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2014 Kawasaki Z1000 ABS: MD First Ride

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The 2014 Kawasaki Z1000 ABS has been dramatically restyled. Kawasaki says it features “sugomi” or “the intense aura or energy given off by a person or thing of greatness.” Whether you like it or not, the styling is unique and bold. From a riding perspective, the front headlight assembly is so low that the bike seems to disappear in front of you from the saddle (more about that later).

Aside from the styling, there are several functional changes to the engine and chassis that we found to be improvements during our first test in and around the Los Angeles area last week. Kawasaki claims the already powerful 1043 cc inline-four DOHC, fuel injected engine makes more power and torque this year than ever before … virtually everywhere in the rev range. To achieve this, Kawsasaki made a number of changes.

These include new cams, breathing passages between cylinders to reduce pumping losses, revised ECU settings, revised velocity stacks, higher flowing air filter, changes to the exhaust header and even shorter final drive gearing (coupled with a taller sixth gear).

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The fuel tank is larger this year (4.5 gallons) and the fuel pump incorporates a more accurate fuel level sensor.

Up front, Kawasaki surprised us with a very high quality Showa Separate Function, Big Piston fork, which is about as good as it gets on a sport bike these days. In our experience, these forks are very smooth (very low stiction) and very responsive to damping adjustments. The right fork tube handles compression and rebound damping adjustments, while spring preload adjustments are made on the left. All fork adjustments are stepless. The rear shock (adjustable for preload and rebound) gets revised damping settings and a more progressive linkage.

Similar to the new Ninja 1000, the Z1000 gets stiff, new monobloc front brake calipers with differentiated piston diameters (four pistons per caliper). The front rotors are big 310 mm units. The rear brake is a single 250 mm rotor with a lightweight, single piston caliper.

New wheels cut more than four pounds of unsprung weight, and carry newly developed Dunlop D214 tires.

A new, lighter aluminum subframe eliminates the need for side covers and narrows the width of the bike between the riders legs.

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The riding position is slightly more aggressive for 2014, with the rider angled more forward and the seat slightly lower, placing the rider closer to the center of gravity. The ergonomics are complimented by a new, high quality aluminum handlebar with a different bend.

The new instrument pod floats above the headlights (which you do not see from the cockpit at all) and features clock, trip meter, fuel gauge and mpg indicator as well as a unique tachometer that shows riding rpm levels (4000 rpm and above) in a white bar graph that moves horizontally across the instrument panel.

The front end also includes new mirrors designed to improve the view around the rider’s elbows and a new four element (two low beam and two high beam) LED headlight.

After meeting Kawasaki in an obscure alleyway near downtown L.A. for a catered dinner, featuring a working artist that created a painting from scratch in 60 minutes (a street scene featuring the Z1000), we were led into a separate room where a curvaceous young brunette gyrated on top of, and around, the new Z1000 motorcycle. After several minutes, many of the male journalists actually looked at the new bike rather than the model.

A short tech presentation was followed by an evening ride through L.A., and the next day featured a much higher speed romp over Angeles Crest Highway.

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We were very impressed with our ride on the new Z1000. The ergonomics are comfortable and functional, and the new engine tune was lively, but very smooth and controllable. Throttle response from the fuel injection is as close to perfect as you can get, a far cry from fuel injected bikes of just a few years ago. Opening a completely closed throttle resulted in a seamless transition, whether the bike was pointed in a straight line or being lifted off its side out of a corner.

Engine response is quick, and together with light, nimble handling, the new Z1000 seems to belie its huge engine (and associated crank inertia). The bike is very easy to ride and confidence inspiring, reminding me somewhat of the sublime handling of the 2011 Honda CB1000R naked we tested a few years ago.

