The Kawasaki Z1000 Is the McLaren 650S Spider Of Superbikes: Review
Shifting up through first, almost skipping second, and into third only takes a fraction of second. Immediately, you’ve been transported to practically a whole other dimension. If you blink, you’ll miss it. The world around you seems to fade away and the staggered dashes on the highway become a blur and begin to form a solid yellow line. Squeezing the throttle, you continue to push as your speedometer tells you that you are going faster than lightning. Then, you finally hit traffic. You’re crestfallen, because you finally have to slow this machine that’s giving you what can only be described as a buzz similar to that of a triple shot of espresso.
At least that’s what happens when you first hop onto the new Kawasaki Z1000. A few weeks ago, we reviewed the Kawasaki Vulcan S, and seeing as how many people enjoyed that article, we felt the need to evaluate another member of the Kawasaki portfolio.
The Z1000 is definitely a step up in both style and performance from the Vulcan S, and is sort of the McLaren 650S Spider of the motorcycle world. It’s a naked-street fighter style superbike, full of potential energy waiting to be unleashed, and that's what this motorcycle definitely wants out of the rider.
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It Gives You the Fizz
You strap on your helmet, hit the starter and it is almost like a sentient being ignites under your legs. The 1,043cc motor twitches and vibrates at a low hum through the chassis of the motorcycle, signaling you that this ride will definitely be memorable.
The clutch is stiff, but not overly so, and is weighted just enough to give you proper warning when you shift this bike from neutral to first. It’s a mechanical clunk as you drop it into gear—one that’s hugely appreciated coming from the world of automobiles that have all but been neutered of that mechanical feel.
As I take off from Kawasaki’s headquarters, I cannot fight back the grin that now stretches from ear to ear. The power this motorcycle has is incredible. Twisting the throttle of the Z1000 is as if I just engaged the afterburners on an F-22 Raptor fighter jet.
Brilliantly violent in its onslaught, it’s a force that surges through the motorcycle and through my entire body. Although it becomes immediately apparent that this motorcycle is definitely more suited for riders that have years of experience.
At the same time, when you hop onto this motorcycle, it feels as if you form a symbiotic bond with it. The power, while immense, doesn’t slap you across the face and take you for a ride. It’s a manageable thrust, and coupled with its brilliant maneuverability, make the Z1000 a perfect everyday commuter motorcycle which sounds ridiculous, but is completely true.
For example, when I started my ride, it was the height of traffic in Los Angeles. To get home I needed to get from Irvine to Santa Clarita, which means I’d have to take the dreaded 405 freeway. In a car, it would have taken me about four hours to get home. On the Z1000, due to the ability to lane-split and the immediate confidence I had on the motorcycles capabilities, it only took about an hour and a half.
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A Monster Awaits Your Twist of the Throttle
Stepping into the light and gazing at the Z1000’s brilliant Kawasaki Green paint and sharp angular features reveals an absolutely sinister looking bike. This Z1000 looks as if it were a bare-knuckle brawler sizing up its competition. It’s literally a lean, mean, and green, fighting machine, one that shows its true colors once you twist the throttle and drop a knee.
Much like that McLaren 650S Spider, the Kawasaki Z1000 has a case of dual personalities and those personalities all depend on whether or not you’re using the throttle like a hooligan. As stated above, if you manage your throttle lightly, then the Z1000 is a perfect commuter bike. However, if you want to pretend you’re Nicky Hayden or Valentino Rossi, well, you just twist the throttle a bit harder, and lean like you’ve never leaned before.
When used correctly, the Z1000 is a surgical blade—sharp as all hell and has the ability to slice and dice through corners like you’d never believe.
However, unlike its brother, the ZX-10 Ninja, the Z1000 doesn’t come with all the rider aids like traction control and a multi-level mode adjuster to help tune the motorcycle to certain situations like track or rain. It’s a no-nonsense, brass-knuckle fighter, that demands you know what you're doing, or it will bite you in the behind.
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While I only had the Z1000 for a short period of time thanks to some insanely inopportune gravel (you can read more about what happened here) I can safely say that Kawasaki did a phenomenal job building and tuning this motorcycle.
The Z1000 represents the modern interpretation of a café racer. It’s a stripped, lightweight, point-to-point machine that makes you tingle all over when getting ready to hop on top of it. Quoting James May, the Z1000 will give you “the fizz.”
Engine: 1,043 cc inline four-cylinder
Compact and Aggressive Looking
Has the potential to bite you if you're not paying attention.
The front headlight sort of looks like a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle.