KAWASAKI ZX-7R (1996-2003) Review

Published: 23 November 2006

"Proof that a motorcycle doesn't have to be the latest, lightest and most powerful to be popular"

Kawasaki ZX-7R motorcycle review - Riding

"Proof that a motorcycle doesn't have to be the latest, lightest and most powerful to be popular"

  • At a glance
  • 748cc  -  123 bhp
  • 42 mpg  -  165 miles range
  • Medium seat height (790mm)

Overall Rating 3 out of 5

The Kawasaki ZX-7R is proof that a motorcycle doesn’t have to be the latest, lightest and most powerful to be popular. The Kawasaki ZX-7R was no match for Suzuki’s GSX-R750 when launched in 1996 and was never updated significantly until it was deleted in 2003. But people love them and bought the Kawasaki ZX-7R because it looked great and they’re a decent road bike if not a match for the competition on the track.

Ride Quality & Brakes 3 out of 5

The Kawasaki ZX-7R is very heavy compared to its rivals, but it's stable and works nicely on the road. The Kawasaki ZX-7R's front end is incredibly precise and communicative – you wouldn’t know what the wheel was doing any better if you were gripping the spindle. Raising the rear ride height and fitting tyres with sharp profiles will speed up the Kawasaki ZX-7R's otherwise slow steering. Brakes strong unless neglected

Engine 3 out of 5

Kawasaki ZX-7R's liquid-cooled inline four is pretty unremarkable but a genuine 110bhp at the rear wheel means it’s still a rapid motorcycle. Carburettors on the Kawasaki ZX-7R equals three things. First a nice, smooth delivery, second, possible stalling as they can ice in cold, damp conditions and third, neglected or high mile Kawasaki ZX-7Rs may suffer problems which can be complex to fix.

Build Quality & Reliability 2 out of 5

Reliability is good – you’re not likely to get stuck at the side of the road with a stationary Kawasaki ZX-7R. But build quality’s less impressive. Down pipes rust, wheel and brake caliper paint drops off, chassis bearings fail as few were greased when the Kawasaki ZX-7R was sold and suspension wears fast.

Value & Running Costs 3 out of 5

A mixed bag. There are some bargain Kawasaki ZX-7Rs out there but there’s also a few dealers asking massively OTT prices. Value your Kawasaki ZX-7R on condition, mileage and service history as well as age. Older Kawasaki ZX-7Rs can be bought cheap and barely depreciate these days. GSX-R750s are better if you fancy the odd track day, FireBlades if you’d like to tour. Find a Kawasaki ZX-7R for sale.

Insurance group: 16 of 17 – compare motorcycle insurance quotes now.

Equipment 2 out of 5

No frills anywhere on the Kawasaki ZX-7R. The riding position’s pretty old-school sports – head down, arse up and a thin seat. Some people find the Kawasaki ZX-7R comfortable, most don’t. The pillion grab handles look generous but there’s little space of leg room for a passenger. Cluttered clocks, mediocre mirrors and the headlight doesn’t work as well as it looks.

Owners' Reviews

52 owners have reviewed their KAWASAKI ZX-7R (1996-2003) 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 4.6 out of 5
Ride Quality & Brakes 4.5 out of 5
Engine 4.5 out of 5
Build Quality & Reliability 4 out of 5
Value & Running Costs 4.7 out of 5
Equipment 3.7 out of 5
4 out of 5

ZX7R P1 Streetfighter

25 November 2013 by Kawasakifreak1

Got my 7R dirt cheap as a crashed ex-track bike - I stripped & rebuilt it & have enjoyed over five yrs of ownership without any issues at all during which I've tailored my 7R to my needs. Now I have all the torque & power I want with the... Read more handling & comfort to match - all for £3500 !! I can't see anything else out there that can compete for value & ability. It's a keeper !

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

we need old school !!

13 November 2013 by Anonymous

Ive had my zx7p5 since june and i love it. It has a big comfy passenger seat. Its been setup for two up and its fantastic with the mrs on the back. You don't see many zx7 around and she's a real head tuner. The new stuff does nothing for me but zx7... Read more just makes me smile every time i look at her.

