Kawasaki built a Blade beater for 1998, just in time for Yamaha's R1 to trump the pair of 'em. But all was not lost - the ZX-9R drew a dedicated following.
Kawasaki's ZX-9R should always be considered a 'sporty' sports-tourer first and foremost, not a full-on sportsbike aiming to beat Honda's FireBlade or Yamaha's R1.
Once you get this one very important fact straight then you can start to appreciate the machine for what it was and still is: a very fast, well put together motorcycle that's comfy both one- and two-up and available at a price to suit most pockets.
The big K had always had a reputation for making aggressive 900cc bikes, stretching back to the Z1 of 1972, through to the GPz900R of 1984, and they did the business again with the ZX-9R B Ninja in 1994. Thing was, this was a bit of a flawed gem. It was fast, it was furious but it was also a bit wobbly at the back and a little bit lardy to boot. As far as the back end was concerned there was either nothing wrong at all or the rear shock/linkages and tyre combination were all cock-a-hoop (depending on who you believed), but the fact that it was a bit big and a bit heavy meant that, for many bikers in the UK, it ably filled a gap between the ZXR750 sports tool and the ZZ-R1100 tourer.
Things changed in 1998 as Kawasaki got serious. In came shark-like sleekness, less weight (183kg dry, down from 215) and more power - 143 claimed bhp, a whopping 18bhp increase over the previous model.It was better than 1998's podgy, soft FireBlade and Kawasaki ruled the litre sportsbike class. But their reign was short-lived - a matter of weeks in fact - as suddenly the Yamaha YZF-R1 came in, tore up the rule-book and bopped the big Ninja on the nose.
But, even compared to the mighty R1, the ZX-9R still had some things going in its favour.
Firstly, it was fast. Like fast as only Kawasaki can do, even outpacing the R1 in some road tests. Then there was the practicality side of things. The 9R seemed to be practical where the R1 wasn't, despite the Kawasaki's lack of bungee points or a fuel light. This was, in reality, a trick of the light, or at least the seat. It had one, where the R1 had a black Brillo pad.
While the R1 and Blade were honed to battle it out as top litre sports tools, the 9R was allowed to mature into a niche bike for those who like a little bit of comfort with their craziness, until being replaced by the bonkers ZX-10R in 2004.
But if you thought the 9R story died with the ZX-10R, think again. With older models now proving to offer an awful lot of metal (and performance) for the money, as well as inspiring many loyal owners' websites, the bike continued to be sold alongside the 10R in 2004. Even now, with a little bit of searching, you can find a zero mile ZX-9R, brand-new for £6200. That's a whole lotta bike considering the last B-model was sold for almost ten grand new.
Continue the Kawasaki ZX-9R Used Review
Posted: 18/08/2011 at 09:35
Posted: 29/08/2011 at 05:25
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