Rider: John Milbank Bike: 2014 Kawasaki Z1000SX
Miles this month: 896 Miles in total: 2176
Current fuel economy: 47.9mpg Cost when new: £9699 +£461.95 for panniers or £215.95 for a top box
Highlights this month: Busting the M1 and M25 traffic
Lowlights this month: Busting myself
What is it with the best-laid plans? On my long-suffering wife’s birthday we’ve both managed to squeeze a day off work, our daughter’s at school, and we’re ready for a ride to the coast. The Z1000SX has re-awakened our love of getting out on the bike together, but finding the time is always hard.
For years, Helen’s made do with ill-fitting kit that I’ve begged and borrowed from mates, but now we both want to do things right, so we’ve kitted her out in quality RST gear that didn’t cost a fortune. She’s going to stay safe, dry and – finally – comfortable, which means a lot more fun for the both of us.
The fly in the ointment was me going out with my mate on the dirtbikes the weekend before. One over-estimation of my ability and I’ve torn my ‘rotator cuff’. The physio explained it, but the jist is that I can’t lift my arm, which makes riding bikes a bit tricky. So now we’re planning an evening ride for chips at the seaside in a few weeks – there’s no way we’re missing out on this trip.
Before my foolishness spoilt the fun, the Kwak had proved a solid commuter as I racked up the miles. Most of them seemed to be on the A1/M1/M25 – not the most inspiring of journeys, but a chance to relax and enjoy the power of the bike. My only niggle with the machine has been the saddle, which gives me an achy bum after an hour or so. I tend to get this on most bikes – maybe it’s a combination of too much weight on my stomach, but not a proportional amount of padding on the bum. I even tried Kawasaki’s own gel seat, which at £361.95 looks fantastic, but didn’t seem to make the ride any comfier for my rear.
Talking of the M25, has anyone else noticed how awful that road’s got? Besides almost always being at a standstill, the area between lanes two and three is so rutted and torn up that it makes filtering between cars and trucks a wobbly nightmare.
My fussy posterior can put up with a bike that does so many things so well though – a blast up to the British Superbike School in Blyton gave plenty of chances for fast overtakes and flicking in and out of corners. The instant power of the thou is absolutely brilliant for safe passing of cars, trucks and tractors, and something I miss when I’m riding other, less potent machines.
I’ve always thought that bikes should be simple, with as few buttons, flashing lights and general distractions, but the TomTom Rider sat-nav that I’ve got on the bike at the moment has changed my mind. On the motorways it’s proved accurate and reliable – even identifying the gantries on the London Orbital that have speed cameras. It does everything you’d expect of a GPS, but it’s the ‘Winding Roads’ feature that really makes it stand out – click the button, and the device will keep you away from the major routes, and take you on far more enjoyable roads. You can tweak how tight those roads go, making business miles far more pleasurable.
I’ve been using the TomTom with a Vertix Bluetooth intercom system, which has transformed how I get about. No more maps taped to the tank, and I don’t even have to look at the GPS – the kind lady living inside just gives me clear directions whenever necessary.
The only time I find myself using the car now is for family trips, or when I’ve simply got more to carry than will fit in the bike’s spacious top box and a rucksack. With an overall average economy of 47.9mpg so far, it’s more economical, and obviously it’s a hell of a lot more fun.
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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