wind blast at all legal speeds and probably moderately higher ones too (not that I have tried it officer!).
One minor gripe is the mirrors, which due to the vibration through the bars, are next to useless between 5500 and 7000 rpm. It does have one safety benefit though, as you need to do the "lifesaver" more often because you are not sure how far behind the following cars are.
Kawasaki offer a number of official accessories, including seat hump (essential for street cred and to minimise the possibility of taking pillion passengers), adjustable and extended screens, replacement crank covers and after market parts are just appearing.
A colour matched belly pan is on order which will increase "attitude," while protecting the underside of the engine and the exhaust down-pipes, from erosion caused by rubbish thrown out by the front wheel (so I really do care!).
The minor faults are easy to live with for the odd longer motorway journey, given the fun and excitement provided by the beast for the majority of the time. This bike is the biggest impulse purchase ever, but is worth every penny of the near £7000 debit to the bank balance.
Get Kawasaki motorcycle insurance for the kawasaki z1000.
||Four cylinder, fourstroke, liquid cooled, DOHC, 16 valve
|Bore x Stroke
||77.2 x 50.9mm
||None, fuel injection
|Claimed peak power
||125bhp @ 10000rpm
||Diamond type steel tubular frame
||41mm cartridge forks, multi adjustable
||Uni-Trak type monoshock, adjustable
||Twin 300mm disc
||Single 220mm disc
||Front; 120/70 ZR17 Rear; 190/50 ZR17