I bought my ZZR600 E2 after passing my test in 2002, have had several other bikes since, but I've hung on to it all this time. The reason is, it's worth naff all to sell, and frankly it's still a lovely bike to ride, and does everything I ask of it. Scratching, commuting, touring, bumbling around town - it does it all.
The engine is a belter. Tractable and docile, and with beautifully set up carb'd fuelling, it will pull cleanly from car revs in any gear, but as it approaches 7000 RPM you feel it perk up, by 8000 RPM it's gone into full blown mental mode, and screams its way to 14,000 RPM (and beyond if you let it) in one addictive long surge. Sounds really angry as it does so as well - like it's about to burst out of the frame. The airbox howls away like on all Kwaks, and it still makes me grin even after all this time. Returns 50 mpg on a gentle commute too. Needs its plugs regularly gapping and cleaning, and the camchain tensioner greasing and resetting annually, but other than that, totally untemperamental, oil tight, and never skips a beat.
When I got it, I quickly became annoyed at the centre stand decking, particularly two up. Although convenient for maintenance, I took the centre stand off, upgrading the hopeless rear shock to a Hagon at the same time. What a difference not only in terms of handling and ground clearance, but ride too. Changing the fork oil for a heavier weight helps the dive too.
The biggest disappointment really is the quality of the parts used on the bike. The cheap mild steel collector box rots and disintegrates, brake caliper pistons seize, discs warp, and fasteners corrode if you even mention the word salt. When the original exhaust fell to bits, I fitted a 4-1 Micron system with a Quill T3 can, which sounds great, but took a stage 1 Dynojet kit and four hours of dyno time to set up. The fuelling on these bikes is very picky, and I would recommend talking to a tuner before you buy replacement pipes - I would have saved myself hundreds. On the plus side, the dyno session found 3 bhp, with a healthy 102 bhp on a then 18,000 mile engine.
It's a comfy bike with a sporty but not extreme riding position, excellent mirrors, and a decent pillion seat. The low seat height makes it easy for shorter riders, but at 6ft 2, I'm not cramped either. You sit "in" this bike rather than perch on top of it. I've done 350 miles in a day, and apart from a slightly numb bum, had no aches and pains at all. The generous fairing makes motorway cruises effortless, but taller riders should invest in a double bubble screen for a more peaceful upper body experience.
On the whole, it's a fantastic bike with a storming engine, license losing performance, and good reliability. With a suspension upgrade it handles well beyond most people's capabilities (mine included), yet will tour, commute and amble equally happily. Peanuts to buy as well, but watch for those exhausts and brakes, as you could quite easily end up spending £500+ to put them right. That's a lot on a bike you can pick up for £800 upwards. If it weren't for the poor quality of the original exhaust, brakes and shock, reckon the bike would deserve five stars.