May 30, 2018

ZZR Review 7

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Total Mind F**k

Honda CBR1100XX Super Blackbird v full-power Kawasaki ZZ-R1100. 343.4mph & 272bhp. Ommmiiiiiiiigggggoddd...

Source: Performance Bikes, November 1996, (Excerpt from the original article)

... The Honda is the first bike to seriously challenge the ZZ-R11 in the mental engine stakes, and it beats it. The Blackbird makes the Kawasaki feel... almost ordinary. Ok, so it doesn't have the same manic growl as the ram-air ZZ-R - in fact the Honda is apologetically whisper-quiet. Nor does it have the same, intense plateau of top-end power, where the ZZ-R revs on and on forever.

... When you want to squirt past the twat with the caravan who's held you up for at least 60 seconds, the Honda has to be dropped down a gear and nailed to produce the same thrust as the ZZ-R does in top. And if you really want to waste the 'van, you're looking at fourth. By which time your mate on the ZZ-R will have simply opened the throttle and disappeared... It's hugely disappointing when you realise your shiny new Blackbird has to have its tits thrashed like a 600 to stay with the ZZ-R, and all the more when you know Honda have only geared the CBR like this so they can claim the Fastest Bike, etc...

... You can cruise at 140mph on the ZZ-R, sat almost upright. The Blackbird is as frustrating as a retro - lots of speed in brief bursts, but annoyingly impossible to keep up for long unless you want to explode under the strain.

... Mr Honda may have the outright speed record in his grasp, but when it comes to roll-on stomp the ZZ-R still has the edge.

... Not only that, but it's stronger than the Honda in other areas. It's got a better fairing. It's got a bigger tank range. It's at least as comfortable. And the mirrors work better. So stuff your poxy Honda Blackthing.

... Unlike the Honda, the ZZ-R comes with a bit of soul. Even if the ram-air system didn't work (and it does), it'd be worth having just to play tunes with. Only Honda could make 140bhp feel civilised - Kawasaki make 132bhp feel exciting. And when it comes to getting into a rolling, high-speed, A-road rhytmh, the ZZ-R beats the Honda because of the Blackbird's 80-100mph flat spot. Here where the Honda goes flat the Kawasaki bulges with midrange muscle. No need to change gear, just open the gas and glide away on a wave of torque.

... But the ZZ-R is starting to show its age elsewhere. ... Low speed bumps and jolt rattle teeth, and the higher speed or big cornering angles the ZZ-R feels more remote and less stable than the Blackbird. Better ground clearance though.

... Where the Honda can be flicked in and out turns, the ZZ-R barrels along, more reluctant to steer and more likely to run wide in corners.

... Speaking of stopping-power, the Kawasaki has it and then some. ... I'd like to see any fancy braking system - Dual CBS, ABS, whatever - stop me quicker than the Kawasaki did. Good brakes.

... and you're looking at what is still, despite the Blackbird's 174-whatever, the fastest, most efficient high-speed blaster.

 

Top speeds & standing quarter miles

CBR1100XX

ZZ-R1100

 

Top Speed

174.0mph

172.5mph

 

