ROAD TEST
38 MOTOR CYCLE NEWS OCTOBER 29, 2003
ROAD TEST
Smaller Z
looks like
big value
✪ KAWASAKI Z750 90%
Kawasaki offers its 750 for the price of rival 600s
BY MATT WILDEE PICTURES CHIPPY WOOD
Y
OU
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 hotlycontested middleweight
market.
The firm revealed an onthe-road price of around
£5500 for the Z750 at its
launch in Malaga, Spain, last
week. This means that
despite the Kawasaki’s larger
capacity it will be competing
directly with the FZ6 Fazer
and its all-rounder rivals such
as Honda’s Hornet and
Suzuki’s SV650.
If the price is confirmed –
and MCN expects it will be at
next month’s NEC Show –
then the Z750 is likely to be
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.
The engine offers plenty of
grunt at low revs. And with a
bulging mid-range and a
claimed 110bhp top end,
there is plenty of
performance to be had.
Watch the revs climb past
6000rpm on the now
trademark Kawasaki digital
dash and you’ll find a rush of
power that sees the bike
charge towards the horizon
as the LED bars build around
the circular display, flashing
towards the 11,500rpm red
line. Keep it pinned and you’ll
see 13,000rpm before the
rev-limiter stops play, and
forces you to cog up.
The motor is typical
hardcore Kawasaki. It idles
with a rough, almost uneven
tickover. The vibes from the
motor send a tingle through
the bars, slightly blurring the
mirrors. This rough-hewn
nature continues when you’re
on the move. No matter what
the engine speed, good
vibrations pulse through the
bike. These aren’t the kind of
shuddering shakes that
become a pain in the butt,
more of a pleasing judder. It’s
just the motor’s way of letting
you know that it’s there and
it’s working. The Z750 lacks
the smoothness of bikes like
Honda’s Hornet, but for some
it will be all the better for it.
The bike sounds rough and
ready too. Somehow, despite
a wad of EU directives,
Kawasaki always produces
seriously loud bikes. This is no
exception. The firm has
always been known for its
wailing ram air systems but
the aural assault from the
Z750 comes via the exhaust
system. Stainless steel from
tip to toe, the 4-2-1 pipe
emits a deep boom at low
revs that turns into a insistent
snarl as speed increases.
Back off or change down for
bends and the over-run
sounds fantastic. It makes for
a huge laugh and – best of
all – the rozzers can’t touch
you for it.
Kawasaki have worked hard
to keep the price of the Z750
down and it’s obvious the first
time that you look at it. Much
of the eye-candy that made
the Z1000 such an attention
grabber is now missing. Big
brother’s adjustable upside
down forks and twin shotgun
exhausts have been binned. It
still looks good though, even
if it does lack some of the
visual clout of the Z1000.
The chrome and polished
aluminium of its litre-class
relation have also been
replaced with a black satin
finish. You could argue that it
adds to the lean and
aggressive looks of the 750,
but this was done to keep
costs down – the list price of
a Z1000 is over £7000.
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. Fade shouldn’t
be a problem on the road
though. During a high-speed
mountain run with countless
hairpins, stopping power was
predictable and strong, but
could never be described as
mind-blowing.
And any more stopping
power would overwhelm the
forks. Panic braking sees the
front end dive like a
submarine under attack. It’s
not a problem on smooth
Spanish roads, but
emergency braking from high
speeds on British B-roads
could be more unsettling.
With no adjustment in the
41mm units, the only real
way to change the
characteristics would be to
have them re-valved or
resprung.
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.
The wide bars let you take
the bike by the scruff of the
neck and bully it into turns. It
is particularly good in slow
corners – a counter-steering
nudge is all that is needed to
slam the bike on to its side.
The quick steering and grippy
Bridgestone BT012 tyres give
enough confidence and
feedback to let you wrestle it
round a bend without any
fear of it biting back.
It definitely isn’t a sports
bike though. It has soft
suspension, which is great for
a smooth Sunday back-road
blast, but push it too far and,
like many bikes in this class,
the Z750 suffers from being
Continues page 40
IT’S IN THE DETAILS...
YOU can have any colour
you want... as long as it’s
blue, red or black
WHEELS are similar to
those on the ZX-10R
OCTOBER 29, 2003 MOTOR CYCLE NEWS 39
‘
The wide bars let you take
the bike by the scruff of the
neck and bully it into turns
’
THE RIVALS
YAMAHA FAZER FZ6
PRICE: £5449 otr
ENGINE: Liquid-cooled, 599cc in-line four. Fuel injected.
