Kawasaki Z1000SX – Road Test

What is it?

The Kawasaki Z1000SX is presented as a Sports Touring bike. Well, it does that and some spirited robot-to-robot drags as well. In this guise, the new Z is given a half-fairing and some new body panels. The handlebars are higher, providing a more relaxed seating position.

Engine/drivetrain

The engine is hailed as “all new” but feels very much like the trusty liquid-cooled engine, now up to 1 043 cc and tuned for mid-range performance. The compact four-cylinder DOHC motor performs flawlessly and has just the right amount of grunt to pass those slow-moving mid-morning cars on Joburg’s roads. Pushing out a decent 101.5 kW, the motor is confidence inspiring with very little to fault it. It performs as is to be expected from a middle-of-the-range bike – no frills but lots of thrills. The Keihin electronic fuel injection supplies unleaded fuel smoothly, with no perceivable lag or any jerkiness, unlike some earlier models, which were a bit jerky when pulling away. (The old Z1000 suffered from this problem, which Kawasaki seems to have sorted out now.)

Style, instruments and equipment

The modern styling retains the traditional Kawasaki lines and the lean, green machine that I tested certainly looked sporty, attracting looks from many passers-by. The digital instrument displays were slightly difficult to read in bright sunlight and needed adjustment for daytime riding. At night, the soft blue glow is easy on the eyes. The Z1000SX’s wavy brake disks that bring the bike to an effortless halt are now standard features on this model. The brake lever gives good tactile feedback and suffered no fade over the 400 km that I spent on it.

Performance

The bike performs well, with a sweet spot around 7 500 r/min. The unofficial cruising speed of 170 km/h is comfortable with little to no buffeting. At higher speeds the wind factor is more noticeable. [Remember that this Kawa has an adjustable windscreen … ed.] This bike is no slouch and will keep up with most sports bikes, but prefers being ridden within the limits of a touring/cruising bike – in other words, not at breakneck speeds all the time! The slightly larger than average 19-litre tank adds weight, but also gives extra range for longer rides.

Ride and handling

The Z1000SX is a big bike and you feel as if you are seated on top of it. The ride height could be a problem for shorter riders, but this is adjustable. Handling was near perfect and the bike can be tossed into the twisty bits without any concerns. I would even go as far as to say that this bike would make a very decent B-class track tool, with excellent cornering abilities. The Kawa felt plush on the bumpy Gauteng roads, easily soaking up imperfect road conditions. The bike’s front and rear suspension are adjustable.

Likes/dislikes

The Z1000SX is a bit of a Jekyll and Hyde – two personalities in one machine. A passive commuter bike during the week, it will transform into a monster that devours twisty country roads at weekends. This is a no-frills, take-it-as-you-get-it bike and will fill the niche of the old Z1000 perfectly, without any electronic gadgetry (like TC or rain-mode settings). I didn’t like the ugly exhaust pipes and would change them for a decent set of Yoshimuras or Akrapovičs.

Verdict and rating

Kawasaki’s motto applies – Let the good times roll! Tickles my fancy and pushes the right buttons on the Man-O-Meter – a solid 8/10

Also consider

Triumph Tiger 1050, Honda CB1000R, KTM RC8 and 990 Super Duke, BMW R1200R, Suzuki GXSR 1000.

Specifications of the Kawasaki Z1000SX (2012)

  • Engine  1 000 cc, four-stroke, liquid-cooled, fuel-injected in-line four
  • Gearbox  six-speed, chain drive
  • Power  101.5 kW @ 9 600 r/min
  • Torque  110 Nm @ 7 800 r/min
  • Weight  228 kg (wet and fuelled)
  • Seat height  820 mm
  • Fuel capacity  19 litres
  • Fuel consumption  6.3 litres/100km
  • Tank range  Approximately 275 km
  • Warranty and servicing  Two years unlimited km warranty; two years AA roadside assistance. Service every 6 000 km
  • Price  R 125 995. It was reduced from R 135 995 in August 2012
  • Review by Mukhtar Mukuddem, April 2012

More info from kawasaki.co.za

 

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