Test of derestricted '93 ZZ-R 1100
Source: Superbike, April 1993
This one is a mystery. How could they spend so much money in R&D, re-tooling and in slashed end-of-stock prices of 'out-moded' '92 versions to build a bike which seems only very marginally altered? Yes, I know I should have taken that Marketing option at college instead of Adolescent Sexual Role Play Among Forest Dwellers of Papua New Guinea.
This is a good thing however. Unlike the boys at Suzuki, employees at the Big K had much less to do to make their product seem a little better. The ZZ-R 1100 stood as perhaps the most impressive high-performance motorcycle available. After its revamp, it still does. That claim has to be qualified. As already pointed out, next to the fireblade, Exup and GSX-R, the ZZ-R is a different bag. It's designed to handle well at extremely high speeds. Its point of origin in design begins with its handling characteristics at 170mph, and works backwards. Amazingly they got down to zero mph, as it's as easy around town running between 2000rpm and 5000rpm than it is on gradual A-road curves with 9000rpm on the clock at 130mph. The ZZ-R is a supremely stable motorcycle and inspires total confidence.
The changes to the new model begin with the frame. Which is now of welded stamped sheet alloy rather than extruded box section. It's been redesigned with the intention of making it stronger. Kawasaki must've felt it needed more muscles - though what gave them this idea is a mystery to me. The swingarm's torsional rigidity is up 58%. This redesign has increased wheelbase by 15mm. The steering geometry is actually more relaxed (for high speed stability) with rake going out half a degree to 26.5 and trail 4mm up to 107mm. In contradiction, it actually feels a little more willing to change direction, compared to the '92 model. The only thing I can point to is the change in weight distribution achieved by a new, three-litre larger tank shape which places the bulk of fuel under yer goolies, lowering the centre of gravity. Overall dry weight is up 5kg. The rear wheel now takes a 180/55-17-section tyre; last year's was a mere 170/60-17.
The disc brakes are 1cm larger at 320mm on the front. You can never have too much brakes on a Kawasaki ZZ-R 1100.
The new model capitalizes on Kawasaki's good idea in its sealed air intake system. They've added an air tract on the nose of the fairing to increase the ram-air effect. The airbox is nearly three litre bigger to take the extra wind. Kawasaki reckon the system is 100% more effective. Hard to prove, that, but we know it really does work and adds, we estimate, as much as ten horsepower to the bike at top speed. We tested it, rather crudely, by holding an industrial air fan up to the intake as it ran on the dyno. We couldn't determine the wind-speed it was pushing at the intakes, but it gave an increase in power of around 3bhp throughout the range. In derestriced form, as tested here, the motor puts out 125bhp, static on the dyno. The fact that it ran the fastest top speed of all, yet was 3bhp down on the GSX-R and equal to the FZR, indicates it was getting more horsepower from somewhere, to push it to the 165mph top-end, the fastest recorded speed of the day at the test strip.
In terms of personal feel, the ZZ-R seems to have lost its low-down rough and brutish edge, which is a good thing. This is down to new carb settings which have cleaned up the delivery. Over 5000rpm it is as awesome as ever, pulling huge wheelies at the crack of the throttle in first and sending you catapulting to over 90mph in second gear. Eek! Winding on in third gear from 40mph takes you 10mph faster with each tick of the clock, right up to 110mph. From standstill to 60mph in less than four seconds, 50mph to 80mph in, er, two seconds...
Detail changes to the ZZ-R are welcome. The fairing is wider as is the screen, giving greater protection without sacrificing any slippiness (according to Kawasaki). The annoying blinking fuel warning lights are gone and replaced by a fuel switch (with reserve and everything!) and a fuel gauge. The bigger fuel tank gives the ZZ-R a realistic 160 mile range before reserve, underlining its 'sports-tourer' label. All switches and cockpit adornments are new and extra-svelte. The ZZ-R is still the bike I know and love, polished and honed to retain its position in an increasingly competitive market.