POWER: 88bhp
WEIGHT: 187kg (411lb)
TOP SPEED: 137mph
INSURANCE GROUP: 12 (of 17)
THE new Fazer FZ6 has an R6 motor, underseat pipes
and an alloy frame. It’s more sharply focused than the
1998 original and is the current class leader.
HONDA CB600F HORNET
PRICE: £5049 otr
ENGINE: Liquid-cooled, 600cc in-line four. 4x34mm
carbs.
POWER: 79bhp
WEIGHT: 178kg (392lb)
TOP SPEED: 133mph
INSURANCE GROUP: 12 (of 17)
TOP middleweight until the new Fazer knocked it off its
perch. A ’98 CBR600 motor allied to funky street styling,
it’s revvy and quick steering.
SUZUKI SV650
PRICE: £5149 otr
ENGINE: Liquid-cooled, 645cc 90° V-twin.
Fuel injected
POWER: 69bhp
WEIGHT: 169kg (373lb)
TOP SPEED:131mph
INSURANCE GROUP: 10 (of 17)
PUNCHY and nimble V-twin that can mix it with more
powerful bikes thanks to strong mid-range and a sweet
chassis. 2003 model got fuel injection and edgy styling.
QUICK steering and sticky
Bridgestones give you
confidence in the Z750
BIG BRO’S twin
shotgun pipes have
been ditched
SEPARATE seat should
stop pillions sliding
into the rider
NOW familiar dash has
cropped up on the ZX-6R
and Z1000 already
DUCTS are designed to
deflect windblast but you’ll
still need strong neck
muscles at over 90mph
CONTINUES OVER
40 MOTOR CYCLE NEWS OCTOBER 29, 2003
ROAD TEST
8
FROM PREVIOUS PAGE
From page 38
under damped and that might
prove a bit frisky over bumpy
B-roads. Mid-corner potholes
can send the Kawasaki off
line, the bike weaving slightly
as it pogos on the
underdamped front end.
Ground clearance is enough
for normal road work, but the
hero blobs would take a
serious bashing if you
ventured on to a track.
At extreme angles of lean
the pegs do scrape and that
suits the bike. The Z750
inspires hooligan antics and a
scuffed set of hero blobs
would be a badge of honour
for the right rider.
The advantage of the
relatively low pegs is that
comfort is excellent. Better
wind protection would
improve comfort further.
Kawasaki claims a pair of
ducts in the nose fairing
create an “air curtain” that
deflect windblast, but at
sustained speeds above
90mph I’d rather have
something more tactile like a
plastic screen to raise air flow.
Grin and bear the wind blast
and the bike is capable of
some serious high-speed runs
– I saw over 140mph on the
clock.
Ride this bike flat out
everywhere though and you
miss the point – weekend
blasts and town riding were
equally important
considerations when the
Z750 was being developed.
Its Z1000 big brother is one
of the best town bikes around,
due to its perky power
delivery and quick steering.
And the Z750 is easier to ride
in town, thanks to less snatchy
fuel injection. The decent
bottom-end power means
there’s always enough grunt
to go for a gap and the quick
steering makes nipping in an
out of heavy traffic a doddle.
The Z750 is a jack of all
trades and it even manages to
master some of them. The
big-bore motor gives the
Z750 a visceral and
responsive ride that should
separate it from the
middleweight pack.
There’s a massive
powerband to play with, so
you can worry less about gear
selection and more about
getting the most from the
quick steering and nimble
handling.
It offers a non-threatening
riding experience for those
that need it but still has a lot
to offer when confidence
levels start to climb.
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 allrounder when you’re down
the boozer...
1 EXHAUST
THE 4-2-1 exhaust system is all stainless
steel. The black-painted header pipes
originally shown on the bike have been
ditched after poor feedback from bike
shows in Italy and France. A catalytic
converter gets it through strict emissions
regulations but also means a full race
system should net a decent power gain.
5
2 FAKE FRAME
THIS cowling is meant
to look like an alloy
frame casting, but it’s
just a plastic panel.
10
7
6
2
3
9
1
4
3 FRAME
STEEL diamond frame is similar
to the Z1000’s but doesn’t need
to be as rigid because of the
less-powerful engine.
4 FOOTRESTS
THE new exhaust system on the Z750 meant the footrests had to be changed.
The Z1000 has an exhaust mounted on each peg hanger.
OCTOBER 29, 2003 MOTOR CYCLE NEWS 41
5 FRONT FORKS
41mm non-adjustable telescopic forks
replace the 46mm fully-adjustable
inverted forks on the Z1000.
