A devil once, a devil forever- a befitting tagline for the Kawasaki Z1000! Originally conceived as the Z1, the Kawasaki Z series was stacked against Honda’s popular CB750 and aimed at providing a fast and technologically advanced motorcycle to the masses that met with great success. The Z1 moniker was treated to timely upgrades and it was not until 1977 when the first Z1000 was born. It rose to instant fame, becoming the first Japanese motorcycle to win the AMA Superbike Championship.
Though the GPZ series marked the end of the Z1000 series in the 1980s, the Z1000 was reborn in 2003 when Kawasaki introduced the motorcycle as a 30th anniversary edition as a tribute to the original Z1000. Using a tweaked and slightly detuned ZX9R engine, the Z1000 broke design barriers, flaunting aggression on its sleeve – and the legacy has continued till date. So when the blokes at Kawasaki headquarters decided to refresh the already edgy design of the earlier gen Z1000, they went ahead and gave it a dramatic overhaul.
So how good is the new bike? We had all of two days to experience the ‘Sugomi’ slash and decide if the new Z1000 is as potent as it looks. So here we go with our 2014 Kawasaki Z1000 review.
STYLING, FEATURES & BUILD QUALITY
The design of the new Z1000 unashamedly exudes brutality. It mimics a warrior king dressed to strike fear in the hearts of its enemies. Look at the Z from any angle- and the sculpted bodywork reeks of villainy. It won’t be flattering to say that the designers at Kawasaki have outdone themselves on the design, beautifully blending a brutal form with effective functionality and attention to detail.
The predator stance with the four LED shod projectors (a first on any Japanese production bike) makes the Z1000 gaze straight into your eyes. And it’s not just all show, the illumination from those headlights would put many a family car to shame.
The cast aluminum mirrors, the transparent brake fluid reservoirs, the machined aluminum steering bolt, the ribbed golden finished front forks, the “Z” textured saddle overlapping the co-riders seat designed to resemble more of a rear cowl- all of it is immaculately done. The designers haven’t even spared the ignition key embellishing it with the “Z” logo.
In our opinion, one wouldn’t have asked for all those features and even the absence of such intricate detailing wouldn’t probably have bothered anyone – but Kawasaki, obviously, thought otherwise.
The new digital instrumental panel is compact and has been given a twin rev counter. 0-4000 rpm is indicated on the left side of the display when the Z1000 would be lazily chugging along at 80 kph. So when riding around the city, it’s a good indicator to keep the revs confined to the left bar and keep an eye on that wrist that connects you to the snappy throttle. The horizontally positioned tacho comes into play upwards of 4000 rpm when you decide to mercilessly whack the Z to its 11000 rpm rev limiter. Ride like a gentleman and the Z acknowledges your gentleness with an ECO indicator on the dash.
And then there is the 17 litre fuel tank with overlapping shades of grey which amply complement the crouching stance of the grisly front end. The 2014 Kawasaki Z1000 when compared to the earlier gen model has shed substantial flourish of plastics thereby exposing functionality of its parts. For instance, the front suspension on the previous models was partially hidden beneath fork covers, the tank extensions were more pronounced and protruding beyond the front forks- but the 2014 Z1000 strips them all.
The present design has been elevated towards being radical than edgy, with tension taking over the bulgy theme of the outgoing model. The best part of the 2014 Kawasaki Z1000’s design is that where on one hand the visuals succeed to intimidate, on the other- the bodywork seems no less than a piece of art. The same design under an Italian badge would probably have got much more applause.
The tail concludes with those gorgeous integrated twin pipes in brushed metal finish with the 13 LED lit tail-light imparting the new Z1000 an equally menacing rear as the front.
Getting to the tech chart, the 2014 Kawasaki Z1000 gets the new Showa Separate Function Big Piston Forks that feature preload adjustability in the left tube, with damping pistons and adjustability in the right. The new front suspension aids easy adjustment with the adjusters mounted on the top of the fork tubes with preload on the left and compression/ rebound damping on the right.
At the rear is a horizontally arranged monoshock mounted on linkages over the swingarm which Kawasaki claims keeps it away from the exhaust heat and also aids mass centralization. The 4.8 inch travelling rear shocker comes with a step-less adjuster that can be infinitely tuned as per the rider’s requirement.
