KAWASAKI ZZR1100 (1990 - 1997) Review
At a glance
|Owners' reliability rating:|
|Annual servicing cost:||£320|
Overall ratingNext up: Ride & brakes
The ZZ-R11 long reigned as speed top dog, but that all changed in 1996 when Honda’s Super Blackbird assumed the title of “Fastest Production Motorcycle”. Intriguingly, however, the ZZ-R continues to impress, aceing the the Blackbird in top gear roll on tests, remaining a great all-rounder and now being better value than ever.
Ride quality & brakesNext up: Engine
The ZZ-R is surprisingly easy to ride. The riding postion is typical Kawasaki – the forward stretched riding position comfy for most, especially for taller riders. And the power available might be intimidating but the bike is actually a real sweetie, just as easy to take to the shops as blast to the Bol. Sweet, neutral handler, too.
EngineNext up: Reliability 5
One of motorcycling’s greats. Open its throttle with anything more than 4000rpm on the clock and the world gets thrown over your shoulders in a blur of colour. The bike also provides its own sound track, growling and snarling with pleasure as it comes on song. The rush of power is awesome, and the bike hurtles forward maniacally at an eye-popping rate.
Reliability & build qualityNext up: Value
Later (D, made in America) versions are the best, with sumptious paint and much improved detailing. Reliability-wise, ZZ-Rs have always been pretty solid, like.
Value vs rivalsNext up: Equipment
The ZZ-R 1100 may not be top dog any more but its pedigree is impeccable and the mere fact its been de-throned by the Super Blackbird makes it even better value. All this for around £2500? That’s some kind of bargain in our book. Find a Kawasaki ZZ-R1100 for sale.
The neat fold-away bungee hooks are well postioned and very useful as the flared tail-piece doesn’t take throwovers easily.The mirrors are blissfully vibe-free with clear views of what lies behind. Essential kit when piloting a motorcycle that can hit the national speed limit in first. Fuel consumption is an excellent 45mpg which allows 200 miles between fill-ups.
|Engine type||16v transverse four, 6 gears|
|Frame type||Aluminium twin spar|
|Fuel capacity||24 litres|
|Front suspension||Preload and rebound|
|Rear suspension||Preload, rebound, compression|
|Front brake||2 x 320mm discs|
|Rear brake||240mm disc|
|Front tyre size||120/70 x 17 in|
|Rear tyre size||180/55 x 17 in|
Mpg, costs & insurance
|Average fuel consumption||31 mpg|
|Annual road tax||£96|
|Annual service cost||£320|
|Used price||£1,400 - £3,000|
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How much to insure?
|Warranty term||Two year unlimited mileage|
Top speed & performance
|Max power||147 bhp|
|Max torque||80 ft-lb|
|Top speed||172 mph|
|1/4 mile acceleration||10.7 secs|
|Tank range||144 miles|
Model history & versions
1991: C1 model launched.
1993: D1 model launched. Now with new frame and bodywork, larger tank and brakes, twin intake fairing, different exhausts and improved instrumentation.
2002: Model discontinued.
ZZ-R1200: Introduced in 2002 with larger engine, revised styling and new lighting. Retained ability of original but lost some of its integrity. Discontinued in late 2004.
MCN Long term test reports
Cure for stuttering ZZR1100
My ZZR1100 was running rough and when I checked the valve clearances there were six tight on the exhaust side. I also balanced the carbs, and it’s now much smoother and responsive, but it sort of misses or stutters between two and four thousand revs Anon, email If it was OK just before you di…
Owners' reviews for the KAWASAKI ZZR1100 (1990 - 1997)
23 owners have reviewed their KAWASAKI ZZR1100 (1990 - 1997) and rated it in a number of areas. Read what they have to say and what they like and dislike about the bike below.
Summary of owners' reviews
|Ride quality & brakes:|
|Reliability & build quality:|
|Value vs rivals:|
|Annual servicing cost:||£320|
Annual servicing cost: £120
The 1100 only has best features, the engine is clearly astonishing,but lots of other stuff, brakes, suspension, even handling, is a clear country mile better than the zzr 600, which is similarly better than any other 600 of comparable age. Financially they both are a brilliant buy. £2000 will get a lovely one. Is that good or what?
