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2014 Kawasaki Z1000 ABS: MD Ride Review

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The Naked bike category has really advanced in the last few years. It started with a number of motorcycles that were basically stripped down, detuned sport bikes. Not only were the engines detuned, the chassis received cheap suspension and brakes. Basically, most of the manufacturers did not believe in the category, or, at least, they did not believe that purchasers of Nakeds would pay for a top quality engine or chassis.

All of that has changed, of course, and Kawasaki has definitely tried to keep pace with the totally new 2014 Z1000 ABS. This is a motorcycle that has top drawer suspension, brakes and motor. We have already tested the Z1000 ABS at the press launch, and you can read our first ride impression here. That story has all of the details regarding the technical specifications of the bike, and we don’t intend to repeat those in this article.

We do want to highlight some of the outstanding features of the Z1000 ABS, however, before we get into our longer term ride review. The incredible front brake is something we have sampled now on two Kawasaki models, including the subject Z1000 and its sibling the new Ninja 1000 ABS. The extremely rigid, radial mounted, four-piston (differentially sized for leading and trailing edges) Tokico-manufactured monobloc twin calipers are simply among the best front brakes we have sampled in all our years of testing.  That is saying a lot, but the power and control offered by these front calipers, together with the master cylinder, is hard to match.

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One other thing that stands out is the fully adjustable (compression, rebound and preload) Showa big piston fork Kawasaki chose to put on this new 2014 model. Versions of this fork first began to show up on production supersport and superbike models a few years ago. It represented a big leap forward in production fork performance, and it says a lot that Kawasaki delivers the stock Z1000 with this feature.

Finally, we need to point out the purpose-built motor from Kawasaki. It is not a superbike motor. In fact, it is too large to meet superbike regulations for four cylinders with its 1043 cc. This engine was designed from the beginning to maximize performance at street rpm levels. The chart in our Ninja 1000 review says it all, with the Z1000 engine providing substantially more horsepower and torque than BMW’s awesome S1000RR through, and beyond, 8,000 rpm (where you will likely be breaking the speed limit in first gear with superbike gearing).

The ergonomics of the Z1000 are interesting in that they are much more comfortable than the ergos offered by pure sportbikes, but more aggressive, and less suitable for longer trips than those offered by many other Nakeds. In comparison with much of the competition, the Z1000 has footpegs that are higher and more rearward, with handlebars a bit lower and more forward. The seat has relatively firm padding, and was comfortable on longer rides. We averaged roughly 37 mpg during our testing.

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Naked bikes, by definition, lack significant wind protection, although some deflect a fair amount of wind from the chest area due to their headlight and instrument panel design. By contrast, the Z1000 offered very little in the way of wind deflection at higher speeds, and it is the perfect candidate for a small bikini fairing to help out in this regard.

Spending more time with the Z1000 reinforced just how well this bike handles. The semi-aggressive seating position makes much more sense after you start carving corners. The Z1000 has a rock solid feel, with extremely good feedback from the front tire through the Showa fork. Together with the right chassis geometry and excellent Dunlop tires, this bike provides tremendous confidence in the twisties.

When you pick a line through a sweeper, the Z1000 does not wander off that line. Even mid-corner bumps are shrugged off, particularly by the fork. More importantly, Kawasaki has struck a good balance between stability in high-speed sweepers and maneuverability.   With the relatively wide bars, the Z1000 changes direction quickly when asked to. It is not the lightest bike in the category, but it seems to translate that bit of extra heft into an advantage when it comes to predictability. The Z1000 never seems to do something you didn’t ask it to do, even when ridden hard and close to the edge.

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As we said earlier, brake power and feel is hard to fault. The first time you ride the Z1000 you will know what we are talking about. Huge power, but with enough modulation that you can competently use the brakes in a panic stop. Of course, the excellent ABS system comes into the mix here, as well.

