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Naked Bike? Super Standard? Modern UJM? Who Cares What It’s Called: The Futuristically Retro and Super-fast Z1000 Is an Absolute Blast to Ride

It’s a rare thing: a new from the ground up motorcycle that feels so right and works so well right out of the crate that it has the press swooning and owners crooning. These well-sorted but rare bikes are often described as “happy motorcycles,” and it’s become crystal clear during the last year that Kawasaki’s Z1000 – completely redesigned in 2010 – is a very happy machine. It’s a realization that comes after just a mile or two in the saddle, and it’s one that confirms the fact that this motorcycle’s design team worked a special bit of magic during development.



The Z1000 thrills before you even jump aboard, with some of motorcycling’s most rakishly stunning lines and body shapes. The aesthetic showcase begins with a low-mount front cowl that slopes back radically, highlighting the Z’s prow and, behind it, an adjustable instrument cluster featuring a multifunction LCD display covered by a trick-looking orange lens. The headlight represents Kawasaki’s first-ever use of a line-beam unit, the guts of which are integrated nicely into that angled cowl. Moving rearward, you come to a shapely fuel tank that’s flared on the sides to let you grab it with your knees and that’s trim at the back for a snug fit. The seat is low and narrow at the front to make ground contact easy, and flows beautifully rearward to end in a futuristically retro LED taillight behind a red lens. It’s a thoroughly athletic shape, one sure to garner attention wherever it’s ridden.





Totally redesigned just last year, the Z features a wide range of new-think moto technology, including an aluminum frame similar to the ZX™-10R’s that curves over the engine, cradling it from above. The design allows a narrow mid-section, which fosters a high degree of rider comfort and feedback in addition to keeping weight low and chassis rigidity high. The engine bolts solidly to the frame in three places, stressed-member-style, and there’s also a rubber mount at the upper rear crankcase area for added vibration damping and torsional rigidity. The main frame and swingarm pivot elements are cast as a single unit, with welds eliminated wherever possible for a more aesthetically pleasing look. And the subframe is a lightweight aluminum die-casting, which is light, smooth and beautiful.

Suspension at both ends is thoroughly modern and wickedly functional: a beefy, fully adjustable 41mm inverted fork up front and a spring preload and rebound damping adjustable Uni-Trak® shock in back that’s mounted nearly horizontally above the swingarm to shield it from exhaust heat and foster an added degree of mass centralization. Wheel control is simply superb, and the substantial feedback sent to the rider makes it easy to know exactly what’s going on at the bike’s contact patches.




The heart of every naked bike is its engine, so Kawasaki engineers paid special attention here for maximum, arm-straightening impact: Dual cams. Sixteen valves. 1,043cc. Liquid cooling. High compression. A long stroke – 56mm – for instantaneous thrust. Six speeds. And digital fuel injection. It’s all there.

The result? This inline-four packs impressive horsepower combined with the sort of flexible, mid-range-heavy power delivery that pastes a silly grin on the face of anyone lucky enough to be aboard. From nearly any rpm, rolling the Z1000’s throttle provides the kind of instant gratification most sportbikes just can’t quite muster, all with silky smooth, highly intoxicating response.





There’s more, of course. Check out the Z’s five-spoke wheels, with spokes machined near the rims for a custom look. We carried forward the quad-pipe theme from the last Z1000 (and the first Z-1), but an under-engine pre-chamber lets engineers use shorter mufflers for great looks and better mass centralization. A solid-mount handlebar and aluminum footpegs lifted from the Ninja® ZX-10R contribute to the Z1000’s quality, top-shelf feel. Brakes? Totally modern: Radially mounted calipers, Ninja-spec 300mm petal-type rotors and a radial-pump master cylinder all provide the latest in braking feel and feedback.



Conventional wisdom says many of today’s motorcycles lack soul, or are all too much alike. The Z1000 proves otherwise – and happily.

 

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Discussion Starter #2
Features and Benefits

Key Features
– 1,043cc inline-four with DFI produces a massive amount of torque
– Lightweight aluminum frame specifically designed for the Z1000
– Fully adjustable inverted front fork with settings designed for sporty performance
– Horizontal rear monoshock features stepless rebound damping and spring preload adjustability
– Radial-mounted four-piston front brake calipers and radial-pump front brake master cylinder combine with 300mm discs to provide superior stopping power
– Digital instrument panel tilts to accommodate different viewing angles
– Aggressive styling makes a bold fashion statement

DOHC, 16-valve 1,043cc Engine
– Liquid-cooled inline-four offers substantial power at all rpm levels, providing effortless acceleration in almost any situation
– Bore and stroke dimensions of 77.0 x 56.0 mm offer the best possible balance of peak power and low- and mid-range flexibility
– 38mm downdraft throttle bodies allow intake air to travel to the engine in the shortest possible distance
– Oval sub-throttles help keep the engine slim – a good thing since the throttle bodies are positioned between the rider’s knees
– Soft rev limiter provides good overrev character; power doesn’t drop off suddenly at high rpm
– The crankshaft is positioned low in the crankcase assembly to allow a longer stroke without adding engine height
– A secondary balancer, driven off a gear on the sixth web of the crankshaft, eliminates excess vibration

