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Kawasaki ZRX1200 DAEG Ending Production; Kawasaki Performance Retro Up Against Emissions Wall (with video)

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JDM ZRX1200 DAEG Special Edition with Ohlins Shocks

Already blazing fast in the real world when we tested an earlier model, Kawasaki continued to develop the ZRX1200 in its home market. In 2009, the ZRX1200 DAEG was introduced as a JDM model with the following changes and updates, as described in an MD article:

“Although the styling is similar, the new ZRX has significant changes that, in US trim (Japan has horsepower restrictions), would provide an increase in performance not only from the engine, but from the braking system and the chassis. The new bike finally gets fuel injection, along with porting and valve work in the engine department, a new exhaust system and a six-speed transmission (the old bike was a five-speed). New brakes consist of Tokico four-piston calipers squeezing a pair of petal-shaped front rotors measuring 310mm and a single piston/250mm rotor combo in back. Steering geometry has been changed, and suspension settings are revised front and rear. The rear shocks are new, and are mounted at a different angle. They feature two-stage springs. The swingarm looks similar to the one found on the old model, but it is also new.

Bodywork has been changed slightly (apparent to the discerning eye), and the instruments are new. Personally, we wish Kawasaki would bring this bike to the US. We really liked the original ZRX1200, and would love to sample this new machine.”

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Don’t try this on your CB1100 – Dirck aboard the U.S. model ZRX1200

Performance wise, of course, the ZRX1200 stomps all over Honda’s CB1100, a machine we thoroughly enjoyed, but is decidedly docile when it comes to performance in comparison with the ZRX, which features a far more powerful engine, better suspension, chassis (including braced swing arm), brakes and modern wheel and tire sizes (17s). The DAEG model was coveted by many American enthusiasts who could never get their hands on one.

Now, courtesy of stringent new emission standards, Kawasaki is phasing out the big ZRX with a “final edition.”  In addition to the AC Sanctuary version shown below, we dropped in a couple of videos you might want to have a look at. The DAEG model has been extremely popular among customizers in Japan.

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AC Sanctuary used a production ZRX1200 DAEG as a starting point for this beautiful custom.


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47 Comments

  1. Roddy says:

    Sad to see the end of production for this wonderful bike. My 2002 ZRX1200R is still running like a top and taken each summer on epic trips throughout the Pacific Northwest and Western Canada. Best bike I’ve owned, including a 1998 VFR and some really good Triumphs.

  2. Curly says:

    Wait a second. Is this post a tip off for the Z900RS???

  3. bad Chad says:

    If small MFG like Guzzi can make air/oil cooled motors that pass Euro4, I can’t believe a giant like Kawasaki can’t get their liquid cooled motor clean enough to make the grade. Like others have said, sales is the more likely culprit.

    • Chad, The small or “Boutique” manufacturers play by a different set of rules than the “Big Four” do. The small guys don’t have nearly the same compliance rules. They also are less likely to build a bike only if “legal depts” are ok with the plans.

      Even if they put aside all the rules, Kawi was disappointed (big time) with the dismal sales figures from the ZRX- it was supposed to generate big sales numbers. Sadly, it did not. Now when the subject comes up, there are people that feel harshly about the whore ordeal- to this very day.

      But Kawi does not play by the same rules. Sometimes they just say screw it and go all out like the ZX1000PFF (Ninja H2R). Since they were the last ones to make it to the “Big Four” and they are different from the others

      This guy above nails it, too:
      “ALL bikes are “up against the emissions wall”, so there has to be a better excuse than that to stop production of the ZRX. Slow sales is probably the only reason.
      Reply
      Report
      Post

      Curly says:
      September 13, 2016 at 9:52 am

      Right. If they are going to spend on the engineering time and emission testing costs then they have to have an assurance that unit sales will justify those expenses. If it’s just to sell 1000 units in Europe and another 500 in North America and 500 in Japan then it’s not going to happen.”

  4. Mark Hammond says:

    I owned a 2001 candy apple green (faster one) ZRX and loved it dearly. Very few bikes at the time could keep up with me off the line and roll on sprints. A huge performance jump from my Honda Nighthawk 750.
    I sold my Rex after getting married. I really miss the comfort and power that bike offered day in and day out. Would love to buy a new one if Kawi would ever offer one in CA.

  5. OnOneWheel says:

    I miss my 1981 GPz 550…

  6. Artem says:

    Well, at least Triumph 1200 is available.