The other thing that struck us about the Z1000 is its level of refinement. When I step aboard a Kawasaki performance bike I expect a rawness to its character that is somewhat distinctive of the brand.  The Z1000, on the other hand, might be described as half way between that typical Kawasaki raw character and the extremely refined nature of some Hondas (which can be either desirable or boring, depending on your perspective). As we previously said, the Z1000 handles in a manner that reminds us of Honda’s excellent CB1000R, with gobs more horsepower and better brakes.

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The clutch and transmission performed competently throughout our testing, and the thorough instrumentation is very legible, including the digital tachometer with its two-stage readout.  The headlights are very bright, particularly the high beam which engages all four separate beams simultaneously (see photo).

The Z1000 ABS has power everywhere you need it on the tachometer. Choosing a gear for aggressive corner exits is easy, and at least two gears will do the job well, in most circumstances. Combined with the excellent handling and brakes, this engine performance makes the Z1000 almost untouchable beneath a skilled rider attacking canyon twisties. It would make an excellent track day bike, as well, although in that environment the greater high rpm performance of the sportbikes, as well as their additional ground clearance will make them superior for a top rider.

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We haven’t mentioned the styling of the Z1000 ABS. Living with the bike for some time, it did grow on us. Photographing the bike always made us appreciate the extremely complex lines and curves Kawasaki placed in the fairing, tank and tail sections. As a piece of art work, it has definitely developed some fans.

At a U.S. MSRP of $11,999, the 2014 Kawasaki Z1000 ABS offers a lot of value in a high performance, high specification Naked bike. The chassis, suspension (particularly, the front fork) and brakes are near the top of the category, and the engine performance offers just about all any aggressive street rider could ask for. The only color available in the U.S. this year is the pictured Golden Blazed Green/Metallic Graphite Gray. Take a look at Kawasaki’s web site for additional details and specifications.

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90 Comments

  1. joe b says:

    I remember when the CB1000R first came out, so many ludicrous comments about its “CRAZY” styling. now 7 years later its so ho-hum. I’d bet this bike looks way better in real life, than in pictures, so many of the bikes I see in person seem that way now-a-days. When will Suzuki make a ‘Standard’, with their ’07 Bandit water cooled engine?

    • todder says:

      It was so visually striking I couldn’t resist climbing aboard. Much better looking in person.

  2. Cowboy says:

    Yeah; no.

  3. denny says:

    Is this meant to be m-o-t-o-r-c-y-c-l-e? Really?!

  4. 2ndderivative says:

    “Insect”, “transformer”, “comic-book styling”

    You guys say that like it’s a bad thing!

  5. Brian Donaldson says:

    I rode this bike at Daytona to compare it to the Yamaha FZ9, herky-jerky machine. In my opinion the finish on this bike was way ahead of the yamaha, In addition the motor is smooth and powerful and the handling on this machine is way ahead of the Yamaha. This bike is way more comfortable than it looks, the passenger seat is pretty large and comfortable by sport bike standard, (No fat chicks please). The headlight actually looks good on the bike, and its effective. The mufflers are huge, but this can be modified. For my money this bike is easily a better value than the Yamaha.

    • Daniel says:

      Thanks for the comment, I tried to test the same bikes and I could not…
      I am glad that you answer my question about the power and suspension characteristics of both bike.
      I heard already that the Yamaha has some issues with the suspension on their FZ9, and this change of having Compresion and Rebound on different legs might be not as good as the traditional set up….thanks for the information

  6. Fabio Quadrana says:

    I’m a kawasaki man, but this one is really UGLY, it’s a mix between Alien and Predator…

  7. Mr.Mike says:

    I’m a guy in his mid 50′s and I like the look except for the exhaust. I think it would be much more attractive with an exhaust system like the one on the Yamaha FZ-09.

  8. AFW says:

    The design seems to be polarizing, I like it, very futuristic. Too many people are stuck in the past, move on or move over.

  9. Gronde says:

    There’s nothing on this bike that a hacksaw and cutting torch couldn’t fix. So stop your complaining and start cutting!

