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Thursday, April 24, 2014

Naked came the Sportbike--Part 2

So a few hundred miles into my experience with the 2014 Kawasaki Z1000 I have learned something: I don't like this bike when I think of it in terms of my current bikes--an 09 Concourse 1400 and a VStrom 1000 Adventure. These bikes are big, heavy and incredibly functional with saddlebags, cases and plenty of wind protection.

However, when I stopped thinking of what the Z1000 was not and started thinking about it for what it is, I have developed quite the affection for the bike. It is FAST. Not quick or peppy, but fast. The inline four screams to redline and a very close-ratio transmission keeps your toe dancing up and down through the gears just so you can hear that incredible induction howl as the digital tack sweeps past 7000 rpm. It will carry the front wheel through third gear with no problems--and its almost as if you can dial in exactly the height of wheelie you want and it just holds it there.

Brakes are anti-lock and incredibly strong--I wish my bikes had brakes this good--and racing up to a corner at a higher speed than you should is not a concern, just squeeze and slow to the desired entry speed. A wide handlebar makes steering input a bit sensitive until you get a feel for the amount of leverage the bar creates, then its just flick in and rail--I suspect the mufflers would be limiting at racetrack speeds, but this is a naked bike, designed more for playing on the streets than say a ZX-10R, made much more for the track, just ask Tom Sykes. Don't know who Sykes is? Google is your friend.

One fun thing about the Z is it took me back to the basics of motorcycle commuting. I have to really think about what I am going to wear when I ride as I can't really bring anything with me. My bikes have room for a sweatshirt, extra gloves, you know, stuff that can come along in a saddlebag. The Z is naked, so you better think before you leave. Also, as mentioned yesterday, it gave me reason to haul out my Aerostich bag to run some errands.

Could this bike be in my garage, yeah, probably. At some point I need to get rid of either the Connie or V-Strom--they are too much alike--and get something more basic and fun for just riding. Not sure yet, but I can say if you are looking for a naked bike that stands out in a crowd and delivers legendary Kawasaki Z performance, you should check it out.