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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
£2,780 (2000) - £4,150 (2004)
Private used prices
£2,500 (2000) - £3,740 (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

22000 miles

£2,691

Kawasaki
ZX-12R

26000 miles

£2,491

Kawasaki
ZX-12R

23899 miles

£3,495

Kawasaki
ZX-12R

25447 miles

£3,999

Kawasaki
ZX-12R

11317 miles

£3,100

Owners' Overall Rating rating is 4.5(30 reviews)

  • 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

  • Massive Beast

    jimmyblade1

    SHEFFIELD , UK

    Average rating rating is 4.5

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    I have recently swapped my GSXR 1000 for a 2002 model zx12r. I wanted somthing slighty bigger for touring and commuting but still be able to excite me on sunday blast. The hayabusa was an option but seem very expensive second hand compared to the ZX, so i got a later model Red ZX12r. This bike is the BEST all round bike i have ever owned (R1,ZX9,GSXR1000,CBR600,TL1000r,Monster,Bandit) it has power anywhere and everwhere, handles supurb for a big bike, is great at motorway cruising and cant be beaten in a straight line by anything ! The ZX12 is heavy when moving around but loses the weight when it gets rolling, it is also very, very comfy. All in all i do not regret making the change from litre class sportsbike to sports tourer although its much more sports than it is tourer!!

    09 November 2007

  • ZX12R vsHAYABUSA.

    trufftastic

    PONTYPRIDD , UK

    Average rating rating is 4.5

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    Not trying to sound to smug , but lm a one of the lucky one`s , at the moment l own a 12r and a busa at the same time. Bought the 12r as an impulse thing, glad l did aswell . Its a total different bike to the busa , better at low speeds, due to the increased height it flicks about a bit easier. Wasn`t totally overwhelmed at first but its grown on me considerably. Swapped my GSX1400 as l never wanted to ride that after buying the busa. Thought if l got a similar performing monkey there`d be more chance of it entertaining me. At first found it a distant second on power to the busa(due to the busa`s mods) upped the 12r`s power and made it a far better bike to ride. Quite a handful now. Clocks could be better, like the busa digital items would be better, can`t read em at a glance once over the ton mark. For tyres l run Avon Storms, what a tyre, the both bikes are shod in em. They`re amazing, used to use Azaros on my bandit, good but killed em quickly. The storms do 3000miles on the rear on the busa , done 2000 on the 12r and plenty left. Engine hunting at tickover, nothing major just annoying at junctions, caught it on the down side at a lazy take off only for it to stall on me. My fault as much as the bikes. Mine is met. green a stunning colour, if it wasn`t that it would av to be black. Insurance , got 3 bikes on my policy with Express insurance , a cbr1000 streetfighter to, all for 450 quid fully comp protected , 3yrs NCB, 3 points. Brick garage.

    29 September 2007

  • its not fluffy

    mr zulu

    Average rating rating is 4.5

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    Engine

    fuck me this is quick,bought new in 2005 after part ex'n my k2 gsxr1000,at 6'5 i wanted a bigger bike physicaly,better bike for 2 up days,and something a little different.all boxes ticked.put a full akropovic and pc3 and kn's on and full dyno with cresents in verwood 186bhp a the wheel is enough for anyone.2 up makes no difference to the way this thing gets from a to b.got the radial brake version and they seem fine bearing in mind they have to stop 1/3 of a ton from 150/160 mph.few down sides most of which are well known.if you want cheap running costs this aint the one for.eats rear tyres,drinks like amy winehouse and finish on the shiny bits isnt the best either.insurance isnt bad £300 f/c for a 32 year old.i love this bike,every time without fail i ride this bike i enjoy it.if you want a bike that IS quicker than anything else on the road with more comfort than an out and out sports bike this is the one.go one treat yourself

    19 September 2007

  • OMFG!!!!

    Graham Bourke

    BILLERICAY , UK

    Average rating rating is 4.5

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    Engine

    Having just recently chopped in my R1 after nearly 8 years of ownership and taking delivery of what can only be described as a Cruise Missile, I was a little apprehensive at first as to how I was going to get on with it. At first it appeared absolutely HUGE in comparison to my, from a cereal packet, R1. However, the stability amazed me and I found myself wafting along at silly speeds. Cornering stability is so much more predictable than my old R1, which seemed hell bent on trying to kill me every time I took it out for a spin. Maybe it’s the slower steering, or the extra weight? The engine is absolutely stonking. Even short shifting through the gears you find yourself miles ahead of practically everything. The most shocking thing was the fuel gauge. Having just put it in for a service I had them check the fuelling was ok as the tank range seemed ridiculous. I’ve been taking it relatively easy while I get used to it but the gauge seems to drop at an alarming rate. It’s the only bike I know that uses fuel just “looking” fast. Oh well, it’s only money…

    07 June 2007

  • What an incredible machine

    TenBears

    Average rating rating is 4.5

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    Simple awesome... just so glad Kawasaki made this beast, its incredible. Best of bunch for sure. =o)

    25 May 2007

  • ZX12R

    Mick7777

    Average rating rating is 4.5

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    A fantastic bike how ever its top heavy and really not suitable for mountain roads with tight bends.I have toured Eurpoe on mine. It has been Maxtonised front and Rear. For all normal roads its very hard to beat but as soon as you hit any slow tight bends it shows its short comings.Long motorway hauls are a pleasure if you can control the urge to ride quickly. It needs a bigger fuel capacity, as at decent speeds it will drain a full tank in 80 miles. Back tyres should be ordered as soon as you fit a new one. Mine last 2000 miles aprox I think the new ZZ14R is pig ugly so will keep mine until Kawasaki build a prettier alternative.

    10 April 2007

  • Excellant bike

    blackcat

    Average rating rating is 4.5

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    I bought mine as a pre reg. It is an awesome bike. Fitted a 190 to the rear and dropped the forks 8mm so she even handles better ( I'll never do 185mph on it btw). My only downside was a BIG fallout with the warranty dept. so I'll never EVER be buying another Kawasaki...but if you want a good fast COMFY bike ( oh and fit a pair of HELLI BARS, brilliant ) then this is a good bet. Not as well finished as my Triumph though :-( Finally, ditch the Dunlops..seems to be a world wide recommendation but as we all know..tyres are a personal touch.

    06 April 2007

  • ZX12R

    Spearjig

    Average rating rating is 4.5

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    Bought in March 2006 . Banned May 2006 . Sums up were this bike can take you if the right hand is allowed to rule the head. Simply awesome.

    23 March 2007

Discuss this

Add your comment
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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