Sporty – Test of the new Kawasaki ZZR1400: at 300 km-h, and fast! – Storming the Ring

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! - Storming the Ring

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 can be pushed to their limits. The watchword for the first test of this novelty 2012: gas !

Storming the Ring

Following a referral error in the rather … complex (!) Nardò complex, the Italians forced us to make a U-turn. The opportunity to realize that the Kawasaki rocket does not steer that badly, on the condition, however, to properly raise the inner forearm in order to pull the half-handlebars fully and thus take advantage of the cutting of the – false – tank.

A few minutes later this time, it is no longer a question of a small U-turn but of a complete revolution of the Nardò speed ring: 12.5 kilometers of asphalt virgin of any car, any truck and any radar control !

Escorted by one of the two test pilots, each journalist is asked to respect his lane (n ° 3) and, above all, not to exceed his partner: "it will be placed on the outside corridor, n ° 4, and you must imperatively stay behind", warns the Kawasaki team which has reserved one hour of driving on the" circular ".

"It will start the loop at around 150 km / h, then it will gradually accelerate to 180-200 km / h before waving to you: there it will be full for more than 6 km until the checkered flag. , before returning to the starting point", we are meticulously summarized.

Without waiting for the end of the first kilometer, our opener stalls at 160 km / h: at this speed, the ZZR1400 is perfectly stable, so that the rapid left-right scull easily executable at 120 km / h is no longer possible..

The force and the freshness of the wind already make it necessary to bend down and pull in your shoulders. The air runs along the thighs and sides of the fairing – without screws unlike the old one, to go faster! -, but it also crosses the suit and rushes en masse into the gaping front air inlet.

The marshal increases the pace and settles just above 200 km / h. Before the guy really launches hostilities, it is better to properly place his helmet behind the short bubble, refocus his hands on the handlebars and stick his elbows against his chest…

This is the signal: already galloping at a little over 200 km / h, the two ZZR1400 are launching an assault on 300 km / h! This is arguably the most impressive part of the test: in just a few seconds, the two Kawasaki reach their top speed..

"It is at the express request of ACEM that motorcycle manufacturers have entered into a "gentlemen’s agreement" limiting their motorcycles to this symbolic speed.", reminds us Mr. Oshima, head of the ZZR1400 project (Project Leader for insiders).

And without this global bridle, what would the top speed of the new ZZR be ?! "We clocked it at 315 km / h on our track in Japan", reveals a very smiling Oshima San, and for good reason:"but our speed circuit is an oval with two very banked corners that our pilots cannot tackle fully … We do not know the maximum speed of the ZZR therefore" !

What a pity that Kawasaki did not take advantage of its passage in the "private top" enclosure of the Nardò circuit to run even a truly "Full" copy of its ZZR1400. "It’s true, we didn’t think about it", claims the Japanese in front of the French journalists, all ready to try the experiment !

Big gas !

However, it must be recognized that tumbling down at a maximum speed of 300 km / h meter – the graduation exists, but the value is not displayed white on black, gentlemen’s agreement requires – is already enough to give you a nice slap. !

The helmet literally sticks to the nose – it’s the right size! – and does not stop tossing with the wind, or rather winds "speed" (of the motorcycle) and "real" (some gusts came from the sea that day). The protection of the screen is therefore insufficient, whether one drives at 300 km / h in dab or at 150 km / h in the grouped position..

"The choice of this small bubble is dictated by the American market, where bikers are very sensitive to the look", explains the Japanese father of the ZZR1400 to us. As on the Ninja 1000 and 600, it will therefore be necessary to go through the accessory or adaptable boxes to isolate his head – and his chest! – from the air flow..

When driving at more than 80 m / s on the ring, these considerations take a back seat. A simple glance towards the dashboard to check the speed (approximately 10,750 rpm) and the speed (300 km / h always) can result in a deviation of several tens of centimeters on its trajectory. Holding this way for two long minutes requires constant vigilance…

After the exhilaration of the first tour, the second session on the perfect round of 12.5 km takes place more serenely. The most impressive is not the top speed – and average over about 6 km! – but the speed with which the ZZR climbs the last 100 km / h !

