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  • Abducted by a ZZR

    Hi everyone, I am new to this forum but have been a passionate biker for the better part of nearly 20 years now I decided it was about time to join and share my interest in bikes.

    I recently purchased a Kawasaki ZZR1200 and decided to share my experience over the last couple of days and hopefully get some advice from the experts. My last bike was a BMW F800s and I remember when searching for a bike (before the F800s) I looked for something sensible and comfortable for my 2-hour daily commute but with enough power to drive comfortably on the highway yet save some gas while doing so. I managed to find an F800s which ticked all the boxes, it was comfortable, had sufficient power compared to the competition, extremely reliable, and was a fuel saver, plus from what I had heard, I gathered it was still a pretty wild bike when you needed it to be. It reminded me of that last long relationship you had before meeting the missus or mister. You knew she/he is wasn't the prettiest or the best at anything but she ticked all the boxes and you were ready to settle down. Then as the relationship progressed you gradually grew more comfortable and you learned to love her/him more and more but in the back of your head you were always wondering about the other girls/guys. That was the relationship I had with the F800s and it grew on me like moss on a damp tree. Every day I drove it, I loved it more. Although it was good at doing everything it was master of none but that was what I loved about it. Unfortunately, an inconvenient meet-up with a distracted driver in a 1960s Mazda and the rear end of my F800s ended our relationship abruptly. Uncanny how it reminds me of how abruptly that relationship with that girl I was talking about earlier ended in my case. Except in that situation (at least for me), the 1960s Mazda was the rugby captain of the varsity team.

    Regardless, what I came here to talk about was the ZZR1200. So, after spending some time recovering from my broken hip and the missus' scorning and lack of dinner whenever there was mention of buying a motorbike, I finally mustered up the courage to pull the trigger on another bike (after all it's better to ask for forgiveness than permission). To my surprise, upon delivering the news to the missus she was rather excited to be riding again. I should clarify that at this point I decided that I would no longer be commuting with a motorcycle as I made the assumption that spending less time on the road would mean that I would be exposed to fewer risks, or at the very least, fewer blind bats in 1960s Mazdas.

    Before purchasing the ZZR1200 I wrote down my requirements: I wanted a bike that would not break the bank, was reliable and could be serviced and fixed myself when required to do so, was comfortable (especially for the pillion rider as my wife did not enjoy the rough vibrations of the F800), and lastly was powerful enough to keep me away from the distracted drivers. I chanced upon a few ZZR1200 while searching but could never quite get past the look of the rear end. It looked sort of what I imagine it would look like if you ever surprised an alien and grasshopper mid intercourse. The VFR1200 was my original pick but try finding one in a decent condition that doesn't cost you the deposit on a house. I went through the Bandit 1200s (lovely bikes but scared myself ****less with an old 750 in varsity and swore I would never drive one again), the BMW K1200s (seemed like a money pit once I read about all the issues on the forums), the Busas, the zx14s, the GS (I have a 650 at home and it's not my style) and finally arrived back at the ZZR1200. Truth be told, I chanced upon one for an unbeatable price that seemed in very good condition (remarkably most of the ZZR1200s I have spotted seem to be kept in very good condition). When looking at it, it reminded me of the old CBX 1000s which never sold well originally, probably because it looked like a vertical brick with 2 wheels welded on and it also had that weird thing going on at the tail, like the Kawa. I decided to phone and arrange a test drive and the next Sunday my brother and I hooked the trailer just in case we decided to bring the old girl back.

    It was like the first time I met my wife. I didn't know that she was the one but I knew I was in to deep. I walked over and stroked the back, threw my right leg over, and immediately felt the comfort and I knew... daddy liked. I pressed the start switch and the 1165cc in-line four rumbled to life as if she was just as eager as me. Now at this point, there are two things I need to mention. First, I've never had a particular like for the screaming sound of an in-line four, I much prefer the sound of a V4, a V twin, a triple, or being able to retain my hearing in general. Second, I had driven bikes in the 100+ hp range before but never something quite like this. The sound the ZZR1200 makes is unique in itself. She purrs like a sleeping kitten as long as you keep your hand off the throttle but as soon as you twist the hand slightly it's like the sound of Cringer in He-man. Yes, it's probably a little outdated. But it reminded me of the time when motorcycles didn't have ABS, traction control, wheelie control, and every other control but could still do in excess of 150 mp/h. Don't get me wrong, I am all for progression but wasn't the appeal of the motorcycles in the first place to get a little bit out of control? Here between my legs was a 158 hp motorbike from the 2000s that could do 180 mp/h. I may be incorrect in saying this but I believe it is still the fastest production carbureted motorbike built to date. Regardless, this was a time when men didn't mind hair between the legs, a time when the Japanese 3 competed viciously to create the fastest motorcycle in the world, the time that Rossi won race after race on the Honda and the iconic Blackbird was built.

