Kawasaki Z: Bringing You the World’s Coolest Streetbikes Since 1973
With this latest in a long line of naked Kawasaki streetbikes, we threw out the old rules and started with a clean sheet, drawing upon more than 35 years of experience in giving the people what they want. If the new Z1000 knocks your eyeballs out, that’s exactly what we had in mind. Even more important, though, is the feeling this one provides every time you twist the throttle.
A sharp new front cowl sloped back at an acute angle highlights the Z1000’s new nose, followed by a tilting instrument panel, visible through an orange lens, that can be angled to suit rider preference. Just below that a long, narrow headlight represents Kawasaki’s first use of a line-beam unit. Following the lines rearward, the eyes will next encounter a dynamically designed steel gas tank, flared on the sides to let you grab it with your knees, and trim at the rear for a snug fit. The seat’s low and narrow at the front to make ground contact easy, and it flows beautifully rearward to end in a futuristically retro LED taillight behind a red lens.
Previous Z1000s used a steel frame, but this one gets its own all-new aluminum one. Similar in concept to the frame of the Ninja® ZX™-10R sportbike, the frame beams curve over the engine, resulting in a narrow bike that’s easy to grip with the knees. The engine bolts in solidly, stressed-member style, at three places, and in a rubber mount at the upper rear of the crankcase for great torsional rigidity and solid handling. Wherever possible, welds were eliminated for a smooth, organic appearance. The main frame and swingarm pivot areas, for example, are cast as a single unit. The rear subframe is a three-piece aluminum die-casting, light, smooth and beautiful.
At the heart of every naked bike is its engine. We didn’t just bolt it into that frame for solid handling, we did it so you won’t forget what you’re riding: You’ll definitely feel those 1,043 cubic centimeters of fuel-injected Kawasaki four-cylinder every time you twist the throttle. A secondary balance shaft eliminates excess vibes, but on this bike, a little bit of character is designed in. In the same spirit, the bike’s cool air system uses ducts just ahead of the fuel tank to usher air into the airbox, a placement that lets the rider savor the bold sound of screaming air being sucked into the engine’s downdraft intakes.
The Z1000’s inline-four cylinder engine uses a longish stroke—56mm—to make the most impact in the rpm range most used by naked bike riders. Long-stroke engines keep intake air velocity up for maximum midrange power whatever the displacement. From nearly any rpm, rolling the Z1000’s throttle open provides the kind of instant gratification most sportbikes just can’t quite muster. Having said that, this engine also spins up noticeably faster from about 7000 rpm upwards, with a silky smooth, highly intoxicating response.
What more do you need? Not much. How about new five-spoke wheels, with spokes machined near the rims for a custom-wheel look. We carried forward the quad-pipe theme from the last Z1000 (and the first Z1), but an under-engine pre chamber let the engineers use shorter mufflers for great looks, better mass centralization and light, quick handling. A solid-mount handlebar and aluminum footpegs lifted from the Ninja ZX-10R complete with machined edges contribute to the Z1000’s direct feel.
Nobody scrimped on the suspension and running gear, either: A radial-pump master cylinder provides the latest in braking feel and feedback. Adding compression damping adjustability to the 41mm inverted fork gives it all-way tunability, and a completely new, horizontal placement of the rear shock provides typically UNI-TRAK®-like performance.
The next time somebody complains to you that modern motorcycles have no soul, take them for a ride on a new Z1000. Everything about it is up-to-the-minute modern. But you can feel its roots every time you hit the starter. This one’s classic Kawasaki all the way.
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