Road Test

Living with a 2007 Kawasaki Z1000

James Whitham rides a Kawasaki Z1000 for a year and delivers his review

November 2007

Apart from a KX 250 crosser I had back in the '80s this is the first Kawasaki I've had in my garage. Dunno why, always been more of a Yam or Suzuki man. But I have to admit, so far I'm liking the Zed.

Normally any long trips I do on a bike would be for the magazine and consequently not done on my long-termer. This summer though I've ended up doing two runs of well over 500 miles a time on the Zed and didn't find it much of a chore at all. Anything more than 90mph or so on the motorways and you're head starts to detach itself with the wind blast (worse for a taller rider), and the seat  starts to feel hard if you're sat on it without moving for extended periods, but if you keep to a reasonable speed and have a brew every other fuel stop you can cover ground.

I also used it for doing some instruction on a track day at Knockhill and it coped loads better than I thought it would. In fact, if I'm honest, I had a right giggle chucking it about. On track the brakes were good, the steering was sharp enough and the motor would stay with a good sports 600 on the straights. The only thing letting it down a bit in this environment was the lack of ground clearance, with both footrests and exhausts taking a pounding.

When you're buying a bike and the salesman says "you get 12 months free RAC cover, Sir" the typical reaction would be "Yeah, so what." Bikes are so reliable these days you're never likely to need it. Ooh, unless you had a puncture, which I did, miles from anywhere. One call and a very nice man (or is that the other lot ?) arrives with a van, plugs the hole and you're on your way home. What a good do!

Admittedly it took over an hour for him to find me but I was in the middle of the Yorkshire Dales!

WE LIKE: Aggressive styling, free RAC cover
WE DON'T LIKE:  Bit of under steer at slow speed

March 2008

It’s that time of year when the roads are never properly dry, and even if they are it’s freezing cold. I don’t mind riding in these conditions, especially if I’m not going far or have to go anywhere the traffic is likely to be heavy. Problem is when it’s like this and I’m on a bike with a reasonable amount of power and fairly big tyres I never seem to get any feel for how much grip I have, especially from the rear. On a smaller bike with narrower rubber it’s much easier to ride along feeling safe, like the thinner tyres are digging in some how.

The Zed definitely falls into the former category. It’s dead easy to accelerate away from some lights or nip away from a junction and have the rear start to spin. It’s not much of a problem because with the roads so greasy you’re not leant over so much, consequently it stays pretty much in line, but it certainly keeps you awake.

 Also the slow speed under-steer the bike has always suffered from a bit is more noticeable now ‘coz you’re generally going slower in winter.

 I’m still liking the sit-up high wide-bar riding position, it’s dead easy to see over the top of cars when you’re weaving between stationary traffic.

Apart from that I’m still enjoying the big Kawasaki, you certainly don’t need any more power during the British winter. Heated grips would be good. I suppose I could fit some after-market ones but the last time I tried that it was on a 1200 bandit and I got it slightly wrong. The grips got warm alright, shortly before whole wiring loom melted and set on fire. Why do things like that always happen to me?

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