Sports­bike with com­fort and speed

Meet the sports­bike you won’t tire of rid­ing, in­vites PAUL OWEN.

Kapi-Mana News - - MOTORING -

The new Kawasaki ZX1000SX is the anti-sports­bike. By that I mean it’s comfy and plush, and won’t cramp you into a womb-like rid­ing po­si­tion, yet it is just as fast and ex­cit­ing to ride on the road as the av­er­age sports ma­chine.

Fi­nally, af­ter years of sports­bikes slowly mu­tat­ing into race­bikes-with-reg­is­tra­tionla­bels, here is one that cries ‘‘ enough is enough’’ and bucks the trend.

My per­sonal hope is that SX will be such a suc­cess that other man­u­fac­tur­ers will fol­low Kawasaki’s track, and lead sports­bikes in a more ver­sa­tile and less po­lit­i­cally-risky direc­tion.

So con­sider your­self duty-bound to go out and buy one. For at the other end of the sports­bike spec­trum to the Kawasaki sits the BMW S1000RR, a finely-fo­cused rac­er­with-lights that, in my opin­ion, only ex­hibits its true worth when rid­den in the safer and more clin­i­cal en­vi­ron­ment of the track.

Mean­while the Kawasaki is a bike that you can ap­pre­ci­ate ev­ery day on the road, whether you’re short-term com­mut­ing, tour­ing over long dis­tances, or tak­ing it out for a quick fang on the week­end.

And when the op­por­tu­nity to ride at a track day beck­ons, any dic­ing with a S1000RR is more likely to be set­tled by the abil­i­ties of the rid­ers than the dy­namic dif­fer­ences be­tween the two ma­chines. The Kawasaki might give away about 45kW of ex­treme top-end power to the BMW, but its plumper torque curve and po­tent midrange de­liv­ery that will have you ex­claim­ing ‘‘OMG!’’ make ex­cel­lent com­pen­sa­tions.

The Kawasaki’s lack of any need to dial up lots of revs to ex­pe­ri­ence its per­for­mance high­lights its street­bike ori­gins. For years, bike mak­ers have de­vel­oped a sports­bike then spun a street­bike off from it by re­mov­ing the fair­ing, re­lax­ing the rid­ing po­si­tion, and re­tun­ing the en­gine and sus­pen­sion. How­ever, the ZX1000SX comes to us from the op­po­site direc­tion, for it is es­sen­tially the ZX1000 street­bike dis­tilled into a sports­bike.

It’s an ap­proach that has sev­eral ad­van­tages, and one of the bet­ter ones is cost. At $22,995, the price of the ABSe­quipped SX is just $1500 more than the naked Kawasaki that do­nated its pow­er­train, al­loy frame, and sus­pen­sion. Many bike brands would charge that much just for the bril­liant ABS brakes.

With the SX you get a lot more: more ex­pan­sive body­work that iso­lates the rider bet­ter from the weather, com­plete with a height-ad­justable wind­screen; a larger 19-litre fuel tank that al­lows the gauge on the in­stru­ment panel to still show full at trav­el­ling dis­tances where the naked bike’s is scream­ing to its rider to re­fuel; and ex­panded pil­lion ac­com­mo­da­tion for couples with wan­der­lust.

The lat­ter comes cour­tesy of the thicker, longer seat of the SX. This re­laxes the rider’s knees nicely in a rid­ing po­si­tion tilted slightly into the wind. Add nar­rower han­dle­bars and wind-cleav­ing fair­ing, and you have a bike that re­mains com­fort­able over long pe­ri­ods in the sad­dle. Not only is the SX the anti-sports­bike, its also the anti-Gold Wing.

The power de­liv­ery of the Kawasaki’s long-stroke en­gine might be sim­i­lar to that of the Tri­umph Sprint GT, but with 25 kilo­grams less weight to haul there’s an ex­tra edge to the dy­namic abil­i­ties of the Kawasaki. It to­tally over­pow­ers slower traf­fic on the open road where the Tri­umph merely over­takes it.

Mean­while the chas­sis of the SX closely re­sem­bles that of the ZX-10R sports­bikes. It there­fore han­dles with a sim­i­lar will­ing­ness to turn corners as the more tra­di­tional 1000cc sports­bike in the Kawasaki range. The rear shock doesn’t quite of­fer the damp­ing qual­ity of the ZXR’s, re­sult­ing in in­creased wheel chat­ter.

These mi­nor dy­namic dif­fer­ences be­tween the SX and the pukka 1000cc sports­bike in the Kawasaki lineup are com­pen­sated for by the rider com­fort, pil­lion ac­com­mo­da­tion and weather pro­tec­tion the cheaper bike of­fers. The 96kW ZX1000SX might be the anti-sports­bike, but in no way is it evil.

Kawasaki ZX1000SX: The sports­bike that is com­fort­able to ride.

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