Totally foreign to that Honda, however, is the engine performance of the new Z1000, which would stomp the CB1000R. This bike is fast!  It will pull smartly out of corners from as low as 5,000 rpm and progressively rip through the tachometer to roughly 11,000 rpm. A huge plateau of torque and rising horsepower. Last year’s bike made close to 125 hp at the rear wheel, and we wouldn’t be surprised if the new bike is edging toward 130. We will try to confirm this when we get a test unit later.

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Although we were very impressed with the new Ninja 1000 ABS, the Z1000 handles even better. Although it shares the same steering geometry as the Ninja, it has a slighly shorter wheelbase, much higher quality fork, and different tires that undoubtedly have a significantly different profile (they roll over much more easily), as well as phenomenal side grip and feel.  We were hugely impressed with the Dunlop D214 tires designed for this bike (190/50 rear and 120/70 front). The naked Z1000 is also 22 pounds lighter than the Ninja with a claimed wet weight of 487 pounds.

Kawasaki got the details right, as well, with powerful, controllable brakes and a sure-shifting six-speed transmission. In keeping with the “sugomi” theme, the suspension is tuned for aggressive riding. Hard to fault anywhere above 8-tenths riding, we did find a very choppy ride on Southern California freeways (known for their undulations). We didn’t have the opportunity during our first ride, but we will try to dial this out (with damping adjustments) when we get a longer-term test unit.

Kawasaki is understandably proud of the fit-and-finish of the Z1000, which we could not fault. With high quality components, including an outstanding front fork and monoblock brakes, this is a lot of motorcycle at an U.S. MSRP of $11,999.  Although Europe is offering three new ultra performance nakeds this year, they carry a higher price tag, and it will be a rare rider who needs more performance than the 2014 Z1000 ABS has to offer. Take a look at Kawasaki’s web site for additional details and specifications.

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115 Comments

  1. Leroy says:

    Wow. So many people so upset about a badass bike made with a REAL styling statement. So many just want the same old thing over and over. I can’t believe those thinking a ZRX styled bike would be more appropriate. For retro, sure. Not for evolving design. I love the ethos, actually like the look, and hope that risks like this are rewarded by the public. If it tanks, they can always add a rectangular headlight and call it the ZRX neo-retro.

    How many people are going to remember this winter when the Euro bikes start looking “a little familiar?”

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    • Dave says:

      It’s a large displacement, high performance bike. The readers of this site are its target audience. I’m sure it appeals to some, but if the reactions we’re seeing are an indication then it appears they missed.

      As I’ve posted before, they’re trying too hard. Busy designs like this, full of elements that don’t enhance function are not what is appealing to the consumers who can afford toys like this. Whenever someone does a hot rodded customer from an 80′s gpz or Suzuki GS everybody goes bonkers for it, nobody ever reacts negatively to it. They know how to make that and should give it another try. Honda is sold out of CB1100′s..

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      • Jeremy in TX says:

        If the reactions of posters here are any indication of market success, then nothing would sell well. I happen to like the design very much, but I agree that it will be a slow and low-volume seller on US shores – not because of its design, but because it is a premium naked bike in a very saturated market.

        Honda may have sold out of CB1100s, but dealers sure haven’t. You can pick up a 2013 around here for $9K OTD. Now if the CB1100s were indeed hot rods, then I bet they would be sold out.

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  2. Artem says:

    I don’t like that bike. At all. Not a GPZ900.

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  3. ROXX says:

    Finally a bike for grownups.
    “Oh Wait!” Styling for kids……
    Why Kawasaki?

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  4. Philip says:

    Companies need to realize that we Americans are pretty finicky about headlights and such.
    I really don’t like to be critical, but man I think this one is going to be a tough sell here. It looks like someone smacked it over the head with a frying pan.

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    • jake says:

      From some angles, this bike does not work as well as from others. That flat head look from the side is worth it for the frontal shot on the 3rd pic down where the rider is standing by the mountains, where it looks like a coiled snake ready to pounce. Even the haters have to admit, in that pic the bike looks pretty awesome, or least pretty good (and the 3/4 rear shot looks dang good as well). Definitely not a look you see everyday.