  7. Hewlett Hermit says:

    The ZRX 1200 DAEG shown is beautiful. I am the owner of a 2002 ZRX1200R with 60,000 miles on the odometer and it will live in my garage into the unforseeable future. One thing that none of the other people who replied expressed is the versitality of these motorcycles. This is a bike that will do everything well. A friend asked me to participate as a monitor for the bike part of a triathlon. I looked over the bikes I have and decided that the ZRX would do well following these athletes at about 18 mph, and it did. It will carry passengers and/or camping gear with equal aplomb. If you need to wick it up to to 125 mph to pass a few cars in a short passing zone it will happily do that. I haven’t seen an adequate replacement.

  8. Sean says:

    Looks ugly to me. I guess you had to grow up with them to develop an appreciation.

    • Jeremy in TX says:

      I’m with you. I’ve always appreciated the ZRX, but it is an ugly bike as are most of the bikes from that era. Like tight-rolled jeans and Members Only jackets, I am just not moved by the looks.

      • Norm G. says:

        if you haven’t already done so, you guys should take one for a ride if you get the chance…? often times that “dynamic experience” has a way of feeding back and coloring the “static experience”.

        though I already liked the classic lines, i only began REALLY lusting after a Zed once i experienced that engine. it does not disappoint. who knew…? oh that’s right all those bloody owners. (arggh son@fab#tch, i knew it…!!!)

  9. Joe Bogusheimer says:

    I had an ’00 ZRX1100 in traditional mid-80s GPz livery – red with black and silver stripes. Great looking bike, and a good ride, too. A little heavy. It didn’t have any wind protection for touring, though, which is what I want to do, so I sold it in 2003 to buy a barely-used V-Strom.

    Well, it’s had a good run. 17 years since the ZRX1100 first came out as a 1999 model (IIRC). Still has a dedicated group of fans despite not having been sold here in quite a few years. They really should find a way to make a bike like this with the ZX14 engine in it.

  10. Trent says:

    Great looking bike. Makes me happy that I own a Z750S.

  11. Grover says:

    ALL bikes are “up against the emissions wall”, so there has to be a better excuse than that to stop production of the ZRX. Slow sales is probably the only reason.

    • Curly says:

      Right. If they are going to spend on the engineering time and emission testing costs then they have to have an assurance that unit sales will justify those expenses. If it’s just to sell 1000 units in Europe and another 500 in North America and 500 in Japan then it’s not going to happen.

  12. PN says:

    Kawasaki discontinued King ZREX for the Z1000/Ninja 1000/Versys 1000. The DAEG looks nice. To me, the ZREX in reality was a pretty big bike, though I still liked it. I’m surprised with EFI that it still can’t pass what are probably the new Euro 4 standards. Harley was able to do it.
    Two big shout-outs for the Nighthawk S and the GpZ550!

  13. troop says:

    I regrettably sold my 2004 ZRX in 2005 to move on to something else. The ZRX is the bike from my past that I always wanted back. That said, I now have a FZ-09 to fill that slot and I don’t think I could part with the FZ for the ZRX. Sad day for Kawasaki..

    • JimW says:

      I’m with you, I had an 05 and I wish that I had never sold it. I have had at least 25 bikes and its the one I miss the most!

  14. harryiscool says:

    The 2016 Honda VFR1200X would be a reasonable substitute for me.

  15. todd says:

    I always wanted Kawasaki to make a new 1984 GPz550 with their 650 Ninja mill. I think it would be a bit more popular, selling far more numbers than the 1200.

    • Tim says:

      Great idea!

    • skortch says:

      Hmmm. Not sure why you’d put a parallel twin into a GPz? Sort of defeats the purpose.

      The 550 is one of my favorite bikes. I enjoyed numerous hooligan rides with the used ’81 I owned: first peg touched to tarmac, miles of canyon (and some dirt) shenanigans, and even some light touring. A twin-shock ZRX middleweight would be awesome but I’d definitely want to see a 4 cylinder in there. Maybe a re-tuned 636 (gen 1 or 2), redlining around 12k and the torque curve tweaked a bit to fit a more street-appropriate rev range.

      It’s a bike for which I’ve been longing ever since the ZRX 1100 first appeared almost two decades ago. The 11/12 were great bikes but kind of big and heavy.

      • todd says:

        I suppose because the 650 exists, is plenty powerful for the type of bike (not expecting a 600 class super sport power here) and is a fair bit lighter and cheaper for Kawasaki to produce.

        Maybe it’s just a body kit for the Ninja.

      • todd says:

        I did actually mean a PRE-1984 GPz. The early ones had more classic ’80s styling that’s more in line with the ZRX.

  16. redbirds says:

    I always liked this bike and now regret I never bought one. It would make a fine stable mate to my CB1100.

  17. randy says:

    I have had both a 2000 ZRX1100 and a 2005 ZRX1200.Both outstanding bikes.I recently sold my Triumph Tiger 1050 and for the first time since 1989 do not have a street bike in my garage.There is simply nothing that moves me anymore.The Bandit 1250 gets close,but its ugly and needs 15-20 more horsepower.ARE YOU LISTENING KAWASAKI???I want a retro superbike with a real passenger seat!!