  10. blackie73 says:

    I am 73 years old and rode this bike 3 times during bike week. I loved every minute of it. Loads of power and the brakes and suspension are as good as I have ever been on! Would I buy one? Nope. I had a Ninja 1000 and the cost of insurance was way to much to suite me and I have no accidents and no tickets, live in a small town and kept the bike In a garage. But it is as fun as it gets (like a thrill ride). Also looking for more comfort at my age.

  11. Austin ZZR 1200 says:

    I need to see that flaccid turtle-head light in person before I weigh in on the design. The bike looks much better without a rider than with

  12. Trent says:

    I like the look of the previous model better, but I’m sure the looks of this one would grow on me, especially after I rode it once or twice. If I didn’t already own a ZX10R and a Z750S, both modified to suit me, Dirck’s glowing review would make me go out and buy one this weekend.

    • Brian says:

      The real-life pics of it definitely appeal more than the promo photos from Kawasaki, and I really like the look from the rear. After this review, and watching the “Weekly Rides w/ Rubin” test ride on YouTube (go to the Competition Accessories channel), I’m pretty tempted. Probably wait until fall/winter and try to pick up a leftover.

  13. Jeremy in TX says:

    Though I am sure the design is too radical to appeal to many out in front of Gen-X, the bike’s design grew on me after seeing it in person. I rather like it now.

    It has some pretty stiff competition at that price point with the new Monster 1200 and the Speed Triple. Can’t wait for a shootout!

    • Gham says:

      Quoted fro Jeremy in Texas

      “Though I am sure the design is too radical to appeal to many out in front of Gen-X, the bike’s design grew on me after seeing it in person. I rather like it now.”

      I saw one sitting next to a 2014 CB1100 Deluxe,Trust me,even at 57 years old when I compared the two at virtually the same price point the design grew on me real quick.It’s a lot of bike at that price.

  14. todd says:

    I don’t quite get these kind of bikes. Being so big and twitchy with huge tires and so much power you give up too much ability for canyon carving and risk being over taken by all the DRZs and SV650/Ninja 650s. Out on the open highway where the power and mass begins to make sense, the tiny seat and non-existent ergonomics/wind protection make it a pain to ride any distance. With such a thirsty motor, it doesn’t make much of a commuter either. I guess it’s just really meant for riding to the coffee shops and boosting your ego while giving the impression to other riders that you are a pro because you can “handle” such a machine.

    Squids.

    • VLJ says:

      “Twitchy”? Did you even read the article, or any other ride review of this bike? One of its most oft-mentioned attributes is its rock-solid stability. The same is true of the other large Sport Nakeds: Speed Triple, S1000R, CB1000R, Super Duke 1200, Monster 1200.

      • todd says:

        All of the mega-power bikes I’ve ridden have a whole lot of power to cover in a short, quarter or half turn of throttle. When it’s difficult to dial in the amount of power you want (and because fueling is so terrible especially on the Ducati and MV super bikes) you spend more time on the brakes than you should. “Twitchy.” The most fun I ever had and my fastest times through my favorite roads were on a DRZ. I was able to use much more of the throttle – use a little more, dial it down a little. Super light and easy to turn and go fast. Much easier and much faster than the other bikes with 5 times plus more power. In other words, fun.

        Any motorcycle is fun, it’s just some of the little ones are much more fun than the big ones I’ve ridden.

        • Jeremy in TX says:

          I get what you are saying. But where I live, a DRZ would be no fun at all. The DRZ is the right tool for a very tight road. The big Z would be a better tool for just about everything else.

    • Norm G. says:

      re: “I guess it’s just really meant for riding to the coffee shops and boosting your ego while giving the impression to other riders that you are a pro because you can “handle” such a machine.”

      lemme help, the word you’re searching for is “FUN”.

    • Jeremy in TX says:

      It is meant for fun and overall awesomeness. And given the comments about the styling, anyone riding this bike probably doesn’t need an ego boost or give a hoot about the impression he/she is giving to others.

      • Blackcayman says:

        “overall awesomeness”…

        That should be the name of a Men’s Blog!

        WE motorcyclists are chiefly interested in it

        This is clearly today’s winner!

