Kawasaki has over 40 years’ experience in building some of the fastest motorcycles we’ve ever seen. From their ground breaking Z1 through to the ZZR1100, they’ve done their bit to raise the performance bar over the years.
The ZZR1400 first arrived in 2006. It was voluntarily restricted to 186mph (300kph) in line with a gentleman’s agreement between the Japanese manufacturers. It hit the metric triple ton with ease and even had another gear to go. The ZZR1400 was an all-new model and, other than the ZZR name, it shared nothing in common with its ZZR1200 predecessor. The ZZR1400 replaced the ZX-12R in the Kawasaki range as the flagship of the Kawasaki armada and, while you’d be mistaken for thinking that this 1352cc fuel injected four cylinder was only at home at warp speed figures, thankfully you’d be wrong. The ZZR1400 makes a superb sports tourer too. The looks aren’t to everyones taste, but they are easier on the eye than the Suzuki Hayabusa that it squares up to. The first generation ZZR1400 ran unchanged for six years, before Kawasaki gave it a freshen up and launched a replacement in 2012.
What’s it like to ride?
No matter how you look at it, the ZZR1400 is a big bike. Weighing in at 215 kilos this isn’t a bike whose natural habitat is scratching around the lanes and twisty bits. The weight is well placed though, and once on the move the ZZR1400 has the manners and feel of a bike around half of its 1352cc capacity. Its natural hunting ground might be a drag strip, but on the road it’s well behaved in whatever situations you put it in. The longer the journey, the more the bike makes sense. It is a credible sports tourer. Pop on some panniers and a higher screen and you’d be set for any jolly, either solo or with a pillion.
Brakes are superb and there’s adjustable suspension. You can fiddle until you find the perfect setting to suit you, or just leave it alone like most owners do. The tank is good for around 180 miles between fill ups and around 40 mpg is achievable on long runs. Nothing prepares you for the brute horsepower of a ZZR1400 and back in 2006 there wasn’t anything else quite like it.
What to look for?
We spoke to Vinny Styles, Sales Manager at Wheels Motorcycles, an official Kawasaki dealership in Peterborough. He said: “It’s one the finest bikes Kawasaki have built, they got it right with this one. They’re extremely popular on the used market and hold their value well. Dodgy aftermarket parts devalue prices though, so do your best to avoid bikes with non standard paintwork, too many stickers and go faster aids. It seems that many owners find 190bhp isn’t quite enough, so they then fit drag racing inspired go faster bits like extended swing arms, loud exhausts and even nitrous oxide set ups! Standard bikes with a quality luggage set up will command a few extra quid. Service history is desirable too.”
What goes wrong with them?
We spoke to Chris Tombleson at Grumpy 1260. He services and repairs motorcycles at their workshop in Norfolk and added: “The ZZR1400 appeals to both ends of the motorcycle spectrum. On one hand you’ve got the husband and wife who want an inter-continental touring missile. They bring bikes in for extras like panniers and satnavs to be fitted and then tend to leave the rest of the bike standard, with maybe some aftermarket cans fitted along the way too. Then on the other hand there are the speed freaks. The ZZR1400 makes for a great drag racing tool. It wasn’t that long ago it would’ve cost you thousands of pounds in exotic tuning parts to extract extra horsepower from your typical four cylinder big Japanese bike. The ZZR1400 delivers just under 200bhp from the showroom! It’s a great starting point for those who want to race the clock down at Santa Pod. We’ve seen it all, ZZR1400s with big bore kits, stretched and raked out chassis and no end of mind boggling electronics. Sometimes these bikes get returned to standard spec and sold on, so always be on your guard. Brake discs on early ZZR1400s could often warp, but there are plenty of aftermarket options if you don’t fancy OE (original equipment) Kawasaki items.”
Bike Insurance through Carole Nash.