KAWASAKI ZR-7 (1999-2004) Review

Published: 23 November 2006

"What it lacks in presence and excitement it makes up for in practicality and affordability"

Kawasaki ZR-7 motorcycle review - Side view

"What it lacks in presence and excitement it makes up for in practicality and affordability"

  • At a glance
  • 738cc  -  75 bhp
  • 42 mpg  -  204 miles range
  • Medium seat height (800mm)

Overall Rating 3 out of 5

With its proven engine, accessible power and easy handling, the Kawasaki ZR-7’s the ideal choice for newbies, couriers, and anyone wanting an easy life. At its budget price, it’ll appeal to the frugal, too. What it lacks in presence and excitement it makes up for in practicality and affordability.

Ride Quality & Brakes 3 out of 5

Again, softly-softly is the approach here: nothing’s too challenging with the Kawasaki ZR-7. The suspension’s comfy, if a bit spongy, and the brakes are adequate, whilst handling’s good enough for most things: just don’t go too berserk. The ZR-7’s very forgiving of mistakes and easy to ride but it’s quite a heavy lump and performance suffers as a result.

Engine 4 out of 5

The Kawasaki ZR-7's been around so long it’s virtually prehistoric but that also means it’s a good ’un. It’s very softly tuned, so perfect for inexperienced hands, and power is delivered gently and steadily. There are no hidden glitches (but no hidden moments of naughtiness either, alas). Predictable, a bit fluffy, but powerful enough for a top speed of 126mph. Could be worse.

Build Quality & Reliability 4 out of 5

Ample pillion provision, a good seating position with upright bars, a huge fuel tank… The Kawasaki ZR-7’s pretty versatile. Adjustable clutch and brake levers, wide mirrors (which work), a bit of underseat storage: all relatively basic but useful, like the rest of the bike. Rear light cluster’s nicked from the ZX-9R

Value & Running Costs 3 out of 5

The word “budget” is often used to describe the Kawasaki ZR-7 but rivals such as Suzuki’s SV650 and the old Bandit 600 could be regarded as better bikes for the same money. What the ZR-7 does have in its favour are good fuel consumption figures and a design which makes it very easy (and cheap) to work on. Find a Kawasaki ZR-7 for sale.

Insurance group: 11 of 17 – compare motorcycle insurance quotes now.

Equipment 4 out of 5

Ample pillion provision, a good seating position with upright bars, a huge fuel tank… The Kawasaki ZR-7’s pretty versatile. Adjustable clutch and brake levers, wide mirrors (which work), a bit of underseat storage: all relatively basic but useful, like the rest of the bike. Rear light cluster’s nicked from the ZX-9R.

Owners' Reviews

6 owners have reviewed their KAWASAKI ZR-7 (1999-2004) and rated it in a number of areas. Read what they have to say and what they like and dislike about the bike below.

We’re currently improving the way this section works, which means we’ve had to suspend the submission of new owners’ reviews for a short period. Please check back soon.

Summary of Owners' Reviews
Overall Rating 3.8 out of 5
Ride Quality & Brakes 3.5 out of 5
Engine 4 out of 5
Build Quality & Reliability 3.8 out of 5
Value & Running Costs 4.7 out of 5
Equipment 3.5 out of 5
4 out of 5

Had it a year now and still love it!

07 November 2012 by NB64

After years away from bikes I fancied getting back into them but on the cheap and nothing sporty. Just over a year ago I got an ‘02 for €1,800 with 30,000km on it. I’ve done about 6,000km since then, mainly days out and a couple of trips. I took it... Read more to Italy and Switzerland in the summer, ran without a hitch and was lots of fun. For last month I’ve been commuting on it too. It’s dead comfy, did 10 hour days in the saddle and only had sore shoulders some days. Very economical and I get 230 miles from a tank before reserve. After a long time out of bikes it’s very reassuring to ride, I’m no scratcher though. Very little power below 3000 revs but from then up to 6000 is smooth as silk, apart from a slight vibration at 110kph. As somebody else has said if you want to go over 6000rpm, this isn’t for you. I like the looks a lot, even though mine’s tatty. A screen is pretty much essential for touring, wind blast is an arse on any naked. Nice to have centre stand and fuel gauge. Only complaint is I’d like a 6th gear, but that’s a minor quibble. If you want a cheap reliable bike you can ride on all day at legal speeds you can’t go far wrong with this. Whoever did the MCN review lives on a different biking planet to me!