        Congrats on the new term

  15. Norm G. says:

    I’m indifferent to the styling, neither a lover nor a hater. but referencing dino’s comment below regarding “googly-eyed 6 year olds”, I suspect kawi (like all the other brands) recognizes the future lies with attracting gen-y, gen-z, millennials, etc to the sport. HD are the only ones who seem to be able to successfully market to the boomer, septuagenarian. in fact, I encountered an OG on a road king during my sunday ride. now that I think about it, most of what I encountered over 180 miles was “HD-esque”. many of the “yout” i reckon are still sorting dead batteries and no start issues.

  16. Odd_Bike_Tommy says:

    When I was at Daytona Bike Week I really wanted to test ride this bike. The line for Kawi’s test rides was booked long in advance so I missed out. I am 51 and LIKE the odd styling of this bike. I have never owned an in-line 4 in my 30+ years of street bike riding. I like odd bikes, having owned a Hawk GT before they became a cult bike and current Buell XB12R owner, this bike fits that bill all right.

    They built a true naked sport bike with the top motor, suspension, brakes but no fairings. In the front they put the Kawi version of a street-fighter replacement headlight kit. Google street fighter dual beam replacement kit and you’ll find gas mask, skull eyes, and other insect looking fitments. I think its Kawi’s factory custom version of the gas mask and skull eyes turned into something a factory can show. A predator face. When you look at the lights they do have a cat eye iris effect. Bizarre and I think well executed.

    That ‘s why they are pushing the Japanese “Sugomi” style in their ads so people get it. But like a joke explained… If you don’t get it then move on. They will walk you right over to the lovely Ninja 1000 that is probably a better fit in the semi-naked sport tour segment. (plus those integrated bags. Mmmmmm practical)

    I agree with the quality of the build is really something in person. They went all-in on the details of the seat and tail unit. Real art, right down to the covering pattern.

  17. tori zimbalis says:

    I find that aggressive is par for course in naked bikes…call it insect like or whatever the Kawasaki looks cool

    But for Hardcore riding I prefer a harder seat that makes it easier to tradition….and a proper sized windscreen so I can hear myself think…. and to get lower down with clip ons so that I feel connected to the front a bit more…and I like my pegs high so I dont touch down and Ive got my knees to rest my elbows on….

    If I was headed downtown at night to the burger joint with friends…maybe to work sitting in traffic on hot day and didnt want to wear my race suit or just some good fun riding……these naked bikes start to make real sense

  18. Cyclemotorist says:

    Too bad about the styling. Or lack thereof. Great bike otherwise.

  19. GT08 says:

    Please Kawasaki, give me a ZRX. I will buy instantly !
    See Kawasaki japan site if you want to see the ZRX they sold in japan.
    What a beautiful bike !!!

  20. paso100 says:

    In designing the Z, Kawasaki engineers were sensitive to riders concerned with safety on modern sport bikes. Hence every Z headlight receives a mammogram before leaving the production line. Safety first.

  21. billy says:

    Second to last photo. Looks like someone needs to work on their body positioning???

    • TimC says:

      I’ve been noting this a LOT lately. Here and in print mags.

    • Dirck Edge says:

      What would you suggest? Supermoto style weights the outside peg, while roadrace style leans to the inside. I suggest you learn both styles, but you should practice supermoto style in the dirt. Freddie Spencer (heard of him) suggests sitting in the middle of the seat on the street, not shifting weight in either direction. I think leaning to the inside on the street is largely unnecessary unless ground clearance is an issue or you are riding off the edge of the tire. I see more inexperienced riders on the street leaning to the inside when it is unnecessary (maybe they think it looks cool? or think it is faster?), while most experienced riders save that style for track days. Jeff Ward (former AMA Supermoto champ) would beat just about any roadracer through a tight canyon road while severely shifting his weight to the outside of the bike (dipping the bike).

      • dionysus says:

        Thank you. It has to be said. All these young riders leaning off their bikes at the mere mention of a corner. Completely unnecessary and looks ridiculous. Maybe they are trying to save the edges of their tyres and keep those huge chicken strips.

