2011 Kawasaki Z1000
To most younger riders, New York Steak is something you lay down twenty-five bucks for at a restaurant and pour A1 sauce over. To older riders, New York Steak will only ever mean one thing and one thing only: The original Kawasaki Z1. The Kawasaki engineers were so convinced that their paradigm shifting first transverse four would turn on the American public that their codename for the project was the nomenclature of that noble and fully Yankee cut of meat. And they were right. Americans, and almost all other nationalities, just ate that Z1 up!
As the latest descendant of what is arguably the most attractive motorcycle in history, the fully redesigned 2011 Kawasaki Z1000 has a transverse four and two wheels. That's about the extent of the family resemblance as it would stretch aesthetic sensibility to term it anything but fairly ugly.
The 1043cc liquid-cooled, DOHC, four valves per cylinder, inline-four with DFI featuring four 38mm Keihin throttle bodies with thin oval sub-throttles, and TCBI with digital advance for lower end grunt, has grown by 90ccs since 2009 but thanks to a lowered crankshaft is no taller than the 2009 motor. The configuration in some extremely mild way is still a form of a Z1 if you really push the definition.
The Z1000 is a street fighter through and through, and that's one definition that you don't need to finesse. Power is transmitted to the asphalt via a ginormous 190/50 ZR17 and when it's time to hang the butt off the seat and provide your leathers with some new knee scuffs, the 41 mm inverted cartridge fork with adjustable spring preload and stepless compression and rebound damping provides 4.7 inches of flawless suspension in the front and the horizontal monoshock also with adjustable spring preload and stepless rebound damping, matches it in the rear with 5.4 inches of wheel travel. Should you ever be interested in stopping the thrill ride, the dual 300mm petal-type rotors with radial-mount four piston calipers and the single 250mm petal-type rotor with single piston caliper provide more than enough G force.
At just over ten grand the 2011 Kawasaki Z1000 is not ridiculously overpriced but doesn't exactly scream value. It's important to realize that the Z1000 is a very specific and thoroughly dedicated type of motorcycle for one specific application alone: If you're in the market for a super naked and thoroughly competent street fighter, then you've come to the right place.
2011 Kawasaki Z1000 At A Glance
Base MSRP: $13,199
Engine Displacement: 1043cc
Engine Type: Water cooled 4 stroke inline four
Bore & Stroke: 77 mm x 56 mm
Ignition Type: Digital
Compression Ratio: 11.8:1
Valve Train Type: DOHC 16 valves
Transmission Type: Six-speed, return
Final Drive Type: Sealed chain
Front Tire: 120/70ZR17M/C
Rear Tire: 190/50ZR17M/C
Wheelbase: 1,440 mm
Saddle Height: 815 mm
Curb Dry Weight: 218 kg
Fuel Capacity: 15.5 L
* Specs/pix apply to 2010 model, updates as released