Kawasaki Z1000: Sifted sceptic
Snapshot: Kawasaki Z1000 is one of the meanest power packed naked motorcycles with design out off an alien spaceship and induction noise of a breathing dragon. It has looks to go with its appearance and a Showa setup to handle when the going gets curvy.
With each and every manufacturer cramming as much technology as possible in its new motorcycles, be it to increase performance, enhance safety or glorify looks, Kawasaki has taken the left field with its bare-chested muscular hunk of a motorcycle, Z1000. Think of it this way, if the ‘Engineers’ in Prometheus wanted a land transport; it’ll be none other than the Z1000. It looks like an alien relic designed at Predator labs and then crammed with an inline 4-cylinder 140bhp growling power core. Super nakeds is a class that defines fun on motorcycles, and the Z1000 is one of the maddest one wheel machines of them all. It does not get any electronic aids to save you from your own self, but has a lot that connects you back to the originality of having a big engine balancing on one wheel.
One of the defining aspects that separate the Z1000 from all its rivals is the way it looks. This is the meanest most aggressive fascias on sale today. Kawasaki’s first full LED headlight setup is equally dramatic as it is functional. The entire bulk of the motorcycle is centralised around the engine with a big tank sitting on top for you to tuck your knees under. It literally looks like a predator perched for a pounce. Twin exhausts hang on both sides of the bike which sound really heavy with a bass rich voice. The ‘z’ pattern seats are very high on quality but low on padding. In fact Z1000 has a clear edge amongst all other naked motorcycles in terms of design.
Engine and performance
Unlike a supersport litre class engine, this one is a 1,043cc 4-cylinder unit that is more like a muscular giant than a screaming eagle. It delivers tonnes of torque lower down the rpm range that just becomes a torrent of power through the mid and high range. First gear ends up in a controllable power wheelie and a powerful wail from exhaust units on both sides of the motorcycle. In keeping the Z1000 perform as a genuine old school roadster Kawasaki has equipped no aids on it except the ABS system which is sort of necessary than convenient. No traction control, ride-by-wire, throttle maps or quick-shifter, everything is managed by the rider’s paws and hoofs. Top speed is around 240kmph with considerable wind blast, so it is advisable you fit a bigger windshield or buy riding gear designed to withstand wind. The nicest thing about the engine is its tractable nature which means it has reasonable torque pull in every gear every rpm. And then is the heavy bass note of that litre engine that reminds you there is a lot of power in reserve. Power delivery is smooth as it has dual throttle valves controlled by the ECU directly. It is a mix bag with easy cruising capabilities at 60kmph to overtaking in the same gear to gut wrenching acceleration and power wheeling when you poke it with a stick.
Ride and handling
Z1000’s chassis and suspension setup very well takes care of the 221kg weight it hauls around. In fact its a tad rigid if we may say so to handle corners well with near disregard for your spine. Seats are covered in a wonderful looking ‘z’ pattern which is great for appearance but the hard cushion means long saddle times become painful. And the pillion seat is just a piece of wood bolted on top of the rear LED tail lamp. The Showa forks have adjustability available for preload and damping which definitely aids going faster through corners. Lack of Traction control and selectable engine maps will suggest you to back off through hard cornering as it still is a heavy beast. The brakes deserve a pat on the back as they are brilliant with accurate bite and progression. They bring the motorcycle to an instant halt and do also come with the safety net of an ABS system. The irritant here are the small sized foot pegs, so if you have large feet do get a new rear set for better control.
The Z1000 is a great motorcycle which is an eye ball magnet, an aural delight and immensely fast. Its looks alone can steal the show in front of all other similar priced naked competition. Its flaw is its competition, the Suzuki GSX-S1000 is a better machine and the Triumph Speed Triple has a lot of character. And then is its sibling, the Ninja 1000, which does come with throttle maps and a traction control system. If Kawasaki wanted the Z1000 to be a bare machine far from electronics, then they should have priced it lower for losing them against competitive products. However nothing will ever come close to how the Z1000 looks and makes you feel as a rider. And that alone is satisfaction alone to justify its price.
Photography: Mohd Nasir
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