When I first joined this site a couple of years ago when my bike was brand new, I wanted some feedback from members who had put some higher mileage on their bikes so I might get a clue what I would run into down the road with my bike. Unfortunately, there wasn't a whole lot of people with high or moderate mileage bikes out there...a couple, but not many--it seemed most had under 10K or so. That's understandable, after all we are talking about a bike that had only been out 2 years (in the USA) when I got mine. Anyway, my bike is now almost exactly 2 years old and currently has 32K miles on it, so I guess I average 16K a year. I thought I'd pass along my experience with the bike up to this point for those that have new or low mileage bikes that are interested.
Let me start by saying, I love this bike! It is my favorite motorcycle I have ever had--this coming from a guy with nearly 30 years riding experience and close to 500,000 miles under his belt. It just does everything so dang good. Not super fast or powerful, but just fast and powerful enough to get the job done--it's punchy and just plain fun to ride. (if I had a liter bike or whatever, I am sure there would be pictures of me up in your Post Office!) It doesn't have razor sharp race bike handling, but it handles pretty darn good--I've never felt it let me down and wouldn't do something I wanted it to do in the twisties. I love the looks of the bike, the upright, neutral riding position, and the 5 gallon/225+ mile range gas tank. If somebody where to ask me why do I like this bike so much, I would just say, "it is just plain old fun to ride--it's a really fun bike to ride around on." It does everything well, from long-range touring (I did an Iron Butt on it--1,180 miles in 18 hours and 20 minutes), to urban warrior/daily commuting (my daily commute is about 75 miles round trip), to the occasional weekend blast through local twisty mountain roads--it NEVER seems out of it's element no matter what it is doing and I find myself, well, having fun on it all the time.
Dislikes or gripes? C'mon, no bike is perfect, right? First off has got to be the dreaded "cowling buzz." Mine developed at about 500 miles and I have taken everything off the front end at least half a dozen times and tried every remedy on the books with no true success. I get it for a while, but then it comes back within a few thousand miles, especially after I added the larger Givi windscreen. I just finally gave up and live with it. That is sloppy and careless on Kawasaki's part--not acceptable. Next, I would like a temp gauge and a thermometer built into the gauges--seems like an inexpensive thing for them to add, so why not? The front fender is way
too short on the backside and the front tire slings muck all over the radiator, headers, and the front of the motor. Kawasaki has got to be aware of this...why didn't they fix it when they redesigned the fender in 2010?
I've got the mirror extenders and I've tried three different sets of mirrors and I still can get and crisp, clear, vibration-less view behind me. I sorta' knew this going in--I've never ridden a bike with bar mounted mirrors that didn't have vibration problems, but it still is a nuisance. I've read complaints about the brakes, the suspension, the seat, or the vibration...for me, personally, none of those things are an issue at all. Oh yeah, I don't really like the silver rims (I know not every color comes with silver rims)--they are tough to keep clean and shiny, especially the back one. I wish my bike had black rims so they wouldn't show flung chain lube or road grime as quickly.
Not much here...
- Grip Puppies
- mirror extenders
- 4 mirror sets including stock, currently Z1000
- OEM Top Case and mounting rack
- Givi windscreen
- 12V power socket installed in dash
- 43T rear sprocket
In general this bike has been anvil reliable and needed very little attention or concern to keep it purring perfectly from 0 miles to 32,000 miles. It seems Honda or BMW has a reputation for long-term durability, but I believe Kawasaki bikes are a match for them--the Kawi bikes might not have the fit and finish of the Hondas (who does?), but if you reasonably maintain them they IMO are every bit as durable, if not more. At least that's been my experience over the years.
I changed my oil and filter at 100 miles, 500 miles, and switched over to full synthetic at 1.5K miles. I run 5W-40 T-6 Rotella full synthetic almost all of the time (right now I have a 5W-50 Maxima full synthetic in there because I had a gift card for a local motorcycle shop) and change the oil and filter at 5,000 mile intervals. I run a Fram Extra-Guard 7137 (7317?) filter, the one that is a little longer than stock. Let's see...I have run multiple sets of tires...from Shinko's Ravens and Podiums, to Bridgestone BT-023; I currently just put on a set of the Conti Sport Motions. The Bridgestones have been the best tire so far. I cleaned the air filter at 10K, 20K, and 30K. I changed out the OEM brake pads at about 22,000 miles (they were pretty well shot and paper thin) with EBC's HH pads. The OEM chain and sprockets were replaced at about 25,000 miles--the chain had been toast--high and low spots--for about 5K miles, but the sprockets looked very good, with very minor cupping. I probably could have gotten away with just replacing the chain and going another 20K on the stock sprockets. I forget the brand, but I put on an expensive gold X-ring chain and a 43 tooth rear sprocket--must be good stuff because the chain has not needed an adjustment in 7,000 miles! I wish I had done the sprocket earlier--if I had to do it over again, I would switch it out when the bike was new--that really changed the character of the bike, in more than one way, for the better. This is kind of strange, but the headlight bulb and the little license plate light bulb burned out within a day or two of each other--right about at 25,000 miles. If your headlight burns out, check that license plate light and vice versa! Now, THIS is the interesting part--the first major tune-up. I had it done at 30,000 miles! That's right, 30,000 miles! I had read so much on here about people checking their valves at 5K or 10K or even 15K and finding tight valves, then other people reported they opened their engines up at those times and found everything in spec--I was getting conflicting info so I was kind of unsure about which direction to go. But guess what? At 30,000 miles in, my valves were still in spec from the factory...some close to being tight out of spec, but they were still IN spec! Here's what we found: Left Ex. at .15, now at .19, right Ex. at .19, kept at .19, Left Intake at .23, now at .29, right Intake at. 22 now at .29. The spark plugs didn't just look good, they looked brand new! So I had them reinstalled after a checking the gaps--love those Iridium plugs! Bike fires right up and runs better and smoother than ever! That's really about it...I lube my chain every 300-500 miles (I switch lubes all the time; currently I am using the new Honda Moly one), lube the clutch cable every oil change (5K miles), and run a tank of gas with fuel injector cleaner added every 5K miles as well.
I plan on keeping this bike for a while (forever?) and I have the 5 year unlimited mileage Kawasaki Protection Plan, so we will see where this goes. I plan to get at least 100K out of this bike and maybe even 150K before any major rebuild. My next projects will be to grease/clean the headset bearing and swingarm bearings, flush the coolant and brake fluid, but I am in no real rush to do that. I am going to bring the bike back to the shop to get another tune-up at 50K (now we know exactly where the valves have been set we want to see what happens in a 20K interval) so maybe I will have all that done in about a year when the bike is 3 years old or so. See ya' at 50K!