Kawasaki’s big-bore response
KAWASAKI is working on a tourer which is destined to rival Yamaha’s all-new FJR1300.
A new bike, thought to be called the ZZ-R1200, will be 2002’s answer to Yamaha’s 145bhp tourer, which has attracted masses of interest thanks to its apparent mix of comfort and superbike performance. It marks the advent of a new breed of tourer which is faster and plusher than machines such as Honda’s VFR800.
Kawasaki, which has long been famed for building bulletproof, hugely powerful engines, believes there is a big market for such bikes and, according to sources in Japan, is already well advanced with its contender.
Surprisingly, they say the new bike will not feature a version of Kawasaki’s 175bhp ZX-12R motor. Instead, it is expected to feature a bored-out version of the ZZ-R1100’s four-cylinder design.
The firm has already created a 1200cc derivative of that motor for the new 2001 ZRX1200, so it won’t face any technical problems with the capacity hike.
Our sources say this artist’s impression is an accurate representation of the bike’s styling. The similarity to the ZZ-R1100 is intentional, as that bike is still extremely popular, especially in Japan.
Over there, aftermarket firms even offer body kits to make ZX-12Rs look like
ZZ-Rs, and three ZZ-R models – the 1100, 600 and 250 – are still strong sellers.
Key styling points, such as the ZZ-R1100’s front and
rear indicators which are incorporated into the fairing, are expected to make the move to the new bike to maintain the family look.
But despite styling cues from the old bike, the ZZ-R1200 is likely to be all-new under the skin.
The engine might carry ZZ-R1100 genes, but it is expected to gain fuel injection and a new state of tune to offer a compromise between bottom-end torque and power at high revs. Expect a peak power figure of around 145bhp – about the same as the FJR1300 – and masses of pulling power right from tickover to the red line.
The chassis is thought to be unique to the new bike, but instead of opting for any radical technology like the ZX-12R’s monocoque design, Kawasaki has gone for a simple twin-spar alloy unit.
The ZZ-R1200 is expected to make use of a fairly simple suspension set-up. Expect to see basic, right-way-up forks at the front and a rear single shock bolted to a double-sided alloy swingarm.
Both ends will be fully adjustable and the rear
pre-load is likely to have a remote adjuster to allow quick alterations when adding a pillion or luggage.
A conventional chain-drive means the ZZ-R1200 will lose out slightly to the shaft-drive FJR when it comes to ease of maintenance, though the more efficient chain means more power will make it to the rear wheel.
Like the FJR, the ZZ-R is expected to be offered with matching hard luggage, which will be easy to remove – letting you change it from a semi-sports bike to a full-on tourer in a matter of minutes.
Officially, Kawasaki refused to confirm the bike’s existence, but an insider said: ” If there was an upgraded ZZ-R1100 there are a number of logical steps that would be taken, and the bike you suggest incorporates those steps. This picture has all the elements I’d expect to see on such bike – it looks good to me. ”