Kawasaki ZX7R

Kawasaki ZX-7R (1996-2003) – Tomorrow’s Classic Today

ZX7RWe here at CB-Net think it’s quite amazing to realise that the humble Kawasaki ZX-7R is now coming up to 25 years old…

Look at it… drink it in. It’s stayed classy and still looks good today. Launched right at the end of 1995 for the 1996 model year, the bike itself was a logical progression of the ZXR750 family that we’d enjoyed over here in the UK. With those models being called ZX-7s over in the USA, finally we all got to call these 750cc green meanies by the same name…

The ZX-7R should have and did do well, but on launch it had a little problem in the shape of the Suzuki GSX-R750 W-T SRAD. The SRAD (the acronym stood for Suzuki Ram Air Direct) was just 179 kilos, where the Kawasaki weighed in at 25 kilos more: both kicked out around the same horsepower – around 110-115 at the back wheel.

In many ways the Kawasaki shouldn’t have even been close to the SRAD performance-wise, but – initially – both sold well. For the ZX-7R, the extra bulk and mighty-fine front-end evened things up out in the real-world while the SRAD was very much more the manic and demanding 750cc proposition. So, while the SRAD flaps and slaps, the 7R would be a bit more cosseting to the rider on the road. The Kawasaki just didn’t feel quite as slap-happy or crazy.

Kawasaki ZX7RBoth these machines would outlive the other 750 machines which either died off (YZF750) or changed (VFR750). But while the GSX-R would transmogrify into the 750Y of 2000 and change yet more in the noughties with K4-on versions, the 7R would solider on, only with colour changes until it was withdrawn from Kawasaki’s range in 2002/2003…

In retrospect it’s a shame Kawasaki didn’t refine the 7R still further – considering it’s ZXR heritage – but that more ‘sensible’ of 750s meant that owners weren’t quite as mad and mental as a GSX-R owner and this means there are some well-looked after ones when it comes to a second-hand deal…That’s not to say the Kawasaki hasn’t attracted its own share of tat (undertrays, headlight covers, mini-indicators etc.) but quality add-ons like a full Akrapovic system adds to the value and character of the machine – but try and get the original system in with the deal!

The motors themselves are harsh-sounding but generally reliable – but they do race on choke and suffer from carb icing like most Kwaks of this time. Head bearings could do with grease by now (some say the factory didn’t seem to bother) and those Tokico six-pots need TLC to stay on top of their game and discs can warp. Downpipes and the general finish can rot if you don’t keep on top of it and wheel paint is soft…

Model variation is… non-existent, although there was a ZX-7RR ‘SP’ homologation version, which had an adjustable head stock and swingarm pivot, flat-slide carbs, close-ratio gearbox and a single seat. While these aren’t up there with OW-01s, RC30s and the like price-wise they’re pretty rare.

We’d still plump for the stocker and these start at around £500 for ex-track bikes. Where – a few years back – you’d be able to pick up a nice 7R for £1500, today you’re looking closer to £2000-£2500 for a half-decent one, rising to £3000-£4500 for shop-sold low milers and even £7000 for very low mile minters…

For – gorgeous to look at and many out there!

Against – exhausts rot, some covered with cheap tat!


Make Kawasaki
Model ZX-7R
Years available 1996-2003
Major changes None only colour changes
Price new £9120 at launch in 1996
Values now £700-£3500

Verdict – a good handling sorted superbike for the road!