Exceeding the Coluche record (252,087 km / h achieved over one kilometer from the Nardò ring on the handlebars of his Yamaha 750 OW 31) is only a pure formality and bringing the ZZR up to 300 km / h is another just as simple. "My grandma could do it", remarked one of our colleagues when he got off his motorcycle.

Certainly. But then keep the grip welded to keep Akashi’s bomb (dans-ton-froc) at this pace on six posts, despite the handlebars floating due to this damn connection along the 3rd channel, against the gusts of wind and the coolness air, despite the passage of a few drops of water on the visor (!) and the ambient noise would require this dear Granny a well-fixed denture … as well as a solid pacemaker !

The third workshop, that of accelerations, is also going to be very impressive: "be careful because yesterday, a Swiss wanted to start in 1st at full speed and he found himself on the ground because of an uncontrolled rear wheel", warn us the Greens, while specifying that"was in Low mode"…

The main evolutions of the engine

The piston stroke is lengthened by 4 mm (84 x 65 mm), so the new 4-cylinder cubic 1441 cc. The lighter pistons (-6g) have a shorter crown to match the new combustion chambers. The compression ratio goes from 12.0: 1 to 12.3: 1. The vents between cylinders 1 and 2, 3 and 4 have been enlarged to facilitate air transfers and the oil jets under the pistons have been improved. The intake (+0.4 mm) and exhaust ducts have been redesigned, as has the profile of the cams. The air filter is 10% larger and the resistance to air passage decreases by 60%. The injection bodies (still 44 mm) are completed by a controlled valve regulating idling and reducing emissions during deceleration. The collectors are enlarged and rearranged. In the end, the engine gains 10 horsepower while average consumption drops by 8%.

Slightly not cooled by this Swiss misadventure, MNC begins the last test by applying the instructions to the letter: 40 km / h in seconds, then gas! And again, the performance of the "new" engine and the catapulting feel is very impressive..

But Kawasaki had again "forgotten" to bring measuring devices, despite its stated desire to set new records thanks to this motorcycle! For MNC however, the important thing is not there: the big question is rather whether the ZZR1400 beats its nemesis, the Suzuki Hayabusa, on a 400 m standing start….

However it turns out that Kawasaki gave us the answer during the presentation: "here is the photo finish of a 500 m DA made between our new ZZR and the one-whose-name-does-not-say-the-name", proudly revealed to us the Kawa staff. On the image in question – and damn, we can not take a picture! – a black monster passes under a checkered flag, ahead of a white ghost by ten lengths…

On the track, the exercise quickly becomes daunting solo. However, it makes it possible to realize that mode 3 of the KTRC does indeed intervene earlier than the other two. The intervention of the electronic system remains smooth and regular, removing and putting back "the rubber" very gradually.

We also check in passing that the "L" mapping is a little softer than the "F". But finally, the rise in power in "Full" mode is already proving so linear – a good point in this case – that we can safely open wide.

Even when setting off in first gear, the bike does not rear up – thanks to the 1480mm wheelbase – and allows you to let go completely. The exercise is fun but a little too daunting solo, just good at spinning aches in the triceps … ?

As we leave Nardò, one last look at this new ZZR1400: hey, the hooks for securing a bag have reappeared! Too bad there is no place under the saddle for a rain suit or storage compartment for a motorway ticket and a credit card: MNC would have come back by the motorway. !

But not at 300 km / h naturally: the radars are too numerous, traffic too dense and gasoline too expensive … Especially at this speed, the instantaneous consumption of the 4-cylinder exceeds 20l / 100km: a full tank tank (22 l max) every 100 terminals, thank you very much !

Does the ZZR1400 therefore become a useless object? Come to think of it, the only truly must-have motorcycles on our planet are Riders for Health. Certainly, what is the point of owning a motorbike of 200 horsepower (106, sorry Mr. Agent) … Perhaps an element of the answer: some philosophers consider that what makes you happy is useful … Not you ?

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