The return of Z
Launched in 2003 (already!), The Z1000 evolves for the first time: to better defend itself against increased and sharp competition, the nasty roadster from Kawasaki therefore takes care of its look, its engine, its handling and its braking. Test !
According to Kawasaki, the new Z1000 "is about to shake up the roadster category once again".
Because if at the beginning of the century, the Kawasaki Z largely dominated the category of "Super Naked", achieving the best sales in Europe three years in a row, things have changed a lot since Speed Triple, FZ1, Superduke and other Tuono torment the 1000 Kawa…
|Fuerteventura, 03/13/2007 – With its full engine, agile front end and powerful braking, the new Z1000 plays on small windy roads … like the competition. ? Video Site.|
Unveiled last summer (read), the new Z1000 therefore offers itself for 2007 a first upgrade. Cultivating its style and philosophy, the roadster nonetheless modifies its look and is equipped with very trendy parts, including the inevitable radial brakes and fork "High performance".
From an aesthetic point of view, the new Z1000 retains an angular design, currently synonymous with aggressiveness. On the 2007 version, even the front fender is used: sharp, it plunges forward like the horns of a thwarted buffalo! Any resemblance with the famous "Cornofulgures" of a certain Goldorak would it be purely fortuitous? ?
Higher up, the new Z is adorned with integrated fairing sides and indicators, thus increasing its membership in the Kawa clan. Likewise, the reservoir and the rear seat support have undergone some alterations and accentuate its kinship with the Ninja, not to mention the radial-mount brakes..
The particularly flashy color "Orange Pearl"offers the same effect as the oil placed on the muscles of bodybuilders: the protruding forms of the fairing are highlighted and find their echo in the many" machining "of the frame and the engine.
Finally the fork, the new pots, the petal discs and the polished rims complete to give the Z1000 a resolutely "prepared" look … What remains for the tuners ?
Riding the Z1000, the pilot discovers with undisguised relief a new dashboard, the old model having been unanimously criticized for its cruel lack of readability. Good point for the Kawa engineers who were therefore able to listen to criticism … and act accordingly !
The dashboard is now crystal clear: tachometer on an analog white background, large fuel gauge, large speed display, engine temperature, clock and trips are all covered at a glance.
The driving position is also reviewed, because "for city driving, a slightly more upright position was found to be ideal", notes the manufacturer, aware that a good number of roadsters remain mostly confined to urban or peri-urban use.
Thus, the handlebars have moved closer to the driver and allow him to raise his shoulders. The footrests are still fixed slightly behind but they have been refocused to be able to adopt "a more aerodynamic driving position", assures Kawa.
Despite its narrower appearance, the tank spreads the knees a little too far. Unless this impression is rather due to the reduction of 40 mm in the width of the saddle, which will delight the short on legs and the followers of the swaying in curves !
The Z1000 no longer vibrates…
Offset on the right to perfectly align its gearbox output pinion to the rear crown, the engine block – that of the old ZX-9R – sees its bindings completely redesigned to improve pilot comfort. "A new aluminum frame lower side post allows engine mounts to be moved behind the cylinder block rather than in front of the cylinder head", explains the manufacturer.
And it is clear that once started, the 4-cylinder in-line no longer shakes the frame of the Z1000 and does not disturb the seat of its pilot. A seat made relatively uncomfortable, however, by an extra flat saddle, which only its flared design barely saves…
“It doesn’t matter”, retort the more athletic, whose full attention will be paid to the new vocalizations of the roadster. While stationary, the serious growls of the four exits of the pot are joined from the first turns of the wheels by the more acute whistles of the engine. We must therefore raise the tone to enjoy the song of the pots again.
The opportunity to realize that "the relaxation of the calibration of the clutch springs"has actually made it possible to soften the control, but that its stroke remains a little short. Above all, the gearbox shows itself to be dry, despite"the selector lever mounted on ball bearings and the alterations made to the barrel", supposed to improve"the precision and smoothness of the gear shift", assures Kawa.
In the end, it is better that the action of the left foot is straightforward, because in the event of idleness, the pilot can remain on the same report. Used to the box of a much nicer and smoother ZZR-600, my accommodation took a few minutes. But it is true that the two motorcycles do not entail the same constraints…
With a maximum power of 125 hp in the free world (two less than the old free version), the new Z1000 offers above all an impressive torque of 98.7 Nm (against 95.6 Nm before) and 92, 4 Nm in France against 86.3 until 2006.
"To succeed in satisfying the most jaded pilots, the performance of the Z1000 has been seriously boosted on the first half of the tachometer.", warned the manufacturer during the press presentation.
The engine wakes up earlier !
But on the road, the progress is very palpable: while the old Z1000 was waiting for 7,000 rpm to express itself, the new model is now waking up a little before 5,000 rpm! A gain in sensations due to many small alterations…
Let us mention in particular the new profile of the cams, the 7% heavier weight of the crankshaft, the arrival of injectors "ultra thin"and a reduced intake of 2 mm but equipped with oval secondary butterflies like the last Ninjas … This new injection offers a particularly flexible engine and free of jolts.