Standing quarter

10.53s @ 134.5mph

10.69s @ 132.7mph

New Posts
  • Kawasaki ZZ-R1100 August 2, 2012 Kawasaki , Reviews Floats like a butterfly stings like a bee . Before getting on board, the ZZ-R appears to be a large machine by anyone’s standards. The fairing stretches from its extended proboscis all the way down the lengthy side panels to meet with the rear wheel. The rear section of the tail fairing is equally as stretched out, matching the front ends design and balancing out the whole image. The tank is huge and makes all but the largest of riders stretch to get around it but surprisingly, once seated and in contact with all the reference points, like footrests and bars, the bike loses a lot of its size. Press the button and the smooth engine bursts into life, let the tick over settle and select first gear, you cant select any other gear when most Kawasaki’s are static thanks to the gearbox safety feature disabling this function, and we are ready for the off. Once on the move all of the mass is lost and that big machine feels to be a shadow of its former self. The engine is flexible, lacking little in the usability stakes and just seems to get stronger as the speed builds. Revolutionary for its day, the ram air effect provided by the small vent in the nose, and it is this that creates much of the power at speed with stunning acceleration available on demand. Journalists at the bikes launch back in 1990 complained of a sluggish handling when at speed but few had stopped to think of what they were actually trying to do before commenting. Any machine traveling in the upper stratospheres, a shade under 200mph, is generating some pretty serious forces particularly gyroscopic and few sports tourer machines built since 1990 have beaten the ZZ-R in the handling stakes. What should be a road going leviathan is in fact an agile and athletic machine, letting the revs carry will see the front wheel lift in the first two gears while changing direction, braking or simply just throwing the ZZ-R around yields surprising results. For such a large and lengthy machine the ride is superb. No machine this big deserves to handle so well and yet the ZZ-R carries the weight and size as if it simply doesn’t care. It is hard to say how or why it does it but clearly lots of design work and experience of making big capacity bikes do what the should hasn’t gone to waste here. The bikes predecessors are all great performers too, the GPX1000 and the ZX10 were all capable machines and this has carried through in the ZZ-R. There can be some pushing of the front end mid corner when the taps are opened up which can make keeping a tight line difficult but in the bikes defence, there is some considerable torque at work here, those horses are going to gallop so hang on and enjoy the ride. The noise that is created by the ram air intake, as it tries to keep the open mouths of the 40mm carburettors fed, starts as a hollow honk and ends sounding more like a jet engine on full afterburner taking off. What is the best aspect of this ground-breaking machine? It is hard to single out one area but the arm stretching acceleration has to be up there in the rankings, as indeed has the comfort factor. It is roomy and able to seat two in total luxury for mile after mile. With a range in excess of 200miles per tank full this is mile munching at its very best. When fully loaded the suspension is in the outer limits of its capabilities and the front end could do with stronger springs and damping. The ZZ-R can return a sporty ride or mile-munch with the best of them and, when ridden with spirit, should not be underrated in any genre of tarmac riding. There can be no better way for any bike manufacturers to enter a new decade than with a highly developed and ground-breaking machine. Kawasaki not only achieved this task with relative ease but also added a new category in the biking world line up when they effectively stuck the attributes of a sports bike and tourer together to form the tag Hyperbike. Kawasaki were no strangers to the formula, they already had a good few years practise with stunning machines like the 1000RX and ZX10 under their belt. These were both direct developments of the GPz900 of 1984 and used many lessons learned in this machine to create the near perfect large capacity sports motorcycle. Despite outwardly looking identical to the ZX10 engine in fact no parts are interchangeable between the two power plants. Kawasaki really pulled out the stops in the pursuit of ultimate power and beefed up crank pins and opened out ports and valve size to create a 12 percent increase in power from a mere 6 percent increase in capacity. The redline of the engine was increased by 500 revs to give the pistons a speed of 4000 ft a second but, thanks to the stronger crank and bottom end, no loss in reliability. When first introduced many doubted the wisdom of so much power, fearing that the public would not be up to the job of keeping it all in check. Those fears proved unfounded however and the ease of use proved to