8 NOSE FAIRING
WITH no screen, Kawasaki have cut ducts
into the fairing to create an updraft cushion
of air to protect the rider from buffeting.
But it doesn’t work so well at high speeds.
6 ENGINE
THE Z1000 motor has seen significant
changes to reduce capacity from 953 to
748cc. Bore has been reduced and there
have been changes to the cylinder head,
combustion chamber and porting to cope.
9 WHEELS
THE six-spoke wheels are similar to those
on the new ZX-10. The rear wheel is slightly
narrower and runs a 180 instead of the
190 section rear tyre on the Z1000.
7 FUEL INJECTION
34mm throttle bodies with a dual-valve
opening system and fine atomising fuel
injectors are said to improve power delivery
and throttle response.
10 BRAKES
A PAIR of 300mm discs are gripped by
budget Tokico two-pot sliding calipers. The
calipers were also chosen for their novicefriendly, progressive bite.
OVERALL LENGTH: 2080mm
KAWASAKI
Z750
£5500otr (tbc)
WEIGHT: 195kg
TRAIL: 104mm
OVER SEAT: n/a
HEIGHT: 1040mm
FUEL:18 litres
WIDTH: 780mm
Available: February
Colours: Blue, red,
black
New for 2004: New
model
Insurance group:
12 (of 17 – tbc)
Power (claimed):
110bhp @ 11,200rpm
Torque (claimed):
55ftIb @ 8200rpm
Info: Kawasaki UK;
01628-851000
SPECIFICATION:
RAKE: 24.5°
Engine: Liquid-cooled 748cc
(68.4x50.9mm), dohc, fourstroke inline four. Fuel
injection. Six gears.
Chassis: Steel diamond frame
Front suspension: 41mm
telescopic forks, no adjustment
Rear suspension: Single
shock with rising rate linkage,
adjustable for pre-load and
rebound damping
Tyres: Bridgestone
BT012, 120/70 x 17 front,
180/55 x 17 rear
Brakes: Tokico, 2 x 300mm
front discs with two-piston
sliding calipers, 220mm rear
disc with single-piston caliper
WHEELBASE: 1425mm
PROS ● Strong usable motor ● Howling exhaust ● Quick steering ● Comfortable riding position
CONS ● Soft suspension ● Question marks over finish ● Lack of wind protection
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Q
THE Z750’s natural
rivals are bikes like the
new Fazer FZ6 and Honda
Hornet 600. Why did you
choose to make it a 750
and not use the ZX-6R’s
636cc motor?
Part of the reason was
to make a bike to carry
on the good work started by
the ZR-7, which sells very well
in Europe, but is being taken
out of production due to
emissions. We wanted to
make it a 750 for that
reason, plus we wanted it to
be better than rivals, such as
the Fazer. We wanted
something that could
continue the family heritage,
for the new ‘Z’ family. There
would have been no real
advantage to fitting the
smaller motor – it would
have been less torquey and
not as rideable.
A
Q
Could there be more
bikes added to the
Kawasaki ‘Z’ range in the
future?
Maybe in 2005 or
2006 there could be
A
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Why have you used
parts like the sliding
calipers? I remember
seeing them in the ’80s?
We wanted to
differentiate the Z750
from the Z1000 by using
different spec parts. And this
type of sliding caliper offers
very progressive braking
power which is ideal for lessexperienced riders.
A
Q
When the bike first
saw light of day it had
a black painted steel
exhaust, which made it
look a bit cheap. Is that
why it now has a stainless
steel system?
On the technical side of
things we have always
been pushing hard for a
stainless exhaust because of
its anti-corrosion qualities
A
Look good, feel safe.
Tel: +44 (0) 1264 324411. Fax: +44 (0) 360460
and the fact it looks good. It
was always under discussion
what sort of exhaust to put
on and in the end we
managed to show that
stainless was best. It is totally
stainless steel now, from the
downpipes to the end can.
Q
750 is a big capacity
for a bike that is
aimed at new riders. Will
they be able to cope ?
The bike has been
designed with every
type of rider in mind. The fuel
injection uses a dual-valve
system which means that
throttle response low down is
very much like a carburettor.
The power comes on
gradually. This will make it
very easy for anyone to ride
the bike.
A
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Q
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SPORTMOTORCYCLES
What is the bike’s
strongest point?
It will be very
competitive, both on
performance and cost. You
should be able to buy the
750 for about the same as a
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and they are very competitive
with the 600cc bikes.
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another bike in the range, but
that is for the future.
WE spoke to Ingbert
Rohrbach, technical service
manager, Kawasaki Europe.
He was on the development
team for the Z750
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