More powerful and hard-edged than before, the 2010 Kawasaki Z1000 has been built to take on the best super nakeds from Europe...
The 2010 Kawasaki Z1000, with its new styling, 1,043cc inline-four engine (which replaces the old 953cc mill) and new aluminium beam frame, looks all set to take on hard-core streetfighters from Europe. While the earlier Z was a bit soft when compared with machines like the Ducati Streetfighter, MV Agusta Brutale and Triumph Speed Triple, the new one looks fit enough to brawl with those bikes.
So, while it promises much on paper, is the new Z1000 really all that good in the real world? The guys at MotorBox recently had the opportunity to ride the bike, and here are some excerpts what they have to say about the Big Kaw:
The new Z1000’s engine and high-spec chassis and suspension make this the first real Japanese streetfighter. When it was first launched in 2003, the Z1000 only had the Aprilia Tuono and the Triumph Speed Triple to contend with. Now, the third generation bike has more competition to deal with, and Kawasaki have revamped the machine completely to make sure it stays on top of the super nakeds heap. The price, at 10,590 euro (11,190 euro for the version with ABS), is also very attractive.
The new Z’s styling epitomises Kawasaki’s penchant for sharp, edgy lines, and as an overall package – huge fuel tank tapering down to that slender tail section – works well. Okay, maybe there’s a bit too much of plastic here, but standing still, the bike looks quite aggressive and dynamic. And, of course, that exhaust system (much shorter and lighter now, as compared to the 2009 model) remains an instantly recognisable style element.
Kawasaki have also gone in for ‘mass centralisation’ on the new Z, tilting the new 1,043cc engine (which produces 138 horsepower at 9,600rpm and 110Nm of torque at 7,800rpm) forward by five degrees and altering its fitment in the chassis, in order to improve the bike’s handling. The new aluminium chassis, lighter and with 30% more torsional rigidity than the old bike’s frame, has been designed in accordance with the principles used on the Kawasaki ZX-10R Ninja. And among other things, it has resulted in a motorcycle that’s actually quite slim and that weighs only 218kg (with all fluids and fuel).
In addition to the reduced weight, the new Z-bike is also more compact than the old one and the completely redesigned rear suspension now uses a monoshock that’s mounted almost horizontally, with a progressive linkage. The 41mm USD fork is adjustable and the presence of anti-lock brakes is comforting. Reflecting the bike’s newfound personality, the riding position is now more aggressive, with more weight on the front end, which feels quite appropriate.
On the move, the new Z1000 is much more responsive than the old one. Not only is the new engine simply phenomenal, the electronics are all very well sorted out, eliminating any jerkiness and/or inconsistent behaviour. Between 4,500-10,000rpm, the four-cylinder engine pushes really hard and the bike’s acceleration almost matches that of an MV Brutale which we rode here earlier.
With gear ratios perfectly matched to the engine and with its killer mid-range power delivery, the new Z is an absolute joy to ride. During our very fast 170km ride across the magnificent roads in Spain, we did notice some vibration creeping in at around 7,500 revs in sixth gear, but that shouldn’t be a problem because spending extended amounts of time at those speeds will anyway result in an immediate confiscation of your driving license. At more sane speeds, vibration is just about unnoticeable on the bike.
While the new, more powerful engine is a joy to use, what’s even better is that improvements in the chassis department have kept pace with the engine. At high speeds, the new chassis keeps the bike very planted and stable, and there isn’t a hint of nervousness or uncertainty here. Even with a passenger on board, the Kawasaki's behaviour remains impeccable, and the suspension works very well indeed. Yes, this is a well balanced, manageable and responsive motorcycle that can take all the hard cornering you can throw at it, though the chassis/suspension setup is a bit too stiff for bad, uneven roads.
Overall, this is a fine bike. The new Z1000 costs less than most comparable super nakeds from Europe and yet it manages to equal their outright performance.
And here's what the guys at MCN have to say about the new Z1000...