2012 Kawasaki Z1000 | Preview

2012 Kawasaki Motorcycle

Over the past few years, the demand for naked sportbikes has continually grown, pushing manufactures into a constant-developing mode, whether it’s adding power or polishing aesthetics.

Noticing this trend, Kawasaki totally revamped its flagship naked sportbike two years ago, the Z1000 getting additional power and a more aggressive makeover.

Popular among the crowd that favors naked sportbikes, the Z1000 is again offered for 2012 with a new (and only) paint option – Candy Burnt Orange/Metallic Spark Black.

First arrives the power from the 1043cc 16-valve inline four with dual cams. The dual-cam motor features a long stroke of 56mm for instant power, fuel injection and a six-speed transmission. Designed for the real-world streets, The Z1000’s engine creates flexible power across the rpm range, with gobs of mid-range.

The chassis of the 2012 Z1000 features much technology, including an aluminum frame that cradles the engine from above, a design similar to the ZX-10R superbike. Built from racetrack input, this frame features a skinny mid-section, which provides much feedback to the rider.

Elaborating on the frame, Kawasaki says "the engine bolts solidly to the frame in three places, stressed-member-style, and there’s also a rubber mount at the upper rear crankcase area for added vibration damping and torsional rigidity. The main frame and swingarm pivot elements are cast as a single unit, with welds eliminated wherever possible for a more aesthetically pleasing look. And the subframe is a lightweight aluminum die-casting, which is light, smooth and beautiful."

Just as the Z1000’s frame design is unique to the overall function of the naked sportbike, so is the suspension. Up front, there’s a fully-adjustable 41mm inverted fork, and a Uni-Trak shock that’s mounted horizontally over the swingarm for more mass centralization; the rear shock features preload and rebound adjustments.

There are other features that add to the overall aggression of the Z1000, including five-spoke wheels, shorter, 4-into-2-into-2 exhaust, a solid mount handelbar and aluminum footpegs and ninja-spec brakes.

And of course the styling, which Kawasaki sums up: "The aesthetic showcase begins with a low-mount front cowl that slopes back radically, highlighting the Z’s prow and, behind it, an adjustable instrument cluster featuring a multifunction LCD display covered by a trick-looking orange lens.

"The line-beam headlight’s guts are integrated nicely into that angled cowl. Moving rearward, you come to a shapely fuel tank that’s flared on the sides to let you grab it with your knees and that’s trim at the back for a snug fit. The seat is low and narrow at the front to make ground contact easy, and flows beautifully rearward to end in a futuristically retro LED tail light behind a red lens. It’s a thoroughly athletic shape, one sure to garner attention wherever it’s ridden."

The Z1000 was designed for those who’d just rather go naked. The Kawasaki features all the aggressive looks paired with all the aggressive power and handling to satisfy these naked urges.

Following are highlights, specs, color option and MSRP for the 2012 Kawasaki Z1000.

2012 Kawasaki Z1000 Highlights:


  • Liquid-cooled inline-four offers substantial power at all rpm levels, providing effortless acceleration in almost any situation
  • Bore and stroke dimensions of 77.0 x 56.0mm offer the best possible balance of peak power and low and mid-range flexibility
  • 38mm downdraft throttle bodies allow intake air to travel to the engine in the shortest possible distance
  • Oval sub-throttles help keep the engine slim – a good thing since the throttle bodies are positioned between the rider’s knees
  • Soft rev limiter provides good overrev character; power doesn’t drop off suddenly at high rpm
  • The crankshaft is positioned low in the crankcase assembly to allow a longer stroke without adding engine height
  • A secondary balancer, driven off a gear on the sixth web of the crankshaft, eliminates excess vibration

Intake System

  • The intake system routes cool air to the airbox from ducts above the radiator shrouds, minimizing performance loss due to heated intake air
  • Positioning the ducts close to the rider allows the intake sound to be heard – and enjoyed – by the rider
  • A resonator inside the airbox reduces noise at low rpm, and enhances intake sound at high rpm

Exhaust System

  • The exhaust system features a 4-into-2-pre-chamber-into-2 layout. Silencer end caps maintain the quad-style image
  • Main and pre-catalyzers provide cleaner emissions
  • Thanks to the under-engine pre-chamber, silencer volume is reduced, and silencer weight is low. Exhaust system offers excellent mass centralization and contributes to a low center of gravity

Gas Tank

  • Slim-type fuel pump features an integral fuel gauge
  • Fuel tank design and slim-type fuel pump minimize unused volume inside the tank; fuel capacity is 4.0 gallons


