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faffi

MT-07 vs Z1

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faffi
A friend owns a 1974 Kawasaki Z1, imported from USA. It has a 1015 cc kit with high compression pistons, "wild" cams and a Kerker 4-1. Other than separate K&N air filters, it is otherwise stock. Today, we swapped bikes. And it is difficult to think of two bikes that are more different - at least for a pair more or less based on the same "standard" foundation.
 
Let's start with the riding position. The Z1 has a (too) soft, flat saddle that allows you to move back and forth over two full feet in length. Foot pegs are slightly lower and quite a bit further forward compared to the MT-07. You are perched on top of the bike, not sitting in it like you do on the Yamaha. In fact, when I looked at my buddy riding behind me in the MT mirrors, I often thought he was standing on the pegs!
 
Furthermore, the fuel tank is relatively narrow and appear small, but holds more than that of the MT-07. The handlebars are huge, though; wide, fairly tall, and swept back and down. Yet it all works pretty well if the ride isn't too long or the speed not too high. Other than the handlebars, everything is very reminiscent of the old Z650 I had.
 
The engine fires immediately and, again like my Z650, runs fairly smooth up to about 4500 rpm. From there on, vibrations climb along with the revs. The clutch is heavy, travel of the lever unnaturally short, feel non-existing. Engagement is so smooth and numb you'd expect it to slip, but it doesn't Power delivery feels more like that of my son's CB400SF; absolutely no bite to it whatsoever. Lame. Faster than it feels, but boy does it feel slow. Heck, my Z650 felt noticeably stronger and more eager. More revs equal more power, but since the delivery is so seamless, there is never any sense of temperament or excitement. Where the MT-07 storms ahead in any gear whenever the throttle is twisted, the Z1 lazily begin to build revs.
 
Even revving the engine to its 9000 rpm redline in the lower gears fail to bring joy, as things continue to unfold in slow motion. The bike is no doubt significantly faster than the sensation will have me believe, but regardless this is not a powerhouse. We didn't compare, but I seriously doubt this particular Z1 could keep up with the MT-07 in any way - I suspect the carbs are not set up correctly for the engine's needs, but cannot say for sure. The engine was overhauled not that long ago and should be healthy. Whatever reason, the Z1 engine is plain boring.
 
Another annoying trait is no engine braking, probably down to the 1500 rpm idle the owner insist upon. Still very unnerving. Especially since the brakes demand a very strong hand to produce quite lackluster stopping. And coming off the MT-07, with strong brakes and massive engine braking, the lack of brakes and engine braking was the most disconcerting things about the Z1 for me.
 
Handling is, like the seating, similar to that of the Z650. I had raised the rear of my Z650 with longer shocks, so it felt more planted and would change direction quicker. The Z1 has the benefit of the wide handlebars that make steering low effort, but not overly quick. The basic suspension feels, eh, basic. More comfortable just riding along than both the stock and the upgraded bits now on the MT-07 of mine, but with less in reserve for big bumps. Stability around bumpy bends also is lacking from too little damping. Wire wheels doesn't help, either. However, the old machine can still hustle and cover ground at a surprisingly rapid rate.
 
One peculiar thing to note is that despite quite a bit of leaning over and a brisk pace, the tyres still have a surprising amount of virgin rubber on the shoulders. He is running the same tyres I used on the Z650, and I had no virgin rubber on the front tyre and just a hint on the rear. The Z1 has an estimated 7mm up front and 12 mm on the rear and still corner just as quick as the 650 (we rode the Kawasakis together last summer). I have no explanation for this trait, but it isn't about riding style as it doesn't matter who is riding the Z1.
 
Anyway, if I ever go back to an old standard motorcycle, or UJM, as they were known as, it will not be a Z1. It is too old, too pricey, too much in need of upgrades in order to deliver the kind of performance most people expect today. However, if you like to draw crowds, few bikes will match the Z1. In vicinity of a Z1, do not expect anybody to give your MT-07 a second glance. Or your S1000XR. Or your KZ650. The Z1 is an icon. For some, that is enough.
 
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ralph
I have a W800 and the 07 both near 800cc twins both have 2 spark plugs, pistons, and wheels
but there the similarity ends, though I like them both swapping between the two is a bit of
a culture shock.
 
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faffi
Yes, your W800 will be a better yardstick as it is old technology, yet new, giving a better impression of what was typical for the 70s and today. This particular Z1 was no doubt let down by many miles and a poor state of tune, so a brand new one would have faired better. It would still have been very different.

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r1limited
At least the 07 turns :) good write up, who would had thunk polor opposites ;)
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Beemer
That is a nice old bike there, real pretty w/ nice lines but cleaning those spoke wheels, arrrgh! Like most muscle cars back in the day, they were only good when you revved them up, dumped the clutch and sped off in a straight line down the road but that's all that was expected out of them by most people in that era as I recall. Your friend is lucky to have that bike in such good shape.
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faffi
He's had it since the early 1990s, after a blind driver made sure his H2 was damaged beyond repair. I'm no fan of spoke wheels myself, which is why I replaced them with cast Lester wheels on my Z650. A substantial gain in stability came as a result.
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Beemer
He's had it since the early 1990s, after a blind driver made sure his H2 was damaged beyond repair. I'm no fan of spoke wheels myself, which is why I replaced them with cast Lester wheels on my Z650. A substantial gain in stability came as a result.
I heard that! Even on my bicycles the darn spokes came loose, warping the rims and I had to play with them till I got it straight again. What a pain they are but man do they look good when they're shiny! Thank god my dad didn't have a motorcycle with spoke rims. If he'd had one he would've made it one of my chores to clean them at least once a week, I'm sure of it.  
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Beemer
Brutal dad :D
That's a drill instructor for ya. x_x  

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