Used Bike

Buyer Guide: Kawasaki ZX-9R

Comfy, ultra-reliable, cheap and 170mph fast. All the inside information on the cruelly underrated and too often overlooked Kawasaki ZX-9R from the people who own them

Click to view: Kawasaki ZX-9R owners reviews, specs and image galleries.

Yesterday’s man. Always the bridesmaid. Give a bike a bad name and it sticks. The sports bike market in the UK is incredibly competitive and like animals on the African plains, any hint of weakness can mean disaster. If you’re a wildebeest, you get eaten, if you’re a bike which isn’t the class leader, you probably won’t sell well.

The ZX-9R was never top dog in the unlimited sports sector nor did it have a following like Honda’s FireBlade, Yamaha’s R1 or Suzuki’s GSX-R1000. From Kawasaki’s business point of view it wasn’t good news but as a motorbike it’s still a superb machine. It handles and brakes well, most riders find it pretty comfy, it’s got character, it’s reliable and it’s 170mph fast. But there were always bikes which could lap a circuit slightly faster so the ZX-9R played second fiddle.

A comparative lack of popularity on the used market is a good thing. The 9R’s massively under rated and can be picked up for a bargain price. The C-models and onwards may only be a couple of percent slower round a circuit than rivals but that translates to bargain used prices. The 9R’s got another ace up its sleeve. It’s more comfy and practical than its rivals. It’s larger and more spacious. The E and F models have very generous screens as well. It was always marketed as a sports bike but it’s got a useful amount of tourability and practicality too.

The first 9Rs were the heaviest of the bunch and don’t handle as well as later machines. B suffix bikes (1994-1997) weighed in at 215kg. The Blade was light and it was right, plus the big Kwak had other handling issues which meant it was never going to be captain of cornering. That all changed from the 1998 C suffix models onwards but even then the 9R was never flavour of the month.

A clean ZX-9R is a great used buy, especially the C models and later versions. Forty two ZX-9R owners filled in out on-line survey telling us all about their bikes. They’ve done almost half a million miles on these machines so you can believe what you read here.

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