      This bike makes most other bikes next to it look boring. Even the new KTM 1290 looks boring and plain next to it. I don’t know about the stodgy U.S., the land of the Harley and Harley clones, but this bike is going to be a major hit in Europe and everywhere else where people do not have a built in bias against progress.

      When the Europeans begin to ape it’s design in the years to come, maybe then the Z will be appreciated in this part of the world for what it is – stylewise, it is a groundbreaking design, a major leap forward.

      This bike and the Speed Triple are the best looking, big CC, sporty naked bikes in the world.

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      • ducatidon says:

        The Speed Triple styling is positivly classic compared to this.

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        • jake says:

          The Speed Triple originally was the stripper model for the Daytona. But unlike Aprilia or BMW, Triumph managed to create a new style with their stripper, one which combined classic style elements in a new and fresh combination, while still managing to remain very British in its looks. The new look was so successful, the stripper model ended up becoming more successful than the sportbike itself. When has that ever happened before? Does Triumph even make the big Daytona anymore?

          The Z may not seem classic, but its overall lines are. Aside from the curved up rear, you have the basic lines of the Suzuki Katana. Actually, that’s what the new Z is, a modernized Katana. And the detailing is not classic only in the sense that it is so complicated and complex. In the past, manufacturers could not mass produce such complexity, but this bike proves that now they can.

          Look at the ripples, lines, and curves of this bike, and it seems as if the designer let a strong, angry breeze cut out the lines themselves. Although the lines and curves are many and complex, they still manage to together create a harmonious whole. The new styling trend seems to be away from insect look, which flat paneling only allowed for, to a new organic, more mammalian look. The new Duke (organic something), Zook (Big Bird), and Kawi (Snake) all attempt to achieve this new style. So far all have failed except for the new Kawi.

          This Kawi succeeds where so far all others have failed. A high chance it becomes a styling classic. It’s the first of its generation.

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    • Jeremy in TX says:

      Headlights and centerstands and mufflers and distance between the wheel and subframe and tank flanges and tailight brackets and number of cylinders and method of cooling and fluid reservoirs and etc.

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  5. Sean says:

    New school vs Old school huh? Personally I like the radical look and understand it might not be for everyone. Grandpa would look a bit silly pulling up on this in his bright green jacket and Mohawk helmet but that’s ok this bike is not supposed to be for everyone. These racey bikes are like racey cars they stand out! Plenty more conservative bikes out there for folks looking to blend in.

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    • jake says:

      But…but, how old are you and can you actually afford to buy this bike? But, seriously, how old are you and can you really afford to buy this bike? We on this board are curious to know if such a person exists.

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      • Sean says:

        I’m 32 and yes I could and would buy it but personally my problem is that I prefer the fully faired 1000 for the wind protection and hate that mnfrs usually make these bikes so bland. I guess they figure the guy with enough sense to want a wind screen wants a conservative looking bike as well. The ninja 1000 does a good job of keeping sport bike looks and performance with real world riding position and wind protection. But could easily see myself slapping a screen on this thing. Price wise most people don’t buy these things cash and when 2k more costs u $30 a month is go with the better bike all day long. All those after market parts the exhausts, carbon fiber, paint jobs, mods, etc are bought by 20 somethigs. They have money bc they don’t have bills!!
        PS u can’t compare sales of this model directly with the cb1100 bc the completion is different not every manufacturer provides a cb1100 so honda is take a big bite out of a small pie. Here Kawi is competing with just about every maker.

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        • jake says:

          Yea, didn’t realize a 2K price difference was fairly irrelevant. I used to buy everything cash, motorcycles, autos, and homes, so I am totally unfamiliar with the finer points of making payments.

          If practicalities permit, I’d suggest going with your heart and buying this instead of the boring Ninja. It is a rare, one of kind bike. You can tell Kawi put some extra effort into this bike. The fit and finish, the detailing, looks to be on par with the best Europe has to offer, which cannot be said for most Japanese bikes.