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

56000miles and counting

30 August 2013 by kawiman123

Had my ZX7R P2 since year2000 to present day. I can't complain. Had 4009 miles on the clock and now has racked up 56,000miles!!!! Its mid range torque grunt makes up for its lack of power else where. Under power it maybe but match this to the... Read more amazing front end makes for confident fast riding! Also add the weight factor and actually makes this a joy to ride on the road. Add stronger clutch springs and advance 4deg and raise rear a tad.

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

Hoping for 100000 miles

10 August 2013 by speed356

I brought my ZX7R new in 2001 never had any major problems with the bike I currently have 94000 miles on the original clutch.I ride year round,42 miles daily commute,178 miles on a tank of gas. Best investment yet and would buy another Kawi in a... Read more minute.

Overall Rating 5 out of 5
Ride Quality & Brakes 4 out of 5
Engine 5 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

My gorgeous ZX7R P3

07 April 2012 by Pompeyal

Awesome bike, lovely planted front end, fast and nice torque, cracking front brake. Comfortable for long runs with my wife on the back. If anyone is thinking of getting a 750, try one, you will be amazed! Read more

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
5 out of 5

A true calssic

11 August 2011 by wesley01

I love my p-4 and cannot believe how underrated they are, one of the best road bikes I have ever ridden including all the new stuff, the looks still have people pointing and I feel like akira yanagawa against the big guns but then again maybe not! Read more

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

good fun

20 July 2011 by jimbo65

Bought a P7 dirt cheap, a set of stainless down pipes sorted it pretty much.Roll on winter, wheels off and powder coated will complete.. Read more

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

7R Heaven

18 February 2010 by kawathrasher

Only bought mine in july 09 after a year away from 2 wheels.My previous bike was a yzfr6 and compared to that the mid range of the kawa is trmendous.Equipment wise the zx is very sparce but it's got every thing you need plus the sound of the howl at... Read more 7-8000 rpm is superb. If your in the market for a cheap rapid and gorgeous motorcycle you will struggle to find better Buy one you will love it

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

A simple bike..

30 January 2010 by mrsteve

I bought my 7R P3 in 2002 just before moving to France. I've thought about selling it many times but each spring when I drag it out of the garage I just cannot bear to part with it. It's only got 16k on the clock and still takes off like a good'n.... Read more The handling is average but safe and even my 58 year old pillion loves the speed. There will come a time when the wrists and the spine will say enough is enough but until then my simple, sexy, speedy, 7R will remain. Anyone got a nice comfortable Brevia 1100 to swap?

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

A bike you truly fall in love with

28 October 2009 by Anonymous

I had a 1999 ZX7R P4 from 2003-2004 and I still remember it fondly. Lovely tractable engine with a really gutsy midrange. Sounded fantastic even on the standard can too, but sometimes it felt like it just needed a little bit more top end. Mine was... Read more completely standard - original jets, original exhaust, not messed with at all. I'm sure if it had been a major issue (it wasn't), I could have sorted it. These have been raced for so long you can do almost anything to them. I remember the handling making me feel inadequate - you'd pitch it as hard as you dared into a corner, it would lazily roll on its side and just sit there and go round the corner as undramatically as you like, as if to say "is that all you've got?". Never once did it twitch, ground out, or do anything other than follow the line millimetre perfect as asked. So much feel as well which made you confident to push hard. Awful riding position. I know, it's a superbike not a tourer, but blimey. Proper chiropractor stuff if you tried to ride it all day. Could never work out how such a physically big bike could feel so cramped. While I'm moaning, the cold weather carb icing was a royal pain in the backside as well. There's a filter on the coolant branch that goes off to the carbs which needs cleaning out regularly, but this made no difference on mine. It was truly rubbish in Winter. But the best bit was the looks. How many vehicles of any description still make you go gooey when you look at a photo of them 5 years after you've sold them on? It was stunning to look at (in green of course), and I'd often just spend time in the garage looking at it after a run, listening to it ping and tick itself cool, and admiring the lines. It is a bike you bond with on that level. You forget the bad bits, and just enjoy it for the sheer soul of the thing, and the way it's such a lovely thing to own as well as to ride. If I could have two bikes, including one that worked properly in cold weather and wouldn't kill my back riding it every day (getting old), I'd buy another one tomorrow.

