Kawasaki updated the ante in the naked bike arena with the entrance of the Z1000. Beyond its muscular torque delivery and radical styling, the Z1000 dishes out a visceral riding experience. This purpose-built Kawasaki is equally at home in the garages of both practical motorcyclists - simply seeking a smile-producing weekend ride and owners desiring a bike that doesn’t fit the norm.
Kawasaki combined the idea of honest performing machine with loads amounts of fun and it blended all together with a carefully-elected dose of brawn and finesse in order to obtain its most successful naked ever, the Z1000.
This motorcycle, together with the rest of the 2008 lineup, marks Kawasaki’s evolution and shows it the way into the future. Until then, we will have the opportunity to enjoy this extremely well-balanced performer and make out of those favorite sinuous roads, our own paths.
In 1973, the world saw the first Japanese motorcycle with four cylinders, dual overhead cams and 903cc. Produced by Kawasaki and named KZ900, this bike was the most powerful ever produced up until its time. Only four years later, Kawasaki made another big step by introducing the KZ1000, a motorcycle which would inspire the creation of the Z1000, presented in 2003. This modernized version of the famous superbike that wrote history used a modified motor taken right out the Kawasaki ZX-9, and was bored out by 2.2 mm resulting in bigger displacement, more low-rpm torque, leading to a loss of power of only 4 bhp from the original motor.
Although modern and very successful, the Z1000 uses an older style, backbone frame having the purpose of supporting the motor as a stressed member of the chassis. Also, the engine mounts have the ability of being removed when necessary for maintenance or other reasons. This also contributed to the fact that this motorcycle is a pleasure to work on and perform maintenance.
Another unit that equips the Z1000 and contributed to its success is the unique front suspension, that each 41mm fork leg having a different task. The idea is that on fork leg manages compression damping duties, while the other takes care of the rebound damping.
The rear shock is exactly like the one found on the ZX6R-636 and that has to mean something.
In that same year, the bike’s style set it apart from other naked sportbikes who just couldn’t deal with Kawasaki’s quad-shotgun and gold-tinted pipes. The Z1000 used the same tail section that was being used on the 2003 ZX6R 636cc sport bike.
Kawasaki had planed a major upgrade for 2007, and there were even some rumors that the Z1000 would feature a motor borrowed from the company’s flagship, the ZX-10. The design of the new exhaust pipes added a bit more salt and piper and the wonder was ready to hit the streets, Kawasaki style.
Honda introduced the 919 as the open-class sportbike with tons of attitude, and its sleeves rolled up. With its sportbike-derived powerplant, rigid and lightweight steel chassis, this stripped-down screamer is all business, ready to take on any road and even the Kawasaki Z1000 if necessary.
Yamaha’s ultimate street brawler brings 998cc of fuel-injected previous generation R1 power to the fray, in a light and strong aluminum frame. This package is more than suitable for the fight against the subject of this review and many will even find it better. I won’t deny it.
Ever since its re-introduction back in 2003, the Kawasaki Z1000 has featured a revolutionary, sharp look which determined riders to either love or hate the bike.
The bike’s radical styling is the work of Shunji Tanaka (the designer of the Mazda Miata) and consists in Kawasaki’s interpretation of nakedness, which is pretty visionary in my opinion. The controversy usually says something, and this is no exception.
What this bike insists on, are the aggressive lines that practically make it shine as bright as it does. Starting with the front, we will notice a mini semi-fairing which has the purpose of joining the headlight with the on board instrumentation. The black and white contract is the appropriate one for this machine and the mirrors provide it with a nice finishing.
Front signal lights follow the headlight and position themselves in the side radiator covers for a more unique styling and symmetry. I would actually say that the mirrors and signals follow the exhaust’s design and blend perfectly in the overall appearance.
The fuel tank contributes to the bike’s individualization process and the rear end is ZX6R inspired and that talks a bit about the bike’s abilities.
Another important aspect at naked bikes is how the engine looks and this one looks massive, compact and very promising. Is it enough? If not, you will surely be caught by the black paint applied on it and rest of the pieces and those nice polished rims.
This Kawasaki version of nakedness has been tuned to satisfy the most demanding musclebike riders. The Kawasaki Z1000 features serious low-rpm grunt courtesy of focused engine tuning and gear ratios ideally match to serious street riding. Not only does the Z1000’s 953cc four-cylinder torque curve provide low-end get-up-and-go, but the pull continues through the mid-range, giving the rider extra thrust for conquering road challenges and providing the great exhilaration expected from a liter bike.
