KAWASAKI ZX-9R (1994-2002) Review

Published: 23 November 2006

"Began life as a sports machine, didn't quite cut it and ended up as an excellent sporty sports-tourer"

Kawasaki ZX-9R motorcycle review - Riding

"Began life as a sports machine, didn't quite cut it and ended up as an excellent sporty sports-tourer"

Overall Rating 4 out of 5

Like so many motorcycles the Kawasaki ZX-9R began life as a sports machine, didn’t quite cut it and ended up as an excellent sporty sports-tourer. It’s indecently fast and should put 175+mph on the clock with minimal hassle. Early Kawasaki ZX-9Rs were heavy but from the ‘C’ variant of 1998 onwards it’s light enough to be a capable if not cutting edge sports machine.

Ride Quality & Brakes 3 out of 5

Early Kawasaki ZX-9Rs weren’t good. The Kawasaki ZX-9R ‘B’ series from 1994 to 1997 was too heavy. Fingers were pointed at the rear swingarm and suspension too. It’s the least sporty of the bunch by some margin. Kawasaki ZX-9R ‘C’, E’ and ‘F’ suffix bikes are all much lighter but still stable and relaxed enough to make excellent road bikes. Brakes are effective unless neglected.

Engine 4 out of 5

Always a strong point on Kawasakis even when chassis development fell behind the competition. The Kawasaki ZX-9R's engine is a classic with modest low rev torque, no major fireworks in the midrange but enough urge to keep the Kawasaki ZX-9R swift. But rev hard and very little will pull away. The Kawasaki ZX-9R has a pleasing growly nature too.

Build Quality & Reliability 3 out of 5

Reliability is good – Kawasaki ZX-9Rs will clock up huge mileages without letting owners down. But build quality can be patchy. Paint is so thin on the wheels even regular use of a lock can rub it off. Corrosion and stone chips are a common sight on Kawasaki ZX-9Rs. Shocks go off quickly and steering head bearings can wear fast.

Insurance, running costs & value 4 out of 5

The Kawasaki ZX-9R makes a good buy for two reasons. First, as it was always a close-but-no-cigar sportsbike, it’s seen as undesirable so can be cheap. Second, owners who do go for a Kawasaki ZX-9R are less likely to crash or thrash their bikes than those with GSX-Rs or R1s. Look for a bike with a Fenda Extenda and buy with a smug grin. Find a Kawasaki ZX-9R for sale.

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

Equipment 3 out of 5

Depends on your perspective. The Kawasaki ZX-9R’s well equipped for a sports bike, quite poor for a sports tourer. The fuel tap is an antique idea with little to commend it but is useful when removing the Kawasaki ZX-9R's tank. Grease nipples on the Kawasaki ZX-9R's rear suspension are a simple, superb idea which few other machines have.

Owners' Reviews

84 owners have reviewed their KAWASAKI ZX-9R (1994-2002) and rated it in a number of areas. Read what they have to say and what they like and dislike about the bike below.

Review your KAWASAKI ZX-9R (1994-2002)
Summary of Owners' Reviews
Overall Rating 4.6 out of 5
Ride Quality & Brakes 4.5 out of 5
Engine 4.8 out of 5
Build Quality & Reliability 4.4 out of 5
Value & Running Costs 4.8 out of 5
Equipment 3.9 out of 5
4 out of 5

The One And Only Kawasaki Ninja

28 March 2016 by Karl

Some quality issues with paint on the rims being to thin and bad corrosion on the inside and outside of the rims, the swing arm paint is also to thin and leads to bad corrosion but front brake callipers demand too much attention this is made worse... Read more when you ride the bike every day in all weathers.

Ride Quality & Brakes
5 out of 5
Amazing bikes one of the best bikes I have ever had the pleasure in riding, would strongly disagree with it not cutting it as a sports bike! can and had run rings around Fireblades and R1's hell even more modern models don't get away from you. a brilliant all rounder unlike the others you can put mega miles on and still feel fresh, biggest ride I have done was 600+ miles only stopping for fuel.
Engine
5 out of 5
Lovely low end torque and bags of power throughout the rev range and will keep pulling to 180 mph, and that ram air growl is so addictive when hard on the power! nothing else on the market comes close to the fun factor this bike gives.
Build Quality & Reliability
4 out of 5
Over all the build is much better then well any bike on the market, I have had a few ninjas now and have had a lot of Hondas and other high quality bikes and Kawasaki are by far the most reliable and well built bikes out there but not faultless. Paint on the rims and swing arm are their biggest let downs on some models C1/C2 especially. Never have a ninja brake down on me or give me much trouble, corrosion is the biggest headache I have had.
Value & Running Costs
5 out of 5
Keep them serviced regularly and they will run forever but front callipers are an issues requiring regular maintenance and this is not cheap!
Equipment
4 out of 5
Given on a bike you don't get a lot of or any equipment this is hard to rate front suspension could be better and Michelin power 2CT's tyre go well with this bike.
Buying experience

Brought from a dealer every time well priced at £1900 unlike some other manufacturers who cost more than they are worth at almost £3000 and would happily pay more for a ninja as they are worth the money.