one of the chief attributes behind the designs success. Despite not being allowed to use an EXUP valve due to Yamaha patents on the design, the bods at Kawasaki got around this with a 4-1-2 exhaust system, that went some way into fooling the engine it was driving into a load at low revs and yet, still provided the capacity to shift the gas flow high up in the rev range. The result is a super smooth power delivery above 5000rpm, that barely hints at the sort of power that is on tap, that is until you look at the speedo. Much work was carried out in the aerodynamic department, once again using experience from previous work on the GP500 racer of the early 80’s as well as the later road machines, with a large bulbous frontal area enabling a high top speed and sublime handling once up there. The nose is also home to the ram air duct that forces the airflow down into the 15-litre air box tucked away under the fuel tank, before it then passes down through the 40mm carbs and straight into the engine. When Kawasaki built the ZX10 they had developed an advanced cylinder head design that used small inlet tracts and large valves to make the most of the inlet forces, they went the next logical step with the ZZ-R and backed up the pressure with the ram air inlet system the first of such designs on a production motorcycle. Also new on the ZZ-R was a compact valve lift operating system that enables the valves to be set at a steeper included angle for a straighter route into the chambers. To facilitate a large fuel capacity the engine was tilted forward 2 degrees, which also serves to load the front end further for enhanced handling In the early days of the hyper bike, few others joined in the battle for top speed supremacy. Honda had the CBR1000 but in reality that couldn’t hold a light to the big Kwak when it came to top speed or indeed handling. The Honda is deceptive however and its smooth power and soft handling makes the bulbous machine feel like it is many miles an hour slower than it actually is, nonethe less it never challenged the 175mph top speed of the ZZ-R or got within a whisker of the acceleration times either. The lack of any serious competition meant the ZZ-R remained unchanged save for a few minor updates and colour schemes changes for the next 3 years and even then the D model remained true to the original ethos. In 1996 Honda came back with a real vengeance, having taken the time to develop the fuel injected CBR1100XX Super Blackbird while 3 years later the elite two brand hyper bike gang gained another member with the emergence of the Suzuki Hayabusa. Kawasaki up dated the ZZ-R to a 1200 in 2002 and more recently stole the march yet again with the ZZ-R14. The years of evolutionary, rather than revolutionary, development has yielded a mega reliable and virtually unburstable power plant. There has been a few reported incidences of snatchey gearboxes and failures of the second gear among earlier high mileage examples but virtually un heard of since the introduction of the D model in 1993. Basically if a C model has done 12,000 miles or more and the gearbox is still intact then that’s it and there will be no further worries. There has also been some reported incidence of cam problems on the early D model, some have been found badly pitted although this is most likely attributed to a high tick over from cold and the bike being left on the side stand hence starving the far right of the engine of oil due to the lean. The real problems are not caused by the bike itself but rather the elements with brake calipers and exhausts rotting through within a couple of winters if the ZZ-R is ridden all year round. Seized calipers will, if left for any period, cause warped discs and many ZZ-R’s will be fitted with aftermarket items and owners treat caliper seals and pistons as consumable items to be changed every couple of years or so. What out for damaged left hand exhaust silencers as this is the expensive part, it is as one with the four down pipes and the collector box so check prices before committing to buy if this is the case. Few people would consider trying to contain more power than the ZZ-R produces. If kept in fine fettle the engine will throw a healthy 130plus bhp out at the rear wheel which is more than enough to keep the bike up there even against today’s machinery. Standing quarters are healthy enough to keep the ZZ-R up there alongside the Hayabusa and Blackbird particularly as the Kawasaki chassis enables a quick launch technique to be used away from a standstill when others are wheel spinning in a cloud a burnt tyre. In the interest of public opinion and political correctness, Kawasaki did limit the power output of some ZZ-R1100’s but this restriction was no more than a set of carburettor tops that limited the movement of the carb slide and with it the amount of petrol that could make its way into the engine and produce more horses. The cure is a simple one, fir the carb tops form a different machine in this case the ZXR750 that immediately liberated the full power and