I love the Kawasaki Z1000. It's fun, practical, well balanced and possesses a typical Kawasaki turbine-like powerplant.
It's powered by a 953cc 16-valve DOHC in-line four that's based on the grunty Kawasaki ZX-9R engine of days gone by. It's been tuned for low to midrange torque and smooth delivery and this time, the Kawasaki engineers are spot on – it's watery smooth between the wrist and the road. The gearbox is slick and quiet and the oval-shaped throttle bodies that first appeared on the Kawasaki ZX-12R contribute to the silky and predictable power delivery.
The ride mimics the engine. In the 2007 model, Kawasaki made a conscious effort to reduce the vibrations that hindered the original Kawasaki Z1000 by repositioning the engine mounts and adding a couple of extra subframe members.
For the latest, the 2009 model, there are minimal changes to the naked liter-bike. The upper camchain guides and the clutch spring retainer have been scrapped, which according to Kawasaki is purely to simplify production – and presumably reduce weight. And one update that has left me a little perplexed is Kawasaki has opted to modify the shape of the teeth on the rear sprocket for 'improved performance'.
It may improve the performance by less than 0.1 percent or it may reduce the chain noise after 250,000 kilometers. All I know is it is improved...
All the other changes are purely cosmetic, with two-tone paint and anodized brake calipers.
The styling is plain and simple and very Kawasaki with its angles and paint scheme. The conical 4-2-1-2 exhaust system is certainly an acquired taste aesthetically, but roll the throttle off from somewhere high in the rev range and it emits a deep burble that will stir the juices deep within any red-blooded rider.
The seating position is spacious, upright, relaxed and it readies you for either an aggressive ride or a Sunday countryside tour. If you're thinking about a naked-bike, think hard about the Kawasaki Z1000.