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Handling of ZX-12R Hints at Future Use of Backbone Frame by Kawasaki

Will the new ZX-7R, and its homologated racer, the RR, feature an aluminum, monocoque chassis similar to Kawasaki’s ZX-12R? If handling reports on the ZX-12R are accurate (a few press reports exist, as well as customer ride reviews from Europe where delivery by dealers is occurring), it very well might.

Before its introduction, there was much speculation about how the ZX-12R could possibly feature such a short wheelbase and such a powerful engine at the same time. Wouldn’t unintended wheelies be a significant problem? Apparently, unintended wheelies are not a problem, and, additionally, the ZX-12R is surprisingly quick handling (almost flickable) for such a large displacement motorcycle.

One reason might be the exceptional mass centralization resulting from the unique backbone frame design. Other manufacturers are trying to reduce the weight of their sportbikes out near the side panels of the fairing, because engineers realize that this improves a bike’s agility. The ZX-12R of course, has no frame spars on its sides and, thus, has far less weight outside the center of the motorcycle than a similarly displaced bike with a more common twin spar frame.

An additional benefit for the ZX-7R would be dramatically reduced frontal area and a consequent increase in top speed. Use of this frame design would also be a way for Kawasaki to differentiate itself from Suzuki’s GSXR750.