dear diary
Part One (Part Two)

This is a -not daily- diary of my experiences with my newly bought ZZ-R's. It's a red one build in 1995 (D3), but bought in 1996 with 0 km's on the tacho, and a red 96'er (D4). They're the nineth and tenth bike I own. The predecessors were:
  • 1979 - Kawasaki 750 Mach IV: Crazy 3-cylinder 2-stroke.

  • 1979/81 - Suzuki T350: Loud 2-cylinder 2-stroke.

  • 1981/82 - Honda CB900F Bol d'Or: Wobbely 4-cylinder 4-stroke.

  • 1982/83 - Honda CB400F Super Sport: Friendly 4-cylinder 4-stroke.

  • 1983/89 - Honda CB750F2 Super Sport: Old friend, had it for 6 years.

  • 1989/90 - Forced by circumstances I had no bike, but a car frown

  • 1990/92 - Kawasaki GPX750R: Sporty bike, lots of fun.

  • 1992/94 - Kawasaki 750 Zephyr: My first really new bike, good looking, not spectacular.

  • 1994/96 - Kawasaki ZZ-R 1100 D1: The ultimate bike.

  • 1996/96 - Kawasaki ZZ-R 1100 D3: Ditto

  • 1996/99 - Kawasaki ZZ-R 1100 D4: Ditto



June 15, 1996, 0 km
Bought it at Beku motoren in Uithoorn for fl 25.000. I got fl 15.000 for the 'old' one. An all risk ensurance will set me back fl 1700. I'm not sure if I will take this.

June 15, 1996, 100 km
Breaking it in...
There's a terrible flat spot around 3500 rpm. My previous ZZ-R didn't have it this bad.

Somewhere in the Ardennes

June 16, 1996, 600 km
Went for a ride to the Ardennes in Belgium. It's a great place to ride motorcycle. The ZZ-R rides like a dream. It's not easy to restrict myself to 4000 rpm.

June 20, 1996, 700 km
I've read something about the D3. It seems it has other carburetor jets than the previous D-models. It this the cause for the 3500 rpm gap?
The rear sprocket has changed too: it has one tooth less. Does this mean the bike will reach a higher top-speed? It's too early to try...
I've missed two or three times 5th gear while riding the bike. This hasn't happened to me on my D1. Is it because it's not broken in yet?
Questions, questions. I suspect everything will become clear when I've done some more kilometres on the bike.

June 26, 1996, 1070 km
Brought the bike back to the shop for its first service job. Besides an oil change they aimed the headlight beam a bit lower, because it was initially too high. I told them about the gap in power output and they would have a look at it. Just as I feared, when I got the bike back it still had this gap.
At last I can do more than 4000 rpm. I'll try to restrain myself, for the time being, to max 6000 rpm. This is still good for the highly illegal speed of 170kmh in sixth gear.
Average fuel consumption is 1 litre on 18.5 kilometres.

In the pits on the Spa-Francorchamps circuit

June 29, 1996, 1200 km
Well, it al ended a bit sooner than expected. The bike got STOLEN today... The thieves had to force two doors and three locks. I knew the bike was popular, but this is rediculous. I am insured for this kind of fun, so I've got to wait until the insurance company pays me back before I can buy another one.
In the mean time; if anybody has seen the following bike, contact me:
A red Kawasaki ZZ-R 1100 D3
License plate: MV-42-YH
Frame number: ZXT10D034732


August 7, 1996, 0 km
YES!! On the road again. The wait is finally over. I bought a brandnew red 96'er (D4) from the insurance money. Without taxes the bike costs 18,425 Dutch guilders (~ 11,515 US$). VAT is 17.5 %. Then we have something called BPM, which is an extra tax. All these taxes add another 7,139 guilders (~ 4,460 US$) to the price. So in total the bike did cost 25,564 guilders (~ 16,000 US$).
I've got it equipped with all kinds of thief-deterrants. For obvious reasons I won't go in detail about this.