          The bikini fairing completes the look of the Speed Triple, maybe something similar will be offered for this bike. This bike may not be a sales winner but it will not be a sales failure, certainly not in Japan. So some aftermarket parts should be available for it to mod it to your preferences.

          Should have figured about the financial status of 20 somethings. All they need are a few tatoos and a T-shirt and they are good. And best of all, when you’re 20, you don’t really need to pay a girl to like you like us old guys – or at least not as much.

          Glad we put this question to rest. Everyone hear, young guys can afford nice bikes after all.

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          • Austin ZZR 1200 says:

            Believe me, I needed all the help I could get in my 20s..and the bike worked!

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          • jake says:

            So even a 20 year old delivering pizzas on his bike can afford a nice bike. That’s nice to know, but then a high percentage of people living in the ghetto and on gov. assistance finds ways to drive nice, luxury cars with blinged out wheels, so the financial wherewithal of a pizza boy should not be questioned as well, I suppose.

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        • Jeremy in TX says:

          At 38, I would and could buy it too. A motorcycle is a small enough purchase that I would pay cash for it. The price difference between this and the more premium nakeds may be large percentage wise but is small with respect to total dollars. So whether you are a cash buyer or a finance buyer, like Sean mentioned, this bike’s primary challenge is that nearly every manufacturer has a competing offering.

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    • iliketoeat says:

      It’s not a question of a “radical look” or “not blending in”. It’s a question of a shitty, gag-inducing design. If you want attention, you could stick a peacock feather in your ass and run around naked. You certainly wouldn’t blend in, but you wouldn’t look good either. This bike is the equivalent of that.

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  6. seth says:

    The shiney light grey paneling visible in the picture with the trains, looks like an alien bottom. Srsly, why need a Ninja 1000ABS to compete against a better bike, when the monthly payment difference would not be a deal-breaker?

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  7. Azi says:

    I am so happy now because I always knew that one day I would fulfil my dream of looking like I was riding a cockroach.

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  8. Asphanaut says:

    I’m laughing like crazy over here at all you 60 year old styling experts. If it doesn’t look and perform like a buckboard you guys rip it to pieces!

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    • mickey says:

      Keep laughing…you will get there … A lot sooner than you would think.

      Report this comment

    • jake says:

      You know you’re old when you would rather walk the dog than have sex, even with a good looking girl, who is young and not your wife. So if you rather walk the dog, then you like buckboards, but if you prefer sex, then you probably also dig the look of the new Kawi. Anyway, that’s sort of how I see things.

      I’m a buckboard man myself, but one who still manages to appreciate what Kawi attempted to do with this bike So I’m an open minded old guy, a still hip old dudester.

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      • Asphanaut says:

        Good for you Jake. Hey, why not get one of these crazy green bikes … just maybe you’ll be able to put your self-evaluation about being over-the-hill to the test. Skip the mohawk helmet though – I can’t imagine that’s cool at any age.

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        • jake says:

          Na, I’d buy this bike, but I wouldn’t put my over-the-hillness to the test on this thing. Too dangerous. I crash bikes with half its power more often than I care to mention, and it hurts like hell, so there is no way I’d push my luck with this thing.

          Also, not into the mohawk helmets. And since I’d use this bike just to cruise moderately from place to place, I wouldn’t need a helmet at all. Na, maybe I’m crazy, but I personally think I’m still a looker (I still got it) and if I’m going to put up with the shortcomings of a naked, then I sure as hell want to be noticed (not by you guys, but by the ladies) while riding around on this bad, bad, super manly bike.

          I still think I can turn a few heads. Maybe not as many as I used to, but enough to make me feel good and assuage my tender ego. At my age, this is enough to put a sly grin on my face.

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      • MGNorge says:

        “So if you rather walk the dog, then you like buckboards, but if you prefer sex, then you probably also dig the look of the new Kawi.”