In addition, the gear ratios have been brought closer thanks to a simply shortened final report: the crown has certainly lost two teeth, but at the same time the pinion has dropped one! As a result, the covers are naturally more straightforward.
The new pots are no stranger to this renewed vigor either: with the new "4-2-1-2"(phew!), the engine breathes better than with these old little flutes and the revs are more efficient.
Equipped with three catalysts – one in the manifold and one in each silencer – and oxygen sensors, the pots "guarantee compliance with the very strict Euro III antipollution standards", would like to point out the engineers … Green !
On the down side, the high speeds are less impressive than before: the arrival of the horses is more regular and from 9000 rpm and the thrust is reduced slightly. An impression which should be amplified by the clamping to 106 horsepower – at the crankshaft outlet – regulatory.
Side engine sensations therefore, the Z1000 should satisfy the followers of arsouilles on small departmental roads and necessarily leave hungry fans of late "ass kicks". A decision carefully chosen by Akashi’s firm, which aims "muscular driving on the road"rather than Herculean driving on the track !
And again, muscular driving only relates to the pace maintained by the roadster. Because the Z1000 can be as fast as its handling is easy…
Vivacity on all levels
The front axle of the Z1000 has gained even more agility, its wide handlebars making it even easier to position the front wheel. And the constructor’s speech is verified on the ground: "The slightly longer wheelbase and the weight transfer to the rear make for a very easy to handle set, light steering and a good feeling of stability".
The new swing arm "stamped aluminum"also plays in favor of this agility, while reducing engine vibrations.
Be careful, however, because the liveliness of the cycle part, supported by that of the engine, could surprise more than a novice. Although a 1000cc developing 125 hp (abroad of course) and displayed at € 10,495 is not aimed directly at a young license, the latter will have to show humility if he were to test the beast of buddy or local dealer !
Seasoned pilots will congratulate themselves on this dexterity which allows them to dive effortlessly into the smallest curves and fine-tune their trajectory in the middle of a bend. These corrections will also have to be precise because the large handlebars and the lightness of the front axle make the motorcycle very sensitive to the actions of its rider..
Despite gusts reaching 90 km / h, the Z was stable in a straight line as in a curve and easy to replace in the small sequences of the island of Fuerteventura – island of the Canary archipelago doing very well her name !
The suspensions are adjusted, enjoy it !
Expertly tuned by Japanese engineers – and easily accessible – the Z1000 suspensions have proven effective on small roads where there were plenty of pitfalls. Besides the wind, the rock falls and the many bends closing – treacherous! – allowed us to highlight the healthy behavior of the new Kawa.
When braking very hard on the angle, however – always because of said traitors! -, the front axle tends to stiffen and the arm inside the bend must be used to prevent the motorcycle from shifting. A phenomenon easily observable when the suspensions are set at the factory, but much less present when they are hardened.
The standard settings of the fork and especially the rear shock absorber are still good: compensating for the lack of thickness of the saddle, they will offer city dwellers an excellent comfort / sport compromise. And to tease Ninjas and other sports cars on perfectly smooth roads, a few clicks will suffice !
Under braking, the two 300mm front discs pinched by Nissin radial-mount calipers offer performance worthy of its road handling and engine performance. Biting and powerful, they are above all easily dosed and give the Z1000 an extra Ninja air !
Developed on Bridgestone BT021 and Dunlop Qualifier, the Z1000 finally comes with the high performance British tires "corresponding perfectly to its specifications", says development pilot Kenichirou Tojo.
While we thought the fashion for big tubes had passed – the ER6s fit 160 for example – the Z1000 proudly exhibits a 190 mm tire. On the look side, some will surely like it, but on the efficiency side and wallet, many will be more skeptical…
The latter will remain so when they also learn that the Z1000 has no storage space under the saddle, warning and central stand! Three disappointments to which are added a turning circle in withdrawal (31 ° against 33 ° previously) which delays the U-turns and other maneuvers.
As for the passenger, he will have to deal with a very high and firm saddle but relatively well placed footrests. As for the maintenance, its only solution will be to cling to the driver since it does not have handles. But after all, this is by far the best method…
For the next…
Its name of "Street-Fighter" is therefore somewhat usurped, as with its competitors who also sin in the practical field. The only consolation for the Kawa roadster: the mirrors are very efficient and allow you to see behind without having to put your elbows too far. !
On the highway, the new Z1000 also loses a few points because of its total lack of protection. So the optional screen – well integrated into the general look – will be welcome for long journeys..
In sixth, the new Z1000 pulls 24 km / h at 1000 revolutions, and therefore stalls at 130 km / h with the counter at half speed. Overtaking is easily done thanks to the flexibility and torque of the 4-cylinder and no crackling or vibration is to be deplored, whatever the speed..
Available from this month in concession, the Z1000 is priced at € 10,490 – plus € 500 for ABS. Its price is therefore aligned with those of its direct competition, promising a good fight this year for the title of best roadster 1000, to be followed on Moto-Net of course. !
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