The 2004 Kawasaki Z1000 was unveiled 30 years after the Kawasaki Z1 900 and was made to compete with the incredibly popular Honda CB750.
Honda released their 750 (widely accepted as the world’s first superbike) in 1969, while Kawasaki were developing a four-stroke 750 of their own, so they shelved the project and ploughed on with their two-stroke machines.
Kawasaki knew they needed a four-stroke superbike in their range, so in the early seventies they began work on the Z1, settling on a 903cc engine to outdo the wildly successful Honda.
At the time of its release, the Kawasaki Z1 was the fastest road bike in the world and made just shy of 81bhp (the Honda CB750 made 62bhp). In stark contrast to Kawasaki’s two-stroke triples which had a bit of a reputation for being widow-makers, the Z1 was much more stable, forgiving and easy to ride.
Kawasaki used the blueprint of the Z1 to create several successful models throughout the 70s and into the 80s with bikes like the Z900, Z1-R and the Z1100R.
Fast forward to 2004, and large capacity naked bikes like the Ducati Monster 1000, Speed Triple 955I and Suzuki GSF1200 Bandit are selling well. Kawasaki needed their own model to compete in this market and the Z1000 they produced clearly carried the DNA of the old Z1.
The Z1000 feels as fast as it looks, the 125bhp is smooth and manageable around town but between 6-8,000rpm you get an addictive surge of power.
The model has endured competition in the sector from the likes of the KTM Superduke, Honda CB1000R and BMW S1000R, but has held its own albeit with several engine and equipment upgrades over the years.
Check out MCN's first ride on the latest version of the Kawasaki Z1000: