Kawasaki Z750R: middleweight naked supremacy, upgraded

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Europeans love affordable, naked performance bikes and, for the last few years, they’ve loved nothing more than the Kawasaki Z750, an exercise in aggressive styling that managed to offer near-liter capacity at a near-naked 600 price. But with increasing competition from bikes like the Yamaha FZ8 and Triumph Street Triple, Kawasaki needed to do something about the too-soft suspension and other cheap-ish components. Et voila, le Kawasaki Z750R. Zut alors!

The big changes here are the addition of new, partially-adjustable USD forks and a firmer piggy-back shock, designed to address the biggest Z750 criticism: cheap, soft suspension. There’s also radial brakes, which should up the posing quotient by at least 25bhp, but the pressed aluminum swingarm should actually drop some weight and add some stiffness over the old, square steel item.

Styling wise, the R gains new paint schemes, an even more aggressive front cowl/headlight unit and other little nips and tucks like smaller indicators, it’s not a huge difference.

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Looking at the specs, it’s easy to understand why the Z750 is such a hit on a continent where people love fast bikes, but also use them for more than just play things. Appreciably cheaper than a ZX-6R, the Z750 obviously has a larger capacity, styling that doesn’t make it look like a cheap alternative to a real sportsbike and an upright riding position that makes it practical for commuting. If you couldn’t afford to insure a supersport 600 and saw a bike that would actually make it look like you had a faster machine than a supersport 600 while meeting all your practical needs, you’d buy it, right?

Don’t be too jealous, while we don’t get the Z750 in the land of motorcycles-as-playthings, we do get its superior rival, the Triumph Street Triple and Triumph Street Triple R, which feature a real supersports frame, real supersports suspension, real supersports engine, real supersports brakes and real supersports weight. The Z750R weighs 226kg/498lbs (wet) to the Street Triple R’s 189kg/416lbs (wet). Oh, and we do get the Z750′s faster, lighter brother, the 2010 Kawasaki Z1000.

  • quiksilver

    Will we ever see this here in the US?

  • Bald Shaun

    Noice! I know the Street Triple is better in every measurable way, but I’d still take the Kaw. My first “big boy” bike was an ’03 Z1000. Despite it’s may weaknesses, I loved that bike. Nothing special on paper, But a blast on the road. A great example of a bike be more than the sum of its parts. If the little brother bike shares some of that magic, it’s easy to see why it’s so popular across the pond.

  • robotribe

    Wait a sec; HEAVIER than the Z1000?!

    I regulaly bitch about the U.S. not getting many nakeds only available in Europe or Japan, but damn, that thing is FAT. Europe, you can keep it. I’ll take the Hornet 600 instead.

  • http://www.twitter.com/beastincarnate Beast Incarnate

    Z1000! Heyo! That’s all that needs to be said.

  • phobos512

    You guys need to remember that in the US we’re blessed with not having multiple motorcycle license classes, which isn’t the case in Europe. There’s a reason there’s not a pile of 125, 250, 400, and 800 cc class machines over here.

  • Ken D

    I don’t live in Americky so I’ve got one. They’re very easy to get on with and they really respond to a high quality pair of pneumatic tyres. Also there’s a fix to the suspension issues I can recommend. It’s called Ohlins. They make them in Swedenovia and if you give them a cow or something they’ll hand over this bright yellow magic spring that makes all the bad times go away.

  • http://www.postpixel.com.au mugget

    Haha – I like the part of the video that shows the first slow-mo cornering on the track and the rear indicator is flapping around like a rabid pigeon.

    It sort of looks like they’re moving away from the plastic gayness of previous models, and downsizing the ridiculous trumpet-exhaust. But I think I still prefer the old style of the ’06 model. :/

  • Sven

    Street Triple R’s 189 kg is dry weight, not wet.