I am lucky in that I was started riding in the 70's and was there at the time of the transition from Brit bikes to Japanese machinery.
My Father also rode many motorcycles and my earliest memory was being sat on the petrol tank of a Triumph Twin whilst my Father negotiated a series of bends on a lovely summers day in about 1964
That got me hooked. My Father used to talk endlessly about his favorite bike. That was the the Ariel Square for and that was what may have been my start of my love for multi cylinder engines
My first bike however was a little less grand. At 12 I used to go and live with a French family every summer and, of course, they gave me my own transport. The wonderful (well at 12 it was) Solex. We used to set out on 30km rides on these. One time the fuel hose came off and showered the exhaust with petrol turning me into a rolling ball of flame. As was normal, put it out and carried on.
I latter progressed to a Mobylette. Getting Faster!
During that time I got to travel a great deal on "Real Motorbikes" As the "Pet" English kid, all of the guys wanted me to ride with them and I must admit I will never forget riding many times on the back of Honda 125's, a Suzuki 350, Honda 750 Four and an MV Agusta 750. Indeed the Suzuki was the first real bike I fell off when the rider accelerated hard when I was not expecting it and i flipped over the back.
It was during one of these stays in France that I came across a bike that would have a hugh impact on me for a multitude of reasons. I was at the beach one evening and there was as usual there was a big group of bikers by a seafront Cafe. The were many Honda 750 Fours, which for a couple of years was the bike to have. Then there was an different sound as a bike approached. Into the biking area cam a lucky chap on a Z1. In no time he was surrounded bu admiring bikers and being France, a fair few women! I had never seen a more beautiful and incredible machine.
That was when I decided I would ride Kawasaki's but it would be quiet a few years before I realised that ambition.
My first bike in the UK, apart from a Honda 50 my father converted to a Grass Tracker for me, was a KTM Rocket Grand Prix. The law had changed and 16 year olds were restricted to 50cc. That might sound bad but we had great fun on our runs to Weston Super Mare from Bristol. Racing each other, laying flat on the tanks to get every available MPH. IN hindsight, it was for the best because those were the days of drink driving, bad tyres and very poor road surfaces. I had so many accidents I really cant remember but it was to set me up for the future.
Next came a Suzuki GT250. Good but I ran her out of 2 Stroke oil and had to get another. Not as fast as the Yamaha RD 250 but much quicker than the CB250. I liked the Kawasaki 250 Triple but could not afford one and there were no second hand one on offer.
From there I jumped straight up to a 750. Again I was bying second hand so my choice was limited to what was available so I ended up with a Suzuki GT750. It was again a good bike but the magazines that claimed 120mph were a tad optimistic. it was more like 110 laying flat on the tank. Fuel consumption was terrible but it looked the dogs bollocks, sounded great and apart from the center piston, reliable. I had 2 of these bike. The second one was after I wrecked one when crashing at high speed after drinking and riding. I could have easily died and that was the last time I ever rode or drove having had a drink. That was 1977. I was lucky
My friends were riding a wide range of bikes ranging from T120 Triumphs, Honda Fours of varying sizes and one or two Kawasaki. Great days. We all rode all year, everyday in all weathers. We lived bikes. We also like the devil may care reputation bikers had in those days as the accident levels in the 70's,80's and early 90's was so high. We did not care! We were riders!
The next bike I purchased was the first new one and to this day it has the most amazing engine I have ever had the pleasure of riding. Th incomparable Honda CBX1000.
There is nothing like the sound of a 6 cylinder on cam. Compared to the Kawasaki 6 it was miles ahead. I lived in Germany when I had this bike. I commuted between Germany and the UK constantly, in all weathers, all year round as well as riding all over Europe. I covered a a great deal of miles on this bike and never once did it suffer a problem. No issue at all. If you look at the performance figures for this bike it shames all the so called retro bikes of the last few years. Of course it had fork the width of matchsticks, the frame flexed when cornering hard but I loved it.
By this time my friends were riding a wide range of bikes. From the great GS1000E to the formidable and unforgettable Laverda Jota.
Due to a change in circumstances I had to downsize for my next bike but in fact it was faster than my previous one and it was the start of my long desired Kawasaki relationship. It was a Kawasaki GPX 750. It seemed so small but was a genuine 150mph motorcycle that handled much better than the bikes I had had before. I got one because in a 5 bike test it was called the crazy bike because of its performance and in particular the was it delivered. I loved it. Again a bike that never broke down, ridden in all weathers and used everyday to ride from Yeovil to Weymouth in all weathers. It did have noisy cam followers (a common issue) but that was remedied.
I was back to the heavyweights again after the GPX. The Kawasaki ZX10. It was a beast and the engine was sweet apart from an annoying flat spot at 4500 rpm. The size and weight was not an issue for me having rode so many bikes with weighing more than 500 pounds. Just normal!.
Like several bikes I have owned the ZX10 was, for a while, the fastest production bike so it was obvious that my next bike would be a D model ZZR1100. I used the bike as a commuter during the week and went of all over the country and Europe during the weekends, in all weathers. It never let me down and I did 1400 km Journeys in one sitting no problem for the bike (just my brain) No matter how far I rode it, after a few hours rest I just wanted to ride it again (although, to be honest I am like that with all bikes)
I put 60k miles on the bike in just a couple of years.
So now it is up to the present, here I have had the ZX6R and the ZZR that is the subject of this blog and website.
Will I ever sell it, I doubt it although I am thinking of getting a ZX14 for everyday use.
Apart from all the bikes listed I have borrowed and ridden just about everything that has been on ther road since the late 70's with the exception of Italian bikes and Harley's. Harley I rode once and I am still recovering. Italian bikes do nothing for me. I dislike the sound, riding experience, reliability and the quality. Still, each to their own.