My ZX6R J1. I tend to give each bike I buy a name, and as Toy Story 2 was my favourite movie when I purchased the J1, an obvious name was Bullseye; the little horsie hero, who carried everyone to safety having been able to keep pace with a jumbo jet. Great start! The colour choice was obvious, I’d never look at a Kawasaki and think " Hmm, what colour shall I buy? " Mainly because the green bikes sit in the show room making so much noise attention seeking I never get to the other colours. And anyway, it matches my Kawasaki green Toy Story helmet. So there it was. Green. Sorted.
I don’t go into technical details, suspension setting, steering dampers, rebounds and callipers, what is all that about? And who needs to know when the guys servicing the bike learnt all that stuff at college for me? No, for me the name, colour, style, attitude and reputation or a bike are the selling points, which is why I return to the same Kawasaki dealer every two years. With Bullseye it wasn’t going to be the same though since I planned to keep him for four years and really get to know him.
I’ve done a couple of track days but tend to give up around lunch time having scared the proverbial out of myself, but the last one I attended at Castle Combe was different. Out on the sighting laps and all was well. First session complete and still the proud owner of two arms and two legs and a shiny bike. Everyone had passed me and got cut up by a GSX600 owner – whatever. Second session, almost everyone passed me but the GSX owner didn’t. on the third outing I had actually started to catch Mr GSX, and so it was, on the final session before lunch, that I caught and passed him – Result! The moral being that the new J1 was much more confidence inspiring than previous models. Blokes on the track day said that this was due to the smaller wheels and slightly shorter wheel-base – bollocks, it’s because Bullseye’s got twin fox eyes, looks right ‘ard and while people check him out in their mirrors I swoop past ‘em!
Bullseye’s brilliant for touring too. We went round Cornwall (one week in 2000 while running Bullseye in), been two-up round Italy (two weeks in 2001) and this year we went to Andorra on a two week tour. Never a moan about comfort from either me; a 5’4 " slightly rounder than maybe I should be girl or my pillion; a 5’3 " thinks she’s skinnier than she is mate. The only possible quirk would be that two-up, and fully loaded with luggage, and riding in leathers and 32 degrees, hairpin bends are not the nicest corners in the world, apparently this is because the steering lock isn’t very long (I just nodded like you do to be polite).
I think the worst part of owning a J1 is the running in. Talk about embarrassing. I had mopeds beating me off the lights, old sods in Jags barely giving me enough space to let out a fart and smart arses on push bikes tearing past me through Bristol. Still, I’ve learnt from experience to Velcro a note pad on the tank and keep a record of all offending number plates because once up to speed, and with a knee slider perfectly in line with a wing mirror….