Kawasaki ZZR 1100
Bike #2: a black/red '94 ZZR 1100
Exactly one week after my ZZR 600 was stolen, I've gotten myself a new ride - a ZZR 1100. And does it ride! 147 bhp and 285 km/h...
I didn't buy a new one - couldn't afford it - but a '94 model (18.000 km) which looks just about new.
It's heavier (233 kg dry vs. 195), bigger, more powerful (147 bhp vs. 100), faster (285 km/h vs. 248), less economical (1 liters per 15 km vs. 1:18 - who cares ?), and it has more street-cred.
So, what is it like (and how does it compare to the 600) ? Let's make a list:
The power 'gap' around 3500 rpm is annoying - especially when you have experienced a bike like the ZX-9R...
Vibrations (around 4-5000 rpm) are a bit irritating - but maybe that's just my particular bike's fault.
Because the 1100 is heavier, it's not as easy to lean over in a curve. This doesn't mean the 1100 can't take a corner: I think that I can take corners a lot faster on the 1100 (especially fast, long curves) simply because of it's superior handling. But if you have to put the bike from one side to the other fast, the 1100 needs a bit more force. Which takes time and gets a bit tiring after a while.
It's a bumpier ride. This sounds like a negative but it isn't really - it also means it's easier to feel what the bike is doing.
It's easier to slowly drive around town in second gear (less nervous).
But the best part is: it handles better! While the 600 is a predictable and 'safe' bike to drive, the 1100 seems to be running on a railway track. No matter what you do, the frame and suspension don't budge.
Collected it and drove about 100 km in the pouring rain. I didn't expect it to be so much like the 600, but it really is very similar. As soon as it stopped raining I accelerated to 230 km/h before traffic stopped me. This thing is fast...
Went to the shop and had the windshield replaced. The previous one was nonstandard and created a lot of noise and strange vacuum effects, so I had an 'original' model installed (dark gray). Looks and works a lot better. I also asked about the lack of power around 3500 rpm, and they said it was normal. That may be but I don't like it.
Drove along my favorite piece of road along the river, to see how different this bike really is - I think I did that particular road about 40 times on the 600, so I know it rather well by now. The results were more or less as I expected: the 1100 is faster on the straights and fast curves but slower in the slow curves. The extra 40 kg are quite obvious. It also seems to have less ground-clearance.
A piece of metal found it's way into the rear tire, which turned out to be rather expensive to replace: 475 Dutch guilders (around 265 US dollars). And of course it happened on a Sunday... I replaced it with a Bridgestone Battlax BT56 180/55. Maybe next time I will try some Pirelli Dragons - rumor has it they're quite good.
Tried some corners at high speed (200 km+). This bike inspires a lot of confidence - I was nowhere near the end of it's capabilities. I'm afraid I am the limiting factor here, I got tired after a while...
Tried my favorite road again: I must be getting used to this bike. It handled great. And I'm not so sure about the lack of ground-clearance anymore...
Spring is here !
I think the ground-clearance thing was just my imagination. I've gone faster than ever before and didn't touch the ground once.
A strange phenomenon: I have found that the bike sometimes actually handles better at 160 km/h than at 120 km/h. There is less swaying in the corners and it's a smoother ride - maybe this is a suspension problem, I'll check it out someday.
I didn't find the front brakes to be very impressive. They're good and brake hard but they're not as aggressive as I would like. I'll check that one out too.
As you may know: there is NO speed-limit on the German highways... so I went from Arnhem to Oberhausen to try and break my own speed record. It now stands at 280 km/h (174 miles/hour).
Sent it in for servicing. Also had the rear tire replaced - it wasn't completely worn out yet, but I'm going to France in a few days so it seemed like a good idea to replace it anyway.
Since the previous tire had only lasted 5000 km or so (soft compound), I had it replaced with a Bridgestone Battlax BT50 which is the standard tire for this bike. It was 100 guilders cheaper and it's supposed to last longer. We'll see.
Off to France.
There's nothing like doing an average 360 km a day for two weeks on all sorts of roads to get to know a bike. And I have to admit that I like the bike a lot, even though there were a few things I'd like to change:
First of all the rear tire. The BT50 does NOT have an awful lot of grip. It's fine for normal cruising in good weather but as soon as it starts raining or the road gets dirty (sand, mud, gravel, etc.) I have to slow down a lot. After a few skids I didn't feel all that comfortable any more under those conditions.
Secondly, the suspension. I have to admit I didn't experiment with the suspension, simply because it feels just fine when the roads are good. But as soon as the road gets bumpy, it becomes rather uncomfortable. I can't make up my mind on this one.
