Unintimidating, unassuming and relatively affordable, the Z750S was easy to miss in its debut year. Back in 2005-'06, such practical virtues were also a recipe for showroom anonymity. These days, 101 friendly horses in a comfortable, agile, all-purpose package sounds a great deal more interesting-especially one that can be had for about $4000.
Aside from bolt-on plastic panels masquerading as aluminum frame spars, there's nothing cheap about the look. And beneath that subtly chiseled exterior beats the straightforward heart of a Universal Japanese Motorcycle. More specifically, a smaller-bore version of Kawa-saki's first-generation Z1000, wrapped in a humble, steel-tube frame. Weighing in at 464 pounds wet, it's agile enough in city traffic. The mildly tuned 748cc four spins happily to its 10,750-rpm power peak, generating maximum thrust above 6000 rpm. It pulls hard enough to cover the quarter-mile in a respectable 11.63 seconds at 116.5 mph, hitting 60 mph in 3.7 seconds from a standing start. The only downside is enough universal inline-four vibration at high revs to blur rear-view mirror images beyond recognition.
Those taller than 5-foot-10 will have to deal with the lack of legroom that comes with flying economy-class. Everyone else will find the Z750's accommodations are all business: comfortably upright ergonomics, excellent wind protection at freeway speeds and no buffeting. That inline-four buzz is minimal below 75 mph. Average fuel economy hovers in the mid-40s, which usually puts around 200 miles between gas stops.
There are a few other predictable concessions to the bottom line. Price-point suspension and brakes are perfectly adequate at a recreational back-road pace, but the Z runs out of composure and cornering clearance beyond its comfort zone. As long as you're not chasing a ZX-6R, however, it's a perfectly adequate middleweight performer.
With regular maintenance, it's a reliable one as well. Those high-frequency vibes and loose fairing bolts can add up to an annoying buzz. Stiff shifting usually means the bike is overdue for an oil change or needs some lube on the external linkage. The vehicle-down sensor-intended to shut down the fuel pump, injectors and ignition system in a tip-over-is vulnerable to shock and water damage. A bad one can make the engine hard to start or shut it down altogether. Otherwise, the Z750S represents the sort of universal Japanese ideal whose time has come again.
Quick and comfortable, with first-class road manners at sensible speeds.
Irksome vibration above 6000 rpm, short on legroom if you're tall.
Loose or missing fasteners, spastic speedometer/tach needles, hard starting.
Captain Sensible makes a comeback.
2005 | $3865
2006 | $4195
2005 | $4470
Harley-Davidson 883 Sportster
The basic American antidote for universal Ja
2000 | $2655
Honda Nighthawk 750
Heavier and not as quick as the Z750S, the Nighthawk m
2004 | $3235
Yamaha's high-revving naked middleweight comes with reassuringl