  • Aluminum backbone frame designed specifically for the Z1000 (and similar in concept to the Ninja ZX-10R’s) helps make the bike narrow and easy to grip with the knees for maximum rider comfort and feedback
  • Lightweight and highly rigid, the frame uses the engine as a stressed member for a firm, planted feeling and enhanced stability
  • Frame is tuned to transmit the ideal level of engine feedback directly to the rider
  • The frame’s five-piece construction consists of steering stem, left and right main frames, and two cross pieces. The two main frame components have open C-shaped cross sections
  • As much as possible, welds were eliminated for simplicity and appearance. The frame beams and swingarm brackets are now single die-cast pieces
  • The frame uses four engine mounts; three mounts are rigid, while the upper rear crankcase mount is rubber
  • The rear sub-frame is a three-piece aluminum die-casting construction, which is light, strong and optimizes mass centralization
  • The sub-frame is an example of form and function combined, negating the need for side covers and allowing underseat narrowness for a shorter reach to the ground


  • Rear suspension design positions the shock unit and linkage above the swingarm where it’s less exposed to exhaust heat and contributes to mass centralization
  • Visible from the outside, the horizontal monoshock contributes to the Z1000’s aggressive appearance
  • Linkage characteristics are the same as those of a standard Uni-Trak® rear suspension: Wheel movement versus shock stroke is the same ratio
  • The shock features stepless rebound damping and spring preload adjustability
  • The Z1000’s 41mm inverted fork is adjustable for compression damping, rebound damping and spring preload – and is protected from harm by a cool-looking shroud
  • Settings are designed for both sporty performance and excellent comfort


  • The tubular handlebar is rigid mounted, contributing to sharp, direct handling
  • A wide, flat bend handlebar offers a design similar to those on off-road bikes for excellent control
  • Tapered-type grips, like those used on supersport models, offer a more direct feel
  • Ninja ZX-10R-style footpegs with knurled surfaces offer good grip, direct feel and control, and no-nonsense looks
  • The passenger footpeg brackets incorporate convenient luggage hooks


  • The Z1000’s 300mm front petal-style brake discs are gripped by opposed four-piston radial-mount calipers. (Caliper piston size is 4×30 mm)
  • A radial-pump front brake master cylinder contributes to the superb control and feel offered by these high-end calipers
  • The rear brake is a single-piston, pin-slide caliper gripping a 250mm petal-style disc. The caliper is mounted below the swingarm, and located by a torque rod

2012 Kawasaki Z1000 Specs:

  • Engine: Four-stroke, liquid-cooled, DOHC, four valves per cylinder, inline-four
  • Displacement: 1043 cc
  • Bore x Stroke: 77.0 x 56.0mm
  • Compression Ratio: 11.8:1
  • Fuel System: DFI with four 38mm Keihin throttle bodies, oval sub-throttles
  • Ignition: TCBI Digital Advance
  • Transmission: 6-Speed
  • Final Drive: X-Ring Chain
  • Frame Type: Aluminum Backbone
  • Rake/Trail: 24.5 deg. / 4.1 in.
  • Front Suspension / Wheel Travel: 41 mm inverted cartridge fork with stepless compression and rebound damping, adjustable spring preload / 4.7 in.
  • Rear Suspension/Wheel Travel: Horizontal monoshock with stepless rebound damping, adjustable spring preload / 5.4 in.
  • Front Tire Size: 120/70 ZR17
  • Rear Tire Size: 190/50 ZR17
  • Wheelbase: 56.7 in.
  • Front Brakes: Dual 300mm petal-type rotors with radial-mount four-piston calipers
  • Rear Brakes: Single 250mm petal-type rotor with single-piston caliper
  • Fuel Capacity: 4.0 gal.
  • Seat Height: 32.1 in.
  • Overall Length: 82.5 in.
  • Overall Width: 31.7 in.
  • Overall Height: 42.7 in.
  • Warranty: 12 months
  • Good Times Protection Plan: 12, 24, 36 or 48 months

2012 Kawasaki Z1000 Color Option/MSRP:

  • Candy Burnt Orange/Metallic Spark Black / $10,799


  1. The current gen Z1000 is the best naked bike in the world. I’m amazed how many jealous Triumph and Ducati riders feel the need to throw around words like “jap crap” when describing this bike. Yeah, a bike that’s 3k less and can, stock, do high 9 second quarter miles is real crap isn’t it. This bike is also a lot more fun to ride than any of the bikes I’ve tried by the above 2 manufacturers. Hail to the naked king.


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