know one on the outside would ever know. A Dynojet kit successfully smoothes out the throttle response around the critical 4-5000 mark while a simple ignition advance can also produce significant power gains. After market exhaust rarely improve on the standard set up which is a well thought out and cleverly designed system. A controversial modification is the removal of the balance shaft, this simple yet effective job does give a boost in horsepower as well as lightening the bike by the weight of the parts taken out but at the expense of some smoothness low down in the rev range. The brakes could benefit from more feel and steel hoses are a must have if the original rubber hoses are still in place. Timeline 1986 GPX1000RX Kawasaki launch ‘The Worlds Fastest Production Bike’ with 125bhp and a top speed a shade under 165mph meant it stayed that way for some time. 1988 ZX10 Chassis number ZXT00B-000001 Kawasaki launches a successor to the 1000RX, the ZX10. More power and work on the body work showed in an even higher top speed. Most were restricted to keep politicians and the do-gooders happy. 1990 ZZ-R1100 C1 Chassis number ZX10C-000001 The ZX10 comes of age with the new ZZ-R, a total revamp of the engine and chassis see the type take on the world and come out on top. First available in Black/Blue and Red/Silver paint schemes. 1991 ZZ-R1100 C2 Chassis number ZX10C-013001 No mechanical improvements for this second model although two new paint jobs were released; ebony/grey and violet/purple now graced the big Kwak. 1992 ZZ-R1100 C3 Chassis number ZX10C-024001 Distinguishable by its all black frame and fittings but little else has changed in the first 3 years of production. Paint schemes for this model were Black or Red/Ebony. 1993 ZZ-R1100 D1 Chassis number ZX10D-000001 Several areas were updated for this new model. The rear sub frame is strengthened and larger diameter, floating discs replace the troublesome old style versions. A twin inlet ram air system now sits under the headlight, while a larger 24-litre tank and fuel gauge is added for the touring brigade. A larger volume exhaust also boost mid range performance. 1994 ZZ-R1100 D2 Chassis number ZX10D-020001 Nothing to note but a colour scheme up date, Candy wine red and Teal green being the new shades available for this model. 1995 ZZ-R1100 D3 Chassis number ZX10D-030001 A digital clock is added to the dash and two tone wine red becomes the colour to have. 1996 ZZ-R1100 D4 Chassis number ZX10D-039001 Kawasaki sits back on its laurels and change only the colour Plain red or luminous green are added to the scheme chart. 1997 ZZ-R1100 D5 Chassis number ZX10D-045001 Increase in power to keep up with the new Honda CBR1100XX 1998 ZZ-R1100 D6 Chassis number ZX10D-050001 No changes were introduced 1999 ZZ-R1100 D7 Chassis number ZX10D-058001 Factory fitted alarm and immobiliser now fitted as standard. 2001 ZZ-R1100 D9 Chassis number ZX10D-059000 The last of the 1100’s to roll off the production line. Now only available in Red/Grey the type was officially discontinued in March 2002. 2002 ZZ-R1200 C1H Chassis number ZX10D-JKAZXT20CCA000001 Just like the ZX10/ZZ-R transformation 12 years before the new 1200 gets a makeover with new body work, engine internals and chassis. Kawasaki ZZR1100 C Specifications Engine – Liquid-cooled, four-stroke, in-line four, 16v dohc Capacity – 1052cc Bore & stroke – 76 x 58mm Carburetion – 4 x 40mm Keihin CV carbs Max Power – 125bhp @ 9500rpm Torque – 75.6ftlb @ 8500rpm Ignition – Kawasaki electronic Transmission – 6-speed wet clutch chain final drive Frame – Box section aluminium double cradle Suspension – 43mm telescopic forks, adjustments for pre-load and rebound damping. Single rear shock with rising rate linkage, adjustments for pre-load and rebound damping Wheels – 120/70 x 17 front, 170/60 x 17 rear Brakes – 2 x 310mm front discs with 4-piston calipers, 250mm rear disc with 4-piston caliper Wheelbase – 1480mm Weight – 228kg Fuel capacity – 21 litres Top speed – 175mph
  • 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.
  • Power Tools Source: Performance Bikes, June 1996 (Excerpt from the original article) These are the most powerful production bikes in the history of mankind. Is all this necessary, or even desirable? Albert Gruntfuttock investigates and decides that it probably is. Yamaha YZF1000R ThunderAce : new for '96 but basically a derestricted 1000 EXUP in a YZF750 frame. All the benefits of a big motor plus the sharp handling of a short wheelbase sports chassis. Suzuki GSX-R1100WT : in its eleventh model year, the GSX-R had a change of bore and stroke in 1989, and another when it switched to liquid cooling in '93, but its engine has always been restricted. Until now. Kawasaki ZZ-R1100 : the definitive sports tourer. In its sixth model year, with a change of frame in 1993 and otherwise only detail and styling changes, the ZZ-R is, for some reason, still supplied in restricted form. Suzuki GSX-R1100WT 139 horsepower. Close the stable door please. The GSX-R line may be the