Kawasaki ZRX1200

Kawasaki ZRX1200 – A Tyre Kickers Guide

Well I never, do you know the ZRX series has been with us for 22 years? And it’s surging ahead, used-value-wise…

Let’s set our stall out early doors – this article looks at both the Eddie Lawson replica ZRX1200R and the half-faired oddity the S model. And – of course – that rarer than rare model the fully naked ZRX1200…

The model first came along in 1997 in 1100cc format, sporting a retro square headlight and looks that were a mix of Eddie’s AMA Superbike ‘ELR’ (Eddie Lawson Replica) and the Z1-R from the 1980s. With an increase in capacity engine-wise for 2001 came another two models – the half-faired S and the round-light naked model which both joined the bikini-faired Eddie-rep R model. All of them had the reliable ZZ-R1100 motor at their heart, along with old-fashioned carbs, analogue clocks and fuel-tap (remember those?)

Performance wise and in the back-to-back tests of the day the 1100 and 1200 did well – especially the ‘R’ version, which really looked the part and stirred the soul. The big Kwak both handled and had more grunt than the likes of the Yamaha XJR, Bandit 12 or CB1000 and handled far better than the Suzuki GSX1400:  it was only when the CB1300 came out in 2003 that it really had any big competition.

Kawasaki ZRX1200Prices today have strengthened madly… people want these bikes. Six or seven years back you could find a rough one for £1000-£1500, now it’s the unfancied S-version that sits lowest at around £2000-£2500 for a high-miler (they’re comfy and often used for touring) rising to around £3000 – daft, really. OK, so now the fancied R-version often with the Eddie Lawson green paint (even if it’s the wrong shade and metallic) is at daft prices. Sit down when we tell you that these start now at around £3500 for half-decent bikes and that low-milers can go as high as £8000 with one 2008 three-miler (currently) going up for £15,000. Crazy, mad, plain daft: but, little wonder that Dave Marsden from Kawasaki parts specialists Z-Power bought/kept one of the last green 1200Rs sold in the UK…Amazing to think the last list price was just £6475!

BRAKES: Good and bad to report here: as original the six-pot Tokicos were great but time hasn’t (often) been kind so get them cleaned up properly (www.powerhouse.uk) know just what makes these calipers work well.  Pad-wise, Carbone Lorraine, EBC HH and Bendix pads work.

ENGINE: The revvy nature of the ZRX was often at odds with its image, but (in traditional Kawasaki form) it was the most power in class of the day: around 120bhp claimed at 8500rpm. Many owners do go one tooth down at the front and one up on the back for better acceleration. Some also go the ZZ-R cam route, with correct jetting etc. (www.pdq1.com) PDQ tuners are good at this…

BUILD QUALITY: Not badly finished, but some bolts/hangers can deteriorate/lose paint over time. Things like pillion foot-pegs: one year they were polished, the next painted black. Sadly the paint finish isn’t too good on these, with moisture getting under them and breaking up the paint. It can be the same on the engine. Some owners have reported successful warranty claims to get replacement parts. On hangers it’s easy enough to strip back and re-spray.

SUSPENSION: The best suspension providers do progressive fork springs and rear-shocks for the ZRX, with Ohlins, WP and Hagon being the most popular. They do help as the original Kayabas can go off after 20-30K: understandably…

RECALLS: In September 2001, a recall was issued over the incorrect routing of wiring on the 1200R which could lead to a the indicators and instrument lights not working: you have been warned!

Kawasaki ZRX1100 (1997-2000)

Colours: Purple, silver, candy-green, black, red.

Price new: £7545 (1998)

Comments: With a 1052cc engine coming from the ZZ-R1100 of the 1990s, the bike was de-tuned to around 100bhp, but with a chassis and aesthetics from way before.

Kawasaki ZRX1200R  (2001-2006)

Colours: candy-green with racing stripes, silver with stripes, red with black stripes, blue with stripes, lime-green with stripes (2006),

Price new: £6395 (2001) £6745 (2006)

Comments: In came a bigger motor (1164cc) and more power (around 115bhp.) Colours changed marginally over the years – Eddie Lawson green still the favourite.

Kawasaki ZRX1200S (2001-2003)

Colours: blue, red, grey

Price new: £6595 (2001)

Comments: The ‘S’ is the same as the other models save for a much more practical half-fairing. This made the bike a better proposition for distance and the result was a machine which was a very under-rated mile-muncher.

Website: http://www.zrxocboard.com