TESTED: Jan '04
The Z750 is a very good bike, a screen will improve its motorway ability but it looks good, goes well and is a lot of fun to ride
Staring at the Z750 in the Malaga sun the first thing I noticed was that it didn’t quite look right. There was something different about it compared to the bike I had seen at the Milan show when it was launched. When I spoke to one of the Kawasaki men about it he told me the exhaust system was new. When the bike was first shown it had black painted down-pipes and a normal round can. Since this time Kawasaki has had a re-think and instead given it a stainless steel system with an oval end can. Not bad for a budget bike.
Overall the Z750 doesn’t really look that budget – which is a good thing. The wheels are the same as the ZX-10R’s, the frame is very similar to the Z1000, the swingarm is painted black, the tail unit and tank are the same as the Z1000, the engine gets fake magnesium-look covers and the front fairing is unique to the Z750. The only real noticeable absences the Z750 has compared to the Z1000 is a lack of polished wheel rims, smaller engine, lower-spec exhaust system and budget suspension. Oh, and no plastic cover over the radiator. Which isn’t much difference considering there is a £2000 price gap between the two models.
And the surprising thing about the Z750 is that it doesn’t ride like a budget bike, in fact it feels a lot like its bigger brother. The bars and pegs put you in an upright riding position that feels very natural and comfortable at low speeds. Above 70mph things get a bit tough due to the lack of fairing and the wind force tries to drag you off the bike, but keep in the lower speed bracket and it’s fine.
If you are in a Kawasaki dealership looking to buy a Z750 the salesman will probably point at the black plastic ducts on the tiny fairing and tell you about the patented Kawasaki design that creates an air-curtain around the rider to prevent neck-ache at high speeds. This is, of course, complete bollocks. The ducts do precisely nothing, but I just didn’t have the heart to point this out to the designer. Do you know how much a patent costs nowadays? He would probably be forced to ride a ZR-7 for the rest of his career as a penance.
But patents aside, once the Z750 gets away from motorways it is a really enjoyable bike to ride. The 750cc motor is actually a stroke of genius from Kawasaki. The new Fazer has inherited a re-tuned R6 engine for 2004 and this has ruined the bike, but the 750 engine makes the Zed. Initially I thought that new riders may be put off the Z750 because of the size of the engine. A 750 sounds a lot more intimidating to a newcomer than a 600. But the Z750 is a big pussycat.
The motor has a surprisingly decent amount of grunt. It lacks a bit of character because it just drives with no power bands or kicks to add some entertainment, but in a bike aimed at city commuters or for those who just want a fun bike this isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
I was really impressed by the Z750’s engine and through the twisty roads leading along the Malaga coast it hardly required any gear changes at all. However, it did have a tingle through the pegs at 6000rpm, which is about 70mph on the motorway. Strangely the vibration was only transmitted through the pegs and not the bars but it was enough to become noticeable, as well as a bit irritating.
In the corners the Z750 is again surprisingly good. The forks don’t have any adjustment, thanks to their budget nature, and the shock only has pre-load and compression damping but on their standard setting they seem good enough. The big upright bars help you muscle the bike into corners but to be truthful it doesn’t require much muscling. The Kawasaki just has a reassuring feel about it in corners.
It’s hard to put your finger exactly on what it is but the new Bridgestone BT012 tyres are certainly a factor as they warm up quickly, but other than the tyres Kawasaki just seem to have got the balance right. Not too sporty, not too soft, just a good combination of both.
Like the new Fazer the Z750 also has twin-piston sliding front calipers, and like the Fazer they work very well. Nothing special, but very competent. Also like the new Fazer the Z750 gets a digital rev counter. A complete waste of time as it is impossible to read, especially when the sunlight falls on it.
Source: TWO Online