BANK ON EXTRA BLING
Kawasaki’s upgraded Z1000 promises improved performance... at a cost
Booming, aggressive and more than a little lairy, the Z1000 R Edition is an engaging beast to fire down your favourite B-road. Based on a sevenyear-old platform, it’s proof that you don’t need to be at the cutting edge of motorcycle development to have an enjoyable time.
New for this year, the R Edition adds designer trinkets to the proven Z1000, which Kawasaki have also tweaked to get though Euro4 regs. The main change is the introduction of a new Öhlins shock and Brembo M50 monoblock calipers, as fitted to the ZX-10R and H2. It raises the price to £11,549 – £1300 more than the standard machine.
Save for cosmetics, the rest of the bike remains the same, so that’s a muscular 1043cc four-cylinder lump packed with meaty midrange goodness and bolted into a short, bespoke frame – one of the strengths of the Z1000 is that it isn’t a converted sportsbike so the reach to the bars is short and the seat isn’t perched in the air.
On the surface the changes are worthwhile – the shock is far superior to the Showa unit fitted to the standard Z1000R and this manifests itself with better ride-quality. The R is far more adept at soaking up square-edge bumps and the bike is better supported in compressions and while it’s loaded up during cornering, too.
It’s an improvement on standard, but not a night-and-day change – the S46DR1S shock is a lower-spec Öhlins, variants of which are normally earmarked for non-performance applications. While it has hydraulically-adjustable preload, there is no compression adjustment, which means if you’re planning on hard track riding you may need an aftermarket unit.
The brakes are stronger, too. Those M50s are mighty-effective and combined with 310mm Brembo discs and braided hoses and provide ferocious stopping power at the stroke of the lever. The question is whether the bike needs them or not? I’d say not – the standard Tokicos have plenty of power, and a little bit more progression too.
If all this sounds damning, it isn’t, The Z1000 R Edition is a nice bike, one that’s huge fun to blat about on and that drives out of corners beautifully. That engine is effective, though it does contribute to the bike’s heavyweight nature, the Zed has a claimed wet weight of 221kg. It feels heavy too – lacking the nimbleness of its rivals.
You stay in the seat, levering the bike from side-to-side with those wide, tapered bars. It’s pleasingly old-school, as are the electronics. The tiny dash is a triumph of minimalism and, while the bike boasts ABS, there is to traction control or mode switches: you just get the power you ask for. Sadly, the slightly abrupt small throttle opening fuelling of the pre-euro4 bikes is still there.
So while the Z1000 R Edition is a really nice bike, I wouldn’t buy one – especially as it costs £750 more than the superior Yamaha MT-10. You’d be far better to buy a standard Zed for a good price and then spend £250 getting the shock upgraded. You’d then have bike as good as the R Edition and be able to take your family on holiday with the money in your pocket.
Blinged-up Zed is fun but not so different from standard
Öhlins but not the highest spec
Gear indicator appears on minimal dash