      • MotoMan says:

        Agree 100% with you Dirck. I have ridden for 40 years and I am an experienced track-day rider. I regularly ride around people on the street without moving off the bike in the corners. And I would be happy to show billy and TimC how its done!

      • Tad says:

        Good reply Dirck.

        I would like to know of the expertise in the industry of this Billy and TimC.

        Curious if they have ever been a professional motorcyclist in the industry to be able to backup what they say.
        Or give their opinion any weight.

        • Dirck Edge says:

          Here is Wardy weighting the outside peg on the tarmac en route to his 9th AMA Championship. http://www.motorcycledaily.com/2006/11/06november06_jeffward/. The physics involved are very interesting. Would make for a good future MD article. As to MD readers offering a strong opinion on a topic they know very little about, I don’t think that has ever happened before. ;)

          • Jeremy in TX says:

            Wait until they start talking about physics! That would be an article I’d like to see. I see both styles employed at supermoto races to great effect depending on the rider, probably due to a rider’s particular background from street or dirt.

          • Dirck Edge says:

            Another picture of Ward tackling a street section at the X Games: http://cdn.supercross.com/images/stories/features/xgames15/day2/x-games-15-06-jeff-ward.jpg. Both techniques have their place, and experienced riders know when to use each technique to go fast. Valentino Rossi and Ben Bostrom (multi-time WSB race winner, including beating Neil Hodgson at Brands!) also weight the outside like Ward on tight Supermoto tracks (there are plenty of pictures of this on the net). We will try to do an article discussing this topic.

      • Blackcayman says:

        the neutral body position for steet riding is fine (read Nick’s book for the various reasons).

        For me personally, I use a “mostly” neutral body position for street riding ( I say mostly because there are some canyon blasting times and places that lend themselves to triple digit sweepers etc) – track days are a different story.

        • Bob L. says:

          Hey Blackcayman….triple digits, in the sweepers?
          I just sit in the middle and don”t go too fast, anymore. Been there, done that….now, I ride to enjoy the ride and I don’t need to worry where the traction limit is.
          One of the first things I learned at Keith Code’s school….too dangerous to race through most corners on the street. I just go to an occasional track day and even there, I ride within my limits. I made it to 63 and would like to still be riding for another 20+ years!

          • Blackcayman says:

            Bob. Come to Utah and ride the “Energy Loop” there are plenty of 3rd and 4th gear flowing sweepers that just beg to be ridden at 100 mph. They aren’t so tight that you can’t see through them either.

            That’s riding about 7/10ths

      • tori zimbalis says:

        It would be a cold day in hell that I’d ride my motorcycle in a style that would suit someone else s ideas be it expert or not or what someone said in a magazine…..sit on seat straight up..hang off…or just the one cheek sneak everyone rides different…and it depends on the style of bike too….

        I tried to explain to another motorcyclist the other day how trail braking in corners can be used to an extent in road riding….and he didnt know what I was talking about and seemed horrified……so I just say ride the best you can

      • Al says:

        I’m an experienced rider (35 years + and approx 700,000 kms)) on the road & have been on the track over 30 times.
        It happens sometimes that I lean lightly off my bike on nice twisty roads just to give me that extra ground clearance if I need it at the last second to avoid objects, animals or other vehicles but nothing close to the style at the track lolllll.

    • MGNorge says:

      I didn’t see anything wrong in that static photo even before reading Dirck’s response. It’s simply neutral street posture which, from buddies videos from behind me, I do most of the time. Then too, I am riding on the street!

  22. dino says:

    Specs are great on paper, probably a blast on the road.

    Design is crap on paper, and likely on the road as well… The rest of the bike would probably be fine if they just could prop up the headlight instead of letting it sag on to the front fender like an overloaded diaper.

  23. Brent says:

    Sure it’s ugly. Style is what they change every year. What a motorcycle needs isn’t style, it’s design. Look at the MotoGP bikes, they don’t get uglier every year. But nowadays a ‘naked’ bike isn’t good for much of anything. Just normal freeway speeds are high enough that it’s tiring to hold on

  24. Gary says:

    I guess I’m different than most that have commented here. I do like the style of this bike. I sort of like the “mad as hell” look. The only thing I wish were a little different was how the exhaust is shown below the plastic. That what I’m assuming is a cat is the only ugly thing I see here. And no, I’m (unfortunately) not a younger rider at almost 60. I like different.

