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Kawasaki ZX-12R Sports Tourers Motorbike Review

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Kawasaki ZX-12R motorcycle review - Riding
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MCN overall verdict rating is 4

For many owners the Kawasaki ZX-12R combines the best aspects of the Honda Blackbird or Hayabusa, but mixes in a dose of good old fashioned lairy fun. The Kawasaki ZX-12R is a beefy, roomy sports-tourer, with an engine that keeps tempting you to open it up. Decent build quality too.

Engine

MCN rating rating is 4
Owners' rating rating is 4.5

Not quite as fast as the later Blackbird, or the `Busa, but the Kawasaki ZX-12R is very close indeed and few bikers can argue with a 180mph plus top speed as being more than enough. Tweaks to the motor in 2002, as well the fuel injection, with more fuel map fettling in 2004 make the later Kawasaki ZX-12R models a little quicker off the mark, or rolling on in the higher gears.

Ride and Handling

MCN rating rating is 4
Owners' rating rating is 4.5

For a sports-tourer, the Kawasaki ZX-12R handles very well indeed and it has an unusually steep steering head angle of 23.5 degrees, making the front end feel fairly nimble. The unique monococque frame is certainly stiff and stable enough at high speeds and the brakes – especially post 2004 with radial callipers – allowing the Kawasaki ZX-12R rider to push that bit harder than a Hayabusa owner might dare.

Equipment

MCN rating rating is 4
Owners' rating rating is 4

The Kawasaki ZX-12R has an impressively large dashboard, but an analogue speedo reading to 220mph is hard to read at any serious speed. There’s a fuel gauge, plus a clock there too. Pillion pad sits beneath the Kawasaki ZX-12R's seat hump, and thanks to an old fashioned side exit exhaust, there’s a stash space under the seat too. No grabrail though, so Kawasaki ZX-12R pillions need to hang on tight to the rider.

Kawasaki ZX-12R (2000-2006)

Detail Value
Dealer used prices
£2,800 (2001) - £4,170 (2004)
Private used prices
£2,550 (2000) - £3,750 (2004)
  View full used price info
Engine size 1199 cc
Power 178 bhp
Top speed 185 mph
Insurance group 17 of 17
  MCN ratings Owners' ratings
Overall rating is 4 rating is 4.5
Engine rating is 4 rating is 4.5
Ride & Handling rating is 4 rating is 4.5
Equipment rating is 4 rating is 4
Quality & Reliability rating is 4 rating is 4.5
Value rating is 4 rating is 4.5

Quality and Reliability

MCN rating rating is 4
Owners' rating rating is 4.5

Early Kawasaki ZX-12Rs lack the more polished finish of the facelifted 2002 onwards Kawasaki ZX-12Rs, but are still durable bikes. The motors are excellent and can easily handle high mileages. The Kawasaki ZX-12R has a bit of a flagship feel and is a cut above the average Kawasaki sportsbike.

Value

MCN rating rating is 4
Owners' rating rating is 4.5

The Kawasaki ZX-12R isn’t as fashionable as some other mega sportsbikes and during its production run it struggled to match the success of the Hayabusa and Blackbird. But the Kawasaki ZX-12R is every bit as good a bike to ride and buying one used is a good bet – loads of performance for the money basically. Find a Kawasaki ZX-12R for sale.

Insurance

Insurance group: 17 of 17

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Model History

2000: Kawasaki ZX-12R launched.
2002: Kawasaki ZX-12R updated with new bodywork, ram air intakes, gearbox tweaks, engine retuned for snappier acceleration, crankshaft strengthened. Bike NOT available in typically Kawasaki green paint.
2003: Black and gold and green paint schemes introduced for Kawasaki ZX-12R.
2004: Radial brake callipers fitted to Kawasaki ZX-12R, more fuel injection tweaks to boost throttle response.
2005: No major changes to Kawasaki ZX-12R, all black paint option.
2006: No major changes. Kawasaki ZX-12R discontinued.

Other Versions

None.

