Mixing comfort and speed is a combination usually saved for bigger capacity motorcycles as most middleweight machines are full on sports bikes or captain sensible machines that lack that exciting punch. The Kawasaki ZZR600E can take you to the thrills of nigh on 150mph speeds and also happily potter about for hours and leave you feeling ready to do it all over again. The four cylinder water cooled engine was slightly reworked from the original ZZR600D model and was mated to a more capable chassis. It was also easier on the eye too. The ZZR600E arrived in 1993 and was part of the Kawasaki range for just over a decade. It’s easy to see why the formula worked so well. The middleweight was more than capable of doing the job of a bigger cc machine and also offered cheaper running and insurance costs. Kawasaki claimed 99bhp for the ZZR600E, a tad optimistic but there’s no denying that it’s packs a punch. Kawasaki build quality can be an issue, so never rush and buy the first one you see.
What’s it like to ride?
The first thing you notice is the comfy saddle. At 780mm it’s well suited to most riders, regardless of stature. Starting a ZZR600 requires learning the technique as they like plenty of choke and will refuse to tick over until that coolant is warmed up. Once away, you can’t help but be impressed by the grunt from the 600cc water cooled engine. On the motorway it will easily hold its own, it’s dead stable too. Two up riding will get the centre stand grinding because the suspension is just like that saddle, pretty soft. Sensible riding will reward you with around 45mpg.
What to look for when buying a ZZR600E.
We spoke to Vinny Styles, Sales Manager at Wheels Motorcycles, a Kawasaki main dealer in Peterborough, Cambridgeshire. He says: “Corrosion is the main blight that you’ll want to avoid. The worse areas that get affected are the frame, swing arm and fork lowers. It can make an otherwise tidy bike look scruffy. Engines are bulletproof, so don’t be too scared by big mileages, these bikes aren’t getting any younger after all. Later models got a factory alarm and a digital clock, otherwise Kawasaki left the ZZR600E alone. Prices aren’t depended on the age of the bike, older bikes in tip condition fetch more than a late plate bike that’s not been cared for. Owners tend to avoid fitting nasty extras, they usually have sensible ones like racks, luggage and higher screens.”
What goes wrong with them?
We spoke to Chris Tombleson from Grumpy 1260. They service and repair motorcycles at their Norfolk workshop. He added: “There’s two types of ZZR600, those that are well looked after those that aren’t. Most issues come about as a result of poor maintenance. Known issues are a pretty short list, it’s mostly corrosion that creates trouble. Shock absorbers are going to be past their best, so get a Hagon on it and keep it clean. Front forks are set up very soft, heavy duty springs and fresh fork oil works wonders. There are plenty of used parts out there with no major changes for a decade to the ZZR600E. You can find parts from a newer bike and fit them to your older one with no issues.”
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