Cool Air System
– The intake system routes cool air to the airbox from ducts above the radiator shrouds, minimizing performance loss due to heated intake air
– Positioning the ducts close to the rider allows the intake sound to be heard – and enjoyed – by the rider
– A resonator inside the airbox reduces noise at low rpm, and enhances intake sound at high rpm

Exhaust System
– The exhaust system features a 4-into-2-pre-chamber-into-2 layout. Silencer end-caps maintain the quad-style image
– Main and pre-catalyzers provide cleaner emissions
– Thanks to the under-engine pre-chamber, silencer volume is reduced, and silencer weight is low. Exhaust system offers excellent mass centralization and contributes to a low center of gravity

Fuel Tank
– Slim-type fuel pump features an integral fuel gauge
– Fuel tank design and slim-type fuel pump minimizes unused volume inside the tank; fuel capacity is 4.0 gallons


Aluminum Backbone Frame
– Aluminum backbone frame designed specifically for the Z1000 (and similar in concept to the Ninja® ZX™-10R’s) helps make the bike narrow and easy to grip with the knees for maximum rider comfort and feedback
– Lightweight and highly rigid, the frame uses the engine as a stressed member for a firm, planted feeling and enhanced stability
– Frame is tuned to transmit the ideal level of engine feedback directly to the rider
– The frame’s five-piece construction consists of steering stem, left and right main frames, and two cross pieces. The two main frame components have open C-shaped cross sections
– As much as possible, welds were eliminated for simplicity and appearance. The frame beams and swingarm brackets are now single die-cast pieces
– The frame uses four engine mounts; three mounts are rigid, while the upper rear crankcase mount is rubber
– The rear sub-frame is a three-piece aluminum die-casting construction, which is light, strong and optimizes mass centralization
– The sub-frame is an example of form and function combined, negating the need for side covers and allowing underseat narrowness for a shorter reach to the ground

Horizontal Rear Monoshock
– Rear suspension design positions the shock unit and linkage above the swingarm where it’s less exposed to exhaust heat and contributes to mass centralization
– Visible from the outside, the horizontal monoshock contributes to the Z1000’s aggressive appearance
– Linkage characteristics are the same as those of a standard Uni-Trak® rear suspension: Wheel movement versus shock stroke is the same ratio
– The shock features stepless rebound damping and spring preload adjustability

Fully Adjustable Fork
– The Z1000’s 41mm inverted fork is adjustable for compression damping, rebound damping and spring preload – and is protected from harm by a cool-looking shroud
– Settings are designed for both sporty performance and excellent comfort

Handlebar, Grips and Footpegs
– The tubular handlebar is rigid mounted, contributing to sharp, direct handling
– A wide, flat bend handlebar offers a design similar to those on off-road bikes for excellent control
– Tapered-type grips, like those used on supersport models, offer a more direct feel
– Ninja ZX-10R-style footpegs with knurled surfaces offer good grip, direct feel and control, and no-nonsense looks
– The passenger footpeg brackets incorporate convenient luggage hooks

Brakes
– The Z1000’s 300mm front petal-style brake discs are gripped by opposed four-piston radial-mount calipers. (Caliper piston size is 4x30 mm)
– A radial-pump front brake master cylinder contributes to the superb control and feel offered by these high-end calipers
– The rear brake is a single piston, pin-slide caliper gripping a 250mm petal-style disc. The caliper is mounted below the swingarm, and located by a torque rod

Instrumentation
– A distinctive tilting instrument panel with multifunction LCD display behind an orange lens covers all systems


Code:
2011 Kawasaki Z1000 Specifications*

Engine:    Four-stroke, liquid-cooled, DOHC, four valves per cylinder, inline-four
Displacement:    1,043cc
Bore x stroke:     77.0 x 56.0mm
Compression ratio:    11.8:1
Fuel injection:    DFI® with four 38mm Keihin throttle bodies, oval sub-throttles
Ignition:     TCBI with digital advance
Transmission:     Six-speed
Final drive:    X-ring chain
Rake / trail:     24.5 degrees / 4.1 in.
Frame type:    Aluminum Backbone
Front tire:     120/70 ZR17
Rear tire:     190/50 ZR17
Wheelbase:     56.7 in.
Front suspension / wheel travel:     41 mm inverted cartridge fork with stepless compression and rebound damping, adjustable spring preload / 4.7 in.
Rear suspension / wheel travel:    Horizontal monoshock with stepless rebound damping, adjustable spring preload / 5.4 in.
Front brakes:    Dual 300mm petal-type rotors with radial-mount four-piston calipers
Rear brake:    Single 250mm petal-type rotor with single-piston caliper
Overall length:     82.5 in.
Overall width:     31.7 in.
Overall height:     42.7 in.
Seat height:    32.1 in.
Curb weight:    481 lbs.
Fuel capacity:    4.0 gal.
Color choices:    Candy Lime Green / Ebony,  Ebony
MSRP:    $10,599
Warranty:    12 Months
 

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I really freaking love these bikes. Might be a couple styling cues that I'm not the fondest of, but from what I keep hearing the overall performance and feel of the bike is what makes this bike a blast.

I've been a fan of the Triumph Speed Tripple for a few years now, but this might just take it's place on top of my wish list.

The only problem is I know I'd get into way more trouble on a streetfighter than I ever would on my Busa. I know I just wouldn't be able to control my inner hooligan.
 
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