Kawasaki Z1000R Road Test
Long time ago, years before Yamaha invented the LC,
and 350 owners actually felt a need for more power,
there was a natural progression from high-boiling,
evil-handling Suzuki two-strokes to high-lifting evil-steering
Kawasaki four-strokes. Those of the 70s who clad themselves
in Doc Martins, Levi jackets and open-face duckbills,
which we now refered to as 'Johnnys'.
The Kawasaki Z1000R seems to be selling very well.
Certainly the bike has found a broad base of popularity,
I even know a copper who owns one. Perhaps that's
why the big K chose not to go overboard with the green
Flashy decals and super-trick nick-nacks, 'cos the
truth is. the '83 1000R is little more than a beefed-up
J3 engine in a 1982 GPz1100 frame: very cheap to make,
very effective to use and very, very fast to ride.
The 1000R shares the same 998cc 69.4 \ 66.0 regular
Kawa unit of the Z 1000 (which is still in production).
Like the .13, compression ratio is 9.2:1 and fuel
fed by the ubiquitous quartet of 34mm Mikunis. Like
all big Kawas. the R gets its additional ponies by
the simple expedient of revised valve timing (the
inlet is open considerably longer), which just goes
to show that if you get the recipe right in the first
place there's no end to the amount of stretching you
can do. Allied to transistorised ignition, this bequeathes
to the R an awesome 104 rpm, propelling the beast
to a genuine 133mph (only 2mph down on last year's
GP) and quarter mile in 12.28 sees.
Now while such performance may be a little difficult
to get on the way over to your gran's, you can't fail
to notice that the 1000R is a terribly fast motorcycle.
Dial in a little toon on the clutch and the Z1000R
takes off smartly on the back wheel; drag out the
donkeys at 7,000 plus and you're way past 70 in second
and the wrong side of 100 in third. As a high-revving,
short-geared Jap four, it fairly implores you to ride
it fast and the merest tweak of the throttle from
5.000 upwards brings on the instant, urgent stride.
listering delivery is. however, most definitely
a function of 7000 rpm plus, though theZ1 R can be
ridden as low as a grand in top without snatch and
pulls smoothly from 2.000; unlike most big Ks, it's
got one hell of a spread of power. With that number
of cubes there's never a fatal lack of grunt and,
save the slightly notchy gear-change which had me
contemplating a good chiropodist on a couple of occasions,
the R could be piloted round London's seedier square
mile on the sheer extrava-gant urge of the litre lump's
muscle. In other words, its ability to cruise nonchalantly
at 100 in top and scrap viciously in third does not
compromise the plain elegance of low speed delivery.
And the grommet- suspended motor provides smoothly
all through the range, save for an anaesthetising
resonance at about 3,500 in top (particularly on the
overrun where my right arm became distinctly paralysed).
But socket-dislodging performance is pretty standard
on big Kawasakis and you'd fed mightily cheated if
the Z1R came with anything less, particularly as it
brags its virility from the nose cone to the tail
fairing. No. the unexpected bonus of a bike that must
surely rate as the archetypal Jap mega-moog is that
the thing damn nearly handles as well as— and'd
run rings round — last year's 1100GP. Not that
the duplex double-cradle chassis has altered one jot,
but with serious augmentations in the suspension department
life is not quite the jam turnover it used to be.
The most noticeable geometric revision is. of course,
the steering which, compared with last year's tiller
assembly is like a FSIE with loose head races. In
fact, this directional transformation has been brought
about not by any devious angle-engineering but by
the incidental expedient of widening the bars and
lowering the seat. This has had the result of transferring
the rider's weight away from the front end (resulting
in a very erect riding possie) which to the thin contact
area of the front tyre, makes for super swift changes
of attack. In town and on long sweepers this is fine,
but cranked over-hard in twisty little numbers, you
get the feeling that the steering's willing but the
body's unable. It's not so much a problem of oversteerperse
but a laving had more than a casual affection for
the Kwacka Z1000J, I looked forward to jetting me
mits on the tarted-up Eddy Lawson Z1000R Replica.
I was a little dismayed when the UK version came with
a colour scheme of white with patriotic red and blue
tripes. Colour quibbles aside, the Z1000R is just
as tasty as the Z1000J from where it came.
For a big Jap multi.the bike feels delightfully light
and nimble. The styled seat reduces seat height and
allows the rider to sit in the bike, instead of being
perched on top like a flea on a camel's back. The
riding position's so functional that you can sit at
silly speeds going ip the motorway without feeling
like you're about to be spat off. The steering and
front end is a touch light high peeds. a rough A road,
and the bars will shake a bit. but nothing gets out
of hand. Remote esenoir lookalike shocks were a little
firm on most settings, but not excessively so. Ground
clearance, especially on the left, was bad. The side
stand leaves its mark all too readily.
Apart from these reservations. I wasn't disappointed.
The Z1000R is one hell of a tool, I'd getta new paint