May 30, 2018

ZZR Reviews

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Edited: May 30, 2018

Road Tests from the 90's

 

 

1993 Kawasaki Turbo ZX-11as printed in Cycle Canada, July 1995

 

"Hit me with your boost shot."

Is there such a thing as too much horsepower? The answer is yes!, but that doesn't mean some people won't go ahead and turbocharge a Kawasaki ZX-11 anyway!!!

Frightening, isn't it, how a solitary man working in his garage can assemble an explosive device of awesome power, using nothing but off-the-shelf ingredients. And we don't mean a bomb.

Consider Greg Mace: A former drag racer who gets antsy during the long, cold winter months. In his heated garage, he began work on a winter project destined to "dominate the streets."

When the garage door popped open this past spring the device that rolled out looked fully capable of launching a terror campaign -- but terrifying mostly for the person turning the throttle.

The basic components Greg used to construct his project were a 1993 Kawasaki ZX-11 and a Mr. Turbo computerized fuel-injected turbo kit, thought this was just the starting point for a bike that would consume $35,000. Greg's payoff was horsepower, in vast quantities. In the bike's first session on a dyno, running at a modest level of turbo boost the ZX-11 produced 290 horse power at the rear wheel. With more boost and higher fuel pressure, Greg figures 350 horse power is within reach.

 

 

Hard to believe? A similar ZX-11 with nitrous-oxide injection owned by drag racer Terry Kizer of Mr Turbo won the AMMI horsepower shoot-out at Daytona Beach with a howling 459 horse power at the rear wheel. Of course, that kind of power is more like a lab experiment or a nuclear test blast. There's no conceivable way of using it in a stock-chassis ZX-11 -- absolutely none at all.

Arguably, you could say the same thing about the nearly 300 horse power of Greg's ZX-11, and he is the first to admit riding the bike with that much power is, as he puts it, "unreal."

"I used to run a drag bike that would do the quarter mile in 8 seconds flat at 165 mph. This bike is 100 horse power more at the rear wheel.

"This is unpredictable, volatile horsepower. It's really hard to explain what it's like. You're on the edge of the envelope all the time. It's either going to spin the tire or wheelie. You can be at 140 mph and the tire is skipping along the ground.

"It's pretty well impossible to open the throttle unless you're in fourth or fifth gear. It pulls in fourth and fifth gears like the stock bike pulls in first or second."

 

 

Greg has been a regular caller to the Mr. Turbo offices. "Terry Kizer's secretary has told me that when he comes back from riding his bike on the highways in Texas his eyes are like saucers. This is a guy who's run 6 second quarter miles at 220 mph.

Kizer agreed that they had long reached the point where: "you can make more power than you can use.... It's just about impossible to ride." Talking about a ZX-11 with more than 350 horse power, Kizer said, "It accelerates so hard and so fast. It wants to wheelie in sixth gear. You have to be so careful. I mean, one little ripple or bump in the road, and you're history."

Although there's nothing particularly new about the turbocharging concept, what has changed is the sophistication and reliability of modern turbo packages. Greg is a veteran of "the stone age of turbocharging, the '70s. I had a Kawasaki Z-1R Turbo which I blew to smithereens. This kit's incredible compared to what we had in those days."

Greg spent $8000 acquiring the Mr. Turbo kit and did the installation himself over the winter.

"The kit is very well made and fits very nicely, but it's still not for your average home mechanic."

 

The fuel injection is a modified Bosch automotive system, which allows relatively easy adjustments via the electronic module located in the tail section. Removal of the stock airbox and carburetors provides plenty of room beneath the gas tank for the turbo plumbing and fuel injection.

The turbo unit itself is a Garrett F40, adapted for the ZX-11 by Mr. Turbo. Space for it was created by removing the rad fan and repositioning the oil cooler and radiator forward slightly. A spacer moves out the fairing on the right side of the bike and a cut-out was necessary for the exhaust, but otherwise the fairing and its mounts are stock, providing a deceptively innocent profile.

