Tammy's Awesome Ride!

My friend Tammy, got the chance to ride out in California. She got the jealous task of getting to ride the 2010 Z1000. Here is her write up.

I got a message a couple of weeks ago asking if I was interested in flying out to California to ride Kawasaki’s new Z1000. Hmmm…. Let me think about that for a minute. I’ve never been to California at all before, let alone ridden there. I always hear how awesome the roads are, but never expected to get to ride any of them since hauling my bike out there doesn’t seem very practical, and riding a sport bike across the country doesn’t seem that appealing either. So… someone wants to fly me out and all I have to bring is myself and my gear? Uh… hell yeah?

You all may or may not know I am (was?) a Suzuki girl, though my first street bike was a Kawasaki. I hadn’t ridden the previous years of Z1000s, so knew little about the bike. I read up a bit on the 2010 Z1000 and it seemed like a great bike on paper. But you know, what you read isn’t always what you get. Which is the idea behind bringing some real-world riders out to try the bike in person. The new one was said to be an entirely different animal. And during the presentation at dinner on Friday night we did indeed learn that the bike was built from the ground up to be a new and different bike. They talked about sport oriented performance, impeccable handling and excellent rider feedback. They went into all the technical details of the bike, which I am not going to address, unless someone has a specific question, since I am not all that technical myself and this post is more about the experience of riding the bike. I will say that engine is NOT based on either the old Z1000 or the ZX-10R. It’s a completely new engine developed for this bike. They went into a lot explanation on the “mass-centralization” (new aluminum frame, downdraft throttle bodies, shorter silencer, horizontal shock), and the thing weighs 481 lbs wet. I found out the next day what that means when it counts.

Dinner Friday night:

After waking up at 4am on Saturday, because my body was still on eastern time, and waiting impatiently for the hotel restaurant to wake up, we all met for breakfast. There was myself, a few guys from the various Kawasaki forums, one of the Admins from SBN, and some guys from Kawasaki. If nothing else brings me to the Green side, it will be the attitude Kawasaki seems to foster within its ranks. As much fun as it was to be able to do this ride, the presence of these goofballs (*cough* Sean *cough*) lifted the experience to one that will be treasured in my memory forever. They are really great guys who know how to have fun. :D They did a great job taking care of us though, with a mind to safety as well as fun.

When we finally got to KMC, our bikes were waiting there for us. There were a few black ones and the rest were white and orange. Rather than fight for a black one (as the guys seemed to be wanting those), I opted for a white and orange one. (Matches my jacket anyway lol).

I had asked if mine could be switched to GP shift, as I have been using that street and track for several years now, and didn’t really want the extra distraction of having to think about which way to shift. They tried, but it was going to require a small cut to the countershaft sprocket cover, IIRC. So it couldn’t be done. It turned out not to matter, and I never mis-shifted all day.

We all spent a little time taking pictures of the bikes and each other, then finally got on the road. Since my bike had been moved a little to attempt the gp shift, it was facing the wrong direction. So my first experience riding it was to have to do a U-turn. You know all bikes have their own feel, the clutch feels different for example, this one grabbed sooner than what I am accustomed to, and it takes a bit of getting used to. So I had to duck walk it a little to get it turned around. Should have just turned it around before I got on it, but I was so excited to get started, I didn’t think of that. Hmmph. Ok, that’s my boneheaded move of the day. I played around with clutch after getting in the line-up and waiting to start, to get used to the friction zone. (I’ll probably dump my bike the next time I ride it because I’m used to the Z now.

I wish I could tell you what roads we were on. Not being familiar with the area, I was lost the entire day. So I can’t give you a route, but I can tell you that we stopped at The Lookout, Hell’s Kitchen, and Cook’s Corner. And I believe we went to “Tom’s” for lunch, but don’t quote me on that, I could be wrong. I was trying to read the sign while reviewing the video, but being created with a non-HD gopro, it’s not easy to read. At one point Fonzie, the photographer, stopped in a turn on a remote road, and we spent a little while riding past him back and forth so he could get some pictures of us riding. Hopefully I’ll have those pics soon to share with you, as well as others ones he took throughout the day.


So… the bike. I was very nervous about this ride. Mainly because it was going to be a new bike to me, on unfamiliar, challenging roads. Remember, I am from Florida. Apart from the lack of real twisties, you can’t fall off a cliff here. I am naturally very cautious when on a new bike, esp someone elses bike, and roads I don’t know. So I was kind of expecting a fair bit of stress and fear before I finally relaxed and got the hang of it. I couldn’t have been more wrong. To be honest, I think if I had done that ride on my own bike, I would have been a lot more stressed out by the roads. It turns out the Z1000 is MUCH easier to ride than my bike. It handles just as well, maybe better, for this kind of riding, and requires no muscling around at all. ZERO. Without having to worry about doing something stupid and the bike biting you back. When they said the Z1000 had impeccable handing, they were not joking or exaggerating in the slightest. This bike is a dream and a joy to ride. It steers quickly and precisely, and is actually flickable.

It comes with Dunlop Sportmax D210 tires (120/70-17 front and 190/50-17 rear). They performed flawlessly, even in the morning when it was still pretty cold. No complaints there at all. I don’t really care for Dunlops, but I wasn’t concerned about what the tires were doing all day – which is unusual for me, since I am pretty neurotic about tires.

They had mentioned that the Z had a distinct intake howl when you get into it. And the first time I cracked the throttle open, sure enough I could hear it. Instant grin! :D It sounds really cool. Makes you want to keep backing off and getting into it just so you can hear it again. I loved it!

As far as power, the Z1000 has oodles of it. But it’s not the kind that you have rev the bike to the moon to find. One thing that I wished it had is a gear indicator. I am so used to having one, that I don’t pay as much attention to what gear I am in as I should. So I found myself in a higher or lower gear than I wanted to be sometimes. But the bike seemed not to care. I didn’t have any problems getting a response out of it when I twisted the throttle no matter what gear it was in, and if I was in too low a gear it didn’t seem twitchy at all, as my bike would be in the same situation.

The brakes felt fine, though the back brake seemed a little anemic. But that is better than being too touchy. Admittedly, that could have just been because I was in my Sidis, and hadn’t developed a feel for the lever yet. The fronts were fine and probably would have only required a finger or two, except that the lever was too far away for my short fingers and I felt more comfortable having three fingers on it just in case.

The seat and the lower part of the tank are very narrow. Though the top of the tank is wide, it’s sculpted down a lot near the seat. This makes the bike more comfortable and easy to ride for hours and hours. I was a bit tippy-toe on it, and I am 5’7” with a 32” inseam, so the narrow seat and tank were a good thing for me. Without that I wouldn’t have been able to touch with both feet. The seat itself is very comfortable also.

In summary, I love the bike. It will probably be my next bike purchase (since they didn’t let me keep the one I rode *pout* “Will it fit in my carry-on??”). With it, I can do all the sport street riding I want, as well as the sport touring I want to do more of, without compromising performance. I am not sure what luggage is available that will fit it, but a tank bag and tail pack will buy me enough space for weekend journeys, which is what I want to do. The only thing I would change/add is a set of ASV shorty levers, for more adjustability, tank grips (as my mesh street pants couldn’t grip the tank that well), and the necessary mod to be able to switch it to GP shift. That’s it. With those slight mods, this is the perfect street bike, IMO.

Tammy, 2010