Matching the delivery of power from the spirited engine is a highly communicative chassis that permits the Z1000 to offer formidable maneuverability. Kawasaki achieved this remarkable feat by making a sub-frame for the engine – now a stressed member of the frame – and further tailoring the chassis flex with a combination of rigid and rubber engine mounts. The overall result is a confidence-inspiring ride and high levels of feedback with a superb level of control, since the rider is better able to understand what the bike is doing.
A 41mm inverted front fork compliments the Z1000’s potent chassis and delivers exceptional steering performance. Its smooth action in the top half of the stroke is harmonized by firmer damping in the bottom half. This gives the plush initial feeling of a long-stroke suspension, and allows a firm, planted feel in corners – a combination which makes the bike both easier to ride as well as adept of carving through the rider’s favorite canyon. The bottom-link Uni-Trak rear suspension has a nitrogen gas charged shock with piggyback reservoir with settings that balance the front fork and help to offer exceptional road holding. Together the front and rear settings make the bike’s pitching motions more predictable and easier to interpret. The superior ride quality is particularly noticeable when commuting or riding around town.
As the Z1000 is essentially a supersport with a view of its brawny engine, its Ninja-like brake components are no surprise. Radial-mount brake calipers and radial-pump front brake master cylinder offer precise brake control and superb feel at the lever. The enhanced brake performance allows the riders to concentrate more on their riding, secure in the knowledge that the Z1000’s excellent brakes are up to the task.
First-rate mass centralization and ergonomics are major factors in the enhanced rider and machine synergy. The close handlebars of the Z1000 and slim saddle combine to create a compact riding position. This lets the rider take full advantage of the motorcycle’s great stability and sharp, nimble, handling characteristics, while making short work of their favorite ribbon of asphalt.
I first took the bike for a ride in the city so I could see how it manages to filter the traffic and leave first from the stop signs. I wasn’t disappointed at all. In fact, I was charmed by the way the Z1000 performs. Stop signs are no problem, but departures are my absolute joy.
The compact Kawasaki immediately felt comfortable and did its best when it took me from constant changing points A and B. It also proved to be light and flickable at low speed and that is a great advantage if you consider its category. Easy slow speed maneuvering is mostly due to the bike’s compact design and great riding position.
I especially appreciate the fuel-injected four cylinder engine for being very responsive and allowing for confident and satisfying throttle openings. Gearing was precise and ready for action. Although I didn’t manage to shift more than third gears in city traffic, I noticed that the torque engine allows for great versatility of the gearbox and that is an advantage in town.
Kawasaki tuned the Z1000’s engine to start punching freely and strongly above 3000 rpm but the same engine has a wide rpm range and can amaze you easily. After all, it is taken right out the ZX9R and adapted to this naked monster.
Out on the freeway I had the occasion to properly test the way this bike accelerates and I didn’t encountered any embarrassing holes in its delivery while I revved it through all its gears.
Sinuous roads are no problem for the Z1000 as the bike doesn’t ask you for gear changes from turn to turn and it just keeps on doing what it knows best: rev quickly, lean side by side and accommodate you comfortably. The big 16-valve motor always had the grunt to send the bike rocketing towards the next bend with no need for a downchange.
This is also where I noticed that the bike’s chassis deals without a problem with any given situation and any hairpin that might appear in its way.
Even though I had my doubts on the single fork adjuster, the front end was rigid enough to manage flexing even when I was hardly braking so I declare myself satisfied in this concern.
Braking system is taken right out ZX9R so it implements those same four-pot calipers applied on 300mm discs. If it was good enough for the ZX, it is good enough for the Z. Also, the 220mm rear disc provides useful braking power and brings that special something that determines a bike to stop as it should.
Despite the rubber-mounted handlebars, I managed to detect some vibrations but nothing too disturbing. This is due to the fact the engine doesn’t include a balancer shaft as it is a stressed member of the chassis, solidly attached to it.
I appreciate naked motorcycle for their ability of making the ride seem quicker at any speeds, and although the small fairing doesn’t allow you to tuck in and avoid the wind, the riding experience will always be awesome and full of joy.
