First Look 2010 Kawasakis

Beefed-UP ZS

By Aaron Frank, Photography by Kawasaki

A naked sportbike worthy of the title and traction control for a sport-tourer!
Kawasaki's first Z1000, released in 2003, nailed the mega-musclebike look from the start, though its performance didn't quite live up to that image. Even after a power-spreading overhaul in '07, the ZX9-R-derived inline-four still felt soft and squishy to the post-Ninja rider at whom this model was aimed. Now, Kawasaki is ready to right that wrong. The Z1000 streetfighter has been redesigned from the ground up for 2010, with more muscle in the form of a 1043cc powerplant adapted from the current king of Kawasaki's sportbike mountain, the Ninja ZX-10R.

The new motor isn't the only news. The old Z's steel-backbone frame is gone, replaced with an all-aluminum rack like that of the latest Ninja, with an underseat fuel tank and a monocoque main spar stretching up and over the cylinder head to make the bike feel narrower between the knees. The seat height is lower than before, and a new "horizontal" rear suspension design and more aggressive front-end geometry make the new model more agile than before. Sharper, more futuristic styling gives the bike an "apex predator" appearance, Kawasaki says, and a ram-air intake should create an acceleration howl befitting the new look.

The Concours 14 also benefits from significant updates for 2010, further advancing the state of the sport-touring art. The biggest news is KTRC, Kawasaki's first attempt at traction control. Details on how exactly this system acts to arrest wheelspin were unavailable at press time; technical details were also thin regarding the new K-ACT II "selectable, sport-oriented coactive anti-lock brakes," said to "complement the rider's brake inputs with supplementary force enhancements for improved braking performance." Bodywork has also been redesigned to improve wind protection and heat management, the latter an issue on the previous-generation ZG1400. We're looking forward to more info-and our first ride-on this updated version of the machine we voted the Best Touring Bike of '08 and '09.

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