2011 Kawasaki Z1000 | Doin' Time

Staffers' Rides

Wrist: Brian Catterson
MSRP **(2011): $10,599
: 1134
MPG: 34
Mods: On hold

It took many moons, but I finally took delivery of my new long-term Kawasaki Z1000. And it is a Z1000—not a Ninja 1000. Timing is everything, and I literally had just written my introductory piece on the Z when Kawasaki dropped the bomb that is the Ninja. With the Z’s platform augmented by a full fairing, the Ninja might have made the better long-term testbike. But I’ve made my bed, and now I’ve got to lie in it…

Originally I expected to keep our 2010 white/orange testbike, and threatened to do something, anything, about its unflattering paint scheme—if you can call an all-white gas tank a paint scheme. Then Kawasaki's Jeff Herzog told me they needed that bike back, and would get me a 2011 model. Secretly hoping I'd get the black/silver version, I was pleasantly surprised to receive this all-new, all-black model. So good-looking is my Z that Justin Fivella of _Super Streetbike _magazine has expressed an interest in swapping out his Ninja's flat-black wheels and brakes for the polished parts on my bike. The Z would look bitchin' "murdered-out" like that, so we might have to try that at some point.

Meanwhile, one thing is certain: This Z is no Zzzz! Its retuned ZX-10R engine has plenty of passing power, and is positively exhilarating at high rpm—particularly after spending the last year on a Harley-Davidson XR1200!

The only problem with going fast on the Z is its vestigial fairing doesn’t deflect much wind. That’s okay: I’ve got no fewer than three aftermarket windscreens to try out. Not to mention a couple of tankbags and top trunks, should I want to ride to the World Superbike races at Miller or the MotoGP races at Laguna Seca. I’ve also got a couple different solutions to the Z’s excessively buzzy handlebars.

Unfortunately, we need to use my Z1000 for a naked-bike comparison we’ve got in the works, so it will have to remain stock a few weeks longer.

Man, I’m tired of waiting…

Once-a-year photo-op as downtown Long Beach is transformed into a racetrack for the Indycar Grand Prix. No hot laps or Danica Patrick sightings, but the Kawasaki Z1000 didn’t look too terribly out of place.