    Needless to say, the ZZR1200 drove like a dream. I came back from the test drive and my brother said, "you better stop smiling, or else you won't be able to negotiate with the seller." I couldn't be bothered, I was happy to pay the asking price. There is something about driving a motorcycle that brings us close to who we are fundamental. A momentary bag of bones with a pump and organs that convert grub into usable fuel for propulsion. Yes, it's raw but it's what reminds me to spend some time enjoying life in between all the daily routines.

    I bought the ZZR1200 and my experience since can be summed up as basically racing home each day just to jump on her and go for a drive. It's like we're a newlywed couple (the wife gets a bit jealous). The only thing I have had to get used to so far has been the buzzing numbness at between 4k to 6k rpm. Otherwise, she runs remarkably smooth throughout the rev range. There are a couple of things I would like to know from the wiser riders on these forums who've had experience with these bikes, namely:

    1. There is some lugging in the first and second gear below 3000 rpm? Is this common? Would I be correct in thinking that it is perhaps that the carbs need to be synced? Its almost as if she has a misfire but then again it's not misfiring because she pulls nicely through the rev range. Honestly, I haven't really had the guts to open the throttle completely yet however I am starting to suspect it may be a carb issue.
    2. Is there any solution to the numbing buzz between 4000 and 6000 rpm on the highway? My wife and I plan on doing some touring in December and between 4000 and 6000 rpm happens to be right where my cruising speed is in 6th gear. On short drives, it's not such an issue but going on a short drive over the weekend I noticed my hand getting pretty numb after about an hour.
    3. Any other advice or things I should look out for on the ZZR1200s? Preventative maintenance and such? As far as I gather they are pretty reliable and don't tend to have been hard-driven or abused by their owners.

    Just a small update before I continue: I have had the ZZR1200 for about 2 months now. I originally posted this on another forum and decided to share it here and hopefully get some advice. In the time I have had the zzr1200 I have managed to put almost 1200 miles on her. In this time, I realized some things about the bike which may provide some further context. Since I bought it through a dealership I didn't have any information about the previous owner but I had made the assumption that the previous owner took good care of it. There were all the obvious signs, namely, it was pretty clean (no signs of any big accidents, just some minute scratches from a lowside), the oil was clean, there were no leaks, and then the previous owner had spent some money on her because she came with a corbin seat, a micron pipe (full system with headers included), and extended screen. Considering I paid around 1 700 quid for her and she only had about 27 000 miles on her, it leaves me with quite a bit of money to do some of the necessary upgrades. I accidentally noticed that the motorcycle does not have a rev limiter when I kept her in second for a bit longer than I should have a couple of days ago. Luckily, I only just went over the red but I noticed that it kept pulling and didn't bounce off the limiter. Is this how these bikes came from the factory? In my past experiences with other motorcycles, the sudden loss in power is quite obvious once you reach the red line.

    My apologies for the excessively long post. The whole experience with the ZZR1200 reminded me so much of my first bike when I was a kid I felt I needed to share it. If anyone else would like to share their story, it would be a pleasure reading it.

    Best to you all and many safe miles.

  • #2
    No worries about the lengthy write up. It's refreshing to read/hear about others previous experiences and the new experience of ZZR ownership.

    I'm sure your observations of the bike are the as many others.

    A big, simple horsepower bike without all of the electric gadgetry that seems to be standard on most of todays bikes.

    We once had a member that aptly put it, "It may be a pig but it's a pig with a rocket in its ass!"