A pair of ABS equipped “monobloc” radial-mount front brake calipers with laser-etched Kawasaki logo grabbing twin 310mm (10mm more than the N1000) petal rotors take care of stopping duties at the front.
Complementing the front is a single piston caliper mounted over a 250mm petal disc at the rear. Footwear for the 2014 Kawasaki Z1000 reads a grippy pair of Dunlops with 120/70-ZR17 at the front and 190/50-ZR17 at the rear.
On the quality front, we’d probably need a magnifying glass to stumble upon a rough edge on a motorcycle which boasts of top notch finish. If we really have to say something for the heck of it – we would probably have preferred a better set of turn blinkers. Well that is all we could probably crib about on the 2014 Kawasaki Z1000.
ENGINE & GEARBOX
Thrusting the 2014 Kawasaki Z1000 is a liquid cooled 1043cc inline four engine- the same motor that powers the 2014 Kawasaki Ninja 1000 (read our review here). Treated to revised ECU settings and camshaft timings, connectors between the header pipes and new cylinder connecting passageways, the Z produces improved punch in the mid and higher rev range. The power and torque figures might be similar to the N1000 reading 140 bhp @ 10,000 rpm and 111 nm @ 7300 rpm respectively- but the Z is a different animal here.
When compared to the N1000, the Z feels restless and more eager to get that front wheel airborne- thanks to those two extra teeth in the rear sprocket. While we were overwhelmed with the N1000’s ability to crawl through traffic in the higher gears- the Z1000 with the extra 2 teeth bettered our earlier experience. Refinement from the engine is trademark Japanese and the gearbox is extremely light even while in hammering mode. We remember trundling around in 6th gear with the speedo reading 25 kph. And the best part- you could go all the way to its claimed top speed of 240 kph without troubling your left foot.
Acceleration is crisp and the beautiful inline four hum transforms into riotous resonance with the revs climbing high. It’s indeed amazing that just two extra teeth in the rear sprocket create an absolute hooligan in the Z1000. While the N1000 would feel relaxed while being thrashed – the Z behaves as if delivered a high dose of testosterone. It would lunge ahead with zest on every shift and with its street riding posture, one really doesn’t have an option but to grasp the bars tight. With a forward-canted riding position and lack of any wind protection, the Z pushes you back further into the seat and in upwards of 150 kph- takes you closer to the experience of being caught in a storm. Top speed tests took a beating and we couldn’t get any further with the speedo reading 188 kph with all hell breaking loose around us. All this might not make for a pleasurely reading, but the adrenaline rush the Z manages to send through your veins is beyond compare.
HANDLING, RIDE QUALITY AND BRAKING
Having ridden the Z1000 and the N1000 on consecutive days (though we would loved to do a shootout together), the differences between the two motorcycles were easily evident. On one hand where the N1000 would feel composed on high speed straight with aerodynamic aid, the Z1000 as aforesaid would send your heart racing into another orbit. The converse nature of both motorcycles is well reflected in the corners as well. Where the N1000 would get you intimidated into the twisties at first, the Z1000 pokes you to dive right into it. And where the N1000 comes with rider-aid electronics- the Z dumps them all for pure unadulterated riding thrill.
With a sharp throttle providing ample feedback from the rear tyre to your wrist, the Z1000 might seem like a fervent feline leaping in all ferocity into the turns- but you’d never lose control of the motorcycle. It feels stupendously weightless and it won’t be an exaggeration to state that it moves and steers easier (except for that wide turning radius) than your everyday 150cc motorcycle.
Dunlop Sportmax D214 tyres at both ends lend ample bite into the tarmac and the Z1000 raises your confidence turn after turn carrying more speed into corners at every attempt. The stiffly set suspension does manage to baffle your wrists on bumpy turns, but doesn’t seem to unsettle the motorcycle. Any errors mid corner are rectified by the brakes and the precise throttle that ensure to put you back into your cornering line. ABS ensures that there are no ‘oops!’ moments in case you happen to grab the brake more than needed.
