2012 Kawasaki ZZR1400 First Ride

The 2012 Kawasaki ZZR1400 is an absolutely astonishing machine – not least because it exists. We thought that hypertourers had had their day, but thanks to a bulging order book in the USA (they call it a ZX-14) and decent sales in Europe, Kawasaki has been persuaded to give it a coat of looking at. And we’re so glad they did…

That coat involved stroking the motor out to 1,441cc, giving the lump a whole host of internal revisions, treating 50 per cent of the frame to new components, sticking new springs in at each end and then giving this fire-breathing beast an electronics package to be proud of.

The results are spectacular. The engine is the first to impress. Thoroughly usable, but still capable of devastating speed figures, it works as well at 2,000rpm as it does at 11,500rpm – spitting out all of its 200bhp. The KTRC traction control system ensures that you get the best from the motor. It’s not a normal nanny-state TC system, as it allows for slippage and spin, so you really do feel like you’re making progress everywhere. But that’s still not the most impressive bit.

No, the changes to the chassis and suspension really breath new life into the ZZR, and turn add beauty to this beast. Having tested the bike at the Nardo proving grounds, it is astonishing that a bike of this bulk can corner as well as it does. Add in great brakes, a slipper clutch and half-decent ground clearance and you’ve got yourself a trackday botherer

Then we rode it flat out around the Nardo ring. I scored a GPS verified 184mph on the limiter, so it’s pretty rapid. What this means in the real world is debatable, but at least it talks the talk and walks the walk – plus we got to ride flat out for over 5kms.

You’ll read more in the March issue of Fast Bikes, and watch out for it on YouTube and on the Bike Channel. Head to the Kawasaki website for more information.

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