2005 Kawasaki Z 750S
"The motorcycle American consumers should buy."
Because of the weird shape and firm foam, it's hard to get comfortable on. I predict a large demand for aftermarket Z750S seats!
The classy and attractive half-fairing does a good job of keeping wind off the rider, without buffeting and without too much wind noise. If it weren't for the seat, racking up long hours in the saddle wouldn't be so awful.
Once off the interstate, the Z750S does well on two-lane roads. On our intro ride, we attacked Mount Palomar in North San Diego county on a cold day with rain clouds looming overhead. The road up Mount Palomar twists and winds to the summit, creating many blind, decreasing radius turns through the pine forest on the way to the top.
At this time of year, there are plenty of hazardous pools of mud and wet sand in these corners, so I figured I would keep the speed down. As one of my companions put it, when you crash you either go into the mountain or off the mountain, and neither option sounded palatable for my very first press intro.
But I still found myself going reasonably quick on this bike. It has sure-footed, stable handling, but it still has a light and responsive feel.
Ground clearance is great, and there is lots of grip from the Bridgestone BT-012 front and BT-018 rear radials.
The Z750 is confidence-inspiring and doesn't come unglued when you push it hard, like some other bikes in this category do.
A heavier rider- or a rider with passenger would probably overwhelm the suspension, which is just on the soft side of sporty.
"The handlebar is nicely selected, giving great leverage in turns while putting the rider in a nice neutral position with just a hint of forward lean."
However, I do have two complaints about the bar: one is that it is rubber-mounted so squishily that you can see the bar move when you wiggle it. Also, at full lock your thumb can be squashed in between the bar and the fuel tank. This could be solved by rotating the bar a little forward in the mounting clamps, but that might put the bar at an uncomfortable angle.
Another weak spot is the brakes. Although they didn't fade on the trip back down the mountain, they still require a very firm two or three finger grasp to slow the bike, even at a moderately brisk pace. More experienced riders would probably benefit from experimenting with pad compound and swapping out the bulgy rubber hoses for more upscale brake lines.
This bike does very well out on the twisty roads, thanks to a lightweight chassis, stable yet responsive steering and a kick-ass motor. There's adequate torque to leave it in fourth and work the throttle through the flowing, higher speed curves, and fun high-RPM power if you want to play racer boy and chase your buddies on their race-replicas. 750cc engines were such a popular engine size, thanks to a nice blend of high-rpm power and low-rpm torque that 600s can't match, with maneuverability that larger displacement bikes have trouble duplicating.
In fact, the consumer gets two engines with this bike: a docile, low-rpm powerplant for commuting and trips about town, and a hairy, high-rpm race motor for when you want to blow off some steam or drag race a Z06 Corvette. However, this motor can be buzzy at high RPMs, but it's not too annoying for short periods and it does produce a nice kick in the rider's pants. The Z750 is fast enough that I wouldn't really recommend this bike to inexperienced motorcyclists.
Our Dynojet revealed a peak horsepower reading of 97 Hp, with a broad, flat torque curve that peaks over 52 LbFt. These are very respectable numbers for a 750 standard, and help to explain why this engine is so user-friendly at lower RPMs. There isn't really a reason, in a practical sense, for requiring more power or torque for everyday riding. Although we didn't have a chance to measure quarter mile times or top speeds, I imagine they are plenty fast enough to allow any rider to stay ahead of the psychotic middle-aged guy on Hawthorne Boulevard in Palos Verdes driving his wife's beige-on-beige Jaguar. You know who you are... Prick.