Posted: 25 Mar 2013
Who’d have thought that a naked 750cc Kawasaki would be one of the biggest selling motorcycles of the noughties and looking to be going the same way in the noughties plus ten? There’s no denying this era of ‘Zed-severn-fifteeeee’ is a good one for more reasons than first looks would say.
Take the engine, a sleeved down version of the ZX-9R but still capable of a rev-happy 100 rear wheel horsepower that excites and entices the rider to make the most of this screaming engine. But then you have to because actual torque output isn’t great and is thinly spread in the lower rev regions. As said, the engine is a screamer in every one of its six gears and sounds all the better for a replacement sports item – it certainly makes the neighbours’ hairs stand on end.
While the Zed package isn’t exactly light it is stable on most road surfaces. That is until pockmarked tarmac and a harsh rear shock have a coming together. And when they do it’s the spine that gets to know about it first. This scenario still doesn’t upset the handling, though, which can be described as steady but willing – as long as the rider puts the required effort into the bars and shifts body weight off the seat to make clean passage through every turn.
Ample power and predictable handling go hand in hand with the Zeds modern looks. Even today, after several incarnations have followed, the Zed still pulls admiring looks. Whether it’s the sharp lines of the clock nacelle blending with the angular tank, or the natty LCD single face display, but many hearts still beat a rapid tune upon sight of a well cared for Zed. They do need looking after as well; brake calipers tend to seize if not regularly washed clean of brake dust and road grime, and the metalwork of the exhaust and engine block can look like they’ve been dredged from a disused brick pit after a winter’s riding time.
+ points – Modern then looks have stood the test of time. Plenty of performance for most owners
- points – harsh rear shock and suspension linkage ratio. Needs regular home maintenance. Ugly half faired version dilutes the Zed’s bad boy image
Power: 108.5bhp, 55.4ft lbs
Dry weight: 195kg
Seat height: 815mm
Colours: red, black, blue