Overall Rating 4 out of 5
Ride Quality & Brakes 5 out of 5
Engine 4 out of 5
Build Quality & Reliability 4 out of 5
Value & Running Costs 4 out of 5
Equipment 2 out of 5
Read all 52 owners' reviews in full

Facts & Figures

Model info
Year introduced 1996
Year discontinued 2003
Original price -
Warranty term (when new) Two year unlimited mileage
Running costs
Insurance group 16 of 17
Annual road tax £80
Annual service cost -
Performance
Max power 123 bhp
Max torque 58 ft-lb
Top speed 165 mph
1/4-mile acceleration 11.2 secs
Average fuel consumption 42 mpg
Tank range 165 miles
Specification
Engine size 748cc
Engine type 16v in-line four, 6 gears
Frame type Aluminium twin spar
Fuel capacity 18 litres
Seat height 790mm
Bike weight 203kg
Front suspension Preload, compression, rebound
Rear suspension Preload, compression, rebound, ride height
Front brake Twin 320mm discs
Rear brake 230mm disc
Front tyre size 120/70 x 17
Rear tyre size 190/50 x 17

History & Versions

Model history

1996: Kawasaki ZX-7R launched.
2003: Kawasaki ZX-7R discontinued.

Other versions

1996: Kawasaki ZX-7RR . Limited edition race homologation version of the Kawasaki ZX-7R. Stiffer frame, flatside carbs, close ratio gearbox, single seat.

Photo Gallery

  • Kawasaki ZX-7R motorcycle review - Riding
  • Kawasaki ZX-7R motorcycle review - Side view
  • Kawasaki ZX-7R motorcycle review - Instruments
  • Kawasaki ZX-7R motorcycle review - Side view
  • Kawasaki ZX-7R motorcycle review - Side view
  • Kawasaki ZX-7R motorcycle review - Side view
  • Kawasaki ZX-7R motorcycle review - Side view
  • Kawasaki ZX-7R motorcycle review - Suspension
  • Kawasaki ZX-7R motorcycle review - Riding
  • Kawasaki ZX-7R motorcycle review - Riding
  • Kawasaki ZX-7R motorcycle review - Riding
  • Kawasaki ZX-7R motorcycle review - Instruments
  • Kawasaki ZX-7R motorcycle review - Top view
  • Kawasaki ZX-7R motorcycle review - Brakes
  • Kawasaki ZX-7R motorcycle review - Rear view
  • Kawasaki ZX-7R motorcycle review - Suspension
  • Kawasaki ZX-7R motorcycle review
  • Kawasaki ZX-7R motorcycle review - Riding
  • Kawasaki ZX-7R motorcycle review - Side view
  • Kawasaki ZX-7R motorcycle review - Instruments
  • Kawasaki ZX-7R motorcycle review - Side view
  • Kawasaki ZX-7R motorcycle review - Side view
  • Kawasaki ZX-7R motorcycle review - Side view
  • Kawasaki ZX-7R motorcycle review - Side view
  • Kawasaki ZX-7R motorcycle review - Suspension
  • Kawasaki ZX-7R motorcycle review - Riding
  • Kawasaki ZX-7R motorcycle review - Riding
  • Kawasaki ZX-7R motorcycle review - Riding
  • Kawasaki ZX-7R motorcycle review - Instruments
  • Kawasaki ZX-7R motorcycle review - Top view
  • Kawasaki ZX-7R motorcycle review - Brakes
  • Kawasaki ZX-7R motorcycle review - Rear view
  • Kawasaki ZX-7R motorcycle review - Suspension
  • Kawasaki ZX-7R motorcycle review