First ride on the ZRX1200

1 of 1

THE new ZRX has stonking six-piston Tokico calipers and a new 1164cc engine which pulls out of tight turns like a Japanese bullet train from 2000rpm all the way up to the 10,500rpm red line.

But there’ll be no idle bragging here about reaching red lines, not the road I’m riding it on. It’s a winding mountain affair and a side wind is steadily picking up and threatening to blow us off the side of it.

I tuck in behind the new screen on the ZRX and try to present as small a target as possible for my invisible foe but still frequently get blown a foot or more off course. Yikes.

The changes to the ZRX aren’t earth-shattering, but they do make it a better bike. The extra 100 cubes provide a bit more stonk from the already strong engine and the screen eliminates the age-old problem of wind blast as long as you tuck down behind it enough. It’s big enough for tall riders and even looks part of the bike from the riders seat, rather than the afterthought some feel it looks from other positions.

The big Kwak may weigh in at a hefty 227kg (499lb), but once you’re moving, the weight largely disappears and it’s nimble enough to negotiate the bends on the mountain.

The clocks are traditional analogue items rather than the digital models currently in favour and that seems to fit better with a retro bike like the ZRX.

The cowling added to the S version seems to remove some of the raw aggression of the R. But the S will sell alongside the R rather than replace it so you can still opt for aggressive looks if your neck is up to it.

On flatter, wider, fast roads the big in-line, four-cylinder bike provides seamless grunt and wild acceleration as the end can and black-coated pipes howl their approval.

The bike-friendly Spanish car drivers – well, we’re only a stone’s throw away from the famous Jerez Grand Prix circuit – move aside and fast become dots in the Kwak’s big, user-friendly and shake-free mirrors.

With just five gears to snick through, speeds upwards of 150mph are reached in seconds and there’s as much wind protection from the screen as there is on any fully faired sports bike, so your visor won’t be pressing against your nose as soon as the speedo needle passes the vertical position.

The Spanish roads are as unpredictable as the nation’s drivers. Super-smooth one minute then subsiding the next. They finally showed up the ZRX’s only real flaw – saggy suspension.

The bike has traditional forks and twin rear shocks in keeping with the retro look, but the Kayaba units aren’t really up to the job of keeping the heavy musclebike pinned to the road when the pace gets hot.

Kawasaki calls this bike a sports tourer and in the touring department the suspension provides a soft and comfortable ride. Potholes, drain covers and the like present no significant problem and both rider and pillion will enjoy a jar-free ride.

But ask more of the bike in the sports department and you’ll soon find its limit. Hard cornering sets it wallowing in a way that a full-on sports bike would never do, but then that’s the price of compromise.

The suspension is adjustable for compression and pre-load at the front and for compression, rebound and pre-load at the rear so you can make improvements.

MCN Staff

By MCN Staff