    As for issues, search "carb shim" and there should be numerous posts discussing the flat spot issue that many bikes seem to have between 3000 and 4000 rpm.. Part of the "fix" is going to be resyncing the carbs so that will hopefully remedy the "lugging" issue you mentioned. If not, then you know to look elsewhere.

    Here is a link to one post: https://zzrbikes.com/forum/bikes/zzr...-carb-settings

    As for the "buzz" at 4000-6000 rpm, there have been many that have tried an assortment of strategies to alleviate it. However, there has not been one perfect solution that I am aware of. The easiest and probably the cheapest would be to change your gear ratios. Only caveat being that you will most likely just move the "buzz" to a different area in the rpm range.

    Here is a link to one post: https://zzrbikes.com/forum/bikes/zzr...n-mostly-cured

    As for other issues, about the only thing that comes to mind is that the ZZR is very finicky when it comes to front tires. Depending on the amount of air in them and /or the tread pattern they will "cup" which causes the front end to "wobble" around 45 mph. You'll only notice if you have your hands off the bars but it is still an issue that I wanted to make you aware of.

    The only other BIG issue s dependent on what year your bike is. If you have an early 02 model, there was a porous head issue that caused problems.

    Otherwise the ZED is bulletproof!!!!!

    It's been 13 years since I had my ZED but those are the few issues and fixes that come to mind.


    So, welcome to the site and feel free to post up some pics and give us more info when you get a chance


    Mike
    I have neither the time,or the inclination, to explain myself to a man, who rises and sleep under the blanket of the very freedom that I provide, and then questions the manner, in which I provide it. I'd rather you just say 'thank you' and go on your way.

    Comment


    • #3
      Good write-up and intro!
      Big O seems to have covered most of it.
      Buzzing through the handlebars - I solved most of it by putting some rubber (old bicycle tyre) under my Genmar risers, and using some softer grips.
      Carb balance will definitely help.
      I had my patience tested. I'm negative.

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by BIG O View Post
        No worries about the lengthy write up. It's refreshing to read/hear about others previous experiences and the new experience of ZZR ownership.

        I'm sure your observations of the bike are the as many others.

        A big, simple horsepower bike without all of the electric gadgetry that seems to be standard on most of todays bikes.

        We once had a member that aptly put it, "It may be a pig but it's a pig with a rocket in its ass!"

        As for issues, search "carb shim" and there should be numerous posts discussing the flat spot issue that many bikes seem to have between 3000 and 4000 rpm.. Part of the "fix" is going to be resyncing the carbs so that will hopefully remedy the "lugging" issue you mentioned. If not, then you know to look elsewhere.

        Here is a link to one post: https://zzrbikes.com/forum/bikes/zzr...-carb-settings

        As for the "buzz" at 4000-6000 rpm, there have been many that have tried an assortment of strategies to alleviate it. However, there has not been one perfect solution that I am aware of. The easiest and probably the cheapest would be to change your gear ratios. Only caveat being that you will most likely just move the "buzz" to a different area in the rpm range.

        Here is a link to one post: https://zzrbikes.com/forum/bikes/zzr...n-mostly-cured

        As for other issues, about the only thing that comes to mind is that the ZZR is very finicky when it comes to front tires. Depending on the amount of air in them and /or the tread pattern they will "cup" which causes the front end to "wobble" around 45 mph. You'll only notice if you have your hands off the bars but it is still an issue that I wanted to make you aware of.

        The only other BIG issue s dependent on what year your bike is. If you have an early 02 model, there was a porous head issue that caused problems.

        Otherwise the ZED is bulletproof!!!!!

        It's been 13 years since I had my ZED but those are the few issues and fixes that come to mind.


        So, welcome to the site and feel free to post up some pics and give us more info when you get a chance


        Mike
        Thanks Big O. The part about it being a pig with a rocket in its ass gave me a good laugh.

        I have thoroughly enjoyed the ZZR1200 and quite honestly don't have the guts to really put the power to the ground but I suppose that is the beauty of it. I may be incorrect in saying so but I believe that part of the fact that these ZZRs have such a reputation for reliability must be that there quite frankly just aren't many people who can drive them to their limits.

