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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)

  • 2nd time around after 1st one nicked

    CelticBiker

    Average rating rating is 4.5

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    Overall
    Ride and Handling
    Equipment
    Quality and Reliabilty
    Value
    Engine

    Bought one from scratch 2 years ago but had it nicked from a quiet London street, so decided to save money and get a slightly used one, same glorious black and gold livery. Now had this one 6 months and still really pleased with it, for the most part. In London, insurance is a problem - standard garage of Bikesafe is compulsory, and even then it's a fortune for fully comp. Not good for city use really. Never gets out of 1st/2nd, heats up, guzzles fuel and feels temperamental, jerky and snatchy. Depends a bit how you tune it, but I always find mine frustrating till at least 2k and until past 1st gear. Might end up getting a runaround for London and keeping this for Sunday best/touring abroad. Riding position is great, long-haul trips a joy, no complaints on the ergonomics front. Strengths: Great pull after about 2-3k, very smooth in any gear above first (see weaknesses below) and beautiful finish (while it lasts?). For its cubic capacity, the profile is pretty slim. I managed to follow a mate on his new ZZR6 through really tight London traffic, so must be about same width, I would have thought. Great set of tripmeters and alternative displays. Weaknesses: No centre stand . No hard luggage available to speak of (not quite true, found some ultrasmart but practically naff, tiny hard panniers in the US that would have cost £600 to buy, another £100 to spraypaint same colour as bike and probably a good £50+ to ship over from the US). Cruising range too short for my liking (especially abroad and in remote areas): only ever managed to get 120 out of her on a full tank, even riding carefully without urban stop/start palaver.

    28 July 2006

  • The best supersports bike I have owned

    ninjarider342

    Average rating rating is 4.5

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    Ride and Handling
    Equipment
    Quality and Reliabilty
    Value
    Engine

    I bought the bike brand new in 2004 after riding a ZX7R for three years and nothing could prepare me for the awesome power of the machine, this thing kicks arse believe me. People say that this bike eats rear tyres, well maybe they should try pirelli diablos as they give plenty of grip and are slower wearing. Mine is now fitted with a twin port blueflame exhaust and none of my mates on there bikes; r1s, blades etc can keep up. The bike is very capable on long journeys too with a very comfortable seat especially two up and suits my 6ft frame easily, but the only downside is the limited fuel tank range but when you have a bike this powerful you can expect shortfalls (ballistic missile). Strengths: Very very torquey engine,handles quite well,looks good,good brakes,grin factor.. Weaknesses: Tank range.

    02 May 2006

  • What a bike!

    Linkcctvnorth

    Average rating rating is 4.5

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    Overall
    Ride and Handling
    Equipment
    Quality and Reliabilty
    Value
    Engine

    I took delivery of the Z new having chopped in my ZX6R but befor that I had a TLs, TLr, Blade etc and when people say you can't beat CC's they are right and the Z has plenty. Once past the flat spot at around 3K the bike will pull until you bottle it and wheelie like a TL from the gun. Handling is not that bad once you get in to how heavey it is but then again bike are cool when refered to by none bikers as a monster, normaly followed by how quick is that and yo0u can say faster than anything you have ever see EVER. The bike is happy on the track, down the local pub, in the twisties and two up touring. Fancy one JUST DO IT you will not believe how good this bike is. Strengths: Stability, handling and looks This is a proper bike from when bike were big and CC's were the name of the game. Don't fall in to that micro small bike trap go big get a Z. Weaknesses: Being big has it's down sides Back tyre will take a beating and moving the bike from a parking space requires time but once moved it's like the ZX7R light on it's feet and full of attitude.