        So I take it you’re still having sex because you like the looks of this bike? :)

        I fell on the floor from chuckling too hard while reading your post. Thanks for the tee hee for the day!

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    • ed says:

      What’s a buckboard?

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    • Gham says:

      I’m old,(57) and no styling expert but I’d take the Aprilia Tuono over this any day.The Kawi just doesn’t do anything for me.

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    • Dave says:

      Most of the newer designs are just trying too hard. I think things look good when the visual elements are things that contribute to the product working well. Edges, angles and layers of body work that do nothing just look like a product trying to be something more than it is. Lipstick on a pig is the common term. Sad thing is, none of these new bikes are pigs, very far from it.

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  9. MG3 says:

    Please put me in the ‘fugly’ group (63 yo). I think motorcycle styling passed me by about 15 years ago. Can’t help thinking that the people who design these toys don’t spend much time riding. Say you want to throw some soft luggage over the back. What’s it going to do but swing all over the place back there. There is no ‘there’ there, just open space. Ok, buy the $1500 add-on hard luggage? Hey, you know I think I saw that coming. Twelve large to ride around town looking like a coked up pre-teen with a premature mid-life crisis? I don’t think so. Brilliant engineering, crappy styling. Very disappointing. Thankfully there are other options. I don’t think the Versys looks that bad.

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  10. Doug says:

    I was looking through this article for mention of the deletion of the exhaust valve in this current model. It’s been reported elsewhere that the exhaust valve on the Ninja version has been deleted, or unnecessary in the current model. Less is more if that is the case in regards to having rid the bike of another “Goldbergian” widget. Does anyone know if the exhaust valve is gone on this model?

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    • Bones says:

      By exhaust valve, do you mean the crossover pipe on the exhaust header? Looking at the photos, there’s one between the two middle pipes.

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      • Doug says:

        No, it’s not the crossover piper in the headers. It’s a valve which is just upstream of the right-side mufflers, aft of the pre-muffler can under the engine. A small servo motor under the rider’s seat actuates the valve in the right side pipe section via cables. It’s to affect exhaust pressure or some other sales pitch. It’s another little bit that could fail, or just becomes an irritant when working on the exhaust. Maybe the new engine mapping technology has rendered it obsolete? Just wanted to confirm if this is case.

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    • mickey says:

      On my Yamaha FZ-1 it’s called an EXUP valve, designed to add torque on the lower end

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  11. powermad says:

    The styling is definitely ‘edgy’ but I have to give Kaw credit for having the nads to at least try something different and edgy. A common failing with Japanese companies is too much of ‘me too’ when it comes to styling. Can’t really say that about this one.

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  12. Tank says:

    This bike looks like it would appeal to younger riders. Too bad younger riders will find the $12K price tag out of their budget. Insurance is another story.

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    • Gronde says:

      Same issue exists with the 600 Supersports, too expensive for the kids and the mature adults would rather buy a liter bike.

      Report this comment

    • TexinOhio says:

      This is the kind of model you have to shop around for insurance on. Some companies don’t really understand all the various bike models. The company I’m with wants to charge more for the Ninja 1000 but less for the Zed only because the word “Ninja” is used in the formers name.

      One would think that a full fairing, hard bags and a more touring look would give you a lower price, but not always the case I guess.

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      • Dave says:

        It’s the fairings that raise the price. Very expensive parts that are almost always damaged in a fall. That and sport bikes have a very high crash rate and to insurance companies fairings = sport bike unless it is classified as a Touring bike and again, you’re right, the use of the word Ninja strongly indicates “sport bike”.

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  13. Jeremy in TX says:

    Nice first ride review. It sounds like an excellent bike and looks good to me (especially after seeing it in person). Can’t wait to read a full review on it.

    I am glad to know that the fuel injection is dialed in. It seems that most bikes being released even now don’t have that right.