Specifications

Top speed 185 mph
1/4-mile acceleration 10 secs
Max power 178 bhp
Max torque 98 ft-lb
Weight 241 kg
Seat height 843 mm
Fuel capacity 25 litres
Average fuel consumption 35 mpg
Tank range 180 miles
Annual road tax
Insurance group 17 of 17
Engine size 1199 cc
Engine specification 16v transverse four, 6 gears
Frame Twin spar aluminium
Front suspension adjustment Preload
Rear suspension adjustment Preload, rebound
Front brakes Twin 296mm discs
Rear brake Single 256mm disc
Front tyre size 110/70 x 17
Rear tyre size 190/60 x 17

See all Kawasaki ZX-12R motorcycles for sale

Kawasaki
ZX-12R

37144 miles

£2,799

Kawasaki
ZX-12R

20276 miles

£3,000

Kawasaki
ZX-12R

17048 miles

£5,995

Kawasaki
ZX-12R

20800 miles

£3,999

Kawasaki
ZX-12R

39000 miles

£2,950

Owners' Overall Rating rating is 4.5(28 reviews)

  • jim13

    jim13

    Average rating rating is 4.5

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    Ihave owned my zx12r since 2002 not found a bike better to ride only cost me for tyres and main service in all those years looked at the zzr1400 but pound for pound i couldn,t justify the price for the better performance if it is a little better i will stick with my old mate better the devil you know

    31 August 2013

  • Busa Killer!!! :)

    Osprey11

    Average rating rating is 3.5

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    For start, there is some data that need to be corrected TOP SPEED: 190 MPH FUEL CAPACITY: 20 LITRES FRONT TYRE SIZE: 120/70 x 17 REAR TYRE SIZE: 200/50 x 17 I have a 2000 model and "she" makes me happy every time i ride her!!! I don't think she's to heavy for mountain roads (my tyres can show that) and off course she's an heavy lady comparing with ZX10's R1's and Gixxers, but in the Hypersport class it has far better handling than a Busa or a Blackbird!! The engine is made of parts from a Nuclear Space Rocket... and after 13 years, it still makes other riders with new sport bikes chill, when they see "her", in their mirrors!! It´s a part of history too, because it was the 1st Hypersport bike of the 21st Century and the last one who had 220mph/350km/h marked in the speedometer!! Be careful with the engine temperature in the 1st models 2000-2001, because the radiator is not big enough and only has one cooler!! In the 2002 model they corrected that by installing a bigger and curved radiator with two coolers! My advice is to change to a water-free coolant product! Other than that it's a nice bike, that ages with nobility, and can be a really good mate in travels (forget the passenger!!).

    13 June 2013

  • Finally a bike that I dont make look a 125!

    scottninja

    Average rating rating is 5

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    At 6'4" I have had problems with a lot of bikes instantly being dwarfed when I sit on them. I was concerned that the ZX12r would be too much for my aging body and would not be comfortable especially on long journeys. I have been very suprised to find it feels great. The bike makes me smile all of the time, except when trying to bleed those front brakes - aaaarrggghhh!!!! Quality is great and handling is superb but then I am not a track day fan therefore probably dont push it enough to detect any short comings. I have wanted a ZZR14 for many years but wanted to ensure I experience the ZX12r before I move beyond it. To be honest I think it will be a while as the Ninja is just great, but perhaps not that great for my Missus - after 2 hours its hell apparently!

    03 January 2012

  • yes its fast but

    pinkerton2964

    Average rating rating is 4

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    The zx12 was my dream bike I had zzr1100s & found the handling a touch awkward as were the brakes.On my first run down a country lane I was impressed it handled amazing for such a big bike riding position was nice and with pirelli corsas it handled fantastic in the wet very forgiving for such a powerful motor. My brakes were not so good so gave them a rebuild and braided hoses much better but still not great and they fade also the disks don't last that long. My bike had a race can on that was way to loud so I brought a sports can k & n filter & had a power commander fitted and had it set up on a dyno. The problems started when I went to do a Lands end to John o groats with a friend on a Blackbird we went to John o groats from Birmingham by the time we got there it was no longer my dream bike. People only say 1 thing when they talk about the zx12 power this power that but no one talks beyond that as a tourer it is rubbish the fuel range is crap and the seat is very hard. The brakes are poor at speed (6 pots). The engine is great but kills the chain and with no center stand you can't adjust on the go. It says that the engine is not as fast as the busa or bird but I think it's faster than the birds just that it's all top end. The busa is a better tourer and the bird better than that. I managed to swap bikes for a while and the Black bird is a better package. If you want a sports tourer get a black bird if you want a sports bike get an R1 or GSXR1000. If you want power get the Busa it's less peaky and tougher motor although the zx12 has good build quality. tip make sure you have an extension from the battery to charge it as the battery is a pain to get to also the clutch can be a bit fragile.

