One online Japanese-English dictionary gives three meanings to the word Sugomi: dreadfulness, ghastliness and weirdness. The Japanese Culture Club, however, says it means intimidation. We’re guessing Kawasaki is shooting for the latter when it boasts about its 2014 Kawasaki Z1000’s “sugomi styling.”

While some may find the latest incarnation of the Z1000’s styling to be weird, ghastly or even dreadful, the majority of those in the market for a naked streetfighter will likely find it intimidatingly spot-on.

Though the new Z1 doesn’t feature a complete redesign, it gets enough changes to warrant talking about and Kawasaki let us loose on the new bike recently in the environment it is most suited for: Urban cruising and canyon carving. And it did just fine in both, thank you very much.

So what’s changed over last year’s Z1000?

For starters, the powerplant. Still 1043cc, the latest version has undergone some changes to make it perkier. The intake cam profile has been changed to boost torque, the fuel-injection system has been re-programmed to make the throttle response snappier, and the gearing has been changed (a taller sixth gear for highway cruising).

The new Z1000 also sounds a bit better – thanks to airbox, velocity stacks and air filter changes. Additionally, the four-into-two-into-two exhaust itself now features connector tubes (between one and four and two and three) that are larger – and oval. As for looks… the exhaust system now features a brushed-metal finish.

Okay, not huge changes, but enough to make a difference. Power is immediate on the new Z1000 and – at the risk of being redundant - you notice it… right away. We did on our urban night ride through Hollywood as we hammered from light to light – right in the torque zone Kawasaki aimed at when making the changes to the Z1000. The bike has plenty of punch to keep you on your toes.

The day after our night ride on the new Kawasaki, we headed out into the canyons to test it at higher speeds. Again, it does the job. It most definitely doesn’t leave you wanting for more power, but it’s still that torque off the bottom that you notice most.

The new Z1000 doesn’t have a slipper clutch, but it wasn’t something I missed when riding the bike. In fact, the transmission is about perfect… the gears fall nicely into place and it’s always a pleasure to ride a streetbike that makes it simple to find neutral.

Not much was done to the chassis of his year’s Z1000. It’s still the same aluminum backbone unit as before, but with a more compact subframe (mainly to go with the new styling of the bike). The bike is still short with its 56.5-inch wheelbase, but it’s not squirrely – even at speed. The chassis is well sorted so changes weren’t needed.

The big change to the bike’s handling for 2014 comes via the front fork. That’s where Kawasaki went big – as in Big Piston. Big Piston and SFF (Separate Function Fork). The bike gets the latest and greatest Showa, a fork that features springs in both sides (the damping is in the right tube, with pre-load set via the left tube).

The new fork works as it should. It lets you hammer the brakes into corners with its smooth and responsive action and it soaked up every bump our canyon ride threw at it.

To read more of the Kawasaki Z1000 ABS first ride in this week's Cycle News, click here

Paul Carruthers | Editor

Paul Carruthers took over as the editor of Cycle News in 1993 after serving as associate editor since starting his career at the publication in 1985. Carruthers has covered every facet of the sport in his near-28-year tenure at America’s Daily Motorcycle News Source.

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