The ZX7R was always my dream bike when I was younger. From every angle the styling of the 7R just screams ride me/ touch me/ look at me, in short, it was the object of my my motorcyling desires. In 2006 after blowing up two supermoto's, I decided it was time to go back to a more reliable and rev hungry in-line four. With a my modest budget and need to get the most bang-for-buck, the 7R was naturally my first choice. I came across a Pearl Black/Purple 98 model with 8000kms on it and an owner, who, admitedly had bought it new because his mates had bought one and only riden it to the cafe up the street on the occaisional Sunday morning. It came with the original Dunlop 207's on it (very squared off) and the only modification being a bolt-on yoshimura pre-RS3 end can.
I put in into the local Kawasaki dealer to have it serviced, who incidently had sold the bike originally, and fitted some fresh tyres (Michelin Pilot Power 120fr/180rear), a K&N hi-flow race filter, stage 2 Dynojet needle kit, some crash knobs, smaller indicators, a tinted double bubble race screen fitted, and the ride height adjusted (rear end 5mm from Top bolt -Front droped 10mm through triple clamps) and all the cables and bearing lubed and checked ready for me to ride. The first time it fired up post service, it was spine tingling. All my boyhood fantasy's were about to be either realised or dashed.
Thankfully, and impressively, it was everything I'd ever thought it would be. It's stocky, it's intimidating, it's svelte, but it's also so user friendly and forgiving. It's a very basic bike with not many Bells and whistle. No Fuel gauge, minimal suspension adjustment available, no electronic fuel injection or flashy LED's. But this is exactly what makes this bike such a modern classic. It is, and has been, built to be riden. And riden hard. The harder you push the 7R, the more it will give you. The front end stability and feed back has been a benchmark for more than 10 years that followed the release in 96 and still is referred to today by motorcycle media. It is this stability and feedback that allows me to push very hard into and through corners as I compensate for the deficit in outright horsepower when chasing or passing much newer bikes up through the hills or on the track. Thats not to say that you can't screw the throttle on early either, as the 110hp output (mines up too 119 atrw) isn't goin to throw you off. It brings in the power in such a smooth and predictible way, it gives you the power of control in your right hand to know exactly what the bike is doing all the time.
I've had the opportunity to ride many modern bikes, the latest and greatest, the prestigous, but everytime I throw the leg back over the 7R I can't help but get a huge grin across my face. It is old, it's not the fastest, but it is rewarding and in my eyes an absolute modern classic.