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  14. proheli says:

    I was done with transformers a long time ago, but admit it will be fun to see one out on the road next spring.

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  15. jake says:

    Stylingwise, it is like a Japanese Buell. You can tell this is one of the few bikes the Japanese actually spent some time and effort to style. Just look at the excellence of the fit and finish. It is original and, whether you like it or not, definitely will be a trendsetter for future bikes to come.

    Honda – Mild manner, overall excellence, the King of the biking world
    Yamaha – Sporty, aggressive, but mature, Mr. #2
    Suzuki – Budget, overall competence, Gsxr’s
    Kawasaki – The most adolescent brand of the Big 4′s, raucous and loud

    So this kind of bike is fitting to Kawasaki’s overall image and customer base.

    Report this comment

    • red says:

      Honda – Mild manner, overall blandness, former king of the biking world.

      Say what you will about K’s new Z styling, at least they went for something not designed by focus group.

      Report this comment

    • mickey says:

      Seeing as how the name of the game is sales, it would be interesting to find out at the end of the year which bike sold better..this 160 hp transformer, or Hondas retro 89 HP CB 1100. I know, I know… they don’t compete against each other in any aspect.. In fact are polar opposites…. other than what determines sales success and that is number of units sold.

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      • mickey says:

        That would tell you if current design or one style after the KZ 1000 or ZRX 1200 would have been a better choice, design wise.

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      • jake says:

        Depends on how many are brought over and how flexible the dealers are. But of the 2, probably the Honda is more of a seller. First, cause it is a Honda and, second, cause nostalgia is always greater than speed, power, or performance, or even common sense.

        A man’s man in the jungles of Vietnam may not have given a whimper when shot in the arm, but merely taped it up like a real life Rambo and kept on fighting, but show that same man now the little chair he used to sit on when he was kid watching his mom cook or clean, and that same tough S.O.B. will be whimpering and whining uncontrollably like a hungry puppy left alone too long.

        Don’t underestimate the power of nostalgia or its pull on the human heart, and thus the pocketbook of the old and the feeble. Besides, the old geezers are the only ones with any money these days in our society, aside from the tech geeks and heart surgeons and M.D. drug peddlers.

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      • Jeremy in TX says:

        Is the CB1100 selling well? A dealer here told me a few people rushed in to buy one when it first came out but that the demand plummeted shortly after. I wonder if that is the case elsewhere.

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        • mickey says:

          Well thats why I said it would be interesting..nobody gives sales figures for individual models. The dealer i bought mine from sold 3 and was looking for more. the dealer 30 miles away hadn’t sold one. We have about 800 members on CB1100forum.com maybe 5% of which come from outside the US. Such as Germany, the UK, NZ, Malaysia, Australia, Norway etc

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          • Norm G. says:

            re: “The dealer i bought mine from sold 3 and was looking for more. the dealer 30 miles away hadn’t sold one.”

            hit and miss. and here we have the essence of the niche business of motorcycling.

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          • jake says:

            800 sales for a year isn’t all that bad, is it? I guess it depends on how many were brought over.

            If the CB1100 doesn’t sell well, it can only be due to Honda’s lack of marketing effort. The CB1100 is a far, far better bike than the Triumph Bonneville in just about every way imaginable, and yet the Bonneville is mainstay for Triumph, and has been for over a decade I think.

            If Honda marketing put out some effort and educated the as yet uninformed masses buying the Bonneville how much superior the CB1100 is over their Thai built, British retro in every way, then surely Honda could sway many of the Bonnie guys over to its side.

            Can’t see how such a task would be very difficult.

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          • mickey says:

            Sales would be well over 800, but 800 have joined the forum since it was formed earlier this year. There are pockets like San Fran or Phoenix who each have 5 or 6 members on the forum. I rode mine down to Maggie Valley NC and saw 4 of them. The only thing I saw more of was Harleys.

