Kawasaki ZX 12R (2000-2006): Wanted: Rider for ultra fast (faster than 200 Km/h) rides.The motorcycle under test was a 2004 model, it had clocked 70000 Km. The following improvements were performed: K&N air filter, a full Acrapovic exhaust system, an MRA screen, front and rear suspension was serviced recently copying factoryĘs standards, at a specified workshop.
Also steel braking lines front and rear, Gilles rider footpegs adjusted towards the rear and many plastic parts changed to carbon ones.
Engine: The 1199 c.c. engine will require more than 4000 rpm to provide serious thrust, according to the selected speed at the gearbox. However due to the large displacement of the engine, together with the high torque provided, the lowest area of the powerband, up to 4000 rpm is adequate for town use, even if the engine sounds operating through sheer boredom.
The six-gear selection lever is stiff, selecting neutral means that rider has to practically stop the bike first.
Keeping the revs higher than 4000 rpm, produces serious thrust, that results to a nimble pace. Power output is linear, the power produced is directly proportional to engine rpms. The thrust provided on tap is superb, without any hiccups, everything depends on the ridersĘ right hand. Indicatively third gear may be selected from 50 Km/h , up to 200+ Km/h, a really easy speed for this bike.
At the highest range of the powerband, power is excessive for every possible use. Rider feels like being catapulted to the front, every time that he grabs a handful of the throttle at that range. Rev limiter intervenes at 12000 rpm. There are only a few bikes that can provide this sort of acceleration above 200 Km/h. As increasing speed results to a science fiction sensation, recalibrating of the riderĘs brain is needed. The internal clock of the rider has to count even hundreds of a second every time rider becomes generous with the power on tap. Top speed at 300 Km/h.
Actually there are no maps , traction control or any gimmicks to assist the rider to manage the thrust provided. Modern bikes providing this class of power, which are equipped with electronic control systems provide great confidence to the rider, especially on low friction conditions. Fuel consumption is increased.
Riding position: The seat height is relatively increased. The seat width is increased at the whole front section. The result of these two is that only riders higher than average will step a firm foot on the ground. However there will be a lot of space for the rider.
Rider is placed in and mainly, over the bike, riding position is slightly inclined to the front, which is ideal for fast highway cruising. On everyday town rides, riderĘs wrists get some of the weight, compared to a more neutral riding position. This inclined riding position is mainly due to the aftermarket riderĘs footpegs and their adjustment by the owner of the bike.
The weight of the bike feels average for the category standards, that means that there is a lighter feeling than the expected. Centre of gravity feels low.
The dimensions of the bike are slightly smaller than average, for the category standards. The width is marginally increased at the front of the fairing, which is not a problem.
On the road: The serviced suspension stiffness is the same with the standard one, same settings also. Without any second thoughts they are considered really firm, almost concrete ones. This bike was bought from new by the owner. From the very first ride there was a question if the suspension could operate at a useful range on every day rides or commuting. From the other hand there was a certainty that handling should be excellent at the fast pace.
On urban rides steering lock is great, which is an advantage for the use that the bike is meant to serve. Close to the end of the steering lock motion, the handle bar tends to feel heavy. It feels like tempting to lock to the end, rider will get used to this after some hours on the bike. During the filtering procedure the handle bar height is lower than the car mirrors height. The height of the bike mirrors is just higher than car mirrors, about the same with SUV mirrors.
On urban rides the ZX is neutral, there is no issue for the rider. The dimensions of the bike are just greater than a superbikeĘs, there will not be any problem with that either.
The engine gets hot in warm southern countries, however engine temperature will not be as high as one would expect from a 1200 c.c. bike. The heat will reach to the rider legs biceps, without being bothering though. Generally, engine temperature will not be a great problem in urban rides.
Due to the firm suspension and frame, street imperfections find their way to the rider.
