Coming Soon: 2014 Kawasaki Z1000

Next-Gen Naked Goes to the Extreme

In the November 2013 issue of our print magazine (on newsstands now) we broke news of an updated Kawasaki Z1000 set to be reveled soon, along with a CG illustration of what we think this new naked bike might look like, based on leaked patent drawings. This week Kawasaki released a teaser—including this artist’s rendering—confirming the existence of this new bike, and announcing its slated release for the EICMA International Motorcycle Expo in Milan, Italy, on November 5th. Now we know even more about the shape this bike will take, making good on its promise to be one of the most aggressive machines in the naked bike segment.

[ “From a styling perspective, we wanted to capture and distill the look and feel of a crouching predator getting ready to pounce,” says Kawasaki design chief Keishi Fukumoto, describing the Z1000’s new shape.

The key to this new bike’s radical appeal, Kawasaki says, is the “Sugomi” design language that is intended to evoke “the energy of a predatory animal stalking its prey.” Not content just to be the fastest or most powerful, Kawasaki further wants its new Z1000 to be the most “emotionally intense” bike in the category, and this new design language is how the firm will accomplish that goal.

“The new Z1000 delivers an increase in overall performance combined with an emotional spirit which will appeal to riders looking for a motorcycle with a strong, discernible character in terms of both looks and riding feel,” says Kawasaki’s Head of Motorcycle Design, Keishi Fukumoto. “We were delighted to be asked to take a “clean sheet” approach to styling the new Z1000, a naked sportbike with a refined blend of unique Kawasaki spirit and bold ‘Sugomi’ emotion.”

This release said nothing about the next-generation Z’s mechanical package, but sources in Japan suggest a newfound emphasis on performance to better compete with rivals like Aprilia’s Tuono V4R and especially the forthcoming BMW S1000RS streetfighter. That likely means much more horsepower, and perhaps a new beam frame, too.  We’ll know more in just over a month.

[ This CG illo, based on patent documents, shows one possible variation of the new Z1000's “squashed” nose that will house four tiny LED headlights that allow the array to be much smaller than any conventional bulb and reflector unit.