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  16. TexinOhio says:

    That’s it. Going to have to trade my 2012 Z in for this one. Also need to see about ordering the Orange bodywork from Kawasaki Europe as we’re only getting the green model here in the states.

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  17. Mark says:

    Just the bike I would buy at my age (53) but I would have to throw a blanket over it before I could even get close to it. FUGLY is not what I would spend my money on, no matter how well it performs.

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  18. StratKat says:

    ok, “breathing passages between cylinders to reduce pumping losses”…
    what it this, a black science? it seems every year there is an improvement here, similar to new areodynamics tested in a wind tunnel. you hear that all the time. youd think by now pumping losses would have been investigated and understood instead of selling points for a new model. the older you get you can just see the spin.

    discuss…

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    • mickey says:

      I find it most funny when I read about 250 motocross bikes which every year seem to get new frame geometry, altered cams, and revised suspension components..it’s like didn’t you know better last year? Were you just guessing last year, was there no testing done last year? And is this the best you have, cause next year you are going to try and sell me another with new frame geometry, altered cams and revised suspension components lol

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    • jake says:

      It’s not spin, but actual, real world improvement – but strategically planned, premeditated improvement, not the off the cuff, accidental, just got lucky type of improvement the manufacturers claim incredulously, year after year.

      Fact is Kawi could have always built a better bike a few years back, but felt the bike back a few years ago was good enough to sell, and with planned incremental improvements, buyers would be enticed to buy year after year and not get bored with the same design should the design remain the same, year after year.

      Just like the NC700 bikes. I’m sure Honda right now could wring out alot more fuel efficiency, but simply won’t give it to us yet. We have to wait for their “incremental improvements”. Just watch, the NC700 bikes will become more and more fuel efficient over the course of the next decade.

      Manufacturers know. Better for sales and marketing to give improvements incrementally, than to blow your load all at once and give all the improvements you have all at one time.

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      • Stratkat says:

        and that is called ‘spin’
        why should i buy this years model?, ‘well for one, this years model has new “breathing passages between cylinders to reduce pumping losses”… and if i wait till next year it will have even better breathing passes, whooooooo ha!
        there comes a point when you buy a bike and realize, they pretty much have it figured out and buzz words are buzz word designed to sell the bike, same thing with road tests… but does it make a difference in performance? not usually that most consumers can detect. i am always kind of amused when road testers can tell minute little differences between model tweaks

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        • jake says:

          I get what you are saying – what’s the difference between a lie, advertisement, or an MD article heaping praise? Where’s the line between marketing and objective information?

          Supposedly, the further we move up the ladder of those terms, the closer we are supposed to get to the truth and away from the lies. Unfortunately, the marketers and propaganda artists know this as well, and so they throw curve balls our way to confuse and disorient us. Like O’reilly’s No Spine Zone or its sports equivalent, the Skip Bayless show, they both claim to be rebels and anything but spin, but of course, they are anything but what they claim to be – in other words, they are full of spin, the spin of the rich and powerful trying to hide itself by claiming to be one of us and not actually spin.

          So what’s man supposed to believe then, when those neat categories get confused and jumbled up? I think it depends on the situation, on a claim by claim basis. Some claims, maybe most of them, are probably more spin than objective improvements, but sometimes, those claimed improvements probably make a greater difference than average and noticeably improve the bike.

          I’d say in this situation, the latter applies more than the former. Among us, only Dirck has ridden both the older version and the newer one; only he knows for sure. And at least according to the article, he seems to be strongly implying that the latter is the case. Of course, he could be lying through his teeth, but I doubt it. In his articles (as I hope all have noticed), he seems to make a conscious effort to be honest as real world circumstances allow, which is saying alot for man in his position, facing the type of pressure he probably faces.

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  19. takehikes says:

    The whole purpose of the low headlights and the beaks too is to take your focus off of the absurd Grand Canyon between the rear tire and fender…..haven’t seen a sportbike yet that didn’t look stupid as hell. Wonderful pieces of tech but what piles of slapped together mish-mash.