  25. xlayn says:

    If you ask me most beautiful bike (non italian and somehow recent) are honda vtr , 06 CBR600RR and 954, so this is somehow outside my leagues, not sure if I would choose it over one of the other if new.
    Still some things catch my eye, for example how compact is the package, looks muscular, great engine and probably in the flesh the insectoid appearance may look nice.
    As the review says:

    “Photographing the bike always made us appreciate the extremely complex lines and curves Kawasaki placed in the fairing, tank and tail sections”

  26. J Haynes says:

    One more vote for being embarrassed to be seen on it. Yes, I am older, but only 50, and like most older guys I want exactly what this is, function wise, without the goofy styling. Could be slightly lighter if I had my preference. I don’t give a rip if it doesn’t have much of a rear seat. Motorcycles are for shits and grins, not for worrying about how the wife and a bunch of baggage fits into the travel plans. I’m not interested in going very far on a bike. Give me a frame and a motor, just not wrapped in loads of ugly plastic.

    • Tom Shields says:

      I’m almost 61 and I would not be at all embarrassed to be seen on this bike. It looks different, for sure – nothing wrong with that.

    • J Haynes says:

      Hey, I sure don’t mind being different, and there are several bikes in this category that appeal to me. I am a Kawasaki fan, also, so my desire is for them to get rid of the guy who is in charge of styling their machines lately. He is somehow lost in a modern power ranger movie or something. Sheeesh.

  27. Rocky V says:

    Give me a ZRX any day

    But if they made a ZRX 1400 using the ZX14 motor–i would buy one in a heart beat

    • Blackcayman says:

      that’s a completely different bike category – plus 150 pounds and directed at a different demo.

  28. Gronde says:

    I asked my local multi-brand dealer if he had sold one yet and the answer was no. He said that most everyone has a comment to make about the bikes styling, but nobody wants to ante up the $12,000+ to own one. He has a waiting list for people wanting to buy CFR250L’s, but not one person even slightly interested in what he refered to as ” Kawi’s Stink Bug.”

    • todder says:

      Wish there was also as much promise for the CRF250M which we still can’t get here in the states.

      And just so I’m not hijacking the thread, I plopped my 6’3′ frame on the Kawi and the ergos just felt bad.

  29. Tom R says:

    This bike should have a great shot at product placement in the next Transformers movie. Geez, it looks like a cast member.

  30. MGNorge says:

    I have to say that’s one of the more polarizing designs around. At my ripe old age of 60 it’s too much and over the top. But I don’t believe it’s aimed at my bunch. Just how well liked it is by the younger set remains to be seen.

  31. Dave says:

    Sure wish Big K would bring over the Versys 1000.

  32. zrx4me says:

    The only thing wrong with most modern nakeds is the rear seat isn’t suitable for anything more than a ride around the block for a passenger.My wife would look at that seat and say “no thanks”.

    • LJ says:

      Why would anyone one want to ride 2 up on a naked or any sportbike. Buy the wife or gf there own ride it’s much more enjoyable and they will get the full experience for themselves. Or buy a super sport or BarcaLounger full on touring ride.

      • VLJ says:

        “Why would anyone one want to ride 2 up on a naked or any sportbike.”

        Starting from California, I went up to and across Canada on a naked SV650, with my wife riding pillion. Why? Because she was more confident riding pillion than riding solo, and I wasn’t about to take that trip without her. It worked out fine.

      • zrx4me says:

        used to be nakeds were great 2 up bikes-ZRX,Bandit,FZ-1 ect ect…

    • Blackcayman says:

      there is no rear seat

      • Dirck Edge says:

        The color matched rear seat looks like a seat cowl, but it is actually a passenger seat.

        • TexinOhio says:

          Dirck,

          Did they give you a special rear seat? Cause mine isn’t that bright and shiny in the sunlight.