longest in the tooth but, now the manufacturers have abandoned arbitrary horsepower limits, it emerges as the longest in the leg as well. They've had plenty of prectice with this motor and, while it used to come with intake restrictors and restrictive slencer cans, the WT is free of all these encumbrances and punted out just a shade under 140bhp. There's nothing peaky about it, either. It has more midrange and more bottom end than the Yamaha or the Kawasaki, with a torque curve that dominates like a mountain range looming above the foothills. Torque is what you feel on the road. Once you're in top gear, you don't really need to change again until it's time to stop. There's immediate response and ample urge for most needs, whether it's overtaking in confined spaces or impressing your friend on a mere 114 horsepower FireBlade. If you want pure grunt, this is the place to come. You can't help feeling it's the end of a line, possibly the end af an era. Kev summed it up: the GSX-R has much improved over the last few years but it's now as good as it's going to get, without a complete redesign. It's very aged, both to look at and to ride (in comparison with new sports bikes and the Thunderace in particular). It has a good riding position, comfortable for long journeys, ergonomic for twisty lanes and traffic so it all blends well with the effortless engine. The result is a complete, allround, competent package. Gus: I can see why people like this bike. It's a bit oldfashioned looking, and the clocks etc are very basic. The engine is a monster yet it's so easy to use. Open this thing up on a fast, bendy road and, bugger me, anything else will struggle to pass you. It's still a big bike, though and compared to the current generation of sports 750s it doesn't have the precise, instant handling response, it often feels a bit edgy and the brakes seem to take time to work up full power (especially with a hairpin bend hurtling towrds you). It's the price big bikes have to pay: lighter machines have double benefit, less mass to haul around and better tyres to do it on. Put stickier tyres on any of these monsters and you'll be lucky it they last the week out. It's a compromise between having the blind faith to be able to stuff it into turns regardless and having the free use of all that power. On most days and most journeys, I suspect the power will win, especially when it comes with day-long comfort and a 200-mile tank range. Yamaha YZF1000F 131 horsepower. YZF with an EXUP motor, now there's a good idea. The new bike here is a highly logical progression - putting the acclaimed EXUP motor into the acclaimed YZF frame and getting a brand new model for practically nothing. Well, not exactly nothing. The bits that weren't acclaimed on either EXUP or the YZF were the brakes and the YZF1000 has some brand new, one-piece four pots which do indeed work very well. And there's the new bodywork, which Yamaha claims is 5% more slippery than the EXUP's, although our speed tests don't show it to be significantly faster than other, derestricted EXUPs. The motor is, of course, minus the intake webs that kept the earlier bikes down below 120bhp and now gives a healthy 131 horses - enough grunt to keep up with the 1100s, while the bike is light enough and handles and brakes well enough to compete with the agile, sports 750s. In between the two, it also competes with the FireBlade... with a 15bhp advantage. And Yamaha have reverted to right-way-up forks, to make the competition fair? Or judging by the big, 48mm stanchions, not that fair. It's the lightest bike here, and if you want to use most of the performance most of the time, it's the best bike here. At the end of the day, the performance envelope stretches further than the others. Right down to the bottom line, in fact.And its advantages come from its weight, stiffness and steering geometry, plus the suspension's ability to keep on top of it all. In a straight line it is outdragged by the Suzuki. It is outperformed at the top end by Kawasaki's aerodynamics, where the ZZ-R managed the same speed on less horsepower. Everywhere else, the YZF was best. The FireBlade has got some serious competition. Gus even thought it was easier to use than the Thundercat: ... it's not wild or vicious and it feels a lot more in control than the Thundercat... lighter, less clumsy and the power is just a pleasure to use. Entering a tight turn was just so easy - I've ridden 600s that are harder to manage than this. The seating position is perfect too, you feel as though you're in the middle of the bike and can feel exactly what both wheels are doing. If any of these bikes could get away with sportier tyres, it would be the Yamaha. It's still 30lb heavier than the FireBlade and it would give its tyres a harder time, but it would be interesting to try some Hi-Sports. Smithy was as complimentary as Gus, and thought the OE Bridgestone BT50s were OK anyway: (they're) ample in the dry and surprisingly good in the wet. It was trying to wheelie when I wanted to spin the wheel out of