Orient Express turbo pistons reduce compression to less than 10:1,which is still fairly high. But to prevent detonation, the bike must run on VP16 racing fuel, which costs Greg $70 to fill the tank for an afternoon's amusement. There's virtually no turbo lag and boost builds quickly from 5000 rpm.

Considering the engine's current output, it's remarkably close to stock. Heavier valve springs were installed, but Greg was assured by Kizer of Mr. Turbo that the stock connecting rods were sufficiently strong, despite his willingness to pay for Carrillo rods.

Mr. Turbo did supply a modified oil pan and a bypass arrangement that directs more oil to the crankshaft main bearings. Kizer says he's yet to see a ZX-11 with rod failure that wasn't the result of an oiling problem, but he still recommends Carrillo rods for bikes making more than 300 horse power.

The transmission uses an electrically activated air-shifter with an on-board compressor and tank. Greg shifts the bike conventionally at low speeds, but with the engine running on boost, gear changes become more difficult, and the consequences of a missed shift are potentially disastrous. The horn button now signals upshifts when necessary. Greg has also fitted an Orient Express lock-up clutch to prevent slipping, since the engine has the potential to spin the clutch free in fourth gear under full throttle.

Although Greg has insisted on preserving the ZX-11's stock wheelbase, he hasn't ignored the need for upgrading the chassis to deal with the bike's speed capability. After consulting with Noleen Racing in California, who Greg says seemed shocked when he told them what he was doing to his ZX-11, he sent off his fork to be revalved for firmer springing and damping. Noleen also supplied a remote-reservoir Ohlins shock and advised that the rear ride height be lowered to rake out the front end more for greater stability. Greg was ecstatic with the result, claiming the compliance and control are both greatly improved.

Greg replaced the 5.5-inch stock rear wheel with a 6.5-inch Performance Machine racing wheel and eliminated the cush drive. A $250 investment in a Regina heavy-duty racing chain paid off with a quieter, smoother transmission of power, claims Greg, who also raised gearing with a Coyote 42 tooth sprocket machined from aluminum billet. The front wheel was replaced by a Performance Machine wheel, but one designed for street use. Greg wasn't interested in losing weight there or sacrificing any strength during wheelie landings. Performance Machine also supplied the four-piston calipers and 13-inch front discs designed to haul the ZX-11 down from absurd speeds.

Overall weight of the bike has been reduced by about 70-lbs thanks to the lighter turbo exhaust system, which has a carbon-fiber muffler, the Performance Machine wheels, and a carbon-fiber dash, which houses a turbo boost gauge and a pressure gauge for the air-shifter bottle.

Soon after completing the bike, Greg took it to a Dynojet dynamometer.

"They'd just had a Harley on there that made 75 horse power," says Greg, "And they thought that was pretty good. Then this bike idles up like a pussycat. The guys around the dyno had their jaws drop to the floor.

"The noise was incredible. There's this horrendous, sucking vacuum sound through the intakes. The dyno was brand new and I think they were afraid I'd break it."

That initial session netted 290 horse power, with just 14 psi of turbo boost. "I plan to crank up the boost to 20 pounds just to see what happens," says Greg, who can crank up the boost by turning a screw on the turbo wastegate, "but at the moment I'm just trying to deal with 14 pounds on the road."

Kizer says Greg will have no difficulty making 350 horse power. Beyond that point he recommends using stronger studs in the cases and cylinders. His bike that won the power shoot-out at Daytona also used a larger turbo and an intercooler, which Kizer says were responsible for most of the power difference. The charge of nitrous oxide was a relatively small contributor reaching the 459 horse power mark. "We took that engine apart when we got it home," says Kizer, "and everything looked fine."

Is there such a thing as too much power? Obviously, the answer is yes. At a certain point, the pursuit of horsepower ceases to have much to do with motorcycling and becomes more like a backyard Manhattan project.

"Its something you create in your garage, put together yourself, and it makes a statement," says Greg, who plans to use the bike in promotional materials. But his ZX-11 is more than just an image-builder. "My wife gives me lectures every time I go to leave the driveway."

"I do treat it with respect."

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
  • 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
  • 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.

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