Sporty – Test of the new Kawasaki ZZR1400: at 300 km-h, and fast! – On the track, presto!

Test of the new Kawasaki ZZR1400: at 300 km / h, and fast !

Sporty - Test of the new Kawasaki ZZR1400: at 300 km-h, and fast! - On the track, presto!

To present its new ZZR1400, Kawasaki has chosen the Nardò test center and its ring, a rare circuit in the world where two and four-wheel sports cars can be pushed to their limits. The watchword for the first test of this novelty 2012: gas !

On track, illico presto !

The transfer between the conference hall building and the "road" type test circuit only takes a few hundred meters, but again it is possible to detect the first characteristics of the ZZR1400 from 2012.

The grip is obvious, in the true sense of the term since the two levers are adjustable and actually adapt to small mimines as to large paws. Once the crutch is raised – we note in passing that it is very easy to deploy – the pilot has no trouble moving the 268 kg (all full) of the motorcycle as they seem placed low.

The final drive of the ZZR was shortened (one more tooth on the crown), but at the same time the first gear of the box was slightly lengthened. So that starting always requires a slight slip of the clutch, fortunately progressive.

From the first turns of the wheel, we appreciate the great neutrality of its front axle which, unlike others – who said "Z1000SX"? -, no longer engage at all. The geometry of the chassis being preserved (only the wheelbase increases by 10 mm), the new tire fitment must be complimented. !

Faithful to Bridgestone, Kawasaki’s sporty roadster swaps its BT-014 for brand new S20s specifically developed for it. In addition, the ZZR1400 is adorned with new, lighter 360 g rims at the front and 1030 g at the rear..

Its new wheels therefore allow the Kawa to benefit from good agility – for a big road – without being too "drooping" at low speed. This last remark is confirmed at higher speed in the two chicanes installed in full straight line of our small circuit..

Less surprising, the flexibility of the large 4-cylinder is very useful to discover the layout. Kawasaki has chosen the short version of the test track which offers in this configuration successions of regular curves, more or less open.

The gearbox is therefore quickly forgotten: everything can be negotiated on the third report, on which we take advantage of the enormous torque available: between 93 Nm from 2000 rpm up to 162.5 at 7500 rpm . We do not pass the 4th gear – without even disengaging – only at the exit of the second chicane to approach the short stretch..

As a good self-respecting driver, the ZZR1400 carefully hides its game. And we understand better why, shortly before letting us take to the track, the brand’s managers hammered: "beware, this is not a race but a run which should help you determine the road capabilities of the new ZZR1400! You will notice in passing that the on-board computer does not have a stopwatch.".

But is it – entirely – our fault that the ZZR 1400 speeds up to 200 km / h so quickly? At first, it is the discreet sound of the huge pots that confuses the biker. Wedged behind the screen, handle screwed in the corner, the pilot aims far ahead … and finds himself there in a flash !

Without screams, without clashes, the ZZR1400 has thrown itself at the end of the straight line and waits for the pilot to grip the right lever before gradually registering it in the far left. The braking remains powerful and progressive, the ABS intervenes gently when necessary, and the fork dives less than on the old model.

"Both the front and rear, the spring setting is harder on the 2012 and the hydraulics have been closed in order to give the bike a more sporty handling. Your models are even a little more "firm" because we know that you are going to want to attack", explains to MNC, almost resigned, a Kawasaki mechanic !

And how not to attack with such a tool … Certainly, a ZX-6R would have been more comfortable on this route not much longer than Carole, but more fluid and more pleasant! Nevertheless, the relatively docile and considerate character of the "fourteen-cent" encourages constantly increasing the pace. !

Lap after lap, the angles are more and more incisive, those of the brakes later, the exits of turns more and more hairy and the rockers from one angle to the other more and more sharp. A tough job as a motorcycle tester…

Very Big Ninja

Fortunately, the fruits of this hard work are not slow to be reaped. MNC notices in particular that the ground clearance turns out to be limited for use on track, because the footrests scrape happily in the average curves while the front brake loses a bit of its consistency – but not of its power..

Manhandled on the circuit, the big Ninja – which is also called ZX-14R in the United States – shows its limits, especially on hard braking or the rear waddles abundantly. Likewise, the yet firmer suspensions do not always allow you to place the bike exactly where you want it, especially when changing course..

On the other hand, it is impossible not to notice the incessant flashing of the orange indicator of the KTRC set to "2", the "wise" sport mode where the glides are extremely limited. During big raises, even by staying wisely – savagely ?! – in 3rd gear, the pilot notices thanks to the flickering of the dashboard that the traction control system is at work.

On one occasion, the grip of the rear S20 (190 mm) was caught off guard during our road test: the start of the glide was skilfully managed, the motorcycle refusing to transmit the 210 horsepower to the tire that the donkey – on the handlebars – intended to subject him to … Hot !

Finally, still after several laps, the pilot’s shoulders, back and thighs begin to heat up. Like what the weight of the beast and its inertia end up being felt !

"But since we repeat that this ZZR is not made for this kind of activity !", smiles mischievously at us the press manager of Kawasaki Europe, aware that the risk displayed by the Site tester validates the" arsouillesque "aptitudes of their new born….

Because at the end of the two 20-minute sessions, the observation is clear: if the new ZZR1400 requires rigor and commitment in its handling, all coupled with a certain discernment, it offers Speed ​​in return – yes, with a big " V "! -, pleasure and efficiency. On the road, there will be plenty of fun !

"And the comfort in it all, asks us to conclude our interlocutor? Trick question … In the heat of the moment, it seemed to us that the engine vibrated slightly around 5000 rpm and that the saddle was pleasantly wide and deep in its rear part, but other than that…

You will understand, MNC prefers to carry out a longer test, and as long as to organize a duel against the Hayabusa – Aaaah – in our regions, so in a 100 horsepower version – Ooooh -, before ruling definitively on the road capabilities of the new Kawasaki ZZR1400.

In the meantime, the official presentation program continues. Next stop: the ring of Nardò !

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