Ad closing in seconds....

Z750 dominates naked middleweights

Published: 07 January 2004

YOU could be forgiven for thinking that Kawasaki’s new naked 750cc roadster is destined to occupy a class of its own, but Kawasaki has set its sights squarely on the hotly-contested middleweight market.

The firm revealed an on-the-road price of around £5500 for the Z750 at its launch. This means that despite the Kawasaki’s larger capacity it competes directly with the FZ6 Fazer and its all-rounder rivals such as Honda’s Hornet and Suzuki’s SV650.

The Z750 is something of a bargain. You get the funky, streetfighter looks of its Z1000 big brother as well 750 performance – and all for 600 money.

Middleweight bikes aren’t the economy class machines they used to be. The Z750 offers first-class thrills. Handling and braking are good, but what really defines this bike is the engine.

Kawasaki has pulled a masterstroke by giving us a Z1000-derived 750 – the motor is a sleeved-down version of the 1000 – rather than lifting the 636cc motor from the ZX-6R, which had been widely predicted.

The result is a torquey motor with strong drive, no matter how you ride. Open the throttle at any speed, in any gear and you are rewarded with instant, yet controllable power.

Paint finish could be better. Some of the bikes’ tanks on our test were crazed with tiny scratches. One bike even had chipped paint. But these were pre-production models.

The two-piston sliding Tokico calipers first saw light of day in the late ’80s and they feel their age. They do a decent job of halting the 195kg bike, but prompt stopping involves squeezing rather than stroking the lever and two-fingered brakers could find themselves with trapped digits.

A bike designed with city use in mind is always going to be a compromise, but the Z750 could handle anything up to serious track day abuse. It definitely isn’t a sports bike though.

The advantage of the relatively low pegs is that comfort is excellent. Better wind protection would improve comfort further but grin and bear it and the bike is capable of some serious high-speed runs.

The Z750 also broaches the capacity threshold for a proper man’s bike. Owning a 750cc streetfighter-style bike sounds a lot cooler than a 600cc middleweight all-rounder when you’re down the boozer...