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ZX-14 Ride report

Discussion in 'Bike Reviews, Questions and Suggestions' started by monyx, May 27, 2006.

  1. While sipping my OJ and perusing the MC classifieds in my local paper like I do every Sat noticed the "ZX-14 now showing..." ad by the local Kwaka dealer...hmm no time to book lets fire up the 'Busa and trundle out to see if I can wangle a ride. They had the 3 colour schemes on show, Red, Black and the Blue one designated the thrasher, sorry test ride duties. Bad in Black the pick...especially as it hides the cheese platter side panel which to be honest seem smaller in the flesh.

    Seeing the bike up close it's dominated by its pair of polished OEM cans and the 4 projector lights. Approach a bit closer and those wide stalk mirrors strike you as a definitely a win for 'function over form'. Funny gadget below/in front of the front sprocket looks like an auto-chain oiler?? Kwaka rep couldn't shed any light on it either...anyway who cares let's ride!

    Bit of throttle cable slack makes for nearly stalling compared to my ultra sensitve 'Busa throttlle, never mind coupla few revs at the next lights will sort that but...WTF?!? Where's the other half of the motor? This thing seriously feels like a 600cc! And that's even in 1st gear. Geezus what's wrong here? Yeah - I know Mr Kawasaki built it for the spec sheets and it shows. Motor on out of Canberra via Majura Rd waiting for the traffic at legal speeds I explore the quite upright ride position, low, small screen but never obscuring the instruments and somewhat thick to hold grips. Quite comfy and reminds of older ZZRs but not the 1100, really more like the 600 - this thing doesn't feel big at all.

    Okay hit a few gaps on Mildura rd and find the power is quite distinct - basically there is nothing much happening until about 5-6k rpm from 6+ rpm things start fly and by 8-9k rpm you better have shifted yourself up onto the tank and wound in your arms from the lazy spectate and tour stance Otherwise you're sliding off the back struggling to keep up! Front-end was mighty light and flicking a bit in about 3rd at 8-9k rpm - really I only was giving it a bit of stick in a straight line. It's showing about 3050 rpm @ 100km/h in 6th - quite high geared. Need to drop a few gears to really whip around cars in a flash.

    Feels light and chuckable and very confidence inspiring - I felt more at ease leaning into tightly curved on-ramp entering the Federal Hwy than other big bikes. I motored down the Fed Hwy touching the double-tonne in spurts before peeling off for the return scoot down Sutton rd. Wind her up...oh the rubber band now uncoils and releases some serious grunt...but why the hell do I have wait for 6k for it to happen? Radial mount front brakes are superb without being deadly - two-finger hard braking from 220 km/h upon seeing a "wide-load" ute appear up the road - absolutely no dramas, though the back brake didn't have much feel and certainly not as responsive so had to keep that in mind when jumping on the anchors.

    Boy though, do I miss the back-torque limiter on my 'Busa - I had to rapidly change my style and return to giving it handfuls of revs on the down-change to avoid compression lock-up. I do this on the 'Busa but only ever so slightly as its FI is sensitive. Taking sweepers at 140-160km/h firm and very responsive handling - hmm not quite sure how willing was to change line mid-corner - have to ride it again and pay attention. Kept saying to myself I can't believe I'm riding a hyper-sports 1400cc bike- just doesn't feel big. I know they say that about 'Busa...but mine definitely feels like a long bike compared to ZX-14. Busa's wheel base is 1485mm compared to 1460 on the ZX just an inch in it. Dry weight for the US model is quoted as same as Busa = 215kg. (Kawka Oz still don't list specs on their site).

    I only found one funny feeling at about 80km/h, moderate rough road, front braking into turns that the bike felt like it had a flat front tyre, kind of oscillating front from left-to-right. Weird and never happened again - I don't think there's a steering dampner on it.

    Despite my old-school four-finger required 6-pot brakes, I'm very happy with my recent 'Busa purchase - although I will now bring forward my braided line upgrade. Busa's grunt and smoothness still grab me and I prefer the slightly more lay-down reach to the bars (6ft, 75kg). Definitely a world-apart in the lower revs. ZX is not light-switch power...but far from being linear and surprising that even in 1st your waiting for the revs to build before the mumbo happens.

    Yeah I know if you're going to launch then dial up revs and launch...but I don't usually do hard starts, I like to pour on the torque progressively for which I think I have the perfect bike already. But yes, 30 min ride on ZX had me as confident or more so in cornering that am on my Busa - though I have only 2k kms up on the Busa ATM. Not sure why Kwaka would keep the ZX-12R along side this - simply no need. It'd be interesting to see if pipes can improve the bottom-end - it definitely needs all the help it can get - I would want a more flexible powerplant for $20.5K on-road "hyper-sports".

    K5 Hayabusa, Yoshi RS-3s
  2. Great Review Mark :)

    Sounds like you had some fun :)

  3. Yeah, the Two Wheels review said roughly the same thing: weak as piss below 5000rpm, then massive power.

    What the hell is the point of owning a 200hp bike if you have to drop cogs to overtake on the freeway?

    Built to a number, not for the real world. Still, it'd be nice to do the whole 300+kmh thing... ONCE :shock:
  4. That was an interesting read, I am still on restrictions, and have been waiting for someone to give an honest review on the zx 14. The bike certainly looks nice.