4 out of 5

08 September 2015 by Shep

Stonking engine, poor finish (corrosion) Rubbish calipers. Read more

Ride Quality & Brakes
4 out of 5
-
Engine
5 out of 5
-
Build Quality & Reliability
3 out of 5
Six pot tokico calipers need new seals and rebuild quite often.Poor.
Value & Running Costs
3 out of 5
47mpg. Upto 58000 miles now and NEVER had the valves checked or adjusted .New oil and filter every year and runs sweet.
Equipment
3 out of 5
18000 miles from BT023 rear, very nice :) Needs EBC pads FA188, cheaper pads just snatch at low speed. 36psi front 40 psi rear.
5 out of 5

The ultimate all rounder

28 August 2015 by KwakkerJack

Outside of any offroad potential, this is the ultimate all rounder. Fast enough for trackdays, comfy enough for touring, good enough in traffic for commuting. Made at a time when sportsbikes were made for the road than overly track focused it is... Read more faster than you'll ever need, sounds fantastic (especially with a Yoshi exhaust), and can be had at what can only be described as a bargain price.

Ride Quality & Brakes
5 out of 5
Sporty handling once suspension is sorted but all day comfort. I've taken it up to Denmark and down to Spain with no problems and felt fine. Bike gives a very plush ride but can understeer a little as standard. I had a KTech fork piston kit put in and now much sharper but ride a little less plush. Rear shock needs ride height jacking up to improve handling (loads on the net about this) but after 21k miles the rear shock was tired so I put in a Nitron Sport which is good.
Engine
5 out of 5
0-3000rpm - pussy cat so easy around town. 4000-7000 - good midrange for lazy overtaking 8000-redline - mental acceleration and weighty front end likes to keep the front down (unless provoked!). 0-60 in 3 seconds, 175mph top speed. 'Nuff said...
Build Quality & Reliability
4 out of 5
Paint on wheels is thin and chips easily. 4 Pot brakes on F1 and F2 models better than older models' 6 pots.
Value & Running Costs
5 out of 5
24000 mile service is expensive as shims need doing (factor this in when buying). Bike is unbelievably cheap to buy so spend a few bob on sorting the suspension and enjoy the distance possibilities over and above its rivals. Sports tourer label is unfair. It is a sports bike (of the era) that feels stable as opposed to flighty and will happily tour. (google "zx9r niall Mackenzie" and read what the 3 time BSB champ says about the big ninja as it goes up against its rivals)
Equipment
4 out of 5
As the MCN review states its pretty good for a sports bike. Used an Oxford 50l waterproof rollbag for the tent, sleeping bag etc and a tankbag for clothes when touring. Bike has got double bubble screen on which is good (no experience of standard screen). Gonna have much more fun going somewhere on this than a beemer with hard luggage.
Buying experience

Paid £2200 for bike (in blue) in good condition with 21k miles.

4 out of 5

19 August 2015 by G Falconar

A real 'sleeper'! Read more

Ride Quality & Brakes
4 out of 5
Excellent ride. Squeaky rear brakes.
Engine
4 out of 5
Strong and reliable. Nice sound - other than the characteristic rattling sounds of that engine.
Build Quality & Reliability
5 out of 5
I have about 60,000 kms with not significant problem.
Value & Running Costs
4 out of 5
Canadian Kawasaki dealers basically double the U.S. price for parts. Fortunately, this bike hardly ever needs anything. Front brake rotors were insane price (well over $300 each) from factory. Got BETTER ones from China for about $150 for BOTH.
Equipment
3 out of 5
No fuel gauge! At least it has a trip meter I can use and a true fuel 'reserve' with a valve.
4 out of 5

zx9r top bike for anyone

11 June 2015 by tesh

Positive- power, handling, brakes, confidence inspiring all what u want from a bike so long as shes been looked after Negative- seat can be a litle sore after a long ride, not much storage but it's a sports bike Read more

Ride Quality & Brakes
4 out of 5
Surprisingly comfortable even with pillion, brakes are great so long as they are looked after. There is a lot of travel on the front brake lever but doesn't bother me too much, although i will be servicing my brakes this week. Comfort wise it's great but a gel seat upgrade is a must for rides over 60-70 miles. Did 150 miles other week and it destroyed my cheeks.
Engine
5 out of 5
One word for this bikes performance... scatty. You won't will be wanting more power on the road
Build Quality & Reliability
4 out of 5
As mentioned by MCN, some of the paint isn't great, brake calipers and rear footpeg hangers tend to go off somewhat. Haven't had any real problems and starts every time with no trouble.
Value & Running Costs
5 out of 5
Not bad for what the bike is. Just The normal full service twice a year, and any consumables
Equipment
3 out of 5
It's a sportsbike so equipment is never going to be great. Enough space for waterproofs though. Shame is doesn't have a fuel gauge.
Buying experience

Purchased from a dealer, got price down from £2299 to £1825, it has fsh and only 17k on the clock when i bought it.