    • Sean says:

      Randy,
      do you know how cheap and easy it is to give a Bandit another 15 to 20 hp? For about $1000 my bike when from a 96hp stock (tire) to 129hp and 98ftlbs. Dale Walker has everything you need to open up, what is an amazing motor. And yes I have had two ZRX11s in my past, both had carb work, and ZX11 cams, exhaust, ect,ect…

  18. J Wilson says:

    OK, Does everybody except me know what the ‘DAEG’ means? There’s always JDM-only bikes you wish were sold here: Kawi’s W models, the Honda 400/four, the B’Ol Dors, etc. Always got to have the hots for something you’ll never get . . . . happens a lot !

  19. WSHart says:

    To paraphrase a quote from a recent film…

    “All the motorcycles feared the Z-Rex.”

    But apparently not enough people buy them. Could it be that they are over-priced for their category? A beautiful motorcycle that is best referred to as a “Standard”.

    Because it sets them. ELR 1000 anyone? Damn straight.

  20. Rocky V says:

    I have an 03-1200 and it is a great bike –after it left – i thought they would bring it back as a Zrx 14–

    Why do they stop making these great machines ?

    Ford could make a modern 1970 Mach 1
    Chevy-a 70 z28
    Honda a new 750-4

    For some reason the bikes / cars we lust after – the big shots could care less

    • KenHoward says:

      Those are all machines I, too, would be drawn to, but then imagine all the snarky comments about the makers having “run out of ideas” and being “stuck in the past.” The manufacturers mostly aim toward making vehicles they hope will appeal to younger buyers (it’s sad how the beautiful CB1100 was criticized in the U.S. for its lack of blistering performance and cost).

  21. Austin ZZR 1200 says:

    droool! Always loved the ZRex

  22. Tim says:

    I always admired the look of this bike. It just looks like a muscular, manly bike. I was also partial to it because I had the first year GPz550 which was pretty similar in look.That’s the one bike I really regret getting rid of, of all of the bikes I’ve owned.

  23. Josh says:

    I own both a ZRX1200 and a modern CB1100.

    If Honda can make the aircooled CB pass emissions then I can’t see a reason why Kawasaki can’t do the same, it has the benefit of liquid cooling- throw a cat on it, and yea probably less aggressive cams.

    Would the fact that it would loose HP on the sales brochure/floor be a big deal? Most of the guys on the current ZRX forum uncork em anyway- can’t see why this would be any different. If anything, the FI opens possibility for more power than the carbed bike.

  24. Andrew says:

    Well, it’s a shame. But you know what – it’s been out of our reach for so long that I got over it by now.

  25. mickey says:

    Wonderful motorcycle. Kawasaki missed the boat by not bringing this back in the US updated.

  26. rapier says:

    The final iteration of the venerable motor put in the ZX11 in 1990. Updated in 02 and brought up to 1200 (1150 actually). With ram air in the ZZR1200 it usually dynoed in the 140hp range. I think in the 120 range in all the following naked and retro versions like this which didn’t have ram air and the huge airbox.

    That’s 26 years. Wow, a very long time in modern the motorcycle world. Then again 140hp that’s smooth,torquey and relibable hardly needs updating. Which is why I still ride a ZZR 1200, but not much longer

  27. Mark Pearson says:

    It’s a sad day in motorcycling. The ZRX is a Top 3 bike in my book. Kawasaki did a wonderful job. I’d love to see late-70’s/early 80’s Superbikes make a comeback.

  28. stinkywheels says:

    Darn. That was a FINE looking machine. I’m not exactly mechanically challenged, but, looking after 4 carbs and 24 valves is beyond my tedium threshold. I’d buy a FI version and use a dealer for that one. I’m off for an ebay session. Honda kinda missed the boat on the CB, but it too is a fine machine, just a little hard to wake up.

  29. xLaYN says:

    Why is that they stopped the production? Kawasaki build more powerful engines so should be totally possible for them to adjust the engine to pass emission control.

    Maybe demand doesn’t back the production or effort anymore….

    Sad, it’s a beautiful bike.

    “Don’t try this on your CB1100”
    LOL

  30. Dave Terrian says:

    One of my favorite bikes of all time was the Honda Nighthawk S. I’ve had 3 of them BK (before kids)and when the ZRX was for sale in the US, I lusted after one but wasn’t at a place in life to get one. Now that I am, I’ve been searching for a good used one and haven’t found any mint-ish ones. If they brought this bike back to the US at a reasonable price (say…FZ09 territory), I’d be all over it.