The Kawasaki Z1000 has long been a favorite in the MotoUSA garage for its brutish good looks, chunky motor and comfortable ride. On the street there might not be a better standard or streetfighter for the money. We’ve logged more than our fair share of miles on Z’s in the last half-decade on the curvy mountain passes up and down the western seaboard, but we’ve only hit the track a few times. Each time we were impressed with the capabilities of the Kawasaki when the screws were turned, but we saw some room for improvement as well. So we decided to take our long-term test machine and see if we could make it into a trackday ripper.
The Z1000 is not exactly a lightweight bike, tipping the MotoUSA scales at 483 pounds full of fuel. So step one of our journey was to see how much weight we could drop by removing bits that are not required for track use. The license plate and turn signal bracket was an easy three pounds with the removal of just four bolts under the rear seat. Scratch another 16-ounces by spinning off the mirrors. Pulling the passenger footrests dropped another half-pound. We left the headlight and taillight in for this first bit so we could jump back to street-trim quickly. In just five minutes we pulled almost five pounds – not a huge number but acceptable for the effort involved.
Almost every staffer loves the sci-fi look of the Z, save for one styling cue – the mufflers. They are big, no doubt heavy and just plain ugly. Without question the flat-black steel beasts were next on the chopping block. Not only would we shed some serious weight and improve the looks, we expected to see some gains in power output.
We decided on a LeoVince EVO II Factory-R Slip-on Exhaust
in carbon fiber to lighten the load and boost the HP. The crew at LeoVince was good enough to send down the U.S Technical Director, Manny Hauswirth to oversee the install and dyno-tune the Z1000 with a LeoVince Fast II
It took twice as long to remove the stock exhaust system as it did to install the dual carbon slip-on. The carbon fiber layup of the EVO II Factory-R is beautiful and free of flaws. The mounting hardware is top-shelf. Getting everything loosely fitted was quick and very straightforward. Instructions were included, but we didn’t even look at them. If you can put an IKEA bookshelf together, then you are more than qualified to bolt up this system. Once the mufflers are on and hanging even, a final tightening finishes the process. Time from old and ugly to new and flash is seriously less than 15 minutes.
A tinny metallic sound was put out by the stock exhaust when the throttle was blipped; now the sound is deep and powerful. The note is perfectly suited to the tough look of the Z. Sound testing revealed the dB’s have increased from a stock 94 dB at half throttle to 98 decibels emitting from the LeoVince. It should be noted this is with the quiet cores removed for the track; dropping in the cores quiets things down to 96 dB at half-maximum engine speed.
After the pipes were fitted we then installed the Leo Vince Fast II Fuel and Ignition Controller. Connecting the plug and play harness for the unit required removal of the tank to reach some of the fuel injection system connectors. After the Fast II harness was routed and the box was placed in the tail section, Manny went to work dialing in the air/fuel mixture and ignition setting. This part of the work is best left to a shop that is well versed in dyno tuning (there is no chance that we could have tuned a custom map.) The Fast II box also comes with three preloaded maps for LeoVince
exhaust systems. It also includes the ability to connect a quick-shifter, which of course we did. After about an hour of work on the laptop and dyno, we were ready for some power pulls.
The increased power from the LeoVince performance parts made our Z1000 more fun to ride on the track and street.
In stock trim the Z1000 put out 132.41 horsepower and 80.1 ft-lb of torque. With the EVO II Factory-R system and the Fast II the Z1000 gained almost five ponies to 137 hp and a bit more torque with 81.54 ft-lb. Not a staggering increase but decent for a slip-on system that still retains the stock head pipes and prechamber. Tossing the Project Z up on the MotoUSA Scales revealed a ten-pound loss in weight to exactly 473 pounds.
Once on the track the increased power output was noticeable. Roll-on acceleration out of the corners was a tick quicker. While the additional juice was nice, the real gain was in throttle response. The link between the wrist and throttle was much more crisp, not jerky or abrupt. Banging through the gears without the clutch was nice, but we found we need to shorten the quick-shifter ignition cut-off a bit more. If we would have remembered our laptop, we could have handled it right there at the track.
All said and done we spent a total of $1774.99 with the biggest expense being the $1007.99 exhaust. Twin slip-ons mean twice the materials and twice the cost, but it looks and sounds ten times better. The Fast II Kit tacks on another $499, and the Quick-shifter and shift rod kit will set you back $219 and $49 respectively. The total bill is nothing to laugh at, but we feel it was worth every penny, all one hundred seventy-seven thousand of them. Our project Z is now more fun to ride and well on its way to being a weekend trackday weapon.