Kawasaki ZX14 Review

Whenever one looks for information, pictures or whatever type media concerning Kawasaki’s new ZX14 there are a few expressions that keep popping up and after a while become rather corny and commonplace. First off: “Flagship”. What the heck does a ship have to do with a motorbike? And on top of that a flagship? Joking put aside, the ZX14 is a flagship indeed. Meaning that the producer considered it a top priority project from the get-go and this bike – even though it doesn’t have huge artillery pieces and gun turrets like a true flagship would – being the best in pretty much every respect in its class, certainly lives up to that name.

Another expression you’re bound to run into, used to depict this bike, is a corner one for sure. “ Hyperbike”. Everybody who’s more or less involved with motorcycles is familiar with the term: “Superbike” “Hyperbike” is a term derived from it, in the attempt of trying to showcase the fact that this bike is more than a regular superbike. It’s better, it’s bigger, it’s faster and it’s stronger. It’s hyper. All of this just makes you wonder what they’ll call the next big thing in sportbikes, something better and faster than the ZX14, doesn’t it? Despite being described as a purely marketing-oriented, non-existent expression, the term does a pretty good job giving someone a correct image of the motorcycle as far as its performances go, and then again, come to think about it, maybe an entirely new term IS needed to describe such a jewel on two wheels. “Busa killer” is more of a streetwise equivalent of “hyperbike” This guy eats Busas ( as in Suzuki’s Hayabusa) for breakfast, doesn’t it. Well, I just have to see what a bike dubbed the ”Busa Killer” has really got to it.

The powerplant of the engine was developed from the Kawasaki ZX12R’s but it does incorporate some elements entirely new for a Kawasaki. The first thing that surprises about the bike is how quiet it is at high rpms. Well, if it is a killer, it’s sure a quiet one, only sportbikes do not kill each other by being quiet. There’s just got to be something here the “ Busa Killer” is hiding. Of course: the oil pressure Cam Chain Tensioner. This baby forces oil pressure onto the cam tensioner, thus reducing slack and implicitly engine noise.

Given the fact that it’s got a Liquid cooled, in-line four, 84 Bore x 61 mm stroke, 16 valve, 1355 cm3 engine to quell, I’d say the “killa” certainly has horsepowers to put where it’s producers mouths are. The engine delivers 190 HP at 9500 rpm, and I do believe any further comment on this would be beating around the bush.

Another thing about the ZX14: this baby is one hell of a smooth operator. A smooth killer aye?

There’s a combination of constructional elements that make this bike handle extremely smoothly. First of all there’s the monocoque frame that connects both on top and bottom of the engine, thus making for better torsional rigidity, then there’s the secondary engine balancer set up to reduce vibrations and the longer swing-arm, made of aluminum, and less rigid.

The way this bike handles reminds me of a feline. Soft, smooth, quiet, yet deadly and capable of extreme bursts of thrust and power. For a motorcycle that can reach 100 km/h from standstill in around 2,5 seconds a healthy set of brakes is a must, and the “flagship”, “hyperbike”, “ Busa killer” once again hits the nail right on the head. The four-piston, four-pad radial-mount front caliper assures great response and braking power.

The smooth, cat-like behavior of the bike is further enhanced by the state of the art aerodynamics assisted by a number of deflectors positioned on the front forks, side fairings and mirrors.

The feature that I found most convincing though, is something else. This bike just eats up the road. It’s amazing how well it covers large distances with little fuss. On my part I’d rather call it “ the tarmac eater” or something. Well, maybe it’s not as cool as “Busa killer” but what the heck, try one and you’ll find yourself calling it all kinds of names too.

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