    07 April 2006

  • Great bike, nothing else in its class even comes close.

    paulsorr

    Average rating rating is 4.5

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    Overall
    Ride and Handling
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    Quality and Reliabilty
    Value
    Engine

    Bought this bike after briefly straying from Kawasaki to the nightmare world of Italian V-Twins... I made the decision to never stray again the first time I opened the throttle and fishtailed down the road! When you look at the figures that this thing boasts, it should terrify you every time you ride it, but it is by far one of the easiest rides I have ever had. Buy one. You won't regret it. Just avoid the pre-2002 models. Not because they are bad,  just becasue the post-2002 model is so much better looking! Strengths: Fuel costs notwithstanding, this is a surprisingly cheap bike to run. Insurance is not a bad as you'd think (mine is cheaper than my Aprilia insurance was!) and servicing is reasonable too. So reliable it makes me suspicious! Mine has done 21k now, with no signs of trouble. Breezed both of the MOTs it has been subjected to. Weaknesses: I'll agree with the others that the brakes can seem weak, but if you grab a handful this beast will stop dead. You need strong arms if you really want to haul this thing up in a hurry. Also, it loves back tires. Alot.

    31 March 2006

  • This is the nuts

    xninja

    Average rating rating is 4.5

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    Ride and Handling
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    Quality and Reliabilty
    Value
    Engine

    Bought the bike after a 3 year break. Owned a 99 blade before which was like a kids toy in comparison to this little beast. Lot of bike for your money. Strengths: Torque and shear power are awsome, I thought the blade was quick but this is something else. Weaknesses: Weight, I`m a big chap but find it is heavy while trying to park in a confined space. Finish could last better in my opinion.

    20 November 2005

  • Great presence, it's happy to bimble but hit 10K revs and it's mental. Best bike I've ever owned!

    Vanhooligan

    Average rating rating is 4.5

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    Overall
    Ride and Handling
    Equipment
    Quality and Reliabilty
    Value
    Engine

    I has a Hayabusa when I bought my '12, but the 'busa went after it could not come close in looks, performance and handling. The ZX12 will eat Hayabusas once you hit the ram air about 10K revs. It needs tweaking though, PC111, G-pack, braided hoses, sintered pads and wavey discs. Then it becomes a serious tool. Strengths: Suspension and handling sweet once tweaked to your own style/ weight to handle as well as most sports bikes. Power and accelaration in 2nd and 3rd is mind blowing and it leaves everything behind. Weaknesses: Poor standard brakes and lacks low down torque. Pillion seat cover is flimsy and poorly designed.

    08 July 2005

  • Bought new in 2005 no mods as fast enough. Why no hugger or grab rail on a bike at 9 grand?

    YAMKIDDO

    Average rating rating is 4.5

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    Overall
    Ride and Handling
    Equipment
    Quality and Reliabilty
    Value
    Engine

    Great engine, handling, brakes. no problems with the seat comfort on long journeys. believe the hype it is all true. Fuel range is poor when caned hard but ok when ridden as law intends (boring!) different machine when pushed. Strengths: Creamy torgue of the engine and great prescence on the road. Stable on long A roads buta bit lardy on tight bends. Brakes are exc ellent, running costs are acceptable for a bike this size, pay for what yer gets. Weaknesses: Tank range and no grab rail. I bought mine for touring, scratching, everyday use. No thought to pillions is bad. not a bike for the home mechanic which adds to running costs.

    13 April 2005

  • Brought new in March this year I'm upto 859 on the clock ready for it's first service

    deaco

    Average rating rating is 4.5

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    Overall
    Ride and Handling
    Equipment
    Quality and Reliabilty
    Value
    Engine

    Great handling, been to Bournemouth and Poole, over to Portland bill (not in one day) for the week. Brilliant through the New Forest, Hampshire. Then back home to reality (That sucks). It gets very warm quickly through the towns. On the open roads you have to watch your speed, if you forget to keep your eye on the speedo, next thing you know there's this blue light trying to get your attention (not me though). Next long trip will be the TT. Strengths: Power, Handling. Weaknesses: Fuel range, Storage space, comfort can be sorted with a gel seat and pillion (no grab rails).

    10 April 2005

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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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