Kawasaki Motors Corp., USA revealed its first batch of ’05 motorcycle models in August. A month later and three weeks before its formal dealer meeting — which took place Sept. 23-24 in San Diego, Calif., as this issue of Powersports Business went to press — the company introduced a second batch of bikes destined for dealerships in the coming year.
Arguably one of the most notable of the new units, the naked Z750, little brother to the two-year-old Z1000, is scheduled to arrive on U.S. show floors after an introductory year in Europe. On the other end of the spectrum of motorcycle models, in the cruiser class, Kawasaki upped the ante on its 1500 Nomad, adding 100 cubic centimeters, more chrome and more comfort.
Unless there are surprises revealed at the dealer show, the next most obvious changes to Kawasaki’s 2005 motorcycle line-up occur in the sport bike segment, where consumers will be able to find a revamped ZZR600, Ninja ZX-6R and ZX-6RR.
Also returning, but with minimal changes if any, are the Z1000, ZZR1200, ZRX1200, Ninja 250R, ZX-10R and ZX-12R, as well as the Eliminator 125, Vulcan 800, 1500 Classic, 1600 Classic, 1600 Mean Streak and 2000.
Pulled from the initially planned 2004 U.S. line-up but available in Europe for the past year, the Z750 is powered by a 748cc 16v DOHC inline four and is a bike Kawasaki describes as the first to feature electronic fuel injection with 34mm throttle bodies.
While the bronze detailing on the Z1000 does not appear on the forthcoming Z750, the bike has a similar look to its big brother, and includes a three-piece bikini cowl, quartz halogen headlights and red backlight instrument cluster. It is available only in Kawasaki’s Candy Plasma Blue.
The mid-sized naked utilizes the same radiator and ring fan as the Z1000, the same instrument panel as the ZX-10R, and the same LED taillight and turn signals as the ZX-6RR, but is far from a parts bin special.
Power is transferred through a six-speed tranny and 520 X-ring drive chain; six-spoke 17-inch wheels are outfitted with 120/70ZR rubber in the front and 180/55ZR tread in the rear; stopping power comes from dual 300mm discs and four-pot calipers up front and a 220mm rear disc; the front suspension features 41mm forks and rear damping comes from four-way rebound and seven-way spring preload adjustments.
The new Nomad retains the style of the Vulcan 1500 Nomad, but features more chrome, enhanced passenger comfort, and a boost in engine size from 1470cc to 1552cc.
A full-bore revamp wasn’t necessary since Kawasaki already has a stable of 1600cc machines with the Mean Streak and Classic. The 1600 Classic and 1600 Nomad retain the same powerplant, suspension, brakes and fuel capacity.
Nevertheless, there are a number of unique traits. The 32-degree rake is the same on both, but trail on the Nomad is 7.4 inches compared to the Classic’s 6.6 inches and the Nomad rolls on 150/80 front and 170/70 rear tires.
Standard on the 2005 Nomad is an adjustable windshield with chromed support hardware; floordboards, a backrest and a thick seat for passengers; side-open hard saddlebags that are lockable; and new chrome engine guards. Available colors will be blue and black.
Kawasaki says bodywork on the 2005 NINJA ZX-6R and ZX-6RR is the most aerodynamically efficient the company has created. The new fairing helps divide the air stream farther ahead of the bike by moving the “bubble” of still air farther forward in the cockpit; the tail section blends the air together while minimizing turbulence.
The body also includes a new central Ram Air duct, a flush-surface LED tail light, a ZX-10R-style front fender, plus a new split-seam fuel tank/airbox cover. A new under-seat muffler completes the aesthetic update.
In the power department, engines in both the ZX-6R and ZX-6RR include a new cylinder, new cylinder head, and 38mm oval-shaped sub-throttle valves fed by twin injectors. On the ZX-6R, larger intake and exhaust valves, revised cam profiles and an exhaust valve integrated with the muffler improve low and mid-range response of the 636cc engine. The 599cc lump in the limited production ZX-6RR features revised and polished intake ports, new combustion chambers and larger exhaust valves. Plus, radiators on both units are 40mm taller and feature more-tightly packed cores for increased cooling capacity.
Other updates to the two bikes include changes to the dual disc front brakes, which have been bumped up from 280mm to 300mm; shortened wheelbases and altered swingarm pivots; new UNI-TRAK linkage ratios and new shock settings in the rear suspension.
The 2005 ZZR600 may not look radically different than its predecessor, but Kawasaki says it has been heavily updated from 2004.
The 2004 ZZR600 weighed 430 lbs. dry, had a wheelbase of 56.3 inches, and a seat height of 30.7 inches. In comparison, the 2005 ZZR600 weighs 377 lbs. dry, has a wheelbase of 55.1 inches, and a seat height of 32.3 inches.
The 599cc 16v DOHC inline four on the 2005 is fed by a Mikuni rather than a Keihin carb; has a bore x stroke of 66.0 x 43.8mm, versus 64.0 x 46.6mm on the ’04; and a compression ratio of 12.8:1.
Other changes in the new bike include a rake of 23.5-degrees, versus 24.5-degrees on the ‘04; a new 46mm front fork; a rear UNI-TRAK linkage and 20-way compression and rebound damping.