Back in 2003, Kawasaki’s Z1000 broke cover as an all-new bike packing a ZX-9R-based engine, and earned somewhat of a cult following with its then-edgy styling and rose gold pipes. A refresh in 2007 endowed it with meaner bodywork and engine upgrades, while another revamp in 2010 added a revised engine, chassis, and styling, which once again introduced slightly weird exhaust cans, this time with a gold trumpet look.
The 2014 Kawasaki Z1000 ABS has been dramatically restyled. Kawasaki says it features “sugomi” or “the intense aura or energy given off by a person or thing of greatness.” Whether you like it or not, the styling is unique and bold. From a riding perspective, the front headlight assembly is so low that the bike seems to disappear in front of you from the saddle .
The 1,043cc inline-4 fires up with a growl, and the clutch requires a light touch for its progressive action to take up, though the shifter can feel a tad notchy, especially in lower gears.
At a claimed 487.3 pounds the Z1000 isn’t particularly lightweight, but it roars ahead with smooth, urgent power that’s dramatized by a deep intake whoosh and a soulful exhaust. Pin it to redline, and the twist doesn’t quit; though Kawasaki only publishes torque figures (81.7 lb.-ft. at 7,300 rpm), our seat of the pants suggest that an equally lusty amount of horsepower comes into play at higher rpms. While there, the new tachometer’s bright white vertical indicators add a nice sense of occasion to those jaunts above 4,000 rpm, making it fairly easy to visually process the engine’s proximity to redline despite the small instrument cluster’s out-of-the-way position.
Spin the mill to around 5,000 rpm—essentially where you’ll hover in top gear at 70 mph, and a mild buzz starts to develop at the grips. At freeway speeds, the effect is somewhat countered by the surprisingly tolerable and turbulence-free windflow (despite the lack of windscreen), and the easy ergonomics. The thinly padded saddle feels stiff on longer rides, but it’s not unforgiving enough to cause discomfort on casual commutes.