The Pretty Face
The older model may not have boasted the supersport performance many hoped it would, but it certainly didn't lack in the looks department. No matter the angle you caught the old bike at it was easy on the eyes.
Knowing full well it had big shoes to fill, Kawi threw the book at it when it came to aesthetical improvements. The compact cowl and dual headlights set the precedent. From there you catch the angled bodywork, the slim tail section and unique exhaust. A closer inspection reveals the five-spoke wheels, eccentric chain adjusters that keep the swingarm clean and cool details like the flushmounts and the lower cowl.
Other noteworthy details include a trick LCD instrument cluster that features a digital bar-style tach and large numerical speed display. The entire dash is three-position adjustable and allows you to pivot the cluster to your desired angle.
In the Saddle
Foul-weather riding can reveal a lot about a bike's true nature. If the fueling isn't spot-on, the brakes aren't easily modulated and the handling characteristics aren't dialed it can get ugly. Thankfully the Z1000 waltzed through the inclement conditions during the launch.
Thumb the starter and the big-block engine snaps to life before falling into a low idle. Snick the buttery six-speed trans into first gear, let the smooth-engaging clutch out and you're greeted to huge torque right off the bottom.
Serious power is available from a tick over 4,000 RPM all the way to the 11,500 RPM redline with serious thrust coming in hard at 7,000 RPM upward. How serious? Strong enough to send the front wheel to the sky in the first three gears using nothing more than the throttle.
Despite a muscle-bike stance that would lead you to believe it's solely a boulevard beast, once moving the Z1000 becomes transparent.
After nearly 200 miles in the seat it still proved to be a willing partner during high-speed blasts or tight and twisty sections. At about the double century mark you start to appreciate things like the ultra-smooth engine and the other nice features like the easy-to-read gauges and the comfy ergos.
Like any wet-weather ride we hoped there would have been more dry spells so we could have tested the new Z1000 limits, but this was the real world. And this is exactly where it was designed to play.
The new Z1000 almost didn't make it to the US. Due to its unsuccessful predecessor, the powers that be at Kawi of North America repeatedly denied Kawi Japan's requests to bring the bike over...until they rode it. One spin around the test track and the US side of Team Green was sold.
Kawi did a great job of nearing perfection with the new bike, so not much is needed in the way of mods. But like any stock bike we'd change a few things to make it all our own. A full system and fuel management should easily shave at least 10 pounds and add 10 HP. We'd also add an undertail to tighten it up and some stainless steel lines to make the brakes even stronger.
The now patented Z1000 quad...
The now patented Z1000 quad exhaust has been updated for even better looks. Each pipe is 1.5-pounds lighter than earlier examples despite greater capacity.
Air ducts flank either side...
Air ducts flank either side of the tank for an intake howl so loud it'll scare the neighbors. The new headlight and small bikini fairing kick-off a tidy package that's as much a looker as it is a mover.
A first for Kawi (and sportbikes...
A first for Kawi (and sportbikes for that matter), the adjustable instrument cluster pivots on its lower mount for three different angles of adjustment.
1043cc liquid-cooled inline-four; 16-valves
Showa 41mm inverted fork, fully adjustable
Monoshock with adjustable preload and rebound
300mm rotors with 4-piston calipers
250mm disc with dual-piston caliper
Pearl Stardust White; Metallic Spark Black