I think the stiff suspension caused the third problem; the dashboard came loose around 28000 km - please note that Murphy is at it again: this happened at 12.30 in the afternoon, when ALL the shops are closed in France - so I had to get it fixed in Germany. It turned out that both the supports at the back of the dashboard had broken off. They welded it together again but I'll have to have it properly fixed anyway.
Finally, I think one of the front disks is warped again. Not as badly as on the ZZR 600, but still quite annoying. I think it should be possible to make a disk that lasts longer that 30000 km under normal use, don't you ?
By the way: if you're ever in the neighborhood of Issoire or Claremont-Ferrand, do try the A 75 highway. It's the best quality asphalt I've ever seen.
Sent it in for a small service (oil change, chain adjustment etc.). I also had a new front tire put on - the same BT50, I have no problems with the front tire whatsoever.
They also cleaned the oil-sensor, because the oil-light was telling me there wasn't enough oil, while it turned out to have 1/2 liters too much. Other than that, no complaints.
The next rear tire will probably be a Bridgestone Battlax BT57, a somewhat harder version of the BT56 I liked so much.
The rear tire is almost gone, so I'll have to get a new one. I've calculated that the BT50 has cost me 4 cents/km, versus 10 cents/km for the BT56 (in Dutch guilders, that is). This is not a cheap hobby.
Sad news: I dropped the bike - while standing still... Stupid ! (but not entirely my fault). Apart from a few scratches on the left side, no damage was done. I was so angry with myself that without really thinking about it, I grabbed it and lifted it upright. I've had painful shoulders for 3 days... it really does weigh 250+ kg.
Had the rear tire replaced with a BT57 (which is standard issue on a Honda Blackbird, so it should work well). I will have to put a few more miles on it before I can really say for sure, but already it feels a lot more secure in fast corners than the BT50 ever did. It does feels a bit unstable at high speeds (200 km/h +), but that is probably because the front tire is still a BT50. I think it will be a great setup once that is replaced.
They also put some new brake-pads in at the front - those were completely worn out.
Sent the bike in for major servicing. Nothing wrong with it, only standard stuff was done.
Finally got the dashboard fixed and also had the chain checked because it began to make some noise - it turned out to be all right. It's done more distance than the chain on the 600, which I find rather amazing.
There are some rumors going round about a ZZR 1200 (and/or ZX-12) - if that turns out to be true I will probably, funds permitting, buy one. At the motor-RAI in Amsterdam I've tried a couple of bikes for size, but none of the ones I was interested in fitted as well as the ZZR. So for the moment I'm stuck with it (not that I mind but it would be nice to have a choice...)
Not a lot of news lately - it's cold outside...
Driving around in this cold and wet weather isn't very inspirational I'm afraid.
Small service done. All is well with the bike.
Both tires are beginning to show their age - the longevity of the BT57 is not what I hoped it would be...
The dashboard came loose again - I hit a speedbump a bit too fast. While my dealer fixed it he gave me a ZX-9R for a couple of hours.
The powerband has no gaps anywhere - just open the throttle... Weight, looks, grip and steering are excellent. Just two negative points: I can't afford it (yet) and I don't really fit it very well because I'm too tall (196 cm - 6'5").
The rear tire is completely worn out, and the front tire is almost gone as well so it's time to change them both. Let's compare the Bridgestones:
BT50: 10000 km with average grip and average cost
BT57: 7000 km with good grip and higher cost
BT56: 5000-6000 km with fantastic grip and very high cost (but not really suited for the ZZR)
I'm not sure what to do next - stick with the BT57's or try something else ?
Had both tires replaced with Dunlop Sportmax D207's. Since Kawasaki puts D204's on this year's ZZR-1100 and the D207 is its successor, it ought to be a good match.
The D207 is in the same price-range as the BT57 so it should be at least as good (hopefully even better). We'll see.
A rather annoying sound comes out of the engine somewhere when you start the bike cold. It disappears again (almost) when the bike is warm. I'll have it looked at soon.
As for the everlasting story on tires: The D207's have a lot of grip under all circumstances and seem to last for quite a while. However, the bike doesn't seem as stable at average to high speeds (100-220 km/h), even on a smooth straight road. It's not a dangerous instability but it is annoying. What really amazed me was that at very high speeds (220+) the instability is gone completely - in fact it feels more stable than ever before. Weird.
Small service done. The annoying sound is gone - simply a matter of adjustment according to the mechanic.
He also said that the chain will have to be replaced soon (but not yet, fortunately).