          • Dirck Edge says:

            I don’t think so, but the accuracy of the color match with the rest of the bike was remarkable. Interested to see if that bright green seat cover fades over time.

        • Blackcayman says:

          that 3″ x 3″ patch of seat material is a rear seat?

          surely they jest…

  33. MG3 says:

    Wow this is obviously a really great motorcycle, but the design is somewhere between hideous and awful. I would be embarrassed to be seen on it. Maybe because I am 63 years old, or maybe because it’s just plain ugly. Not sure which it is, and I guess it really doesn’t matter much. This styling makes me think that they could have made a much cleaner, simpler, more traditional looking bike, and saved the buyer a lot of money in the process. All those swoopy plastic parts, and those mufflers (yeah I know, Buck Rogers called and he wants ‘em back) probably add a couple grand to the price of the bike. But what do I know, they they will probably sell like hotcakes. Guess it’s a Honda CB1100 for me, someday soon when my 82 Gl1100 standard wears out, if it wears out.

    • Bud says:

      It would be fascinating to see Kawasaki make a 2nd version with more conventional styling and see which sells better. FWIW I share your opinion about the styling.

    • Texinohio says:

      I’ve own this bike and am 37 years old so there maybe a disconnect to the older crowd. The last model I owned was an 2003 and this is far beyond that first generation overall.

      I love it as a total package. Power, style, handling, comfort (for a 5’6″ guy), but its the style that gets lots of people stopping to see what it is. Its the odd styling that gets attention.

      I’m in the demographic that doesn’t want a cookie cutter cruiser, sport bike, standard model motorcycle. I want something different and this fits the bill.

      The only complaint I keep hearing here is the style. So that is totally a personal call.

      • Gronde says:

        You are correct about the odd styling. No doubt about it- odd it is!

      • TheSeaward says:

        Good on you for buying what you want (what a novel concept) instead of listening to the whiniest commentariat that I know of. I think it’s a very distinct and not unattractive motorcycle. I had a 2011 Speed Triple that I loved and if I was in the market for another super naked this would be on my short list. Guessing by the comments on this article you aren’t allowed to get anything without a round headlight after you’ve had your first prostate exam.

        • goose says:

          Actually, you just develop taste and a sense of style.

          Seriously, if you think this bike is attractive you should buy one so more bikes are built with this type of styling. I’ll keep buying bikes with round headlights. Well, not really true, I’m pretty sure my next bike will not have round headlights just like a couple of bikes I owned in the 1990s.

          Goose

        • MG3 says:

          Hey, leave my prostate out of it. Good for you Tex if you like the look of the bike then ride and enjoy. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Us older guys can be a whiny bunch, but we’re allowed, we’re old.

  34. ivan says:

    I really like the bikes performance and specs. However, it looks like some kind of camel-humped robot transformer insect. Surely Kawasaki did some consumer testing clinics for the design and this must have passed muster with those people. It just would be interesting to know what demographic loved this look.

    • johnny ro says:

      It sure is ugly all right. Its looks will not age gracefully.

      Lacks practicality too.

      A short range day bike, suitable for 45 minute blasts.

      • TexinOhio says:

        It can be made practical. I fitted a Cortech Super 2.0 tank bag and soft saddlebags on mine just fine. Again relative to the riders height (I’m 5’6″) strait 3 hour runs (longest our group can do before stopping for restroom breaks it seems) with a group are easy without getting tired from wind blast at highway speeds.

        For those that don’t like the look of the Zed, check out the Ninja 1000. Not as hopped up as the Zed but not bad either.

      • Norm G. says:

        I can ride naked all day…! wait, that didn’t come out right.

    • dino says:

      Just a guess, but I think they paid the market research subjects with Lollipops and Comic books.

      6 year olds have got to be googly-eyed over this bike!

  35. Gutterslob says:

    I realize it’s only a “first ride” review, but surely you could’ve given us a preliminary opinion on seat comfort. Many modern nakeds have planks for seats, something I’ve learned even from short 1/2 hour test rides.