4 out of 5

29 May 2015 by Ian

Excellent grunt and handles like a dream, a very planted bike to ride. A bit on the heavy side Read more

Ride Quality & Brakes
5 out of 5
At its best in the twisties, loves to be thrown around bends and growls out of the other side. Excellent handling and a comfortable sports touring type seat means you need fuel before you need a rest.
Engine
4 out of 5
Pulls like a train, i had problems with mine in the low revs skipping and missing. Changed jets balanced the carbs and no difference, turned out to be the aftermarket stainless exhaust. Put a stock exhaust on and ironed out most of the issue
Build Quality & Reliability
4 out of 5
Generally very well built, some of the fairing bits look second rate compared to my Honda. They dont like aftermarket exhaust systems, stick to original
Value & Running Costs
4 out of 5
Service it myself, tis a bit on the thirsty side though
Equipment
5 out of 5
-
Buying experience

Bought privately, beware of modified to race bikes, bigger jets and different exhausts upset the kwak and make for a horrible round town ride

5 out of 5

15 May 2015 by Joseph Henry

Read more

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

Quick cheap machine

13 April 2014 by Leighj0121

This is a very quick bike, the myth these bikes cannot take corners is completely wrong and they love fast straights where you can really pin the throttle but unfortunately I cannot say how good it is without touching that this bike doesn't even have... Read more a fuel light or gauge on the 99 model that I own, so me as mr clumsy doesn't have a clue what kind of fuel I'm using but apart from the lack of equipment the price tag I paid of £1000 was more then worth it 4***

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
4 out of 5
-
4 out of 5

Great Budget Beast

11 April 2014 by Tomenski

This is the first big bike I had and Oh my was the engine a power house. It's weak points are the brakes but in the end I upgraded the callipers and they were fine. For a bike under 2k you can't beat it much better than buying a beaten up 600..... Read more Reliability issues were purely due to age but a main dealer found the fault in seconds were as a back street garage had it in for a weak and couldn't find the fault. Well worth using a main dealer in relation to your make bike and well worth chosing a bike that you have a local main dealer for...

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

Quite Possibly My Most Favorite Bike

21 December 2013 by TheKawasakiRob

An absolute do it all bike that is just as suitable to ripping up your local twisty road as it is taking a long haul cross country. I rode mine for 70k miles before slamming it into a Jersey barrier. I replaced it with a ZX12, and am having second... Read more thoughts. A solid bike. Love it Love it Love it

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
-
Read all 84 owners' reviews in full

Facts & Figures

Model info
Year introduced 1994
Year discontinued 2002
Original price -
Used price £2,000 to £3,000
Warranty term (when new) Two year unlimited mileage
Running costs
Insurance group 16 of 17
Annual road tax £82
Annual service cost £130
Performance
Max power 143 bhp
Max torque 74 ft-lb
Top speed 175 mph
1/4-mile acceleration 10.6 secs
Average fuel consumption 41 mpg
Tank range 170 miles
Specification
Engine size 899cc
Engine type 16v in-line four, 6 gears
Frame type Aluminium twin spar
Fuel capacity 19 litres
Seat height 810mm
Bike weight 183kg
Front suspension Preload, compression, rebound
Rear suspension Preload, compression, rebound, ride height
Front brake Twin 310mm discs
Rear brake 220mm disc
Front tyre size 120/70 x 17
Rear tyre size 180/55 x 17

History & Versions

Model history

1994:Kawasaki ZX-9R B original model launched.
1998: Kawasaki ZX-9R C completely new model, new frame and engine, single reflector headlight.
2000: Kawasaki ZX-9R E minor mods including stiffer frame and twin headlight top fairing.
2002: Kawasaki ZX-9R F final version with heavier crank and four piston front brake calipers.

Other versions

None

Photo Gallery

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  • Kawasaki ZX-9R motorcycle review - Riding
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  • Kawasaki ZX-9R motorcycle review - Riding
  • Kawasaki ZX-9R motorcycle review - Riding
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  • Kawasaki ZX-9R motorcycle review - Front view
  • Kawasaki ZX-9R motorcycle review - Riding
  • Kawasaki ZX-9R motorcycle review - Side view
  • Kawasaki ZX-9R motorcycle review - Front view
  • Kawasaki ZX-9R motorcycle review - Brakes
  • Kawasaki ZX-9R motorcycle review - Front view
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  • Kawasaki ZX-9R motorcycle review - Riding
  • Kawasaki ZX-9R motorcycle review - Riding
  • Kawasaki ZX-9R motorcycle review - Riding
  • Kawasaki ZX-9R motorcycle review - Riding
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