August 8, 1996, 250 km
Breaking it in, again... The suspension feels a bit stiffer in respect to the D3. Maybe it's my imagination, or the fact that I haven't ridden a bike for more than 5 weeks. The powerdip around 3800rpm is here again. So is the problem with engaging 5th gear: I missed it twice...

Kinderdijk, The Netherlands (where else?)

The service interval for the D4 is 6000 km, for the previous models it was 5000 km. Why should they have done that? I mean the bikes are basically the same, so does this mean that the pre-D4 models were serviced too often?

August 14, 1996, 961 km
First service job. Just the routine stuff.
According to the service-manual chains on Kawasaki's built after 1995 need only be greased each 600 km, this was 300 km. Likewise, oil must be replaced every 6,000 km, this was 10,000 km. Somehow these numbers seem a little random to me. Ah well: I guess Kawasaki knows best.
Just some few 100 km's more and I don't need to worry about rpm anymore.

August 16, 1996, 1154 km
Screwed a Givi Wingrack on the bike. This is my fourth bike I've attached it to, and I like it very well.

August 26, 1996, 2900 km
Made various trips in the last 10 days. I went e.g. to the Eifel in Germany and the Ardennes in Belgium. Both regions are great for motorbike-riding.
The bike must be broken in by now. The problems with the 5th gear haven't occurred again.

August 31, 1996, 3100 km
Tried the topspeed today. I reached 280 kmh at 11,000 rpm before I ran out of road. Since 11,500 rpm are allowed, and 12,000 rpm are possible before the rev-limiter kicks in, the bike must be able to do some more kmh's.

September 14, 1996, 3400 km
Stiffened the front fork a bit. In the beginning it felt stiff enough, but after a few thousand kilometres the stock set up was a bit too soft for me. Especially when braking hard the bike was all over the place. And I can assure you, being all over the place with a more than 230 kg heavy bike sure does raise the adrenaline level.
I tried a spring preload with three marks visible, and added one click to the rebound damping force adjuster. I've lost a little bit of comfort with this set up, but the bike sure feels better when riding fast.

Dynojetting the new bike

September 17, 1996, 3600 km
I had the bike Dynojetted today at Ruud Fredriks Dynojet in Goes. Making a run on a Dynamometer can tell you a lot about your bike. Some specs distilled from the print outs of my previous D1 and my current D4 ( pic of a run through the gears, and a pic of the horsepower and torque curves):

Max hp127 @ ?133 @ 10,200 rpm
Max torque?106 Nm @ 8,300 rpm
Max speed in kmh
1st gear??
2nd gear135147
3rd gear175185
4th gear208220
5th gear240250
6th gear273296

I guess the reason the D4 is about 10 kmh faster in each gear, is that it has a one tooth smaller rear sprocket than the D1. Don't forget that, especially for the D4, the topspeed in 6th is rather theoretical. It's probably impossible to hit the rev-limiter in 6th with the stock set up.

In contrast to the D1 model, my current D4 already had a near perfect setup. So there wasn't much to gain by installing a Dynojet kit. But since I already had a kit, they installed other needles in order to make the mixture a bit richer at more than half throttle. This won't hurt since the stock setup is a very lean mixure in this area. The results of this treatment weren't obvious in the print outs, but I have the feeling that the bike is a bit more lively and responsive with these needles.
A bit disappointing was the fact that with the Dynojet kit it was impossible to remove that cursed dip at around 3800rpm. On the print out of the power output you can see a dip around 3000rpm. It's strange that you feel this a few hundred rpm's later...
According to the guys at Dynojet I'll need at least another exhaust in order to remove this dip.

