I have now done 1300km on the ZX14. That is a combination of city riding and open road. I now feel I have a good understanding of the beast. The performance is limitless, if you think of a speed the bike just does it. The power is such that the rate at which the revs increase never seems to slow. The brakes are outstanding, the handling is great, and it does everything that it is supposed to do only better than you expect. So why do I get off the bike unmoved? Why do I keep wanting to ride the ZZR1100? I have resisted riding the ZZR much, wanting to become familiar with the ZX, but!!
Ok, firstly the ZX14 is better in every department. 20 years of development has ensured that. But, make no mistake, the ZZR is a very fast motorcycle and never gets left behind, straight road or bendy road, in fact it normally arrives first. The ZZR sounds tremendous, particularly compared to the characterless sound of the ZX14, really, the only sound you get on the ZX14 is a whine. No glorious induction sound, no subtle roar from the exhaust pipe.
I am torn on the looks of the ZX14, in one way it looks very aggressive but also a little ugly whereas the ZZR is stunning (However, I appreciate that is just my opinion). It is not just me that thinks so. Big bikes always attract attention here owing to their rarity, the attention you get is similar to the situation if you were driving a Ferrari in the west. But here is the thing, the ZZR creates more interest. Not because it is an old bike in fantastic condition because the average person here thinks the ZZR is a new bike. The looks just create more interest. Surprising.
When you get off the ZZR you feel as if you have ridden something substantial, which I dont get with the ZX.
I do not like the instrument display on the ZX, difficult to read the information on the screen in the bright sunlight which is an everyday scenario here. I have ordered a double bubble black screen which should also address the poor wind protection of the standard screen. Also, the speedo and rev counter are ok but compared to the great instrumentation on the ZZR it is found wanting. Who the hell wants to know average fuel consumption, range, air temp etc?
Power modes! Why, if you buy a ZX14R, why would you ever use low power mode? If the weather is bad or the roads slippery just turn up the traction control!
Which leads me to the traction control system. Good it is, BUT, it does sanitize the bike. With the ZZR, if you make a mistake with the throttle there are no electronics to get you out of trouble. Riding it quickly is a total concentration exercise that leaves you totally exhausted but also so, so, satisfied. With the ZX I am on the lowest traction setting and even that takes away that "edge". I am now toying with switching it off all together. That will really focus my attention.
I am thinking about getting some decent end cans to improve the riding experience. I am not after particularly loud ones, just ones that allow me to get more feeling and sensations on what the engine is doing.
I really want to love the ZX14, it is an amazing machine. I have to find a way to make it more of an emotional experience,
if you understand my meaning.