As a 68 year old pensioner I have issues with both cramp and back pain. Both encountered early with honda and suzuki machines, the zzr 600 was an improvement, 100 miles then cramp would set in. The 1100 is better still, took my son down to london to collect a new z125, he found the 1100 a big improvement on the zzr600, as did I, 224 miles round trip, bit of cramp and back pain at the 180 mile point.
Its utterely marvellous, the engine is astonishing. It grumbles at you, twist the tap, and it chucks you down the road!.no apologies for doing that to you either, it just does it.The zzr600 screamed like a waterboarded teenager! Yes, whilst screaming it flew, but the 1100 mostly grumbles, and if you are rude enough to it, it snarls at you, and seperates you from both your stomach and common sense with the needle zooming into three figures. Its utterely wonderful, completely insane, delightful, and everytime you get on the beastie, you wear a really big smile. That is what it does to you! Anyone who dislikes an 1100 should have been strangled at birth!
Never broken down, no rust, head bearing were shot when I bought it, £26, but thats all I have had to replace. The front discs have better metal than the zzr600's which will rust if you look at them, clearly and obviously fixed on zx6's and above. Zzrs are routinely reliability itself.
I do all my own servicing and repairs.
Everything about the 1100 is delightful, tyres I have found good are michelin pilots, I have found they wear a bit quickly, but they are soft and grip well. They are on my zzr 600 as well. I have tried other makes, but the michelins came out tops for me. Luggage rails and topbox essential...rails I made myself after I sent off £109 and got nothing in return. I always carry a pump, tyre puncture stuff, so topbox is essential. And as the soft michelins wear the collect punctures quite quickly. So a topbox is a must.
Buying experience: You are going to love this. I bought privately, the bike had a bad case of road rash, thrown down the road courtesy of fantastically dangerous head bearings. And I was nuts enough to drive it 180 miles home...she was 25 years old, pretty good in every other respect...price.. Bought on ebay £821. I replaced the headbearings £26, and repaired the damaged plastics, and resprayed her. £150 approx. For less than £1000, a perfect bike. Have had blokes take photos of her, shes called bluebell and finished in metallic cadburys purple and metallic light blue pearl. Gorgeous!
Annual servicing cost: £150
it is a heavy bike to push around all my friends have had them moved on to zzr1200 zzr1400 but i will not let it go it owes me nothing and no one would give me much for it so its staying with me
as i am getting older now i take more breaks i used to just ride and only stop for fuel etc i have wild camped north Scotland solo and have been with a friend on a round the coast of scotland useing hotels my wife used to ride out with me but cannot sit for long her back hurts her it does every thing i want simple to work on most parts go on and on passed 100,000 and i just love it every one tells me to get a new bike which is not a problem for me to do but i have had so much history with it i cannot do it.
it pulls really well its still got the power to get you out of trouble if some dim wit puts you in a bad situation above 7000 revs you are in a different world it will plod all day 50-60 the engine is solid i only use fully syn oil
it has been very good and reliability has been great
do most of it myself but a friend of mine is a bike nut but helps out if i require him he is very good
i used to use bridgestone tryes would not use any other but was challenged to try the michelin they are superb just shows you how things have moved on
Buying experience: i bought it privately the guy had to sell it broke his heart he had waited 2 years to get the bike then only had it a few week it is a bizarre story which i will not go into just to say it was karma? I looked at it did not try it fell in love with it my fried who used to race road it home for me i had his car an hour 1 hour later he turn up with a beam on his face and he was at the time a racer on the track £300
Annual servicing cost: £250
best features :- ride one then you will know
excellent all rounder, best at long distances, only had a break when fuelling
more than enough power, super smoothly delivered
done at a private garage - BBS - excellent service and value
Buying experience: privately £1500
Annual servicing cost: £600
I have had my 11 for over 2 years now, and it is by far the most superior bike I have owned, reliable, extremely fast, and great to look at. Mine has done 85k and still runs like a dream. I have no plan to sell it, I bought a perfect condition ZX9R but ended up selling it because I preferred the ZZR in almost every way/
its a sports tourer so is pretty soft, which I like on long journeys. original brakes were binned for a set of newer ZX6 brakes as they kept seizing up all the time. it doesn't handle like an R1 but you can still throw them around for a really heavy bike.
