Top test Kawasaki ZZ-R 1200


Top test Kawasaki ZZ-R 1200

Top test Kawasaki ZZ-R 1200

Heavy hum

A sports tourer, mighty, strong, carved from the solid: the Kawasaki ZZ-R 1200. By no means perfect, but it has a lot of character. So a real buddy? The top test provides information.

Acquiring a great legacy is no easy feat. The Kawasaki ZZ-R 1200 can win a song about it. The 1100s, its predecessor, caused quite a sensation in the early 1990s. The older ones among us will certainly remember the announcement, which back then was simply and poignantly: »Hello, I’m the fastest production motorcycle in the world ?? if you let me. “
However, MOTORRAD only tested the unthrottled version in the spring of 1993, at a time when nobody really wanted to stick to the voluntary self-restraint of 100 hp: »Full bottle ?? Line comparison of the strongest superbikes «, read the cover of issue number 7 at the time. The test team did not drive on German autobahns, but instead moved to the high-speed circular track in Nardo, Italy. Of course, only for strictly scientific reasons, not to indulge in the rush of speed. Indeed, the ZZ-R 1100 drove its competitor, the pitiful Suzuki GSX-R 1100 W, to the ground. The 300 km / h discussed by all the ambitious biker round tables, however, did not crack anything. At an average of 267 km / h it was over. That was by no means detrimental to the reputation of the Kawasaki.
And today, almost a decade later? Suzuki Hayabusa and Kawasaki ZX-12R have long since broken the 300 km / h barrier. Whereby it behaves similarly to the moon landing of the Americans. Nice, we were there. But pretty cold and uncomfortable up there. The ZZ-R 1200 is limited to an official 275 km / h. In view of the traffic density on German autobahns, it is no longer desirable to expect a test driver to verify the factory information. In any case, the speedometer needle disappears in no man’s land due to the lack of digits; behind the wide paneling with its high window, the driver simply feels very comfortable, provided he is ready to push his nose towards the tank.
On the one hand, this is due to the good wind protection, but on the other hand and much more decisive part of the significantly improved chassis. There were still some weak points with the ZZ-R 1100, with it only intrepid contemporaries left the gas unmoved despite clear unrest. At top speed, the 1200 only swings very slightly around its longitudinal axis. That’s it. Hard heels or the edges of the road, which some super athletes like the devil fear the holy water, leave the sports tourer unmoved. The ZZ-R 1200 doesn’t know how to spell it, with the best of intentions. She just pushes her 276 kilograms through the wind.
Another point that makes her very adorable: She stands by her weight. Do not cover it up with optical tricks or the like. A big, expansive and massive motorcycle. Not a well-trained hyper athlete. Created for people who don’t run to the gym five times a week or who are desperate for some youthful mania. So people who would rather spontaneously unwind a thousand and more kilometers with the clique on the weekend. And don’t feel the slightest desire to force yourself onto a super athlete because your wrists will die off pretty soon? or because there’s a bit of a stomach in the way.
Whereby please don’t give the impression that Kawasaki had designed the ZZ-R specifically for the Raccoon Belly faction. Definitely not. But petite people can easily feel lost on this tall, tall motorcycle. Especially because of the huge tank that smaller pilots in particular have to stretch over to get to the handlebars. The ergonomics are much better for tall people. Kawasaki has designed the ZZ-R 1200 for just that. And put a lot of effort into creating the model. Not just with the chassis. But all around.
