Kawasaki Ninja buying guide: Part 2 - early 90s

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This week Kawasaki is celebrating 25 years of the Ninja series – one of the most famous model lines in the motorcycle world.

MCN has compiled a list of the 20 best Ninjas for a special poster FREE in today’s MCN (August 12 2009) – but in the mean time here’s a quick guide to the bikes of the early 90s and how much you can pick one up for.

ZZ-R1100 C1 Year: 1990
Price guide: £950 – £2900 (D models)
1052cc liquid-cooled inline-four, 138bhp (full power), 172bhp
Meddling politicians were trying to bring in a 100bhp limit, so Kawasaki restricted the ZZ-R to 125bhp out of the showroom. But the cure was simple – ZXR750 carb tops gave the slides full range of movement, and the record breaking power and speed was unleashed. Later, re-styled D-models came without the castration, plus some extra power to boot.


ZZ-R600 D1 Year: 1990
Price guide: £850 – £5000
599cc liquid-cooled inline-four, 100bhp, 160mph
Kawasaki entered the 1990’s with a new 600 derived from the ZZ-R1100. Like its larger counterpart, it was fastest bike in it’s class. John Reynolds won the British Supersport championship on one too. It stayed in showrooms until 2008, selling as a budget all-rounder.


ZXR400 L1 Year: 1991
Price guide: £950 – £3000
398cc liquid-cooled inline-four, 65bhp, 141mph
Ten years before 600 supersport bikes became true race bikes on the road, the ZXR400 was already doing it. Uncompromising in its attitude, the howling 400 was one of the best sports bike you could buy if you were in the mood to ride it hard and well capable of leaving more powerful bikes behind on road and track.


ZXR750R Year: 1991
Price guide: £1850 – £4000
749cc liquid-cooled inline-four, 120bhp, 162mph
In a bid to match the limited-run, race-special Honda RC30 and Yamaha OW01 in racing, Kawasaki released a second ZXR750 model with a close-ratio gearbox, flatslide carbs, an aluminium fuel tank and better suspension to provide a better basis to build a race bike. Only a single-seat marked the bikes out externally. Cheap to buy now, expect a cult following to develop.


ZX-9R B1 Year: 1994
Price guide: £1100 – £3750
899cc liquid-cooled inline-four, 139bhp, 170mph
Kawasaki, like the rest of the world, was caught out by Honda’s lithe but powerful FireBlade. Its range had sharp 750s, fast but heavy ZZ-Rs, but nothing to compete directly with the Blade. The ZX-9R was supposed to be the answer – the motor was good , but the chassis couldn’t match the Blade. Later models redressed the balance – but then the Yamaha R1 arrived.


If you’re thinking of buying one of the above models from MCN Bikes For Sale, get insurance quotes from a number of motorcycle insurance providers in one place with MCN Compare. 

Chris Newbigging

By Chris Newbigging