Like the N1000, the Z has that lovely mid-range that minimizes or we’d say eliminates downshifting for that added traction to the rear wheel unless you get to engine stalling figures in the higher gear. The Z1000 feels at its absolute best in the twisties and we’re certain that it would double up as a decent companion during track days. It does feel a bit heavy at first- for comparison’s sake it’s a full 23 kgs heavier than the track-bred ZX10R. But then even without electronic assists (except the ABS), the Z1000 with its top drawer artillery manages to offer top notch performance. The hard set suspension that battered us on bad roads offered superlative hold in the corners. No wonder where we spent maximum time on the N1000 on the highways, the Z was put to task sprinting up and down the Lavasa bends till the day lost sunlight.
Coming to ride quality- the 2014 Kawasaki Z1000 does feel comfortable riding solo over well laid roads. The seat and the suspension don’t feel as plush as the N1000 and are on the firmer side. Though the motorcycle feels compliant over bad roads, it does extend the jitters to the rider- particularly the rear. The upright position gives you the liberty to relax your grab on the handlebars to deal with the front, but we wish the rear suspension could have been more pliant while dealing with undulations. The miserly padded rear seat is a strict no for two up riding and on bad roads is a nightmare for the co-rider. Our pillion on the Z1000 had a hard time getting off the bed next day.
Talking of brakes- the 2014 Kawasaki Z1000 shod with Tokico “monobloc” radial calipers pinching twin 310mm petal discs at the front, and a single pot caliper over a 250 single disc at the rear offers a supreme braking experience. A new generation ABS endows the Z1000 with a linear stopping ability under high speed and hard braking. We tried hard to lock up the front, and failed, with the ABS doing it duty with utmost finesse. It was while down to low speeds with us still trying to lock up the front, the brakes would give a stuttered feel. Overall, the Z1000 shines in the braking department and delighted us all the way through.
Clocking over 300 kms on the Z1000 and despite the stiff suspension landing us with a somewhat sore back, riding the 2014 Kawasaki Z1000 was one of the most rewarding experiences we have ever had.
So how would it feel to own one? The 2014 Kawasaki Z1000 is akin to having a big cat as a pet! It’s savage, but stylish at the same time. It’s restless to the core, but loves to be in your control as long as you respect its might. Being one of the most aggressive looking motorcycles, the Z1000 also happens to be one of the most easy to get along machines. It is an impeccably well built bike and every inch is a delight to look at, considering the attention to detail Kawasaki has bestowed upon the Z1000. Priced at INR 12,50,000/- (ex-showroom, Pune), the futuristic 2014 Kawasaki Z1000 makes for an apt choice for someone looking to step up and enter the world of genuine super-biking.
2014 KAWASAKI Z1000 TECHNICAL SPECIFICATIONS
|Engine||Four-stroke, liquid-cooled, DOHC, four valves per cylinder, inline-four|
|Bore x Stroke||77.0 x 56.0mm|
|Max Power||140 bhp @ 10,000 rpm|
|Max Torque||111 nm @ 7300 rpm|
|Fuel System||DFI® with four 38mm Keihin throttle bodies, oval sub-throttles|
|Ignition||TCBI with digital advance|
|Final Drive||Sealed Chain|
|Rake/Trail||24.5 degrees / 4.0 in.|
|Frame Type||Aluminum Backbone|
|Front Tyre Size||120/70 ZR17|
|Rear Tyre Size||190/50 ZR17|
|Front Suspension / Wheel Travel||41 mm inverted SFF-BP fork with stepless compression and rebound damping and spring preload adjustability / 4.7 in.|
|Rear Suspension / Wheel Travel||Horizontal back-link single shock with adjustable preload and stepless rebound damping / 4.8 in.|
|Front brakes||Dual 310mm petal-type discs with radial-mount four-piston monobloc calipers with ABS|
|Rear brakes||Single 250mm petal-type discs with single-piston caliper and ABS|
|Fuel Capacity||17 litres|
|Seat Height||32.1 in.|
|Overall Length||80.5 in.|
|Overall Width||31.1 in.|
|Overall Height||41.5 in.|
|Price||INR 12,50,000/- (Ex-showroom, Pune)|
2014 KAWASAKI Z1000 IMAGE GALLERY