Overall Rating 4 out of 5
Ride Quality & Brakes 4 out of 5
Engine 5 out of 5
Build Quality & Reliability 4 out of 5
Value & Running Costs 5 out of 5
Equipment 5 out of 5
4 out of 5

Biking Bargain!

29 November 2011 by Gittmeister

I managed to pick up a 2004 model with just 3k on the clock from a "Born Again" biker. Got her for just £1500. I have used this bike, rain or shine. Snow, Ice, Fog you name it. It's bomb proof! Regular checks on the usual and the odd spray of chain... Read more lube and she's ready to go. I easily get 45mpg and clear 200 mile to the tank on my daily commute. She wont break landspeed records, looks boring but she's a proper workhorse! I've had loads of bikes and she's as good as any I've had! Cannot fault it! Added a screen and heated grips for winter comforts, apart from that totally standard.

Overall Rating 4 out of 5
Ride Quality & Brakes 4 out of 5
Engine 5 out of 5
Build Quality & Reliability 4 out of 5
Value & Running Costs 5 out of 5
Equipment 3 out of 5
4 out of 5

all rounder

19 June 2010 by stitchwort

Had mine for 3 years,paid £1800, toured France lots of times, Spain and Italy as well, 230 miles to reserve, cruising at motorway (+) speeds easy , two up touring with luggage and tent, and a corbin seat for comfort now at 23000 miles I,ve still got... Read more it, and I'm not going to change it unless it gets too heavy for me at my age (63)

Overall Rating 4 out of 5
Ride Quality & Brakes 4 out of 5
Engine 4 out of 5
Build Quality & Reliability 5 out of 5
Value & Running Costs 5 out of 5
Equipment 4 out of 5
4 out of 5

Curently own a 7S version

18 September 2008 by fossil

been running my ZR7-S for 3 years now, no problems whatsoever. A very capable scratcher and a nice tourer, Handling is a lot better than I would have imagined for a hybrid sports/tourer. Engine pulls well but could do with a 6th gear for cruising on... Read more mtorways as it's a bit revvy.

Overall Rating 4 out of 5
Ride Quality & Brakes 4 out of 5
Engine 3 out of 5
Build Quality & Reliability 4 out of 5
Value & Running Costs 5 out of 5
Equipment 3 out of 5
3 out of 5

Solid Performer

15 May 2007 by Anonymous

I bought this bike a cheap, hopefully reliable, run-about which I could use during the summer months to get me to work and the occasional run at the weekend. I'd previously owned a Hornet 600 and Bandit 600, so thought I'd try Kawasaki for a change... Read more (my nearest dealer is Kawasaki so it made sense). At £1900 for a 4000 miler 03, bought privately, so a decent price. First impressions are pretty good, certainly not as good a handler as the Hornet but on par with a Bandit. One thing it does have is loads of low down torque - this bike will happily run from walking pace in 2nd or 3rd gear, making it a relaxing bike to ride. If you tried this on most middleweights, they wouldn't be happy, except the old Fazer 600, which has the best engine of the bunch. It's only got five gear and to be honest there's little point revving it past 6000rpm - if you're in a hurry this is the wrong bike for you! It seems to carry it's weight very well and with the low seat height is a very easy bike to ride. In terms of maintenance it should be a doddle - air cooled and 8 valves. Good fuel consumption too (50+ mpg). Cheap to insure. It was also sold in the US for while, so parts are never going to be a problem. Build quality if pretty good, but I have serious doubts about using this bike over the winter - it doesn't look nearly as winter resistant as say the Hornet. The engine in particular look prone to corrosion. Stainless pipes look good though. Another aspect I like is the looks. In blue, it looks great. Putting aside preconceptions about it's performance (not up there with the Fazer and Hornet), for me it's the best looking middleweight. None of the watercooling / plumbing you get with most of the other contenders and I'd say it's better looking than the Bandit (just). So if you're after and low maitenance, good looking, cheap to run and buy, "proper" sized, slightly cumbersome run-about, this might be worth considering.

