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We savour the revamped Kawasaki Z1000SX (Ninja 1000 in India) in the Alpine foothills of southern Austria.
Like many successful formats, the Z1000SX’s seems obvious with hindsight. Of course, not all the riders abandoning sports bikes would defect to adventure bikes. Plenty were bound to prefer a sharp looking, sporty, 240 km/h fully-faired four with a more upright riding position, some all-round ability and a sensible price.
A bike, in other words, like the SX — although even Kawasaki didn’t expect the relatively simple Z1000-With-A-Fairing to be one of their top-selling models in many markets for the last three years (their absolute best-seller in the UK), as well as one of the most popular sports-tourers of any make.
That’s what has happened, though, and even before that third year is out they’ve revamped the SX to make it sharper, more responsive and better equipped. This makes plenty of sense as I throw the updated green bike down a spectacularly twisty road in the Alpine foothills of southern Austria.
Its 142-PS motor is hurling the bike forward at an entertainingly rapid rate with a fruity howl from the re-tuned airbox. The screen is keeping the wind and most of the fat late-summer bugs off my chest. The tweaked and firmed-up suspension is giving a reasonably comfortable yet impressively taut and well-controlled ride — even under severe provocation from the powerful new Tokico monobloc front callipers. And the sleek new panniers are keeping my waterproofs and other junk neatly out of mind.
In short, the revamped Z1000SX is proving a blast to ride. And equally importantly, it’s giving every indication of being well up to the job if I had to strap on a bit more luggage and ride it 1,000 kilometres home rather than back to the relatively nearby launch hotel.
That’s hardly surprising because the original SX was a good place to start and this update is fairly thorough. The 1,043cc, 16-valve engine gets new cams with shorter duration and revised air intake trumpets of the same length. (Different length intakes are so last year…) Kawasaki claim an extra 4 PS, with that 142 PS maximum arriving at 10,000 RPM and say the motor has more low-rev and mid-range performance.
Should the Kawasaki W800 become a part of their India line-up? The company has recently announced the independent coming and it is indeed good news. With the Ninja 300, 650R, 1000, ZX-10R and ZX-14 with another one stuck in traffic, as well as the mean streeter, the Z1000, already on the list, is it time for something a little different?
The W800 is a machine you would never identify as a Kawasaki at first, if you didn’t already know about it. Its retro styling with essential modern touches make it an attractive alternative to some of the modern iterations of classic bikes available on sale in the country. The W800 packs some seriously delectable elements like the muffler exhaust, ribbed padded seat, and classic analogue dials for the speedo and tacho complete with retro white on black lettering. The wire-spoke wheels with tubeless rubber with a single disc front brake and a drum brake at the rear couldn’t take you further back in time.
The W800 Special Edition, takes the darker path, and brings a load of matte black styling, with even the exhaust pipes not getting spared. The added graphics also distinguish the models apart.
On to the numbers, the bike weighs a hefty 217 kg and getting it to move is a 773cc parallel twin motor, making 48 PS at 6,500 RPM and 60 Nm at a lowly 2,500 RPM, paired, fittingly, to a 5-speed transmission. Another key feature are the dual throttle valves with an ECU-controlled second set, allowing for a better flow of power.
The Kawasaki W800 is priced at £ 6,899 (Rs 7 lakh) in the UK, with the W800 Special Edition costing £ 200 more, at £ 7,099 (Rs 7.2 lakh), again, in the UK. With those sort of price tags, each of them sure seems to be quite the desirable package. Give India Kawasaki Motor a shoutout if you want one!
Story: Jim Gorde
Images: Kawasaki Motors Europe
India Kawasaki Motor have added two new big boys to their range in India: the Z1000 street-fighter and the Ninja 1000 tourer. The mean, green speed machines, cliché as it may sound, have been launched in just one colour choice, you guessed it, green.
The Z1000 is arguably the meanest street bike you can lay your eyes on. It’s design is extremely aggressive to say the least, giving it an evil, even demonic stance, deserving of a Decepticon badge. The styling screams of unadulterated power and agility, like a ‘Hulked-up’ version of a litre-bike, stripped down to the bare minimum, if you will.
On the other hand, the Ninja 1000 is the one to go the distance with. It’s a comfortable touring machine and can munch the miles without biting into your comfort zone. Load up the options and you have hard bags and a storage box which can fit in all of what you would need for a ride out into the sunset.
