Rider: John Milbank | Bike: 2014 Kawasaki Z1000SX | Current fuel economy: 46.5mpg | Cost when new: £9699 + £215.95 for a top box
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My time in the saddle has been but a blip compared to the experience of many of you, but even after 18 years, I’m still amazed at how a bike can be transformed by a new pair of tyres. Of course, new rubber aint cheap, but get the bike back from the fitters (I’ve tried, and failed, to fit my own tyres too many times), and after a quick wash it’s like a new machine.
The Z1000 is only a few months old, but after four and a half thousand miles (too many of which have been on motorways), the OE Bridgestones were past their best and I was left with that ‘not-quite-right’ handling feel. If I had a daily slog commute, I’d get a fair few more miles out of them, but as I love scratching around the back roads for fun – and on the way to work – when the centre starts to flatten off, I really notice it. Now, in torrential rain, I’m not really getting the opportunity for a good blast, but I do appreciate the fact that these Z7 RRs from Metzeler are using a different moulding process to the last time I got new tyres about five years ago – no more greasy release agent, and while there’s still a recommended 50-100 mile ‘scrub-in’ period, I couldn’t help thinking that the Kawasaki felt great even after the ten mile ride home. The claims of sporty handling are hard to really put to the test in the current weather, but the bike rolls from side to side easily, without sropping too quickly (I hate that), but never requiring any effort for a change of direction. The handling in the cold and wet is definitely good though – I have no problem confirming that! Apparently the dual compound of the rear tyre is designed to increase abrasion resistance and extend mileage. Time will have to tell on that, but the grin is firmly back on my face.
I know (hope!) there’ll be plenty more dry days to enjoy this brilliant bike before Kawasaki snatch it back at the end of the year. After the highs of Scotland last month, it feels almost criminal to be back to wet trips to the shops and work commutes. I’ve had far too many journeys in the car recently, thanks to having to lug large amounts of camera kit about, and my weekends have been taken up with DIY, shopping, and racing inappropriately small motorcycles.
One thing I haven’t been giving much thought to is the chain – before the trip to Scotland I fitted a Scottoiler. You probably know what this is (and likely have one), but if not; it’s an oil reservoir with a vacuum-operated valve that feeds a carefully controlled drop of lubricant onto your chain while you ride. Fitting is simple, with excellent instructions. In fact, the hardest part was getting the Kwak’s bodywork off…
The vacuum blank needs removing from the fuel injectors, then the Scottoiler connecting. Diagrams for most bikes are available on Scottoiler’s website.
You need to find somewhere to keep the reservoir – it’s best off as vertical as possible, and you need to be able to get to the filler, but it’s pretty compact.
A length of pipe runs from the reservoir to the outlet, which comes with plenty of fittings to get it set just right on your chain and sprockets. Simple and effective.
Now I’m off to get the shopping, and hope for a gap in the clouds for a more enjoyable run home!
Engine: Liquid-cooled, 4-stroke four cylinder
Power: 140bhp (104kW) @ 10,000rpm
Torque: 82lb-ft (111Nm) @7300rpm
Weight: 230kg (kerb)
Seat height: 820mm
Tank size: 19 litres