Overall Rating 3 out of 5
Ride Quality & Brakes 2 out of 5
Engine 3 out of 5
Build Quality & Reliability 3 out of 5
Value & Running Costs 4 out of 5
Equipment 3 out of 5
4 out of 5

My Review

07 March 2007 by cjparry21

Great commuting machine, with a flexible engine. Gets 50+ mpg and and 200 miles on a single tank without a problem. Suspension too soft to be pushed in the twisties, although the brakes are surprisingly effective for a heavy budget machine. Read more

Overall Rating 4 out of 5
Ride Quality & Brakes 3 out of 5
Engine 4 out of 5
Build Quality & Reliability 3 out of 5
Value & Running Costs 4 out of 5
Equipment 3 out of 5
Read all 6 owners' reviews in full

Facts & Figures

Model info
Year introduced 1999
Year discontinued 2004
Original price -
Warranty term (when new) Two year unlimited mileage
Running costs
Insurance group 11 of 17
Annual road tax £80
Annual service cost -
Performance
Max power 75 bhp
Max torque 47 ft-lb
Top speed 126 mph
1/4-mile acceleration 12.4 secs
Average fuel consumption 42 mpg
Tank range 204 miles
Specification
Engine size 738cc
Engine type 8v inline four, 5 gears
Frame type Steel double cradle
Fuel capacity 22 litres
Seat height 800mm
Bike weight 202kg
Front suspension None
Rear suspension Preload and rebound
Front brake Twin 300mm discs
Rear brake 240mm disc
Front tyre size 120/70 x 17
Rear tyre size 160/60 x 17

History & Versions

Model history

1996: Kawasaki ZR-7 was introduced, bearing an engine taken from predecessor,  the Zephyr 750 (and a number of others before that). Minor changes only until it was discontinued in 2004.

Other versions

Kawasaki ZR-7S: Half-faired version of the standard bike which ran from 2001 to 2004.

Photo Gallery

  • Kawasaki ZR-7 motorcycle review - Side view
  • Kawasaki ZR-7 motorcycle review - Side view
  • Kawasaki ZR-7 motorcycle review - Side view
  • Kawasaki ZR-7 motorcycle review - Side view
  • Kawasaki ZR-7 motorcycle review - Side view
  • Kawasaki ZR-7 motorcycle review - Side view
  • Kawasaki ZR-7 motorcycle review - Side view
  • Kawasaki ZR-7 motorcycle review - Side view
  • Kawasaki ZR-7 motorcycle review - Side view
  • Kawasaki ZR-7 motorcycle review - Side view
  • Kawasaki ZR-7 motorcycle review - Side view
  • Kawasaki ZR-7 motorcycle review - Side view
  • Kawasaki ZR-7 motorcycle review - Side view
  • Kawasaki ZR-7 motorcycle review - Side view
  • Kawasaki ZR-7 motorcycle review - Side view
  • Kawasaki ZR-7 motorcycle review - Side view
  • Kawasaki ZR-7 motorcycle review - Side view
  • Kawasaki ZR-7 motorcycle review - Side view
  • Kawasaki ZR-7 motorcycle review - Side view
  • Kawasaki ZR-7 motorcycle review - Side view