    04 December 2011

  • Average rating rating is 5

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    it is mind blowing an unique misle

    22 November 2011

  • Big ZX12R!!!

    umukoro

    Average rating rating is 4.5

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    In 2002 I jumped on my cousin's ZX12R (2000 A1 Model) & I couldn't believe how comfortable it was & how it handled. So I got my 1st ZX12R (2002 B1H Model). Cut a long story short, I'm now on my 3rd ZX12R (2005 B4H Model). Based on my size/build I dwarf the R1's, BLADE's & the GIXXER 1000's so the big 12 is for me! Don't like the look of the Busa& the ZX14, to UGLLY!!! The ZX12R speed/power is second to none. Love it, love it, love it!!! I get told that when I shoot off I'm gone & it's hard to catchup & these guys are on 600 - 1000cc. LOL!!! The brakse are very good, even better when/if you change the pads to Sintered ones. Pros: Looks wicked-(people still stop % stare & turn their heads). It's big & it's my size. The power is somthing to respect - trust me!Very comfortable. Handles good. Cons: Fuel consumption is like an alcoholic! What do you expect, it's a BEAST! It eats rear tyres but that depends how you ride. Slightly heavy in weight. Make sure you fit an aftermarket exhaust it will sound wicked!!! Overall, I can't see my self looking/buying another bike for now unless the manufactures design something simialr & better.

    12 November 2010

  • My 12R Experience

    Sean12R

    Average rating rating is 5

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    I have a size and weight issue (large) so opted for a 2003 (B2H) 12R a few years ago. At first I really thought I'd made a big mistake, as the bike's smoothness and power kept tricking and luring me into situations whereby I'd be going insanely quickly without realising it, all at the wrong times. Thankfully my licence and I just about survived those first few months and I eventually got to grips with the 12R and decided to keep it. I go out with blokes that ride a broad spectrum of superbikes with differing riding abilities and my 12R ensures that my fat carcase is always there with them, on whatever type of road we might choose to ride. The handling is truly awesome and I have no complaints whatsoever. I can only assume that those who do complain about the handling are too small in stature to throw such a powerful ride around. I'm now in a situation whereby my bike is beginning to age but I don't want to be parted from the 12R because there's nothing out there that ticks my boxes like a 12R does. I plan on eventually selling my current bike and buying another out of a box and registering it new. That is how much I like this bike....

    09 December 2009

  • My B6F

    Mauser

    Average rating rating is 4.5

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    Love my bike so much power it's untrue, just pulls amd pulls and your eyes get sucked to the back of their sockets. Not good on tight bends snake pass type but loves the open high speed A roads. First time I saw a black & gold 12 I knew I had to have one terrible to keep the black clean.

    01 May 2009

  • The Beast II

    Gary Ward

    Average rating rating is 4.5

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    I wrote last month about the ZX12 that I had recently bought, and I've now been on my 1300 mile sojourn through France, Germany, Luxembourg and Belgium and thought I'd drop a few lines down here on my thoughts of the bike and how it performed. Naturally, I'm biased because I bought the bike - so I arranged to be accompanied by a buddy who was riding an Aprilia Caponord. He would also comment on the ZX from an unbiased position - However, after one short ride on my ZX 3 weeks ago, he went out and choped his in for a 2002 model... there went impartiality! The ride! We took the tunnel from Folkstone and darted all the way down to Strasbourg using the French Autoroutes - 690km door to door and in the last hour we were beginning to ache. Mainly in the bum department, but it was 7 hours in the saddle so it was to be expected. The neck ache from high speed windblast was addressed with the use of an Alpine Stars "Neck" brace. Speeds on the way down probably 'averaged' 100mph and the ZX ate that for breakfast (and lunch). The run then took us though the Black Forest, which was an excellent ride location in the late sping sunshine, but in the twisty roads that took us up over the top of the hills the ZX's weight and high CoG made it's self apparent (added to by probably another 50kg of gear) and the fast hairpin decents became a little too hair-raising. The blast along the B500 to Baden Baden was a blast to behold! From there it was up the Rhine to Koblenz and then down the Mosel valley to Luxembourg. On the short autobahn stretch we were comfortably able to chase a porsche at 160mph (with luggage!!) and then comfortably cruise up the river roads... the ZX's took it all in their stride and really were a pleasure to ride. The final 400 miles, yesterday, in the wet, were great too. The ZX's were comfortable, and the levels of weather protection were better than I thought they would be. I got home, safe and sound, but more importantly still able to move and walk after 4 long days in the saddle. The ZX can be a beast, but is relatively easy to tame and an absolute joy to ride.... However, it's eaten an almost new Dunlop D207 in a little over 2,000 miles...