The ZZ-R 1200 is not a slightly redesigned 1100 with a little new plastic. If only because the character of the engine has changed fundamentally as a result of the revision. In addition to cylinders with a three millimeter larger bore and a crankshaft with a 1.4 millimeter stroke, a new, more closely spaced gearbox is also used. The 1200 is no longer as hungry for revs, as explosive as its predecessor. While in the first comparison test in MOTORRAD 10/2002 the responsiveness of the four-cylinder still caused criticism, this test specimen proves to be extremely cultivated and the tuning of the 40 carburettors fits very well.
The only exception: the morning cold start ceremony requires a great deal of sensitivity when using the choke. The big block takes a while to sort itself out. An edgy, rough fellow, quite thirsty too. It is rarely satisfied with less than seven liters of normal and is communicated through vibrations over the entire speed range. Not softened or even wrapped in cotton wool. But with an unmistakable appearance.
Everything starts harmlessly. Almost unspectacular. Not to be compared with the brawny start of a current super sports car, for example a Suzuki GSX-R 1000, which lets you understand from idling that it wants to tear everything and everyone down. The ZZ-R 1200 engine pushes the weighty load nimbly out of the speed limit, but the big bang is initially absent. At 4000 rpm the picture changes suddenly. The typical Kawasaki sound comes out of the intake, which makes the rev counter superfluous after a short time. As soon as this howling sets in, it goes irresistibly forward, the shift foot clicks through the revised, great gearbox quickly. Always looking for the »final destination«: sixth gear. Everything can actually be done excellently here, ideal for stress-free but lively power cruising.
Preferred area for such exercises: fast stretches with long curves. If possible with a level surface. Your suspension tuning comes to the point when dry. Kawasaki relies on spring elements with high spring rates. Especially with the fork, which is dampened too tightly, this is at the expense of comfort. It speaks insensitively and clearly tends to stumble.
One reason why the ZZ-R have tight, slower corners ?? possibly with bumpy asphalt ?? doesn’t particularly like. She looks stucky there. It is true that even then it does not act bitchy or reluctantly tilts around the curve. But it takes a lot of force to move the ZZ-R 1200 to change direction quickly. In addition, handlebar flutter, also known as the shimmy effect, occurred on the test motorcycle at speeds between 60 and 80 km / h. These torsional vibrations of the steering system set in slowly and therefore controllable on the Kawasaki, but are so present that they even interfere with turning into tight bends.
If the pace picks up, the stunner is back in its element. She still demands clear steering impulses, only half-heartedly acknowledges requests for changes of direction with a disparaging shrug of the shoulders, then just wants to keep running straight ahead. But if you tell the 1200 unmistakably where to go, you will be spoiled with a high level of accuracy, good steering precision ?? and an above-average lean angle for its league. If other sports tourers have been happily plowing up the ground with footrests or even other components for a long time and thus warning to be careful, the Kawasaki is far from over.
A successful new edition of the classic ZZ-R 1100. Throughout. Especially considering the fact that you get a lot of motorcycle for your money. Although it is not a special offer. The current darling of the sports touring scene, the Yamaha FJR 1300, is more expensive, but technically up to date. For example, it is now available with a standard ABS. In addition, carburetors are no longer the state of the art, electronic injection and G-Kat are clearly on the rise. Despite the Kawasaki’s good emission values.
Und the shimmy effect will continue to be closely monitored by the testers. To find out whether it is a single or a multiple case. However, that could hardly affect the likeable appearance of the Kawasaki.

