All my salivating over the prospect of test riding dozens of bikes before I bought my next one... So much for that. After riding a couple of ZX-7Rs, a CBR6 and a Diversion, I ran across a 10yo ZX9R and nearly tripped over myself in my eagerness to toss my wallet at it. Damn my youthful enthusiasm. My plans of buying a crashed shitter sportsbike and streetfightering it went out the window when the bloke wheeled out his "good condition" bottom dollar 9R... 33000k and in beautiful nick despite one of those magnificent 90s "Stevie Wonder at the easel" paint jobs. New qualifiers, new chain and sprockets, Remus pipe, rego and RWC... Nothing more than the eyebrow-raising purchase price to spend. The ride is very different from the Hornet; it's far more heavy, beefy and muscular. It inspires less hooliganism because you're well aware of how fast it wants to go at all times and it's up to you to keep the bearded, butch motor from surrepticiously meandering its way well over the limit. Suspension and braking are magnificent; plush, taut and strong in all the right places and the bike will sit happily on its upside-down nose despite its sheer bulk - not that I've engaged in too much of that sort of shenanigans yet, it was pissing with rain when I went to pick it up. At both ends there's more than enough tweakery springery to keep me confused for months. I mean seriously, 20-click adjustable compression damping, 4-click rebound damping, spring preload and ride height adjustment in the rear shock alone. Sheer self-indulgent hedonism, I tells ya. For now I haven't touched a thing and it feels composed, even gentlemanly in the few sweepers I've taken it through. Not the quickest steering bike in the world, but it takes surprisingly little effort to get it turning. We shall see what happens when the pace comes up, for the moment I've got my nanna plates on due to recent memory of how hard the ground hits you when you start being silly. Comfort and useability-wise it's a massive step up from the zx-7Rs I tried earlier, even if it loses a lot of the 7's giggle factor. Steering lock is just about into the "useful" range, although we'll see how it handles proper traffic soon enough. I'm bound to be disappointed, I've been spoilt by two years in nekkid Hornet land where traffic is a giggle a minute. For longer trips, the big wide seat, high bars and low pegs will make for a relaxing ride for this larger arsed gentleman. It's the Solway "My Size" sportsbike. I feel I'll probably have to get a smaller countershaft sprocket on it sooner rather than later; it feels vastly undergeared to the point where 60kmh is almost too slow for second gear. That might change once I get it tuned up, because it has sat with ageing fuel in it for the last 3 months and is a little bit spluttery between 2-3k RPM, but it would surely help get those 140-odd (claimed, more like 120) neddies galloping up through the gears a bit quicker. Buggered if I'm going to go hunting for top speed more than once or twice, I expect it to be "sweet Jesus" fast, so it's ripe for a toothectomy on the front I believe. So yes, I'm happy to be back on the road, even if my insurance quotes are now well and truly in breach of the geneva convention and I'm tempted to go 3rd party or nothing at all, so I can crash it, scratch it up and 'fighter it without further delay or any concern that I might be invalidating my policy with a racy air filter. Here's the only picture I could find of another bike with this schizophrenic colour scheme. Turn away if you've just eaten or have epilepsy, it looks like a Ken Done self portrait: Oh, and it has good underseat storage, a proper fuel gauge and those nifty hinged mirrors that fold in when you're going the lane split. It harks back to those sepia-toned days of yore where even hairy-bollock sportsbikes were expected to be practical vehicles, as opposed to today's "pack your credit card and poke your toothbrush up your date" super dooper race reps. So there you go. I'll bring it down to coffee next chance I get, I've been missing Southbank, and I'm sure all the lovely office girls will be keen on throwing a leg over the big Ninja... Actually, there we go, I've been trying to think of what to call it... Perhaps the "Minja?"