corners. The suspension took all the bumps... it's a bit hard at low speed but spot on as the speed gets higher. It's stable and well-mannered, very comfortable for the rider but the pillion footrests are unnecessarily high. Good strong brakes, unlike the older YZF. Whithout a doubt it's the best heavyweight sport bike - better than a Blade, or your money back. Kawasaki ZZ-R 1100 120 horsepower, but this is only the RESTRICTED version. For a long time this was the definitive big bike. (Ever since it appeared in 1990, to be exact). Quite obviously not a sports bike, the ZZ-R was frequently faster than race reps, able to hold its own on country lanes and still came with the practicalities of a centre stand, civilised dual seat, 200-mile tank range and, err, a clock. Restricted to around 120bhp by carb tops that stop the slides lifting fully, the ZZ-R was nevertheless fairly useful. With fully lifting slides another 12 to 15 horsepower would appear, making the Kawasaki even more useful. It's strange that now they don't need to restrict the engine, bikes still appear with the old carb tops. There's probably a big box full of them at the factory and they're waiting until they've all been used up. One of the first (and one of the few) bikes to have serious aerodynamic development, the 1100 is slippery in body shape and efficient in air intakes. In short, it goes faster than other bikes with the same power. Or at the same speed, it goes further on a litre of fuel. Gus: It's a big, bulbous, soggy thing with an aeroplane engine and no wings. If you could send it up through the gears with your eyes closed, you'd find it hard to believe you were still on the ground. It's true. It's so smooth, the gearbox is smooth, you can go up and down without touching the clutch. It isn't fair to compare it to the others because it's built for a different purpose... it doesn't handle that badly it it's treated with a bit more respect. Right. It isn't a racer. Compared to pure sports bikes it's a lot heavier, its geometry is slower and more stable, its frame isn't as stiff and, with the enormous power, its handicapped by tyres that are not in the first division of stickiness.Keep all this in mind and the ZZ-R is safe and rewarding to ride. Remove brain for an instant and a big fist on the end of a spring will fly out of the tank. Or, from Kevin's point of view: The rest of the bike doesn't match the outstanding engine. The excess pounds push the front wheel on, instead of into the tarmac. This puts the rider in serious danger of locking the front wheel under heavy braking. It's time Kawasaki made a sports bike with the same motor. Trouble is, Kev couldn't see properly round the boxing glove. It's in its sixth model year, with very few revisions and there isn't much you'd want to do to change it - short of putting the motor into a smaller, stiffer chassis. The old chassis has just about reached its limit of performance but on motorways and main roads it's working wel within its limits. So it still makes an excellent tool for covering big distances fast. With the on-board clock, you even know how fast. So all it needs next is the heated handlebars. Tester's verdict Suzuki GSX-R 1100 WT Kawasaki ZX 1100 D4 Yamaha YZF 1000 R Good points Bulletproof power Fast and practical Combined grunt and handling Bad points Long teeth Still restricted Er, pillion footrests Performance The straighter the line, the better it gets Still restricted Doesn't care whether it's straight or twisty Economy Decent tank range, at least Better mpg, bigger tank Smallest tank size Ride comfort Very good Excellent Good Braking OK Brakes are OK, weight and tyres not so OK Big improvement over EXUP and YZF 750 Handling Can feel a touch nervous Very good, considering Good as a Blade Value Pricey Pricier Cheaper than a Blade... Conclusions These are three different bikes; almost different philosophies. Therefore they are all good at something and the overall best depends mostly on what you want from the bike. For all-round performance, the Yamaha wins. It is all intents a FireBlade with 15 percent more power. By comparison, the GSX-R is a bit heavier and dated, in both styling and suspension. It's close to the end of its development line, which also means it's a well-proven, bullet-proof lump with stomping power delivery which should be rounded off with a tempting price. Unfortunately it's about the same as a FireBlade and significantly more than the Thunderace. The Kawasaki is in a different field. It has the speed and it has the time-proven reliability, but combines it with everyday practicalities and a bit too much porkiness for continuous back-lane scratching. What loses out on a Sunday afternoon, makes more sense if you want to do big distances Monday to Friday. Like the Suzuki, it's near the end of the model line, so if you can tolerate not being on the leading edge of fashion and development, you can look forward to more performance per pound weight, if not per pound spent.

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