        Thank you very much for the advice. I was lucky to get a '05 model and she is the most beautiful color (will post a picture below). I think I may try BillDownUnder's solution there for the buzzing, it sounds like it could work. I'm going to be home in December for a month and will most likely start doing some of the upgrades. The more I ride the bike I've come to suspect that the previous owner has done some performance modifications to the carbs and I have had one too many experiences with messing with a previous owner's upgrades. I'd best go very methodically about the carbs if I intend to do any of the work myself. I will definitely look into the "carb shim".

        At the moment I have a set of Road Pilot 5s on at 2.5 bar for the front and 2.8 for the rear however I have incidentally noticed the cupping you speak of, especially in turns. She is fine into the turn and at some point, it's as if she just wants to dive into the turn. I suspected at first that it was the front shocks however there are no signs of leaking and it doesn't really happen at faster speeds. I am planning on getting a pair of Roadsmart 3s however I would greatly appreciate suggestions as this will be a totally new experiment to me.

        My first priority this December will be the front brakes as I have found them to be errrr.... rather lacking.

        Thank you once again for all of your advice.

        253715567_10226870323883574_1546576612971371127_n.jpg

        Comment


        • #5
          Welcome aboard, Johnny, and congratulations on the Big Zed

          I've put 173,000 miles on three of them and they are indeed bulletproof - as long as you don't wreck them

          Big O covered the main maintenance and tweaks.

          These bike have a generator chain guide that has two fasteners. One can let go anytime beginning 20k miles. When that happens you will see scoring on your clutch cover. Look at it your through your oil fill hole. If no scoring, you're ok so far. Once the second fastener lets go your motor seizes and the bike is a goner.

          Look for threads on the gen chain guide fix. It's not hard to do. I'd do it preemptively and go on without worries.



          While I am master of my sword, I shall never think any man greater than myself.
          ~Eumenes of Cardia

          I'd rather wake up in the middle of nowhere than in any city on earth. ~Steve McQueen

          I work over by worlds of fun. ~JimmyMac

          My photo album - http://zzrbikes.com/gallery2/main.php?g2_itemId=146333

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by CrazyTrain View Post
            Welcome aboard, Johnny, and congratulations on the Big Zed

            I've put 173,000 miles on three of them and they are indeed bulletproof - as long as you don't wreck them

            Big O covered the main maintenance and tweaks.

            These bike have a generator chain guide that has two fasteners. One can let go anytime beginning 20k miles. When that happens you will see scoring on your clutch cover. Look at it your through your oil fill hole. If no scoring, you're ok so far. Once the second fastener lets go your motor seizes and the bike is a goner.

            Look for threads on the gen chain guide fix. It's not hard to do. I'd do it preemptively and go on without worries.
            Thank you CrazyTrain. I appreciate the advice a lot and you may have saved me countless money.

            I inspected the clutch basket as instructed through the oil fill hole with a flashlight and the unfortunate prognosis is that the scoring is present however it is very light scoring (I will try to take a picture over the weekend and post it). I have decided to double down with my service in December and do the fix preemptively for peace of mind as this has now interrupted my sleep with the worry that it could lead to catastrophic failure at any point. Although I doubt it will go instantly, better to be safe than sorry.

            The above being said, I have read through the pages of the zrx forums and was even quite captivated for a moment by the drama between Eddie and Kwick. I have found two options at the moment and plan on ordering the part next week although some advice would be great on which is the better one. The first (https://www.kwick.biz/product/tensio...tensioner-fix/) I assume is Kwick's fix and it incorporates a manual adjuster to the tensioner. The second one (https://jamescomptoncustoms.com/prod...ain-tensioner/) is my preferred fix as my limited experience in engineering tells me that it is a more permanent fix to the problem as it guides the rod past the clutch. I have seen the second one in action on a youtube video a couple of months ago and I quite prefer the concept.

            Options:
            1. https://www.kwick.biz/product/tensio...tensioner-fix/
            2. https://jamescomptoncustoms.com/prod...ain-tensioner/

            Please let me know of your experience.

            Thank you once again for the advice.

            Comment


            • #7
              If you have very minor scoring on the clutch plate, you have very little to worry about.
              When I had my ZRX, the scoring was quite pronounced, and I fitted one of Kick's earlier fixes (he doesn't sell that one any more), and a new clutch plate, and it sorted out the problem.

