Rider: John Milbank Bike: 2014 Kawasaki Z1000SX
Miles this month: 210 Miles in total: 1280
Current fuel economy: 43.9mpg Cost when new: £9699 +£461.95 for panniers or £215.95 for a top box
Highlights this month: Getting back on the road with my mate
Lowlights this month: Being kept away from the bike by a holiday
Watching a copper ride off on your bike is probably up there with the Things We Most Dread. Fortunately, I was encouraging these officers to enjoy my bike. And no, I wasn’t trying to bribe my way out of a ticket.
“It’s Very, very quick,” says PC Stuart Appleton “ And the brakes are good.”
I was out for some excellent BikeSafe training with Cambridgeshire Police, and after spending a lot of time grinning as I ‘made progress’ across the twisty fenland roads (occasionally seeing how quick the Zed could accelerate away from the fully-marked Police BMW), it only seemed fair to give the guys a go on the bike.
“It’s surprisingly smooth and comfortable, and the mirrors are fantastic! I’ve always liked the look of them, but never actually ridden one. I’d have one…
“You won’t get many bikes as comfortable as our Police BMW R1200RTs – I could spend a whole shift on one of those without any aches or pains – but compared to our VFR… well, you can get a feel for a bike as soon as you get on it, and the Z1000 felt very good.
“I was very surprised at the acceleration – I’ve got a 2005 ZZR1200, which is phenomenally fast, but this is light as well. Bearing in mind it’s not fully faired, I felt really well protected. I’d definitely have one. I’ll keep my ZZR to the end of the year, and then will probably be looking at one of these.”
High praise indeed from a professional rider who spends most of his working days (and free time) in the saddle.
PC Appleton had been assessing my riding, which I’m glad to say went very well. There were some useful pointers, but I got marked down from As to Bs for observation after missing a notoriously tricky set of corners affectionately known by the cops as ‘BikeSafe bends’. Despite knowing they were on the route, I still managed to barrel in way too fast. Still, the Kawasaki’s brakes and suspension worked perfectly to scrub off speed deep into the corner.
While Stuart was out on the Z1000, PC Dave Osbourne arrived with staff writer Carli Ann Smith. PC Appleton was barely off the bike before Dave had jumped on and taken it back up the road.
“It’s nice. The engine’s really nice” said Dave on his return, “I’m not a massive fan of nakeds – I like some substantial around me – and I admit I found it a bit windy. The screen works great, but I miss having the rest of the fairing around my legs.
“The mirrors are amazing, and it’s very comfy. I’ve got a Blackbird, and this is more comfortable because it’s more upright. That VFR we have just sits wrong with my back, but this is good. I reckon I could happily spend all day on this bike – you don’t notice you’re sat on it.”
They’re right of course – the Z1000 really is a great bike. The Police rely heavily on their mirrors to know what’s going on around them at all times – it’s why you sometimes don’t see them doing ‘life savers’: their observational skills are so good that they already know what’s on the road. It’s no surprise then that both officers commented on them, but to be so impressed with the comfort of the bike when they’re comparing it to the arm-chair like RTs they spend their days on is no small thing.
Since completing my BikeSafe assessment, I’ve got a far better understanding of how to ride the big green bike fast, without getting myself into trouble. Most of this month has been taken up by launches, holiday, and a lot of time in the office, so I’m ashamed of the low miles I’ve achieved over the past few weeks. I did manage to squeeze in an evening with my best mate – we hadn’t ridden together in about five years, so chopping up a few bends before a shandy and a packet of crisps in the pub bought back a lot of memories, and promises of more rides to come. Bring on the summer…
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
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