Kawasaki sticks a fairing on the excellent Z750 in an effort to appeal to the more practically minded rider. Has it worked?
There's something not quite right here. It feels like a rather intimate part of my body is being crushed. Yep, that's it. I'm gradually sliding forward over my spuds. How is this happening?
Riding along the A3 I'm in a certain amount of distress, which isn't that surprising considering the rather delicate body parts that are currently being compacted. Sliding back in the seat provides a few seconds of relief, but this quickly evaporates as once again my body slowly migrates forward again towards the fuel tank.
Having endured this torture for around 20 miles I'm starting to form quite a healthy dislike for the Z750S, which is a shame as I absolutely love the naked version. The problem is the S's new one-piece seat. To make the S more pillion-friendly Kawasaki has dumped the stepped separate pillion and rider seat found on the naked Z750 in favour of a one-piece unit on the S version. Unfortunately it slopes too steeply downwards, meaning your body inevitably slides forward towards the tank. Hence the discomfort.
But that's not all. Although the majority of the bike is identical to the naked Z750 a few key items have been changed or added, the most obvious being the addition of a half-fairing. In an effort to tap into the market of commuters and all-round riders who cover a fair amount of miles the S comes with more wind protection than the naked bike's tiny headlight cover provides. Despite looking a bit ugly the screen is fairly effective, and if it wasn't for the pain emanating from my nether regions I'm sure I could have kept at a steady 80mph in relative comfort.
Although there is a slight problem with the screen too or, to be more precise, the mirrors mounted on it. The naked Z's mirrors vibrate quite badly, but the faired version's are even worse. Above 50mph all you can see is a blur of colour, not dissimilar to the artistic efforts of a two-year-old let loose with a bag of crayons.And you really do need to see who's behind as it's almost impossible to distinguish between the crowded, crushed together numbers on the analogue speedo. To me it looks suspiciously like the whole unit has been pinched from the ZZ-R1200 parts bin. Call it male intuition but, as good as the Z's impressively smooth motor is, I'm fairly certain it won't be hitting the indicated 170mph top speed! The rev counter is nice and clear though.
Until I turned off the A3 I wasn't hugely impressed with the Z750S, as you can probably tell. Despite being aimed squarely at commuters, the crap mirrors, uncomfortable seat and cluttered clocks make it only marginally better for this task than its naked brother.
Get it off the dual carriageways and the 750S feels much more like the standard Z, and that's a big plus. The handlebars and pegs are in a comfortable position for just tootling around, but up the pace and the flat bars help lever the bike into corners. As with the naked bike the rear shock isn't fantastic, only adequate, while the forks are more than up to the job.
Wind it on further still and the Kawasaki is more than happy to play ball. The great thing about the 750 is just that: it's a 750. With the other, smaller capacity naked middleweights you're always chasing gears to keep the engine on the boil; with the Z you can be that little bit lazier with the motor and use the extra torque to get you by. It's far more relaxing to be on when you're not committed to flat-out riding, and that's exactly what you want from a bike designed as an everyday do-it-all machine.
After riding it around all day doing it all, the Z750S left me confused. I really want to like it as the naked version is an excellent bike. It and the S share so many components it should be just as good, and it almost is. The screen works and the pillion provision is much better than the naked bike's, but the sloping seat really annoyed me. The clocks are a small irritation, but one I'm sure owners will get used to, and the mirrors are just one of those things that bike designers seem not to bother with. If the seat wasn't such a ball-ache (literally) I would definitely have the Z750S over the faired Fazer 600 and Bandit 650 because its engine is so much stronger and more flexible. And I'd have one over the SV650S on a comfort basis alone - the SV's clip-ons can cause wrist ache through town.
There is almost a really good bike in the Z750S, but for me the seat let it down. My body isn't that strangely-shaped, although some may argue, so I would definitely recommend that potential owners book a test ride before buying - and by that we mean a proper test ride covering a fair few miles of straight-line riding. If the seat doesn't cause you any discomfort then it's definitely recommended.
Almost excellent, but the seat is a worry and the mirrors are useless. Great engine and good handling nearly make up for it.
TYPE - STREETBIKE PRODUCTION DATE - 2005 PRICE NEW - £5545 ENGINE CAPACITY - 748cc POWER - 108bhp@11,500rpm TORQUE - 55lb.ft@8200rpm WEIGHT - 229kg SEAT HEIGHT - 805mm FUEL CAPACITY - 18L TOP SPEED - 145mph 0-60 - n/a TANK RANGE - n/a
Virtually every test report I've read on these bikes the tester complains about the seat & the mirrors. When I test rode mine I initially had the same misgivings.
The seat felt a bit like sitting on a ski slope continually trying to slide you forward. After a few miles I found that sitting slightly further back overcame this & it was really quite a comfortable riding position. Now if I can just overcome the numb-bum feeling after an hour or so's riding it will be brilliant.
I don't get the shakes/vibrations from the mirrors but find the stalks on the short side. Brilliant view of my arms but nothing of the road behind. Having said that a quick flick inwards of the elbows & some semblance of rearward vision is attained. The addition of an inch or two on the stalks would be beneficial & overcome the problem.
The motor is a peach. Everyday riding whether in town traffic or on the open road is so easy. Overtaking is done without fuss as the engine has so much torque available.
The ride quality is quite good. The front suspension is set up nicely on stock settings but the rear shock could be better although it handles everthing I've thrown at it with ease.
The wide bars give plenty of leverage for throwing it around & really helps puts the fun into riding it.
Would I recommend it to others, certainly. Would I buy another, definatley.
Posted: 26/12/2008 at 17:23
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