The bargain alternative to the... BMW K1300GT
First rides & tests
24 July 2009 15:49
The BMW K1300GT arguably has more road-focussed new technology on it than any other bike: sat nav, fuel-sipping engine management, mega-grunty top gear performance, a totally stable Hossack front end and adjustable suspension. Plus heated grips and panniers. But what if you can’t afford £12,240?
Why not consider... a Kawasaki ZZ-R1100?
OK, ZZ-Rs are ancient history by today’s standards. Except they’re not. They’re as comfortable, tireless and (near as dammit) awesome as today’s sports tourers. And you can get a nice one for as little as £1500.
There were two ZZ-R models: the C model between 1990 and 1992, and the slightly slicker, better-looking D which ran from 1993 to 1997. Power, even on a high mileage bike, is likely to be high 130s bhp, with torque up around the 80ft-lb mark. The shudder at 4000rpm is an addictive ZZ-R trademark, and for sheer road presence you won’t need more.
Passenger comfort is excellent, and the flip-up bungee hooks should be on every modern bike. For the rider, the riding position and wind protection is luxurious: this is a serious 500 miles in a day machine – if you can afford the tyre rubber. All it’s missing is the gizmos of more modern stuff.
Be careful about ‘too cheap to be true’ bikes, mainly because corrosion from road salt creates so much work to sort out. On top of that, high mileage ZZ-Rs may well have eaten chains, sprockets, discs, head bearings, shock and exhausts. Better to hunt around for a clean, late D model and pay up to £2500. Spares are widely available, unless you ned new bodywork.
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