There was only 2 liters of oil left (it should have been 3.5 liters) so either it is starting to use a lot of oil lately or I simply didn't fill it up often enough. I fear the latter is true...
I got the ZX-9R again for the day, so as soon as the weather was good I went for a ride along the river. But alas: it broke down about 30 km from the dealer. Somehow it didn't get enough fuel, while there was plenty left in the tank. I'm sure this is an isolated incident with this bike, but I was sort of glad I had already decided that the bike really didn't fit me well enough.
So how about a ZZR-900 with the ZX-9R's engine, gearbox and weight but the looks and fit of the ZZR-1100, eh, Kawasaki ? It would be a dream come true.
Took a girlfriend (who rides a BMW herself) on a ride along the river and the countryside. She wanted to know what a fast bike would feel like - so I showed her...
The extra weight didn't have a negative effect on the handling - on the contrary, it felt very secure in the corners and the acceleration was almost as fast as usual. Maybe the rear suspension should be a little tighter to get the same feel driving solo (or maybe I should get other tires, ha ha...).
New speed record: 290 km/h on the German highway chasing a Suzuki TL 1000 S. My ZZR was a little faster but I had to let him go in the 240 km/h+ corners... The bike started to wobble a bit so I didn't push it any further. I really should try some suspension settings.
Went to my dealer to get an appointment for a chain renewal. Walking back to the bike I noticed a cable hanging loose from the front wheel. This explained why it was only 8 km instead of the usual 24...
It turned out to be an expensive morning at my dealer. Beside the cable I still had to pay for and the new chain, they also changed the rear brake-pads and the rear tire (same D207 as before), adjusted the suspension (2 clicks more damping) and added 1 liter of oil. I'll start to keep track of the oil use, it seems to be getting out of hand a bit.
So, no new tire brand/type - I hope the suspension adjustment will do the trick. As soon as the tire has a few kilometers on it I'll check it out.
The new rear tire is run in, so I tested it on the highway (240 km/h corners) and that great road along the river. It feels fine - like old times really.
Wind from the side still causes a bit too much instability, but you can't have them all, can you ?
Bad news: I have just received my first 'real' speeding ticket. On a 100 km/h road I seem to have reached 207 km/h a couple of weeks ago (it could have been worse though, I think I've reached 250 there a couple of times...)
So if this page isn't updated for the next few months, you'll know why.
Added 0.4 liters of oil. I've started a list to keep track of the oil use (at the bottom of this page).
Had the bike serviced. Nothing special, just new front brake-pads.
A third speeding ticket arrived. So now, after 7 and 107 km/h too fast I got one for 4 km/h... Nice list don't you think ?
I don't think I have to tell you my feelings about this aspect of Dutch law...
Winter is here - and the ZZR doesn't like it a lot. It tends to stall after you've driven it a bit and then stop. My dealer told me the wet weather combined with subzero temperatures was causing the carburetors to freeze up a bit. He sold me a bottle of Forte Moto Power II (150 ml) and it does seem to be helping a bit (I used half a bottle).
My court-date has been set on January 6th. I will be on holiday in Egypt by then (no bike) and I don't think I'll phone home to see how it went - what's the use in spoiling my vacation, right ?
Small service done. It's getting a bit warmer, so it doesn't stall anymore.
My appointment in court has been postponed in my absence (indefinitely I hope). We'll see.
I dropped the bike again - pigeon shit mixed with water is slippery stuff. Fortunately it's soft too, so hardly any damage was done. Let's just say I was glad there weren't any cameras around...
The tires are getting old. I'm skidding all over the place in this wet weather. Bridgestone Battlax BT57 front and rear are my next choice.
The stalling problem has not completely gone yet, so I'll have that looked at too.
Had the tires changed to BT57's as planned.
The front fork leaked oil (? could be something else, I don't know anything about that stuff...) so that was fixed, and new rear brake-pads were fitted as well.
That's a milestone isn't it?
Finally figured out why they made such big holes in the side of the streamline - it's not to generate airflow as you might think: It's an opening so you can reach in and get the key out when you drop it in ;-)
The amount of water falling from the skies these last few months is incredible. The last (tropical) shower was too much for the bike - it started stuttering. It took my dealer two hours of (carburetor-) cleaning to get it right.
The bike feels a bit wobbly at high speeds (220 km+). Maybe the suspension needs some adjustment.
Adjustments to the suspension did fix the wobbly feeling a bit, but it's still there. The next service appointment is in two weeks, so I'll have it checked out then.
Oil consumption is pretty high as well.