    18 May 2008

  • The Beast!!

    Gary Ward

    Average rating rating is 4.5

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    I've had by ZX12R for a little over a month now, and at first I was very dissapointed after previously having a Gixxer Thou and a Mille. The handling was woefull and the fueling felt awful... I can only assume the previous owner was a guargantuan ape, as all of the suspension settings had either been turned to max or min. Sorting those out (return to stock settings) has been a revalation and now I have a beast of a bike that can really handle well (better than the K2 Gix!). The power is awesome! Some would say that they would want more mid range and that a 1200cc shouldn't deliver this much power this high up the rev range. However, I like it like that as it means you have to make a conscious effort to use the power and its therefore less likely to catch you out. Comfort is better than I thought too. A recent run took me down 245 miles in an evening (first long ride of the year too), and whilst I had neck ache and the starting of numb bum syndrome it was not as bad as I would have thought. I'm planning on taking the ZX on a 2000km buzz through Germany next month and I'm not overly concerned with the comfort (although I will report back!!)

    10 April 2008

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Osprey11

Osprey11says

"Not quite as fast as the later Blackbird, or the `Busa..." Are you kidding??!! What Blackbird can beat an ZX12R?!?!? And Slower than a Busa?!?! Where?! "...few bikers can argue with a 180mph plus top speed..." Unless it is a Swiss/French limited version with only 120 bhp, all the ZX12R can go to a real 190mph!!!

13 June 2013 19:16

marktt1962

User's Badge

marktt1962says

zx12r

What are you waiting for???? get back on the 12.... there is nothing else out there to touch it!!! ( in my humble opinion )

27 August 2010 12:26

zed22000

zed22000says

zx12 versus hayabusa

its official,,  I have been riding a 05 zx12 since new, and hell this is one fast bike, it handles superbly under harsh conditions, and out paces everything I have met so far.. the engine just never stops pulling under hard throttle,, and the shape, it looks the way a bike should look... even 2 up with a light passenger, on the mountain roads, they cant keep up, its powerful, hugely angry at times under power and intoxicating, you just never want to stop,,  but I was wondering about the new busa, is it better ?, so I now have that also.. just finished 3500 k's on it, its fast and smooth 240 kph in 4th  so far 290 in 6th..but it is bloody slow in the mountains, scares the tripe out of me when I  am cornering hard..  feels heavy to me.. cant fling it around the same way..  perhaps I need more time with it,, not happy yet !  might even sell it..slightly customised with new paint, r77 yoshi  and aftermarket  grips and levers..  its a little disappointing  in the cornering department.. but looks sexy with the changes - time will tell

 

19 April 2010 09:35

john12r

john12rsays

zx12r

just wanted to say that i agree with all coments made are true i bought my zx12r 2002 red ive only got thing to say that it is an excellant / fantastic all rounder ive had other bikes but none can beat this one the only downside is can not get panniers to fit it has a very high rear can so not even soft luggage panniers can be fitted apart from that its a great bike to ride.

07 December 2009 22:17

zed-not-dead

zed-not-deadsays

Zed 12

This is my 2nd Zed. After having allsorts over the past 20+ years, NOTHING compares (yes i tried the busa,blackbird etc) There are a lot of people out there that think they can handle their GSXR100,Blades,ZX10s etc but a good rider on a well set up ZX12 will eat them alive.

12 May 2007 09:23

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