Kawasaki ZRX1200R (2001-2007): If it is judged solely by the magnificent retro design, it will be an underestimated bike.
The bike reviewed is a used 2007 model. ItĘs a stock bike except from an Acrapovic silencer fitted.
Engine: The four cylinder liquid cooled 1164 c.c. engine fed by a bank of carbs, delivers 123 bhp/8250 rpm and 11.4 Kgm/ 7000 rpm torque, claimed figures.
Actually the big engine will require at least 1500 rpm, or with top gear 5th selected at least 2000 rpm, for instant acceleration. Torque provided at the bottom end is superb, indicatively for normal urban use engine revs up to 4000 will be adequate. Acceleration becomes powerful then, with 5th speed selected these engine rpm correspond to 110 Km/h. Torque provided with the stock silencer was even better. Not bad at all…
Acceleration provided is solid, no blank spots or steps observed. Due to the silencer mounted rev limiter intervenes at 11000 rpm.. Engine revs are rising rather slowly, yet steadily, the power provided is superb for the character of the bike. Rider feels a powerful and effortless boost, available any given instant, as an example the speed of 200 Km/h is obtained easily.
Top speed is greater than 250 Km/h.. An indicative fuel consumption figure is 8 liters/100Km, (35 mpg Imperial). The 19 liters fuel tank is rather little for the character of the bike, tank range is about 200 Km.
Riding position: The height of the saddle is relatively low, 790 mm, even short riders will step a confident foot on the ground. The saddle is large, non-slippery. The dimensions of the bike are normal, especially the width of the bike is narrower than the expected for the engine capacity or the retro character of the ZRX. The fuel tank looks rather vulnerable in case of a crash.
The weight of the bike feels very reasonable for this engine capacity, 223 nominal Kg dry. Generally it could be considered to be a heavy bike, although it actually feels quite lighter than that.
Rider feels mostly over the bike rather than in it. Riding position is between neutral and sporty, creating a slight alert: The torso of the rider is inclined to the front, although the handlebar is relatively high. Therefore itĘs a comfortable riding position for everyday use, while it eliminates any …yawning mood to the rider.
On the road: The 43 mm fork feels firm, the firmness of the two shocks at the rear feels average after an adjustment performed by the owner, seeking for everyday comfort. Suspensions are fully adjustable.
Tyres mounted are Bridgestone BT-21 with dimensions 120/70-17 at the front and 180/55-17 at the rear. These tyres are relatively good on high friction tarmac roads, at a normal riding pace, or if rider is willing to travel. On low-average friction factor roads or at a nimble pace, they should be replaced with a softer compound. Its that simple.
On town rides the ZRX is a very neutral bike. It could accomplish ordinary daily rides without compromises.
Apparently itĘs a very satisfying bike on slow, leisure town rides, with the engine waking up eagerly well below 2500-3000 rpm the most, providing the superb four cylinder torque and the Acrapovic muffler roaring like … Godzilla threatening metropolitan areas.
On low friction factor tarmac streets it reminds of the Boldors, Z1000 and GS, which with a low rpm roar were going skidding easily on slippery streets, some 30 years ago.
Commuting will also not impose great compromises. Steering lock is exceptional for the character of the ZRX, it will aid considerably maneuvering around cars in traffic.
It will filter easily. The height of the handlebar is as high as carsĘ mirrors, although because its not wide, it will not be a problem for the rider. The average bike width will also be helpful then. The bike tested was not equipped with mirrors.
Comfort over street imperfections is very good, it should be reminded that the two shocks had been adjusted slightly softer. The only drawback on traffic jams is the increased bike weight, which will eventually be felt at the end of the day, although this should be considered positively for a retro 1200 c.c. bike.
On B-roads stability and robustness are the key riding features. Agility comes second, the 1465 mm is the reason to that. In other words itĘs a very neutral bike to use on normal B-roads rides. The engine is delightful, providing instantly, great power.
At the fast pace on low-average friction B-roads, the tyres impose riding limits, too early. The ZRX is robust, very neutral, feedback to the rider is relatively good, handling is predictable. The weight will be felt at such a pace in the form of inertia. Due to the greater confidence at the fork instead of the rear, rider will soon take advantage of rear wheel power slides to have fun drifting safely and neutrally.
At the fast pace on high friction factor B-roads the stability of the ZRX will be appreciated by the rider. Feedback is still not improved considerably due to the tyres mounted. The shocks at the rear must be stiffened, although everyday comfort will deteriorate then. The shape of the saddle will help the rider to move his body towards the inside of the bend. In case that it was not that heavy, the ZRX could be used for the initial track days of an average rider, which is quite a surprise!
On the highway, the ZRX will also be a satisfying bike to the rider. Due to the long gearing, travelling will require relatively low revs. The top gear will take the full load from 100 Km/h upwards. The engine produces plenty of torque and power to overtake instantly, naturally there is no need to downshift.
Stability will be great even at 200 Km/h. Air resistance is good for the character of the bike, due to the …bikini fairing. A comfortable travelling speed of 160 Km/h will be maintained, although the saddle is not quite as comfortable as it seems to be.
On stone-covered streets or dirt roads, the bike is very robust. It gives the impression that it provides constantly feedback to the rider, combined with comfort though. ItĘs a satisfying bike there, also.
Twin 310 mm disc brakes with six (!) pots callipers are equipped at the front, a 250 mm disc brake with a two piston calliper is used at the rear. The front brakes are powerful and linear. Due to the tyres fitted mostly, front wheel lock feedback is average.
The rear brake is very powerful, yet linear. Power provided is greater than what its actually necessary to the rider. Thus in case of emergency braking on low friction factor roads, rider will eventually be striving to control the rear of the bike, wasting precious attention to the front.
Model history/reliability/quality build: The ZRX was introduced in 1997, featuring the ZZR 1100 engine, detuned in order to produce more torque instead of top end power.
In 2001 it was replaced with the ZRX 1200, version S and a complementary version R from 2002. Version R bears a bikini fairing, honoring 1980 Edie LawsonĘs Z1000R which was a championships winning bike at the 80's era in USA. The Z1000R challengers for the title or the road then, were Honda CB900F and Suzuki GS1000.
From 2008 onwards, the ZRX 1200 is sold only in Japan. The engine is bulletproof, the bike requires meticulous cleaning though as there is a corrosion tendency on various parts.
Comments: The swing arm actually looks like that of LawsonĘs bike. A considerable storage space is provided under the seat.
Given the retro character, the ZRX is a very good bike which may be adapted on various fields of use, like a chameleon, (one wishing to remain green actually). ItĘs a good bike on town rides, B-roads, highway, sporty use, everywhere actually.
Maybe, a possible disadvantage could be that the future buyer and people interested in motorcycles could focus only to this 80Ęs replica design, not choosing this bike for it's real world potential. Certainly because of this, the owner will be quite happier then, after the purchase.
The ZRX defines a different approach to that of many recent naked 600 c.c. bikes. These had been average bikes, boasting a design edge. In the case of the ZRX behind the looks, an even better designed bike is provided.
In our days concerning some riders, it lacks slightly compared to the recent naked category, e.g. the Z1000, its not as explosive as the latest equipment. However it actually provides the old school feeling, providing a splendid mixture of performance and retro design, without a hint of the problems seriously challenging mechanics and riders 30 years ago.
It should be reminded that in the 80s, manufacturers were after the absolute engine power, although they couldnĘt substantially improve handling, which was the real problem at that era.