INSURANCE

The bike falls into the group 16 category in the UK, which means that certain types of cover in certain parts of the country for some riders isn't available at all from a handful of firms, making shopping around for quotes essential rather than merely advisable.

MODEL VARIATIONS

When buying a ZX-9R, potential purchasers essentially have a choice of two main model types - the pre-1998 "B" range and the "C" range which has followed since. Though sharing the same ZX-9R Ninja monicker, they are very different beasts indeed. The early bikes had a frame number prefix of either ZZX900B or ZX900B, while later models begin with the prefix JKAZX900, at least in the UK.

HANDLING TRAITS

The "B" range was often criticised for its handling partly because of its portly dry weight and partly because the swingarm pivot was placed too low. Under certain circumstances, this gave the back end a tendency to step out of line, a characteristic which was often blamed on the rear shock itself. Though the C model is undoubtedly superior, secondhand prices for B-bikes don't reflect the expected gap, and remain comparatively high.

ALARMS AND IMMOBILISERS

As with most sportsbikes, the ZX-9R is highly attractive to thieves and any that are offered for sale with an alarm, Datatag or Alphadot kit, and/or an immobiliser can immediately save you £100s and endless worry.

BRAKES AND WHEELS

Examine brake discs carefully for signs of cracking or warping. Then check that the steering head bearings are tight and play-free, and that the fork seals don't leak fluid. The ZX-9R is a favourite toy for wheelies and extended stunting can take its toll on both parts.

Check also that the front wheel is true and undamaged. Though the ZX-9R is not noted for weak rims, wheelies, particularly poorly executed ones, can have an effect. Check the brakes for signs of corrosion as the six pistons fitted to each front caliper can pit, reducing performance.

BOLT ON EXHAUSTS

Many aftermarket exhaust cans available for the ZX-9R are totally illegal. Choose a bike with either a standard Kawasaki item, or a quiet (and local regulation-approved) "performance" one instead to avoid brushes with the Law. It's also best to avoid ZX-9Rs with garish personalised paint schemes (there are quite a few around) unless it's totally to your taste and you don't mind having difficulties re-selling at a later date.

CRASH DAMAGE CHECK

Stripping the rear bodywork can pay dividends if you suspect the ZX-9R on show has been dropped. The subframe, which supports the seat is quite spindly and will generally reveal a previous heavy smash.

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MCN Staff

By MCN Staff