Im­prov­ing Z orig­i­nal

Kawasaki has mod­ernised the first su­per­bike, writes Mark Hinch­liffe

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Bikes -

THE let­ter Z has been used in mo­tor­ing to in­di­cate some­thing spe­cial since the 1960s Bri­tish TV po­lice drama Z-Cars. In 1972, the two-wheeled world knew some­thing spe­cial had landed when the world’s first su­per­bike was launched — the Z1 Kawasaki.

It was marked by its across-the-frame four­cylin­der en­gine and its four-into-two-into-four ex­haust sys­tem. Many copied the en­gine lay­out, but few fol­lowed the rad­i­cal ex­haust for­mat.

Kwaka Z mod­els re­turned with the Z1000 naked bike a few years ago with the same en­gine and ex­haust con­fig­u­ra­tion. In 2010 it gets a rad­i­cal makeover, no­tably stubby ex­hausts that could leave tra­di­tional Z fans a lit­tle cold.

Whereas those four big pipes might have looked the busi­ness, they un­bal­anced the weight dis­tri­bu­tion of the bike. The new model has a precham­ber un­der the bike that al­lows for shorter muf­flers and keeps the weight cen­tral.

The re­sult is a bike that feels much lighter than its 221kg weight, and beau­ti­fully bal­anced.

Other big news in 2010 is the ad­di­tion of an­ti­skid brakes as stan­dard.

The sys­tem works well in the wet with plenty of feel in the front with no kick­back, though the rear brake feels wooden.

With its low cen­tre of grav­ity, steep fork rake and wide mo­tocross-style han­dle­bars, the Z1000 is the ul­ti­mate tool for carv­ing up your favourite tight and twist­ing moun­tain road.

Build qual­ity is a land­mark for Kawasaki with no vis­i­ble weld­ing marks on the frame and the welds on the swingarm beau­ti­fully buffed.

Rid­ing po­si­tion is clas­sic sit-up-and-beg style, though the pegs may be too high for tall peo­ple. Pil­lion rid­ers won’t like the small and hard seat and there are no hand grips or tie-down points.

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