Both bikes are powered by the company’s new 1,043cc inline-four motor which features Direct Fuel Injection and makes a credible 142 PS at 10,000 RPM with a peak torque of 111 Nm coming in at a reasonable 7,300 RPM. ABS brakes are standard on both bikes, with the Ninja 1000 adding Kawasaki Traction Control (KTRC) to the package.
The damages? Rs 12.5 lakh, ex-showroom Pune, for both the bikes. Kawasaki are in the process of setting up independent dealerships around the country. The aim is to provide qualified and specially trained personnel to deliver sales and service quality on par with their global standards.
The Café Racer scene has suddenly become a hot topic with the launch of the Royal Enfield Continental GT. While their Café Racer is good and all (it won among the greatest accolade of them all: Indian Motorcycle of the Year), there is only so much you can do with 535cc and 29.1 PS from a big single. Enter Triumph, quite literally, with their range of classic British motorcycles; one of which is the Thruxton 900.
As far as Café Racers go, the Thruxton 900 is as good as it gets. The proverbial ‘ton-up’ speed, or 161 km/h, is easily achievable, and it can cruise around at that speed all day, if necessary. However, that’s not what it’s about. It’s a hardcore classic, quick British racer and it brings the substance to match its style. That substance comes from an 865cc, liquid-cooled parallel-twin engine making 69 PS at 7,400 RPM and 69 Nm at 5,800 RPM. Those numbers effectively spell out effortless acceleration and loads of grunt. With its typical Café Racer riding position, you ride seated back, crouched over the tank with a low set of handlebars – not really the ideal position for everybody or for a long highway ride. Either way, if you have Rs 6.7 lakh plus tax, insurance and what not to spend, you will surely not be disappointed.
The 2014 Thruxton 900 Café Racer is very likely to will be shown along with the rest of the range at the upcoming Auto Expo. Triumph Motorcycles India are working full force, trying hard to get their dealers up and running as soon as possible, while looking at new dealer partners in more cities across the countries. Triumph officially launched their bikes on November 28, with prices starting from Rs 5.7 lakh ex-showroom.
Story: Jim Gorde
Images: Triumph Motorcycles
Cult motorcycle brand, Indian, are all set to arrive in India early next year. The big cruiser maker will introduce three variants of its Chief motorcycle on January 22.
For the enthusiast and cruiser loyalist, Indian is the only competitor to the legendary Harley-Davidson brand. Their big cruiser will take on the likes of H-D’s Touring range inch-for-inch and pound-for-pound. The Chief line of motorcycles will see three variants: the Chief Classic, the Chief Vintage, and the Chieftain. All three will be powered by the all-new Thunder Stroke 111 cubic inch engine, which raises the bar for style and the power. The 1,811cc, 49-degree V-Twin motor pumps out an estimated 100 PS and a massive 161 Nm of torque. A 6-speed overdrive transmission sends power through the belt drive setup. The numbers aside, what are your three choices?
The first bike in the lineup, the Chief Classic, will bring all the styling bits which make it quintessentially Indian: the long, sweeping fenders, body work and laced wheels bathed in chrome, genuine leather saddle, and, of course, the signature Indian Chief head front-fender-ornament. You also get a host of modern amenities like keyless ignition, throttle-by-wire, ABS and cruise control.
The second is the Chief Vintage, the soft bagger of the range, which takes styling to a new level. Handcrafted details like the needle-stitched leather seat and a pair of leather fringe saddle-bags; with a quick release mechanism, as well as a big windscreen which has a similar quick-release setup. The Chief Vintage is ‘the ultimate signature bike created by Indian enthusiasts for Indian enthusiasts’, in the words of the company.
The third variant is the Chieftain, which builds upon the heritage of the company while looking into the future. It brings an enveloping touring fairing complete with a power windscreen, faired-in headlamps as well as a USB interface for smartphones and music players. The hard saddle-bags have a quick-release setup with remote locks. Basically, everything you need for a long and enjoyable journey on the road.
The official launch is set towards the end of January and information on pricing and availability will become clear only then. Considering that the range starts from $18,999 (Rs 11.75 lakh approx) in the US, and that the range will be imported entirely as CBU units, we expect pricing to start from about the Rs 20 lakh mark in India, no less.
Story: Jim Gorde