Kawasaki has got it cock-on with its 2003 Z1000. Kinda. Bollocks to objectivity, I love the looks, the top end of the motor is plain bonkers and it goes round corners like a ZX-9 dreams to.
It won't be everyone's cup of tea though, and the lack of grunt lower down in the rev-range will worry those who can't be arsed to change sprockets.
By far the sporty spice of the five. Harder ride quality makes it handle better, rocket engine makes it go faster, aggressive and attention grabbing looks make it, er, look good. What else would you need? Kawasaki may be following a beaten track with the sports bike motor in an unfaired chassis but it's gone for the sport option rather than the soft one. Apparently smaller proportions (narrow bars?) and skinny feeling exaggerate the speed. The engine's behaviour is more like the Blade or R1 should have been if Honda and Yam had been brave enough. Looks good: don't care what the photographers say.
Everybody else seemed blown away by the Zee, but it needs a few bits to make it the gem it could be. The stupid four exhaust pipes look like shit and sound even worse. They're probably holding back about 10bhp that this thing needs too. Either that or a fatter rear sprocket would work. A nice hollow under seat exhaust and some sorting of the fuel injection…then you'll have a winner.
This was the bike that turned heads and it was the bike that was fought over most of the time. It's so compact and nimble, with just a hint of 'liveliness' from the front end that it's a doddle in town. Out of town and on the faster roads it's a pocket rocket. The brakes are impressive and the engine is smooth after a bit of very low-down harrumphing at 2,000 revs. I know it's the new bike and you expect big kids (like us) to be impressed with shiny new toys, but this isn't a disappointment.
•Kawasaki Z1000 Price £7,380 (2003)
•953cc Liquid cooled inline four 16V DOHC
•Dry weight 198kg Insurance group 15
•Claimed power 127bhp @ 10,000rpm
•Issue tested: May 2003
•Kawasaki UK on 01628 851000