The Kawasaki Z750, Kawasaki's naked middleweight. The 100 horsepower engine's a sleeved down Z1000 lump. The simple steel tube frame's basically Kawasaki Z1000 too, with some geometry tweaks. It just hasn't sold that well in most countries, even in the more practical, half-faired Z750S guise, but it's huge in Europe.
In France, it's the best-selling bike over 125cc, with nearly 7000 shifted last year, partly because it slips nicely under their 107 horsepower limit, but it's popular all over the Continent, with nearly 20,000 bikes sold per year.
The engine's brilliant: the extra capacity and long stroke give it loads more midrange than its 600cc rivals and it wheelies nicely. It has a raw urgency that, say, the Suzuki 650 Bandit lacks. But when you start to push, it can feel like they skimped on the suspension and brakes: the rear end particularly skips on bumpy surfaces.It vibrates badly, which makes the mirrors all but useless. Pillions won't love it: the pegs are mounted stupidly high. Finally, the seat is rock-hard.
There have been a few problems reported around Europe, where the Kawasaki Z750 is more common. Vibration can make the silencer fracture where it meets the pipe from the collector box. The mounting bracket has been known to break. Likewise, vibration as well as damp can cause the instruments to fail.
We heard of cases of reg/rec failure and gearbox lock-up, but they seem to be rare. The engine is solid, as you'd expect for one based on the Kawasaki ZX-9R sports bike, but the finish isn't overly robust.
It's not the most practical bike, to be honest and it's a bugger to clean, but the engine makes up for it.. And with lots of after-market bolt-ons available.