Although I have ridden many of the modern sports bike, and they are impressive machines, I find them a little, how can I say this, soulless! Are they faster on a race track than a well sorted ZZR, they can be but most riders cant use the full potential anyway. On the road, in real life they are not faster. Why do I say this, I have only ever been left behind by another bike once when riding the ZZR. That bike was the original Busa on the A30 in Cornwall. A truly great biking road. The Busa had a good rider on it and I found that up to 150mph, there was not much in it, it just depended who accelerated first. Once at that speed the Busa just kept pulling away. Here in the Philippines, I have ridden with, R1's, ZZR14's, GSXR's, a whole bunch of Ducati's and ZX10's and never has the ZZR1100 been anywhere but at the front with them trying to keep up. Am I a great rider, no, but I do know what my bike is capable of and how hard I can push it.
This knowledge was gained doing many miles in 40+ degrees temps and also at minus 10 degrees traveling across Europe in January.It is always funny to see their faces when we stop as there is little knowledge of the ZZR here and they are shocked at how quick it is.
In all the situations the ZZR just keeps going. It is comfortable, keeps most of the wind off you, handles well (if you carry out the suspension mods) has more power than you can reasonably use, always lets you know what it is doing and gives fair notice before letting go (as long as you use you right hand at the right time)
Then their are the looks, to me it looks the way a bad ass motorcycle should look! It is big and imposing. It says "Look out, I am coming through" I am not a great fan of electronics, slipper clutch's, ABS, Traction Control or any of it. I understand why the brands had to introduce these things. The big bike riding numbers were declining, the increasingly risk averse public were steering away from bikes and they needed to do something that appealed to a wider group of potential riders. Riders of my generation, who find the inability of so many riders to blip the throttle when changing down just one of many things that drive us crazy.( I recently came up on a 1000cc kawasaki where the rider pulled in the clutch and braked to a stop and THEN changed down the gearbox!!) We, the people brought up on bikes, were decreasing in number and the born agains were causing bad press by getting themselves killed.
Many riders of my generation, who survived the carnage of the 70's, 80's, and 90's accepted the risk. It was what seperated us from the Ford Escort driving bunch. Everytime we put on that helmet, we were going to war and the only thing that would keep us safe was ourselves. We liked that and I still do. Riding a big 90's bike requires total focus, no thinking about anything other than what is happening beneath you. No playing with settings, no looking at handlebar mounted mobiles, no listening to music with headsets or even worse, having a conversation with a passenger!! What the hell is that about!
For me the ZZR is the very best of motorcycle as a whole package. There were other great bikes from that era. The GSXR1100, Thunder Ace and FZR1000 to name a few. Those were the days