Instead the biggest changes come with the chassis in the form of updated, top spec suspension and brakes. Forks are ZX-6R-alike (but retuned) separate function, 41mm ‘Big Piston Forks’, brakes: enlarged (by 10mm) 310mm petal discs and, like last month’s Z1000SX, new monobloc radial calipers.
If anything, the Zed’s ride, steering, braking and whole blend of practicality and entertainment are better yet.
The compact, ‘in’ riding position, a ride that, thanks to the new, quality suspension which is on the ‘buff’ or taut side of comfortable, plus divinely precise and confidence-inspiring steering which makes a mockery of the Kawa’s apparent size, all help endow the Zed with truly great street handling. I use the word ‘street’ deliberately. Around a track it’d probably be too hefty and laborious. On the road, at normal, brisk or even serious licence-losing three-figure speed, it’s sharp yet utterly planted, responsive without being twitchy or frisky, engaging and thoroughly entertaining – right down to the fierce but finessed, one-finger brakes.
Kawasaki has refined this latest Z1000 rather than radicalised it. Throttle resposne is enhanced via a tweaked EFi/ECU and revised intake funnels, while extra mid-range (but with no top end loss) comes through new cams and oval header link pipes. The old Zthou was always a grunty smoothie but it’s now better than ever, easily pulling away from as little as 2500rpm and thereon delivering textbook progressive, glitch-free turbine drive, all accompanied by a lovely, newly acoustically-enhanced induction howl, all the way up to whatever. I simply can’t think of a better, more enteraining and useful, current street bike four-pot mill. No electronics are provided. None are needed.
Being a proven lumop with quality parts should mean reliability’s not much of an issue, while the overall standard of finish and bits and bobs both makes earlier Zeds seem tawdry and is more in keeping with a £12K-plus machine rather than one starting at £9500. There’s the eminently tactile raised metal tank badge, the seat fabric’s ‘Z’ motif (in fact subtle ‘Z’ design motifs are everywhere), the classy paint and the variety of finishes and materials are mouthwatering.
Sure, some naked are fancier and techierbut the the Zed’s still well under £10K in a class where some, madly so, are now edging £14K. Yep, say that again. ‘Nine and a half grand for a fabulously refined, useful, characterful and fast roadster with bang up to date suspension and brakes?’ I reckon this new Zed could finally have the beating of the Speed Triple, makes the ‘R’ version look extortionate and render ‘uber’ nakeds like the Tuono and Super Duke unnecessarily extravagant.
Although the basics of alloy twin spar frame and hefty, 1043cc transverse four are unchanged, and there’s no electronic rider aids like some of its rivals, the new suspension and brakes are top drawer and there’s enough posh bits to satisfy the biggest accessory snob: the clear master cylinder fluid reservoir, the radial pump lever, the two-tone mirrors, the new LCD display (even if, thanks to lacking a gear indicator and having a baffling twin digital tacho) and more.