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Motorcycle News, Editorials, Product Reviews and Bike Reviews

Sitting on the ZX-12

Yes, I did sit on a Kawasaki ZX-12 for the first time tonight (at the Long Beach motorcycle show).
This article is about more than sitting on the bike, however.

To begin with, let me make some comments about my first impression of sitting on the ZX-12. It felt
very light (with a low center of gravity). It also was a fairly “sporty” riding position with relatively
high foot pegs and a relatively long reach to the bars. This is no sport tourer (unless you’re looking
at the extreme “sport” end of that spectrum).

As the ZX-12 gets close to its delivery date to dealers (and availability to the general public), more
details about this impressive bike are leaking out.

Some of you may have already read that the bike has turned a 9.5 second quarter mile (with minor
modifications – basically stock, but lowered). Yes, that is significantly quicker than any time
recorded for the Hayabusa, but there is more news about the performance of this bike than straight
line acceleration. Reports (rumors?) are also leaking that the bike handles very well, and feels
significantly lighter than a Hayabusa.

Despite its displacement disadvantage (the Hayabusa is 100cc larger), the ZX-12 may well have
higher peak horsepower. This isn’t too surprising. Do you remember when the Kawasaki ZX-9
arrived at the same time as the Yamaha R1? Several dyno tests showed that the ZX-9 had essentially
the same peak horsepower as the R1. The R1 has a motor which is 1/9th larger than the ZX-9 motor
(displacement wise). The R-1 motor is a highly tuned and highly developed sport bike motor
(obviously) so it operates quite efficiently – yet the Kawasaki is far more efficient.

The Suzuki Hayabusa is 1/12th larger (displacement wise) than the Kawasaki ZX-12. If the ZX-12
has the same degree of efficiency as the ZX-9, it could easily out power the Hayabusa (assuming the
Hayabusa is no more efficient than an R1).

Kawasaki also knows how to make a broad and usable spread of torque from a smaller motor (again,
our example is the ZX-9). This year’s ZX-9 has a fairly high compression ratio, something that the
ZX-12 also has. When designed correctly, a high compression engine can produce lots of torque at
relatively low rpm (something the new ZX-9 does – according to European ride reports).

Obviously, Kawasaki prides itself on making powerful and fast motorcycles. That is its heritage.
Don’t underestimate the ZX-12. We think it will be a Hayabusa-beater in every significant way. Like
you, we’re anxiously awaiting the first road tests and comparisons.