This review found me counting the benefits and disadvantages that the Kawasaki Z1000 features but I have now noticed that one of the bike’s biggest benefits was left behind. The best at the end, like always. Offered for the retail price of $8,899, the Z1000 not only rides like a dream and accommodates you in complete comfort, but takes care of your pocket, too.
By providing maneuverable, functional transportation in a daily environment, the Z1000 proves able to unleash the fun-seeker in every rider, an unavoidable side-effect when a responsive engine and maneuverable chassis are coupled together. When it comes to right down to it, isn’t that what motorcycling is all about?
Engine and Transmission
Type: 4-stroke, Liquid-Cooled, DOHC, 4-valve, 4-cylinder
Bore x Stroke: 77.20 x 50.9mm
Maximum Torque: 72.8 lb/ft @ 8,200 rpm
Compression Ratio: 11.2:1
Fuel Injection: DFI with four 36mm Keihin throttle bodies, oval sub-throttles, ultra-fine atomizing fuel injectors
Ignition: TCBI Digital Advance
Final Drive: X-Ring Chain
Chassis and Dimensions
Frame type: Backbone, high-tensile steel tubes and cast aluminum engine sub-frame
Rake/Trail: 24/5 deg. / 4.0 in.
Front Suspension Wheel Travel: 41mm inverted cartridge fork with stepless rebound damping and adjustable spring preload / 4.7 in.
Rear Suspension Wheel Travel: Bottom-Link Uni-Trak with gas-charged shock, stepless rebound damping and adjustable spring preload / 5.9 in.
Front Tire Size: 120/70 ZR17
Rear Tire Size: 190/50 ZR17
Wheelbase: 56.9 in.
Front Brake Type: Dual 300mm pedal rotors with radial-mount four-piston calipers.
Rear Brake Type: Single 250mm pedal rotor with single-piston caliper
Fuel Tank Capacity: 4.9 gal.
Seat Height: 32.3 in.
Overall Length: 82.3 in.
Overall Width: 30.7 in.
Overall Height: 41.9 in.
Color: Pearl Crystal White
Warranty: 12 months
Good Times Protection Plan: 12, 34, 36 or 48 months
Outstanding low and mid-range torque
Comfortable and sporty riding position
Uniquely aggressively styling
953cc Four-Stroke, DOHC Engine
Compact, narrow and lightweight design
Cam profiles optimized for low-mid rpm range
Heavy flywheel mass gives a more satisfying mid-range power feeling
High-performance ECU maintains optimum tuning parameters
Ultra-fine injectors and 36mm throttle bodies with oval sub-throttles deliver an ultra-smooth response across the rev-range
Dual mufflers in a 4-2-1-2 arrangement contributes to a healthy mid-range performance, while dual-outlet muffler caps help foster the Z1000’s aggressive quad-pipe look
Exhaust valve on the right-side muffler (just upstream of the silencer) helps “tune” back-pressure waves for enhanced response in the low-mid range
Iridium plugs deliver a hotter spark for high combustion efficiency
Transmission gearing complements the low-mid range torque performance
Ball bearing shift lever and shift drum contribute to a smooth-shifting with superb feel at the lever
Clutch springs with a low spring rate equal a light clutch feel
Lightweight radiator keeps the engine cool without adding excessive pounds
Semi-rigid mounted engine utilized as a stressed member to provide optimal chassis flex during high performance riding
Engine mounts located behind the cylinder, closer to the engine’s center of gravity, transmit less engine vibration to the rider for a much improved ride quality
Pressed aluminum swingarm, swingarm bracket and engine mounts combined for a less rigid frame, allowing better chassis feedback and less engine vibration
41mm inverted front fork delivers brilliant steering performance
Fork damping rates go from smooth action at the top of the stroke to firm damping at the bottom for a comfortable feeling that makes the bike easier to ride and more adept at high performance maneuvers
Tuned to complement the front fork, the bottom-link Uni-Trak rear suspension features a nitrogen gas charger shock with piggy back reservoir
Radial-mount brake calipers and radial-pump front brake master cylinder offer precise brake control and superb feel at the lever – Triple petal brake disc offer better cooling and warp resistance and less unsprung weight
A 250 mm rear disc offers abundant rear brake control
Instrumentation gives at-a-glance information to the rider
Analog-style tachometer provides quick and clear rpm data
LCD features a digital speedometer, odometer, tripmeter, water temp, fuel gauge and clock