On low friction B-roads, rider will feel free for a leisure ride or charge. Steering geometry is neutral and sporty at the same time. Its obvious that on slow pace, the suspension is not compressed enough to provide sufficient feedback. On the contrary, road imperfections will be felt.
At a faster pace, the great torque produced at the lower-mid range of the powerband will be most helpful to the rider. As the pace is increased, suspension operation is improved, the same applies with the feedback provided to the rider. Due to the low friction its hard to take advantage of the engine power in order to get decent acceleration.
If the rear tyre is worn or the road friction factor is low, the rear tyre will be skidding purposefully even at 3500-4000 rpm at the exit of the curves. Even on high speed riding, the ZX will joyfully oversteer at the exit, still providing decent confidence to the rider, because of the neutral-sporty steering geometry. On conditions like this, only a heavy and experienced rider, will get the suspension compressed adequately.
The rear suspension provides slightly better feedback than the front. Front suspension will not be adequately compressed even under braking. At the fast pace the ZX is an unexpectedly fast bike providing confidence, especially if the tyres fitted are decent.
On high friction B roads featuring no imperfections, the firm suspension feels better. The feeling of the bike is stiff, everything seems under control. The suspension combined with the neutral-sporty steering geometry, will be very tempting for the rider. Despite any plans for leisure riding, the feeling that a considerable percentage of the power produced can find its way to the road, will be a temptation.
There will be needed only 5000 rpm for nimble tight rides. Front suspension will not be sufficiently compressed to provide adequate feedback. Agility is really good, it will be only in really tight roads that there will be an issue. Consequently only at the fast pace the suspension will function properly. Feedback to the rider will be relatively good, only in rare circumstances it will be better than that. Confidence to the rider is great though, due to the stiff bike.
The faster the pace, the better the performance of the bike, this is what the rider gets. Weight distribution is biased, towards the front. Due to the sporty steering geometry, rider could maintain high speed turn in. The other way is to brake hard into the bend, turn the bike and apply the throttle as soon as possible. This steering geometry makes it possible for both ways to work, depending on the rider and the curve. Naturally the great engine power is sufficient to get things going again after a mistake in riding, in case of a track day.
The engine powerband up to 7000 rpm is adequate for a nimble pace. There will not be any need to pull the bike down, trying to continuously change direction. On tight curves some understeering may be noticed. The foot pegs of the bike were set to the rear, thus the weight of the rider could not be applied correctly.
On the highway the bike is really stable, no matter the speed. However, the faster the ride, the better it feels.
Although there are no increments at the performance, up to 100 Km/h the ZX is yawning, up to 200 Km/h the bike claws will be aggressively presented. Above that speed, the ZX becomes one of the toughest bikes that man may buy, ride and feel.
The riding precision, the direct response and feedback to the rider are superb. Its this road environment and pace that all parts of the bike are harmonically matched together, to produce an ideal result. Distances are diminished, rider feels something between real life riding and an adventurous Play Station game.
Air protection is excellent.
The two disc brakes with radial calipers at the front, provide immense stopping power, decent feedback as well. On low speed riding or low friction roads, there will be not any problem to lock the front wheel under braking.
The rear disc brake provides average braking power and decent feedback. The role of the rear is basically supplementary to the powerful front brakes.
Comments: This bike is used by the owner, solely for fast highway rides.
The rear tyre gets worn in zero time. This is the only reason that its hard to use it as a track bike, few tweeks provided.
Lights are powerful, as two bulbs are constantly lit. The mirrors of the bike demonstrate the detailed design.
The brutal power of the bike together with the stiff suspension and frame as well as the small rake/trail, result in a tank slapping sometimes under heavy acceleration over bumpy tarmac. A steering damper is necessary then.
This bike is an example of the former Kawasaki tendecy, manufacturing absolute performing bikes.
+Ultra fast highway rides
+Provided some minor modifications, itĘs a bike that will serve for various fields of use.
-As it is expected, fuel consumption
-Owner needs a haircut
A ZX12R monococque frame