October 6, 1996, 5000 km
I went to Germany today to do some Porsche-hunting... Were are they when you want them?? I've seen one, and this one wasn't in the mood for some high speed fun. I did pass a Lamborghini Diablo, and a Ferrari Testarossa (really!), but they were crawling in a traffic jam, so this doesn't count.
Because of the lack of adversaries, I had to entertain me by myself. So I tried to push my personal top-speed record a bit farther. I did a few runs, but they all stranded at about 280kmh, because at that speed I every time ran out of road. I can tell you that 'cruising' around above 260kmh isn't very comfortable. Wind pressure is enormous, and breathing is getting a bit difficult. The bike still feels stable at these speeds, as long as the road is straight. You can take corners at speeds above 250kmh, but you notice that the bike doesn't like it very much: it starts to weave a bit.
What I did enjoy very much on this trip was doing 260kmh (on the tacho) in fifth gear and than being able to just shift another gear up! What I didn't like was the fuel consumption at these speeds. The needle of the fuel gauge raced each time from right to left in no time. I estimate the fuel consumption on this trip at one litre for every twelve kilometres. When I ride like the police wants me to I can do at least 20 kilometres with one litre...

October 12, 1996, 5750 km
A bolt and collar of my fairing went missing. I guess this was a result of not tightening them well after installing the Dyno-kit. For 13 guilders all is well again.

November 9, 1996, 6300 km
Had the first 'real' service job done. Just an oil change and other small stuff. The headlight beam of this bike had to be set lower too. I payed 80 guilders for this maintenance job.
It was today chilly and sunny: a good day to try to better my topspeed record. On a piece of free highway and a nice wind in my back, I passed at last the 280kmh mark: it went quite close to the 290kmh mark. So to be on the 'sure' side I now can say I had it up to 285kmh. And the bike still wanted to go faster! If just this car went out of the way a bit sooner...

November 23, 1996, 7000 km
We had the first snow today! This means that they will scatter salt on the roads to prevent it to freeze. This is very bad news because my bike, especially the wheels, doesn't like this at all.

December 21, 1996, 7500 km
I had to ride my bike to it's -temporarily- new home today. Temperature was below zero (celcius) and I had to stop halfway (at about 50km) to defrost my fingers. The bike didn't seem to mind it though.


January 15, 1997, 7600 km
Had my first ride in the new year. Although the bike has been standing still for about 3 weeks outside in the freezing cold, it started immediate after pressing the starter-button. It took a while before the engine got warm, but it was great fun riding again!

January 26, 1997, 7700 km
The same bolt and collar of my fairing went missing again. This time I'm the one to blame for not tightening it well enough. I've used Locktite on the bolt so it won't happen to me again (I hope).

February 15, 1997, 8100 km
I went today to the shop for new tires. I wanted to try the new Bridgestone BT57 but the guy at the motorcycle shop advised me against it because there was another ZZ-R 1100 driver who had tried them, and he ended up with a speed-wobbling bike. So I sticked with the stock tires: Bridgestone Battlax 120/70 ZR17 BT50F front and a Battlax 180/55 ZR17 BT50R rear. I payed in total 673 guilders (~373 USD) for them.

February 21, 1997, 8300 km
Well I'll be d@$@%$md!! That @$%#@!! bolt went missing again! Happily the collar was still stuck to the fairing. I'm afraid I must check it every day if it's still tightened enough.
I had the Red Alert alarm checked because quite often it went off without a cause. I hope they've fixed it, because I hate it when an alarm (mine or one of someone else) goes off without a good reason.

March 9, 1997, 9600 km
I went for a daytrip today. Somewhere along the (high)way I passed an -I thought- Suzuki RF900R. Looking in my mirrors I saw he was pursuing me. "Ah!" I thought: "This optimist wants to have a lesson in high speed riding." And I opened the throttle a bit more. Doing around 230kmh the Suzuki was still there... Having a better look in my mirrors I saw the distinct headlight of a Honda Blackbird! And he wasn't planning to let me go. When we drove 260kmh we had to end our test because of the traffic. My first impression of the Blackbird is that it's fast, at least as fast as the ZZ-R. But that wasn't really a surprise.

