Kawasaki announced a new R Edition version of the Z1000 for Europe but the future of the naked roadster remains unclear with a new Z900 model on the way. Kawasaki Europe will still offer the base model Z1000 for the 2017 model year but the R Edition may turn out to be a final production run special edition.
Motorcycle shootouts are a relentless procession of putting the screws to a couple or numerous models selected for similarities in performance, style, purpose, price and, of course, engine displacement. Two of our most recent shootouts, the Gentleman’s Hooligan Comparo and Japanese Mega Standards Shootout, pit four excruciatingly similar models from Kawasaki and Suzuki against one another in two separate competitions. At 999cc and 1043cc the GSX-S1000 ABS and Kawasaki Z1000 ABS were the Goliaths, while the 749cc and 806cc displacements of the Suzuki GSX-S750 and Kawasaki Z800 ABS were the Davids. Is it possible for David to defeat Goliath? Which motorcycle is the true king of Israel?
Almost two years to the month, we took our first ride aboard Kawasaki’s new-gen Z1000 ABS ( 2014 Kawasaki Z1000 ABS – First Ride). We were initially impressed, scoring the Z1K a 93% in its single-bike review. Then came our 2014 Streetfighter Shootouts ( 2014 Super Naked Street Brawl, 2014 Super Streetfighter Smackdown) where the Z rounded out the bottom. In all fairness, the Z1K was matched against the most exotic of European nakeds boasting more performance and costlier prices. Even then the Z1K nearly stole third-place podium finishes from the Ducati Monster 1200S.
Kawasaki announced it will import its Z800 middleweight streetfighter to the U.S. for the 2016 model year, slotting in below the Z1000 in the company’s lineup for $8,399. Unfortunately for residents of the Golden State, the Z800 will be a 49-state model and will not be available for sale in California.
The Versys 1000 has actually been produced since 2012, but until now its unconventional styling coupled with a relatively soft U.S. motorcycle market have kept it away from our shores. Motorcycle sales are beginning to show serious signs of growth, with several European manufacturers claiming all-time records for the 2014 model year sales, and long-legged upright sportbikes like Ducati’s updated Multistrada, BMW’s new S1000XR, KTM’s 1290 Super Adventure R, Suzuki’s recently revamped V-Strom 1000 and other liter-plus adventure-themed machines comprise the hottest contemporary segment in motorcycling.
Admittedly, when I saw the title to this story, originally penned by relatively recent MO re-hire, John Burns, while digging through the archives, I was confused. The modus operandi has usually been to list the make, model and year of the bike. Intrigued, I clicked on “ Kawasaki Slips Into Something More Comfortable…” only to find ol Johnny Boy wonderfully rambling on about giving up his trusty ZRX1200 for a then-new Z1000. The year was 2003. I hadn’t yet made my way into the moto-journo biz yet, but I remember seeing the Z1000 for the first time in my local dealer and being awed by just how different it was to anything else. The 2014 Z1000 is equally as polarizing, so now, 11 years later, let’s take a look back at what Burns thought of that original Zed1k. Also, don’t forget to check out the original story’s full image gallery for more pictures.
In the track version of our Super Streetfighter Smackdown, the KTM 1290 Super Duke R won over the BMW S1000R by the narrowest of margins. Which is all well and good for the small percentage of riders who’ll actually take these bikes to the track. For the greater population, riding these motorcycles on the mean streets of America, the streetable personas of these two and the Ducati Monster 1200S and Kawasaki Z1000 ABS are far more important.
What we have in these five bikes: BMW S1000R, Ducati Monster 1200S, Kawasaki Z1000 ABS, KTM Super Duke R, MV Agusta Brutale 1090RR, is an assemblage of pretenders to the throne. What throne? The literbike streetfighter throne upon which Aprilia’s Tuono V4R APRC ABS has comfortably resided since its introduction in 2012. Truth is, two of these five have a real chance of dethroning the reigning champ on-track, so once we’ve identified the most worthy contenders in this shootout, first and second place will get a chance to meet the Tuono on the field of battle.
It’s gonna be a good year for moto-nudity. A damn good year. We already tasted the KTM Super Duke R and are still savoring its flavor while salivating like a bloodhound hot on the trail of riding BMW’s fairingless S1000R. But before we sink our teeth into the naked Bavarian, there’s the matter of Kawi’s newest unclothed hooligan, the 2014 Z1000 ABS.