The best part about the bike, HUGE torque from virtually any rpm in any gear, hit past 6k and you are off like a rocket all the way to 160+ mph for an old, heavy bike it is not to be underestimated, it will walk away from most bikes even today.
I have taken mine across Europe more than once, last trip to Germany. no problems with her at all. 500 miles at a time was no problem for it, the only thing that stopped me doing more was my back. only downsides is the panels became brittle on mine and the wheels / fixing bolts corrode if you are using it in the rain.
I do all my own work except valve clearance's and carb syncing (once a year) not particularly cheap on fuel (I ride it hard) good value otherwise they are appreciating in value now so buy one while they aren't silly money.
Not bad, a fuel gauge and temp gauge as standard, will take throw overs if you buy the right set. tank bag fits well. only bug bearer is once the fuel gauge gets below 3/4 it drops like a stone.
Buying experience: I bought mine for 650 as a non runner, sorted it myself, bargain.
I have had the old girl for 25 years now, and still love her to bits. The bike has aged with me, and still provides a comfortable and fast ride for my old bones. The styling has stood the test of time well, and nothing has gone wrong or broken. I upgraded the front calipers to GSXR 1000 6 pots but apart from that it is standard. After all these years I still cant say there is anything I would swap her for, which is testament to the all round ability of the bike.
Great for long distance work, but can still go surprisingly well if you are prepared to man handle the mass of the bike with some enthusiasm.
A biblical engine, full of character, charm, a great spread of torque, and with an addictive intake bellow.
I do my own servicing, so costs are low.
Flip out bungee hooks
Staggeringly good bikes. I sold my 11 with just under 60k on the odometer and it had never missed a beat. An MRA Vario screen, heated grips, and Michelin road-pilot tyres were my favourite mods. The Blackbird was faster - but the Reg/Rectifiers cause problems. The Busa faster still - but luggage options were more limited, and not as comfortable. The Big Z was just about spot on. I've regretted selling mine, ever since! Pointless comparing them with sportsbikes. It's not what they were designed for. These are comfy, (very) fast, mile munchers!
Ride quality - very comfy, plenty of room. Higher screen is a nice addition. Most owners will say that the brakes are the only weak link - but they were about typical, for the period. Braided lines, and good maintenance help, as does quality, sintered pads. Owners' forums will tell you about upgrading to later calipers, from other bikes. Worth the effort IMO.
Smooth, huge torque. Easy, relaxes pace. Can be deceptive, so keep an eye on the speedo to avoid points!
Only problem I had was a starter button pinging off - got around it by shorting out the terminals with a piece of wire, until I could order the part - but at about 58,000 miles at the time, I don't think that's worth grumbling about. From the D suffix onward quality was much improved - ironically, I read, after production moved to the USA. The paint on the rims flakes, like most Japanese bikes, if I ever get another, I'll get them powder coated.
DIY. It's easy to work on, plenty of space, and everything is accessible. Switching to a stainless exhaust system from Sandy Bike Spares saves any further hassle from the OEM mild steel set up. Worth using decent quality oil, and changing it reasonably regularly.
Best tyres - Michelin Road Pilots - at the time of ownership, I was using the Mark 2s - very good grip, and very good in the wet - I've been using the same tyre ever since, albeit the later incarnations. If you're buying an older 11, check to see what tyres are fitted, as if they're 'out of the ark' they could be next to useless. MRA Vario, heated grips, add to an already good package. Givi did produce a full wing rack kit for the 11, though these might be harder to find now. I liked the narrow panniers for easier filtering. Might be worth trying flea-bay/similar for the fixing kits/wing-rack kits...
