Okay, we've now ridden the all-new Z1000, and it brings to the sportbike table big grins, liter-class performance, a wide range of capabilities and a wicked appearance, all at an MSRP less than some 600cc sportbikes.
Now, the question yet to be answered is whether the American market will continue its bone-headed aversion to any sportbike without a full fairing. If they do, they will be missing out on one of the best performance bargains available.
I once had a first-gen Z1000 as a long-term project bike, which gave me plenty of time to learn its strong points and its deficiencies. Its distinctive styling and hooligan demeanor gave it an enthralling personality, but those positive attributes were countered by an unbalanced suspension and a vibey motor. The old Z had its fans, but there weren't enough of them. A 2007 revision calmed the annoying vibes and had midrange-enhancing tricks to go along with its freshened cosmetics, but continued slow sales caused it to be dropped from Kawi's 2009 lineup.
No matter, because the 2010 model is new from the ground up. Improvements are so vast that comparisons to the previous iteration are pointless. It's a well-engineered street-fighting machine that will be difficult to humble by any of the illustrious naked sports bikes from Europe.
The new Zee begins with a completely new chassis and motor. Aluminum now makes up the frame (and swingarm), lighter and stronger than the previous steel frame. Rake and trail (24.5 degrees/4.05 inches) are identical to the old bike, but it handles with poise the original could only dream about.
Wheels spaced nearly an inch further apart add stability, yet a weight reduction and improved mass centralization contributes to exceptional agility for its displacement. With its smallish 4.0-gallon tank full, it scales in 22 lbs lighter (481 lbs) than its 4.9-gallon progenitor, for a net reduction of 16 lbs, 9 lbs of it solely from the new alloy frame.
The Z-Thou's engine is a completely new inline-Four, sharing nothing with the old Zee or the ZX-10R Now displacing 1043cc, the fuel-injected mill gains 90cc and a secondary balancer from previous. The stressed-member engine now mounts to the frame in four rather than three mounting points, with a rubber mount above the transmission to reduce the, er, transmission of vibration.
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