March 21, 1997, 10000 km
Reached the 10,000 km mark today. Looking back at the past 7 months with my ZZ-R 1100 I must say that I'm extremely pleased with this bike. I suits my driving-style very well, and there aren't any negative points about it worth mentioning. That is, besides the weight and the (in)famous 3800 rpm power gap. I can live with the weight (there's enough power to drag it along), but I really don't like this flat spot. Although you get used to it...

"You're driving too fast!"
Who, me?

April 17, 1997, 12075 km
Well, it had to happen sooner or later: the first real damage to the bike. A collegue of mine drove backwards in his cage and touched my front right turn signal light. Now there's a hole in it, through which the wind whistles a happy tune. Since the damage to his car was a bit more severe (broken rear-light, scratches on his paint) there must be some kind of justice...

April 24, 1997, 12225 km
Today the bike went for its 12.000 km service job back to the shop. Besides the normal replacement of oil, oilfilter and spark plugs, the front brake pads and 13 valve shims had to be replaced. I've got a new turn signal light now too.
There was one other thing about my bike that wasn't in order: the inlet camshaft had pitting. This camshaft will be replaced within a few weeks under warranty.

Picture:Hans Oostendorp

April 27, 1997, 12400 km
This sunday has been reserved for a while for the "nl.motorfiets lentetoertocht 97". It was a touring trip organised by one of the frequent posters in the Internet newsgroup "nl.motorfiets". A lot of newsgroup users (about 45) participated in the event. Even the miserable weather couldn't spoil our fun. Because it hasn't been raining for a while, the roads were quite slippery now when it at last started. I had a moment when the new brake pads bit into the front disc. Due to a bit of luck and a lot of experience (or was it a lot of luck and a bit of experience?) I could keep the big sucker straight up.

ZZ-R owners manual page 44

April 30, 1997, 13000 km
April 30th, the Dutch celebrate the birthday of their queen.
  • 06.00h
    I'm starting my bike and ride to the highway. I will be staying there for about an hour and a half.
  • 07.00h
    It's quite cold this early. There's very little other traffic, so no one is in the way when I'm doing 150kmh.
    Although the tank isn't empty yet I'm going to top it off anyway. I know I'm going to need it.

    ZZ-R owners manual page 44

  • 07.45h
    I arrive at my destination too early. The route planner told me it would take me 2 hours to get here. I should have known they made this estimate based on an average cager. Something which I'm not.

  • 08.30h
    The Weekblad Motor-Kawasaki Circuit Training Day on the circuit of Assen is about to begin.
    At the Press Centre I hear that I'm put into the group of fast riders. There's a group of 'not so fast' riders and a group of 'very fast' riders too. Each group contains about 40 riders.
    Most bikes are of the types ZX6R, ZX7R, ZX9R, ZXR750 and so on. There are some ZZ-R 600's and a Pan European and BMW too. At that day I've seen 5 ZZ-R 1100's: 1 C-model and 4 D-models.
  • 09.00h
    We get some explanation about how to behave on the track and get a first idea of the lines to follow on the circuit.

  • 10.25h
    The first practice session of 20 minutes of our group. Our group of 40 is divided again in subgroups of 8 riders, each subgroup has an experienced marshall who's showing the way on the track. Ours is Sonja Blauwhoff, a very fast SuperSports 400 rider. My subgroup consists of a FireBlade, a ZXR750, a ZZ-R 600 and -by coincidence- 3 D-model ZZ-R 1100's.
    In this first session there are markers on the track to indicate where you must steer into the corner, where your apex is, and where you should leave the corner. I can follow quite easily.

    The three of us
  • 11.40h
    Second practice session. This time we'll go a bit faster. It becomes obvious that us ZZ-R 1100 riders are going to loose a lot in the corners. The ZZ-R 600 rider isn't that experienced and should have been placed into the group of 'not so fast' riders.
  • 12.55h
    Third practice session. The markers are removed from the track, we're still following our marshall. The other two guys with the ZZ-R 1100 have 190/50 tires on the rear. Because these tires are less high than the stock 180/55 they have less ground clearance than I have. One of them keeps putting his exhaust to the ground, which gives some nice fireworks for the one following him.