Buying experience: Bought used, from a non-franchised dealer. Check the usual things, but there isn't much that goes wrong with them - and they tend to be bought by reasonably sensible people, who appreciate them for what they are.
The ZZR is fast, comfortable and still an extremely capable bike - either lugging 3 heavy Givi's and wife for a weekend away, or in everyday use as a Continental Commuter.
Upgrading the rear shock, especially if planning to carry luggage or a pillion on a regular basis will be money well spent. The handling will improve no-end..
The engine is the ZZR's strong point - smooth and torquey. Accelerate from walking pace to over 100mph in 2nd gear easily.. Pulls at all speeds and always bags of torque.
Its never let me down, other than a flat battery after standing for a month. Once an Optimate was connected, its been perfect..
Annual servicing cost: £500
Fantastic ability to scratch B roads and devour m'ways
Turn the rear snail adjuster for max ride height, tighter steering angle and better ground clearance; with suspension tightened up you can really treat it like a sports bike, I've scraped both sides of the belly-pan. The bike has the uncanny ability to make you feel invincible!
It has an amazing spread of abilities - can tootle through town, and obliterate all everywhere else; especially once you've Dyno-jetted it and cleaned up the intake throats; choose your 4 into 1 carefully.
During over 60,000 miles dispatch riding and European tours, plus 2 trips to Morocco, nothing went wrong except a regulator; normal wear & tear; 25,000 miles on 1 chain & sprocket kit with Scott-oiler.
inc tyres, I do all my own servicing
The seat leaves you a bit sore after 800 miles in a day, everything else near perfect, rear-sets are better for tall chaps, paint a bit thin in places.
Had my ZZR1100 D1 for about four years now. It is a truely astonishing bike in just about every respect if you use it for what it was meant to do, that is Sport Touring. It is not a Sports Bike and has no pretentions of being so. Yes it is fast, unbelievebly fast, it is reasonably nimble, but not as flickable as a 600cc sports bike. Comfortable, well that depends on your size and shape. I am 5.11 and in truth it is a little short from knee to peg, it is a bit of a streatch to the bars but this can be cured by fitting a set of bar risers. The seat will get a little firm after about 150 miles but then what bike dosn't. But now the good bit, stick a set of hard cases and top box on this thing, slap a tank bag up front, dump you better half on the pillion behind you and head for Jean Claud's back yard and this thing comes to life. You can Sport Tour, two up with a full set of luggage, Girlfriend and all her dresses, shoes and makeup safely stored and have a blast. The engine has so much grunt that it will eat the A6 down to S France in a flash, or toodle along the country lanes like a pussy cat. 6th gear will take you to interstella speeds and right down to 25mph if you so choose, it is just as stable at either. The added wieght of all that makeup is shrugged off as if it is not there, it hardly affects the fuel consumption at all which is brilliat for a bike this size, ( I get about 53mpg on a run) In short, if you want to hoon it up with your mates, buy an R1 if you want to do a bit of touring at interstella speed you couldnt do better than a ZZR1100. They are as cheap as chip to buy, you may have seen comments about some dropping the crank on number 3 cylinder but I have done 51.000 miles on mine and with regular oil changes and basic maintenance this wont be a problem. Be prepared to staple your top lip down as it will be stuck to your teeth when you grin like a Chesire Cat on acid as this thing rockets you towards your destination while your sports bikey mates are still leaving the rendevou point.
