First Ride: 2010 Kawasaki Z1000

Roland Brown fires back his first thoughts on Kawasaki's new 1000cc naked

VETERAN ROAD TESTER Roland Brown has just returned from his first ride aboard the 2010 Kawasaki Z1000 and here are his first impressions:

"It's seriously quick. With 138bhp tugging at at your right hand, the bike's blindingly fast. Sportsbike quick, I'd say. It looks the part, too."

Kawasaki have gone all-out with the 2010 Z1000: new engine, chassis, styling, suspension and a 10kg drop in weight make this beast a ground-up rebuild, not a five-minute makeover.

Kawasaki have upped the bike's engine capacity from 953 to 1043cc, thanks to an increase in both bore and stroke. The previous Z1000 had a bore and stroke of 77.2 x 50.9mm: the 2010 model now sports a 77 x 56mm motor. Compression ratio is 11.8:1, and fueling is handled by a bank of 38mm Keihin throttle bodies.

"As you'd expect, the bigger engine has given the bike extra power but, more importantly, added torque," froths Roland. "It's got immense pull all through the rev range, but the best acceleration is still above 6000rpm. That said, there are some intrusive vibes once you start wringing its neck; seat, pegs and bars all transmit an annoying buzz back to the rider."

Some have criticised the previous incarnations of Kawasaki's big-bore naked for its budget suspension and limited handling over bumpy ground. According to Roland, Kawasaki have listened and addressed the problems, as the new Z remains stable mid-corner; something the old bike wasn't so good at.

"The new aluminium chassis (the old one was steel/aluminium) and improved suspension are a noticeable improvement over the old bike. The last one was good up to a point but the 2010 bike keeps its composure over bumpy tarmac, especially handy when you're pressing on into unknown territory. The frame beams curve over the engine, just like on the ZX-10R, creating an overall narrower mid-section. The engine, working as a stressed member of the frame, is solid bolted at three places, with a rubber mount at the upper rear of the crankcase, making the bike feel surprisingly slim.

"The build quality looks better, too. It's difficult to tell what one would look like after an arduous British winter, especially those alloy wheels, but it's good to see Kawasaki upping their game."

Other stuff: the 2010 Zed gets a flashy digital LCD dash, blunderbuss-style exhausts, an ABS option and some questionable paint schemes.

The Kawasaki's up against a host of today's top notch nakeds: Honda CB1000F, Ducati Streetfighter, Triumph Speed Triple and Yamaha FZ-1, to name a few. An estimated £8000 gives the new Kawasaki a head start on others in class. Let's just hope the asking price is worth it.

Read Roland's full report in Issue 6 of Visordown Magazine.