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Top test Kawasaki ZZ-R 1200

Top test Kawasaki ZZ-R 1200
Heavy hum

This is how MOTORRAD tests clutch

MOTORRAD explains the individual criteria of the 1000-point evaluation (part 4)

At the beginning of the eighties, after a long tour in the Harz Mountains, the author suffered from tendinitis because the clutch on his Ducati 750 SS required incredibly high levels of hand strength. With modern machines, there is hardly any danger, today the clutches are much easier to operate. Nevertheless, there are also gradual differences here. In addition to the actuation force, ergonomics and controllability play a role. In order to drive off smoothly, the gentle use of power should succeed without finger acrobatics. A certain path on the lever and even engagement is helpful for this. Picking clutches are annoying. Poorly separating clutches are manifested by the fact that first gear can only be engaged with loud cracks, especially when the engine is cold. It can also make the shifting process hard. The coupling of the ZZ-R 1200 is smooth, stable and starts smoothly. It also cuts perfectly when cold, the reach of the lever is adjustable. That gives a proud nine out of ten points.

Technical data – Kawasaki ZZ-R 1200

KAWASAKI ZZ-R 1200DataMotor: Water-cooled four-cylinder four-stroke in-line engine, a balance shaft, two overhead, chain-driven camshafts, four valves per cylinder, bucket tappets, wet sump lubrication, Keihin constant pressure carburetor, Ø 40 mm, transistor ignition, uncontrolled catalytic converter with secondary air system, electric starter Three-phase alternator 400 W, battery 12 V / 12 Ah. Bore x stroke 79.0 x 59.4 mm, displacement 1165 cm³, compression ratio 10.6: 1, rated output 112 kW (152 PS) at 9800 rpm, max. Torque 124 Nm (12.6 kpm) at 8200 rpm Pollutant values ​​(homologation) CO 1.39 g / km, HC 0.64 g / km, NOx 0.05 g / km Power transmission: primary drive via gear wheels, hydraulically operated multi-plate oil bath clutch, Six-speed gearbox, O-ring chain, secondary ratio 44:17. Chassis: Bridge frame made of aluminum profiles, screwed beams, telescopic fork, standpipe diameter 43 mm, adjustable spring base, two-arm swing arm made of aluminum profiles, central spring strut with lever system, adjustable spring base and rebound damping, double disc brakes at the front, floating discs , Ø 320 mm, four-piston calipers, rear disc brake, Ø 250 mm, two-piston caliper. Cast aluminum wheels 3.50 x 17; 5.50 x 17 tires 120/70 ZR 17; 180/55 ZR 17 tires tested Bridgestone BT 020 Chassis data: wheelbase 1505 mm, steering head angle 65 degrees, caster 104 mm, spring travel f / r 120/112 mm. Service data Service intervals every 6000 km, oil change every 6000 km / 3.2 l with filter every 12,000 km / 3.5 l engine oil SAE 10 W 40 fork oil SAE 10 W 20 spark plugs NGK CR 9 E chain 3/8 x 5/8, 110 rollers idle speed 1050 ± 100 / min valve clearance inlet / outlet 0.13-0.18 / 0.18 -0.23 mm Tire air pressure Solo (with pillion passenger) front / rear 2.9 / 2.9 (2.9 / 2.9) barWarranty for two years with unlimited mileageColors black, blue, silverPrice incl. VAT excluding additional costs 11,995 euros Additional costs no informationMOTORCYCLE Measurements Driving performance1 Top speed * Solo 275 km / h Acceleration Solo 0-100 km / h 2.7 sec0-140 km / h 4.4 sec0-200 km / h 8.1 sec Pull-through solo (with pillion passenger) 60-100 km / h 4.4 (5.8) sec 100-140 km / h 3.7 (5.1) sec 140-180 km / h 4.1 (6.0) sec Speedometer deviation display / effective 50/46, 100/92 fuel type super consumption in the test at 100 km / h 5.3 l / 100 km at 130 km / h 7.1 l / 100 km Country road x, x l / 100 km Theor. Range xxx kmDimensions and weightsL / W / H 2220/860/1250 mmSeat height 800 mmTurning circle 6220 mmWeight fully fueled 276 kg Permissible total weight * 451 kg Load 175 kg Wheel load distribution f / h 49/51% Tank capacity / reserve * 23 / 6.5 liters * Manufacturer information; 1 measurement conditions: temperature 19 degrees, no wind; Measurement location Leipheim;

MOTORCYCLE readings – Kawasaki ZZ-R 1200

MOTORCYCLE measured values²Braking and driving dynamicsBrake measurementBraking distance from 100 km / h 41.6 metersMean deceleration 9.3 m / s²Handling-Parcours I (fast slalom) Best lap time 21.5 secvmax at the measuring point 94.7 km / h Note: The ZZ-R 1200 likes fast lean changes only implement slowly, they require a lot of strength. Speed ​​at the measuring point is relatively low. The lap times are good, because the powerful engine makes meters quickly. Handling-Parcour II (slow slalom) Best lap time 28.9 secvmax at the measuring point 53.8 km / h Note: Because of the tight chassis setting, the Kawasaki likes wide arcs better. Pronounced shimmy also noticeable in an inclined position. Load changes, otherwise unproblematic, interfere with the course at the turning point. Circular path (46 meters, best lap time 11.5 secvmax at measuring point 49.3 km / h Comments: Above-average lean angle. When driving over bumps, the Kawasaki stands up clearly.


As is so often the case in life, love at second sight. There may be faster, better and even more expensive motorcycles. The ZZ-R 1200 is a damn fast sports tourer with excellent all-round properties. Not perfect, but with a big heart. And thoroughly honest. Your engine will delight you with its irresistible sound.

What else caught my eye

Plus: Two are better than one: the fuel tap and a fuel meter that displays relatively accurate warnings in good time for the next refueling stop Low emissions thanks to the secondary air system and U-Kat Good consideration in the sufficiently large mirrors Using the sight glass and easy control of the oil level due to the main stand Minus: The test motorcycle experienced a strong shimmy (handlebar flutter) between 80 and 60 km / h on initial tires: Bridgestone BT 020 driven air pressure: 2.9 bar (front and rear)

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