First Ride

First Ride: Kawasaki Z1000SX

Niall Mackenzie delivers his verdict on Kawasaki's new all-rounder

Click to read: Kawasaki Z1000SX owners reviews, Kawasaki Z1000SX specs and to see the Kawasaki Z1000SX image gallery.

Whatever the reason, sales of high performance sports bikes are in freefall so Kawasaki have fought back by building an all rounder that they believe ticks boxes in two sectors. The marketing people tell me the ‘S’ stands for for special and the ‘X’ stands for extra and after two days with the bike I wouldn’t disagree .

One thing‘s for sure; unlike some of the competition the SX doesn’t look like some naked bike pulled from the range then covered up with some unsuitable bodywork. We also know the Z1000 is a well loved motorcycle in its own right so this combination could well be a hint of the future.

Although very capable in both areas, after my first glimpse of this bike in the flesh, I was soon thinking more ‘sports’ than tourer’.  The design department have got this one bang on as the SX is pleasing on the eye from every angle, and I reckon, although it has to be in lime green, probably the best looking sports tourer to date. The torquey 1000cc motor makes all the familiar, raspy Kwacker noises, pulls smoothly from nothing before taking off at 7000rpm to the 10500rpm red line.

That said, it’s equally as happy being ridden at a brisk pace all day long between 4000 and 5000 rpm in top gear, the choice is yours. The overall gearing is now a tooth longer (41t rear sprocket) to give a smoother engine response, however this also helps with the now more aerodynamic, high speed touring. The 2010 Z1000 also suffered from vibration through the foot pegs so both the rider and pillion pegs have been rubber mounted to eliminate this problem. On our test routes through southern Spain I found the general handling was both nimble and positive with my only complaint being an aching bum after roughly a hundred miles.

I’m told the seat is now 10mm thicker for extra comfort so it can only be my bony arse to blame. Only spring pre load and rebound is adjustable on the horizontally mounted rear shock (the front forks are fully adjustable) but there is enough to fine tune the handling so I don’t think this bike would disgrace itself on track days. It certainly has plenty straight line speed for the likes of Donington and Silverstone.

The brakes are also more than adequate for any type of riding as I found while practising the odd stoppie. Other nice touches are the ZX6R dash, the satin black silencers and the contoured grab handles. There is absolutely nothing on this bike that looks like an afterthought.

And when it comes to touring, the SX appears to also have most areas covered. The fuel tank capacity has now been increased by 4l to 19l, so this combined with much better aerodynamics means a much better range when heading down to Mugello. Also, Kawasaki has a comprehensive array of options and accessories in the pipeline to include tank bags and colour coded panniers so it you’ll have a one stop shop for all your needs.

So what makes this bike good?
Superb looks, great engine character, tracks days mid week, touring the Trossachs with the missus at the weekend?

Anything bad? 
The three way adjustable screen looks pants in the highest position. (Easy to fix, move it down)

Price
Standard Z1000 SX Over £9,000.
Tourer (comes with ABS & panniers) Over £10,000.