              My ZZR has the faintest of scoring, and I don't worry about it.
              Tales of the adjuster coming apart abound somewhat on the ZRX forum, but I think mainly with highly modified engines, although someone may correct me.

              If at any time I need to do something with the adjuster for the ZZR, I will be buying the James Compton part.

              My ZZR clutch plate, after 150,000km. Very faint scoring.


              Plate.jpg


              My ZRX plate at the time:

              ZRX-Clutch.jpg


              Major hint: never start the bike with the clutch pulled in.

              I had my patience tested. I'm negative.

              Comment


              • #8
                I'm still running an 02 (purchased new in April 02) which I don't have a lot of miles
                on it, but it is knocking on 20 years old. A lot of short rides myself over the years.
                I did the clutch plate scoring mod years ago. Mine wasn't bad but easy mod for the
                piece of mind. My Zed has been probably the best bike I've ever owned. Carb shim thing
                several years ago, Corbin seat, carbon slipons, 05 front forks, (has compression and rebound,
                02 didn't) ZG screen, and that's about it. Just gas and go mostly. I do all my service on it, always have.
                No shops close by and maybe a trust issue as well. I'll keep her til she quits, or I do.
                "If it ain't broke, don't fix it...
                but sometimes it just needs a mod"

                Comment


                • #9
                  This does not seem to be as serious a problem for the ZZR as the ZRX. From memory, there has been maybe one catastrophic failure reported here, despite some quite badly marked clutch baskets.

                  Mine had some scoring when I checked and I did the original tube mod, which stopped any further damage. As Bill said, do try to avoid starting the engine with the clutch disengaged.

                  All you are trying to do is limit the tensioner from moving very far if it unlocks while starting. The tube mod will do that, but you do want the tube far enough along the rod to only allow a little movement, although I am not sure if anyone still sells the tubes.

                  Otherwise either of the mods you have highlighted should work fine.

                  Sent from my SM-G980F using Tapatalk

                  "You don't get slower with age, you just get more cautious." Michael Rutter

                  06 Ocean Blue ZZR1200, the coolest colour.
                  99 Yamaha R1

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    JohnnieBGood

                    Welcome, Congrats and "Great first post"!!

                    1. There is some lugging in the first and second gear below 3000 rpm? Is this common? Would I be correct in thinking that it is perhaps that the carbs need to be synced? Its almost as if she has a misfire but then again it's not misfiring because she pulls nicely through the rev range. Honestly, I haven't really had the guts to open the throttle completely yet however I am starting to suspect it may be a carb issue.
                    2. Is there any solution to the numbing buzz between 4000 and 6000 rpm on the highway? My wife and I plan on doing some touring in December and between 4000 and 6000 rpm happens to be right where my cruising speed is in 6th gear. On short drives, it's not such an issue but going on a short drive over the weekend I noticed my hand getting pretty numb after about an hour.
                    3. Any other advice or things I should look out for on the ZZR1200s? Preventative maintenance and such? As far as I gather they are pretty reliable and don't tend to have been hard-driven or abused by their owners.
                    Big O covered most of it in his reply...

                    1. Lugging.... Try a few tanks with Seafoam additive. That should clean the carbs/jets if the lugging is caused by some carb gunk. If that doesn't work, you may need to clean the carbs, specifically the jets. If you mean "lugging" as is "slow to power up"... then shimming the carb needles should help.

                    2. I found that shimming the carb needles also reduced the buzz. The next thing to try would be to change the sprocket ratio to try and move the buzz to a RPM number where you don't ride it much.

                    3. Be sure to hook up the vacuum lines correctly when replacing the air box after maintenance. If you have a stock seat, finding a Corbin adds much comfort. Lots of folks forget that there are actually 2 oil drain bolts. Be sure to remove both when changing the oil. Changing the brake fluid can make a BIG difference is braking, as can stainless brake lines.

                    Cheers
                    R66
                    “Live a good life. If there are gods and they are just, then they will not care how devout you have been, but will welcome you based on the virtues you have lived by. If there are gods, but unjust, then you should not want to worship them. If there are no gods, then you will be gone, but will have lived a noble life that will live on in the memories of your loved ones.”...Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

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