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Kawasaki Z750S delivers Ninja-like performance

February 03, 2006|By ARV VOSS/Motor Matters

Perhaps you've grown tired of riding an all-out sportbike on solo sojourns and would like to explore a ride that's more comfortable. A bike that allows for practical two-up travel without making any sacrifices in the performance department, and without moving onto a full dress cruising bike.

Kawasaki introduced its Z750S to the U.S. last year, bringing to dealers a middleweight, modest-sized "naked" bike that combined sportbike performance attributes while providing a design that was comfortable enough for taking a companion on extended tours. The Z750S was launched in the European marketplace and then refined for the American rider.

Power for the Z750S comes from a 748cc, inline four-cylinder that's mounted transversely in the lightweight diamond frame, which is constructed from large diameter, thin-wall tubing for both strength and rigidity. The motor is electronically fuel-injected and liquid-cooled, featuring a bore and stroke of 68.4mm x 50.9mm with double overhead cams, 16 valves and a four-into-one exhaust system that contributes to the bike's midrange power.

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A racing-inspired, oval-shaped muffler that includes a metal honeycomb catalyzer that aids in reducing emissions tones down the exhaust noise. The 55 lbs.-ft. of torque is delivered to the rear wheel via a six-speed sequential manual transmission and 520 X-ring drive chain. Cooling the motor is accomplished by utilizing the same large radiator and ring fan found on the Z1000.

The Z750S rides on 17-inch high-performance radial rubber, mounted on six-spoke alloy wheels for greater strength over last year's three-spoke versions. The suspension consists of performance-tuned 41mm hydraulic forks up front with 4.7 inches of travel, and a rear swing arm aft with a cast aluminum Uni-Trak linkage and shock with seven-way preload spring adjustments and four-way rebound damping adjustment with 5 inches of travel. Dual forward 300mm discs featuring four-piston calipers and a 220mm rear disc handle braking chores.

In the case of the Z750S, being "naked" doesn't mean going without dress-up features and amenities. The bike sports a lean, racy looking half-cowl that aids in its aerodynamics, while the quartz halogen headlamps add a jewel-like effect and effectively brighten the dark of night.

The instrument panel contains a radial tachometer, digital speedometer, odometer with tripmeter, fuel gauge and clock, all with a glowing red backlight. The LED tail lamp and turn signals are shared units with the Ninja ZX-6RR sportbikes. The galvanized 4.8-gallon steel fuel tank is molded to accommodate an aggressive, though more comfortable, upright riding position. The integrated passenger or tandem seat provides sleek grab bars, with an optional seat cover available.

SUMMARY: My test Z750S came with a base price of $7,099, while dealer prep and delivery elevated the final total to roughly $7,500. My bike was finished in a bright blue metallic finish, which has been replaced for 2006 by a more sinister and aggressive-looking metallic Spark Black.

As a dyed-in-the-wool cruiser type, I generally do not favor sport or naked style bikes, but the features and riding position of Kawasaki's Z750S are enough to give one reason for reconsideration. The half-cowl with integrated flyscreen and side-mounted mirrors and the raised handlebar position allow for a transitional compromise between cruising and sportbikes. The rider's foot pegs are aft, but not so far as to necessitate assuming a pretzel pose.

Acceleration is phenomenal over a broad range with a quick and positive response to throttle roll-on. Braking is equally impressive, and the overall handling characteristics render an incredibly nimble quality, thanks to the bike's suspension setup and relatively light 430-pound dry weight. I didn't test the Z750S in a two-up scenario, but it is so well balanced riding solo that adding a passenger should be hardly noticeable. Overall, the Z750S offers a comfortable zone between full sport and full cruisers, without breaking the bank. Think of it as a NinjaSport Tourer.

SPECIFICATIONS:

Kawasaki Z750S Naked

Base Price: $7,099.

Price as Tested: $7,500.

Engine Type and Size: 748 cc DOHC, 16-valve, four stroke, liquid-cooled, transverse, inline four-cylinder, with fuel injection and four-into-one exhaust

Torque (lbs/ft.): 55. at 8,200 rpm

Transmission: Six-speed manual

Drive Train: Primary drive - Chain/Final drive - O-ring chain

Suspension: Front - 41 mm Hydraulic telescopic forks with 4.7-inch travel. Rear - Uni-Trak with 7-Way Preload, 4-way rebound damping adjustment and 5-inch travel.

Brakes: Front - dual 300 mm disc with 2-piston caliper/Rear Single 200 mm disc

Tires: Bridgestone BattLax 120/70 ZR17 m/c - front/180/55 ZR17 m/c - rear, mounted on 6-spoke alloy wheels

Wheelbase: 56.1 inches

Steering angle: 24.5 degrees

Curb Weight dry: 430 lbs.

Fuel Capacity: 4.8 gallons

Seat height: 32.1 inches

Copyright, Motor Matters, 2006

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