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  20. Louis says:

    I bet this bike would have looked a LOT better with the curvaceous young brunette sitting on it. Even better if she were blocking the “headlight”.

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    • jake says:

      Bike would probably look better in a more aggressive paint scheme, like black and yellow, or flat black or flat, grungy, metallic gray. Only reason why I would hold off buying this bike. A more attractive paint scheme might be offered a year later.

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  21. todder says:

    Looks aside, why do they mount the rear caliper at the bottom of the disk instead of the top? I never like seeing that.

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    • GuyLR says:

      Lower CG, lighter effort in side to side transitions. Take a look at most MotoGP bikes. In this case it may also have something to do with the muffler outlet placement too.

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    • Dave says:

      The caliper is on a floating mount to prevent suspension influence. It’s much easier to do that below the swing arm.

      On the appearance – The bike looks bulky from the side because of all of the volume between the engine and the seat and top of the tank but that is because of Kawi’s frame design that runs the frame rails over the top of the engine instead of around. I bet the bike feels really narrow in the saddle.

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  22. Param says:

    Return of the street fighter?

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  23. Jack C says:

    If Kawasaki wants my money they need to make something that looks more like the ZRX1200R. This thing looks like it was designed by 12 year olds.

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  24. billy says:

    Neat bike.

    I wonder why the headlights on some of these new bikes are getting so low? They’re almost on the front tire and make the bike look mildly retarded. It looks like it should be about six inches higher for decent symmetry.

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  25. Norm G. says:

    re: “This bike is fast! It will pull smartly out of corners from as low as 5,000 rpm and progressively rip through the tachometer to roughly 11,000 rpm. A huge plateau of torque and rising horsepower.”

    oh yeah, wait’ll the supercharged version to combat Katoom’s 1300.

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  26. Gutterslob says:

    That’s a beautiful helmet.

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  27. Montana says:

    My guess is that an Italian designer styled everything ahead of the swing-arm,
    and a German engineer worked out the balance when they ran out of money.

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  28. VLJ says:

    Great functional bike. Shame they let a Cocoa Puffs-addled eight-year-old do the styling.

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  29. xlayn says:

    Hey the night shots are great! include more in your reviews…
    About the lights (something a lot complain about) how do they work? if they are really good I guess you can overlook the look :P

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  30. Ken says:

    I really like the bike and Kawasak’s attention to the fuel mapping sounds very good. I have suffered with a few bikes from Europe and will be sticking with rice burners.
    I would like to see this with a set of Yosh carbon slip on’s, short windscreen and it would be a blast. $3500 higher list than a Yamaha FZ9 but you get good forks, shock, and about 25 more hp. I assume to get a FZ9 set up it soon would be a $10,500 bike. Tough to choose!

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    • bmidd says:

      Wouldn’t be tough at all for me to choose, FZ-09. The weight difference is what I consider substantial. Power is great and all, but you won’t outrun the FZ on that bike unless you’re drag racing.
      MD listed Kawi wet weight at 487#
      MD listed FZ-09 wet weight 414#

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  31. Stone996e says:

    Passionate in looks and function…Kawasaki has hit a home run!

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  32. paul says:

    ..agree with david … pics of curvaceous young brunette or it really didn’t happen … :)

    The bike looks good to me (another old guy)

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  33. Hateraide says:

    Damn it Kwak, what about us grown-ups who don’t want a neon green bike? How hard is it to bring over more colors? You already make them in other markets.

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  34. Marc says:

    Ugly! Especially the muffler and this is coming from a KLR and Versys owner so I know something about ugly bikes. I guess this makes the Versys only homely in comparison. Other than that is sounds like a fun bike to ride.

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  35. david says:

    What kind of journalist are you?, no pictures of the curvaceous young brunette? I mean really…..

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  36. Gronde says:

    Sounds like a lot of fun!

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