  • 15.10h
    Fourth practice session. Although it's really going fast now, I have the idea that I still can go a bit faster, and not only on the straights. Although the bike is a handfull, it doesn't handle bad. Only coming out of the corners I don't trust myself to put all the 147 horses on the rear tire. I still need this bike to get me home.
  • 16.35h
    Fifth 'free' practice session. This time we are allowed to ride without the marshall.
    This session starts a bit later because in the group before us some riders have gone down. Later I heared that one biker had a broken wrist, one a concussion and one a sore arm. A good warning for us to realize that we aren't invulnerable.
    My bike is real low on fuel and I put the fuel tap on reserve. This circuit riding sure costs some fuel. I think my bike does only 10 kilometres on 1 litre.
    The first lap I'm taking it easy. I worry a bit about the fuel consumption. It would look so stupid to be without gas halfway the track.
    The other laps I'm doing my utmost best to make a good time. Accelerating out of one of the right handers I feel my reartire sliding: Wauw! Is this a so called 'power slide'? Now and then my right foodpeg touches the ground. It's obvious that I feel more comfortable in right handers than in left handers.
    Coming out of the 'National' curve there's a more or less straight piece of circuit. Here I can blast past guys that are quicker in corners. At the end of this straight I'm doing around 230kmh.
    Before the 'Geert Timmer' curve you have to brake hard. Once my front brakes start to fade here and I have a real moment.

    ZZ-R owners manual page 44

    When I've done 9 laps they end this last session. My laptimes were: 2:05.49, 1:54.46, 1:51.13, 1:56.50, 2:00.22, 1:55.05, 1:57.63, 1:55.35 and 1:51.63
    The fastest time of the other ZZ-R 1100 riders was 1:51.05, 1:51.73, 2:00.80 and 2:06.14.
    My fastest time (1:51.13) was the 10th time of our group. The fastest time of the group was 1:46.06 and had been realized with a GSX-R 750.

  • 18.00h
    I'm riding home. It's odd (or maybe not), but I don't have this urge anymore to go fast, to dive into corners. Circuit days should be subsidised by our government in order to stop people from speeding...

May 20, 1997, 13600 km
Today the bike got a brand new inlet camshaft because the 'old' one had pitting. It didn't cost me a penny because I have still warranty on the bike.

June 12, 1997, 15000 km
I had a new rear tire fitted today. The stock one: Bridgestone 180/55. The previous one lasted only 6900 km. I guess this circuit training day was pretty harsh on the tires.

ZZ-R owners manual page 44

July 12, 1997, 16250 km
Today the front tire was replaced. I drove about 8200 km with the previous one. Usually the tire lasts a bit longer. It must have been this circuit day that made the difference.

Bunch of ZZR's

July 13, 1997, 16500 km
Today was the first Dutch ZZ-R Owners Day. We met in a small town near Arnhem. We could make a trip and/or spent our time talking about the ZZ-R. I decided to do the latter. There were about 15 1100's, a few 600's and one 250. There were two 1100's with sidecars too.

C- and D-model with sidecar

July 21, 1997, 17000 km
A day to remember: the ZZ-R 1100 now has been officially approved as "Highly Suitable for Pillions". This approval has been given by Hanneke, the "Most Perfect Pillion" from Amsterdam.
After a ride of a few hours, during which we reached speeds of 240kmh, she just had to give this qualification to the bike.

July 23, 1997, 17500 km
Some days ago Alex asked in nl.motorfiets how he could see if his, from Germany imported, C-model had full power. He was afraid that he'd bought a to 100hp limited bike. I wrote him back that we could have a ride together, during which we could test the topspeed.
We made an appointment for last friday, but the weather was terrible. So we tried again today. This day the weather was near perfect for doing some high speed tests.