I have a 1996 d4 zzr1100, bought her with 9000 on the clock 4 years ago, last year i rode her to Finland to see some friends who live there,from my door and back, i did 3028 miles in 7 days with a 7 day break in Finland, and she never missed a beat at all, she was fantastic all the way and back,especially on the German autobahns where i could let her rip, where i had a great dice with a maserati clocking 155mph which was great until i pulled in for the next fuel stop where i found i had completely ripped the ass end out of my water proof covers on my panniers, what the hell it was worth it for the grin factor, considering i was fully loaded with two big throw over panniers plus a big rear seat bag, she did me proud, but 155 mph was the fastest i could take her because with all the luggage i had packed on her any faster and i had a bit of a wobble starting in the bars, not to bad but enough to steady me up, but if you want a great bike with loads of character get one of these bikes, and they still get looked at if they are in good nick even along side today's pocket rockets, happy riding all . goucho
I have had my ZZR1100D for 6 months now, we did not have the best of starts, with me loosing the front end in France and still having 300+ miles to go. Even battered and not in the best of health she got me home. After a few searches of E-bay, got her patched up again so that I could truely enjoy the experiance. She may not look the best, but she still goes like stonk. Excellent to ride, not as nimble as my Sprint ST but a fantastic place to be. The world is a constant blurr, and when you get to 140mph its time to get behind the screen. One of the most relaxing and easy to ride tourers going.
I've owned my 1997 ZZR1100 for 6 months now, I bought it with 13000 miles on the clock. My previous bike to the ZZR was an R1..... and I love the ZZR more. I am 6ft 2", and I find the riding position very comfortable, the only thing I have changed has been to add a double bubble screen, as the standard screen is too low for someone of my height. The power of this bike is awesome, and completely effortless, you do not have to rev the t**s off of it to gain triple figure speeds, the 6th gear roll on is mind blowing. I recently rode down to Donnington for the MotoGP, and managed 201 miles from a full tank before I stopped to fill up, and I still hadn't switched to reserve. The finish on this model is lovely mine is a dark metallic green colour with chrome decals. It is very sensitive to tyre pressures, I follows the tyre manufacturers directions and run with 42psi front and rear, I actually rang Bridgestone who confirmed this is correct. The front brakes are not over clever and get worse if your riding hard, they would definately benefit from being upgraded. All in all this bike is great, it does everything I want it to do, cruises effortlessly, and with the right rider will surprise a few sports bikes on the twisties. This is definately a keeper !!
I have owned this bike for three years now, one problem i had 6 months after was the exhaust splitting where the main joined the extensoin exhaust( there's probably a better phrase for it but i dont know what it is lmao....beer goggles and all that) but any way got another off ebay, far cheaper than the dealer, didn't know a metal fabricator until i got the replacement......but since then no prob apart from that time that we got that dodgy fuel which did something to my carbs and god knows what else, so it got a dealer service which sorted everything out, lets face it if you know the spec of your bike and know what it is capable of, look at what is on offer at the dealers new, and there still isn't alot that can touch this bike, personally i like carbs and none catalists maybe i'm old fashioned but i dont care
I have a 2005 ZZR1200 and have had the pleasure of piloting this touring laviathon for some time now. In and around town the bike is pretty agile and the overall size of the bike is very comforting, and running on carbs make low rev control very easy, theres no snatching or lurching of that which a fuel injected bike suffers from. The ZZR1200 comes into its own when out on the open road for which I feel there is two modes of performance, sensible, sure footed and very predictable and then there is the ZZR's somewhat evil streak - Crack open the throttle and rev it hard and you will be reaching break neck speeds in seconds, for a big bike you can make the ZZR handle far above its lardy appearance, The front brakes will wash off masses of speed in seconds and turning the bike in is very easy indeed, and if you have the nerve to get your backside off the seat your knee will touchdown Overall I reckon the ZZR is great bike and would have another one again if they hadn't gone and built the ZZR1400
although these bikes are "old hat" now,they are still bl***y fast. great on fuel reasonably comfy(i am 6ft 4in)easy to work on-not that often! if i had bought one of these when new, i dont think i would be here to tell they tale.service parts are reasonably priced ,spares still easy to get.its just agood all round bike-so many testers over the years cant be wrong.the only thing i can pick out as a fault is that its a tad heavy around any slow traffic,but in a low enough gear and good throttle/clutch work it is easy to get used to. i remember the write ups it got when new- i have to say i agree,its awesome,even by Blade/R1 standards set today. cant wait to test a 1400!
