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First Times Ride: Kawasaki Z1000

Luxury Vehicles

For 2014 Kawasaki is reintroducing its heralded Z1000 -- with a vengeance. The company hit hard with an all-out media campaign, taking motorcycle journalists on urban nighttime rides designed to bring out the best in this raw, naked beast.

They needn't have tried so hard. The Z1000 sells itself.

It's lightweight, nimble and extremely powerful. Zero to 60 is exciting -- almost as exciting as 60 to 100 -- and 60 to zero isn't bad either. The bike blasts off majestically but then comes in for a smooth landing.

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For a bike with such a radical look -- think Batman-meets-Antman, with an attitude that's somewhere between testy and really ticked off on the anger scale -- it's very comfortable, featuring a neutral stance that makes it an easy rider around town.

I liked it better than the Ninja 1000, which I found twitchy and somewhat difficult to throttle comfortably. (This may be the result of the Z1000's new ECU settings and intake cams.) The Z1000's power dialed on smoothly, up and down the power band. And yes you can wheelie more or less at will.

The bike sits low, has a nice close gearbox with a new, taller sixth gear for freeway riding, and a seat that's comfortable enough for an hour of canyon carving but not comfortable enough to contemplate any serious long-distance journeys. 

The 2014 model features new suspension, new brakes, new aluminum wheels, newly enlarged gas tank, and a new instrument cluster that lights up like a pinball machine. 

The bike does not offer quite the fit and finish of, say, a BMW or Ducati. But neither does it command the same MSRP. This one is designed to move at $11,999.

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