Alex's and my bike
On a dyke I rode for the first time on a C-model. The riding position was almost the same as on my own D-model. The C felt a bit more agile. It's possible that this is being caused by the smaller tires.
In Germany we tried the topspeed. We both reached speeds above the 280kmh, so we had to conclude that his C is a full powered version.

August 7, 1997, 17850 km
Hurray!! The bike is now exactly one year in my possesion. I still like it very much. As I told before, for me it's the perfect combination of sports and touring.
Today I saw the 1998 model of the ZZ-R 1100. Still no ZX-12! It now has a two toned color scheme: red/gray or black/anthracite. That's at least one positive development: we've got a black one again.

The Ardennes revisited

August 16, 1997, 18100 km
Oil change.

October 22, 1997, 21500 km
For the first time after the summer I had to ride through temperatures below zero (-2 Celsius). I drove on the highway and the needle of the temperature gauge hardly left the left corner. Maybe it would have been better to partly cover the radiator?
Somewhere I've lost the cap of my right mirror.

October 23, 1997, 21750 km
Today I went to the motorcycle show in Amsterdam. All the new bikes were present.
The D6 had some minor changes in respect to the previous model. E.g. the text on the handle bar switches (like 'OFF', 'RUN' or 'HI') have been replaced by images, in order to make it more international, I guess. If there were other changes on e.g. the engine I couldn't see.


February 8, 1998, 23650 km
It's been a while since the last diary entry, but the bike runs without problems, and during the winter I don't ride that much.
Because the tires had to be renewed, I let the 24.000 km service job be done at te same time at 23.650 km. No surprises this time. The bill looked like this (prices in guilders, 1 US $ = 2.05 guilder):
Amount Description Piece price Total
4 Wages 80.00 320.00
1 Rear tire (Bridgestone)378.00 378.00
1 Front tire (Bridgestone) 295.00 295.00
4 Spark plugs 14.50 58.00
1 Polution tax 4.00 4.00
1 Small stuff / Lubricants 5.00 5.00
3.5 Oil 13.50 47.25
1 Oil filter 10.00 10.00
4 Brake / clutch liquid 3.50 14.00
1 Brake pads rear 66.25 66.25
2 Brake pads front 66.25 132.50
4 Cilinder head cover ring 5.35 21.40
Grand total1351.40

The tires didn't last very long this time (front: 7400 km, rear: 8650 km). I can't remember that I've been driving like an animal, but the tires tell a different tale... Ah well, who cares? I bought the bike to have fun with it, and I sure have!

February 10, 1998, 23850 km
Kawasaki Netherlands advertises with test rides ("Make the test ride of your life") on the new ZX9R and today I thought I might give it a try...
When I sat down on the green Kawa, I could feel immediately the stiffer suspension (compared to my ZZR). I had to reach a bit further to the handlebar, but the seating position wasn't too extreme. The mirrors aren't as good as those of the ZZR, but you can expect this on a sports machine as the ZX9R. The bike had run only 1700 km, so it wasn't really broken in yet. This didn't prevent me from putting the bike through its paces. Sorry Kawasaki, but you can't expect from me that I brake a bike in on a test ride.
After warming up the engine, I played around a bit with the bike. First impressions are: it's fast (260 kmh @ 11.000 rpm, 12.000 rpm is the maximum), but not as fast as the ZZR, it's light, the brakes are great (I would like to have those on the ZZR) and it accelerates like crazy (wheelies are no problem).
Although I like the ZX9R a lot, I don't think it's the bike for me. When I would buy it I would have to buy a car too, because of the lack of luggage capacity. A rack doesn't spoil the looks of a ZZR too much, but on a ZX9R it will look rediculous.
So that leaves me (and a few hundred others) still waiting for the next generation ZZ-R 1100!

Part Two