My ZZR1200 experience is pretty good, If your looking for a machine that can lay some seriously balastic pace in comfort the ZZR1200 fits the bill, there's bonuses too! for a big bike the ZZR turns in very quickly and ridden well can raise sport biker eyebrows, the wind protection offered by the fairing is ompressive even at 130mph + theres no drama to mention, overall a damb fine bike
I'll start by saying my time with the ZZR was NOT the best biking experience I've ever had. I like sporty nimble bikes and the ZZR isn't that. I had 2 engines go due to poor manufacturing tolerences on internal oilways to the bottom end. Have heard of at least 14 other ZZR11 engines that had this problem. Mine was fitted with a 4-1 exhaust. Not sure if that was the cause but there was a massive dip in power from 3700-4500rpm that the bike struggled to pull out of. Rode other stock ZZR's and they to had this flat spot but not quite as bad. Carbs DO go out of synch fairly quickly and need resetting around every 3000miles. Chassis was long, low and heavy which meant hussling it round corners was limited by wheelbase and ground clearance. On open sweeping roads it can keep up but tighter stuff then don't bother trying to keep a good pace as it can't handle it. Gear linkage was positioned so that you either had to break your ankle or sit at the back of the seat to use. The girlfriend refered to it as a grand dad bike and that pretty much sums up my thoughts about it.
Goes like a rocket and good in town aswell. Great tourer,stable with hard luggage and a big tank.i'm 6'4" and don't get leg cramps. A bit of a handful under heavy breaking. Strengths: Power, comfort, tank range. Weaknesses: Finish, brakes.
I purchased my bike brand new in May this year. I think I got one of the last available. Absolutely love it. Have had three Honda VFR's culminating in the VTEC version, but always wanted something with a little more "grunt" for two up touring. The big ZED gives me that in bucketfuls. 2,000 mile trip in August this year fully loaded, 3 hard cases and the missus on board, warp factor speeds all the way (picked up a speeding fine on the way back to Calais!Ooops!!) Have done 5,500 miles on her so far this year and every single one has been accompanied by a massive "ear to ear" grin. Fitted a pair of Staintune end cans which really make the bike sound the way it should. Strengths: Acceleration, cruising abilty, fuel economy isn't too bad bearing in mind the performance capabilities. Weaknesses: Brakes could be a little better but braided hoses and better pads should see them right. Gearing quite close, takes a bit of getting used to, but other than that...none.
I just love this bike, its so much fun, so fast and so friendly. Yes it has its limits and its not as sharp turning in as I'd like but this bike does everything with so much ease and it feels extremely well built and gives me so much confidence when I ride it. Just an all round awsome machine which is just right for me.. Strengths: Build quality, the all-round package of useable power, comfort and looks. Weaknesses: <br>Mmm...not much, tyres maybe but what do you expect...
Purchased this bike 2 years ago with 14K miles. Since then I have had no trouble with the bike. It is still amazingly quick and great fun. Have had GSXR 6 pot calipers put on and had the bike derestricted. Strengths: Performance, reliability, comfort, paintwork and general finish (I ride throughout the year but use ACF50 etc). Weaknesses: Handling when pushed on the twisties.
Top speed only beaten by a small handful of creditable machines. Comfort beyond motorcycling unless you want a sofa on wheels and it's a Kawasaki what more do you want. In black it looks slightly menacing. Strengths: Grunt, top speed mega comfortable and isn't too bad when it gets twisty. Weaknesses: Weight & brakes.
Superfast in a straight line, feels a little vague when pushed around corners, though tyres are not the best; will try ZE04 or BT020 next. Carbs seem to go out of balance quickly. Oil pressure sensor replaced twice; crap position & no protection on sump. Also oil cooler connection has intermittent leak. Rear wheel and suspension bearings replaced for last MOT. Front brake has a lot of travel before any effect, but will lock front before reaching the bars. Original exhaust is on its last legs. Service annually myself, parts cost around £100 to service & get through MOT. Comfortable, but doesn't cover huge distances as easily as my previous FJ, but then again that scraped its c-stand before 45 deg lean angle.<br>