Disaster struck, in the form of a piece of iron about two feet long, which came flying at me from under a truck. The resulting damage to the oil-cooler and the lower right cowling cost me 2350 guilders (about 1050 dollars US) and a week and a half of waiting. Major servicing was also done.
An even bigger disaster: the result of the court-hearing is a big fine, a two month (!) ban on driving and a two month suspended ban with two years' probation. Great !
I appealed - the next court-hearing will be in about six months (winter, hopefully).
Took the suspension back a few clicks. It was too hard and bumpy for my taste. It feels good now (not brilliant, but remember: this is a big heavy bike - it will never reach ZX-9R levels of sophistication).
The rear tire is completely gone (canvas showing through). Up to this point, I didn't notice any change in grip or feel of the bike, so I didn't really pay enough attention. I'll have it changed with a BT57 as before.
This diary has come to an end.
After a small accident (I ran into the back of another motorcycle which stopped where it didn't have to...) I decided to sell the ZZR - take the (insurance) money and run, so to speak. It was getting a bit old (not in years but in mileage), so replacing it with something fresher was inevitable anyway. The decision has been forced on me, that's all.
So, I had to buy something else - big problem. Nothing on the market today is exactly what I want (remember my daydream about a ZZR 900 ? Well, it hasn't happened yet...). However, rumor has it that Kawasaki will introduce the ZX-12R in Paris early October. I've decided to wait a few months and then, funds permitting, buy one.
In the mean time, I've bought a '91 Honda CBR 600 F2 with 12000 miles on it. It's cheap, it fits (very important - and rare) and it will get me through the winter reliably I hope. And no, I don't really like it all that much... but it's a lot better than public transport.
And so the story ends...
My thanks to all of you who responded to this page, and who knows, maybe I'll see you again early 2000 with an all new ZX-12R diary.
That's all folks!
Hi there, just thought I'd let you know what happened in the last few months.
The court has ruled that I have to give up driving for one month (May-June, great!, but at least it isn't two months), plus a three months suspended ban with a two year probation period. And the fine went up by 300 guilders...
My cousin bought a 2000-model ZX-6R with Stinger radar-detection and laser-detection/scrambler. I'm jealous.
I've decided not to buy the ZX-12R - for two reasons: it's pricey and it's heavy (215 kg). The CBR 600 may not be my dreambike, but the fact that it's a lightweight really agrees with me.
So, what would I like to buy (apart from the ZZR 900 which still doesn't exist) ?
A few options:
- Ducati 748 (light, fast, beautiful and it fits, but too much of a racer for my taste)
- Kawasaki ZZR 1100 (I still like it, despite the weight)
- Kawasaki ZX-9R ('98 model because of the styling - it doesn't fit but that shouldn't be too hard to put right)
I'll let you know...
|Oil use since 50400 km
|53130: new oil
|57085: new oil
|Stopped checking at 57780 km
Oil use seems stable enough
||4-stroke, DOHC, in-line four, 16-valves
|Bore x Stroke
||64.0 x 46.6 mm
||76.0 x 58.0 mm
||Keihin CVKD36 x 4
||Keihin CVKD40 x 4
||Aluminum perimeter design
|Rake / trail
||24.5 degrees / 97 mm (3.8 in.)
||26.5 degrees / 107 mm (4.2 in.)
||41mm hydraulic fork with preload and 4-way rebound adjustment
||43mm telescopic fork with preload adjustment and 4-way adjustable rebound damping
||UNI-TRAK with threaded preload adjustment and 3-way rebound damping
||UNI-TRAK with remote-reservoir shock, adjustable threaded preload and 4-way adjustable rebound damping
|Front wheel travel
||119 mm (4.7 in.)
||119 mm (4.7 in.)
|Rear wheel travel
||130 mm (5.1 in.)
||119 mm (4.7 in.)
||120/60 ZR17 tubeless radial
||120/70 ZR17 tubeless radial
||160/60 ZR17 tubeless radial
||180/55 ZR17 tubeless radial
||Dual hydraulic discs / single disc
||2070 mm (81.5 in.)
||2160 mm (85.2 in.)
||695 mm (27.4 in.)
||730 mm (28.7 in.)
||1175 mm (46.3 in.)
||1205 mm (47.4 in.)
||120 mm (4.7 in.)
||110 mm (4.3 in.)
||780 mm (30.7 in.)
||780 mm (30.7 in.)
||195 kg (430 lbs.)
||233 kg (514 lbs.)
||18 l (4.7 gal.)
||24 l (6.3 gal.)
||1430 mm (56.3 in.)
||1495 mm (58.9 in.)