At its heart is a bored and
stroked version of their award-winning GPz900R engine, a liquid-cooled,
DOHC, 16 valve, transverse four, as technologically advanced and
sophisticated as any lump around. Having decided on one last mega-bike, a
horsepower-packed speedball, their engine designers looked at all the
possible types of engine configuration from V4s and V6s to straight sixes;
they concluded, nevertheless, that their tried and trusted inline four was
still the best, and one that Kawasaki have stuck with since the heady,
halcyon days of the 1970s and the Z1.
The 1000R has more power
everywhere than the 900 but also more bulk and weight. The engine has been
rubber mounted because of increased vibration but otherwise it follows the
same careful and compact pattern - wet liners, a cam chain repositioned at
the side of the engine with the alternator above the gearbox. Features
unique to the 1000R dazzling engine specification include flat aluminium
pistons, a unique cool air induction system and hand-polished intake ports.
Surprisingly, it is not at all peaky. Power is available with a beautifully
smooth surge from 3,000rpm and above 6,000rpm there is plain, no nonsense
the way to the 10,500rpm redline.
Response is lively, strong and clean. This is not an engine for the
Unlike the 900 which has a steel
diamond frame using the engine as a stressed member, the 1000R gets an all
new perimeter-type frame with square-section top rails curving wide around
the engine to meet in a massively braced and extremely rigid steering head.
Kawasaki claim the rear aluminium swing-arm is the strongest they have ever
produced. There is state of the art suspension; Uni-Trak at the back with
all the linkages placed below the single shock to keep the weight low.
40mm braced forks with AVDS (automatic variable damping system) vary the
compression damping according to changes in both the speed and distance of
wheel travel. Wheels are 16in front and back, with low-profile tyres, the
rear being a notable, drag strip like, 150/80 section.
Handling and roadholding are more
than respectable for the weight and sheer size of the bike. Although it is
undeniably more powerful and faster than its illustrious predecessor, the
900R, motorcycle enthusiasts around the world have also found it more
cumbersome and unstable. The 900R is quicker through most bends and around a
race-track because it is more manageable. Hence popular opinion has deemed
the 1000R to be for professional use only and to rate the 900 as both a
better all-rounder and a specifically better sports bike. One has even so to
admit the 1000R impressive specification and totally irresistible
performance. It's just that maybe, after all, you can have too much of a