Ace in the Pack
Source: Fast Bikes, August 1996
(Excerpt from the original article)
King of the sports-tourers, flattener of mountains, razer of cities, a giant killer. The ZZ-R has always been in a class of its own, seemingly untouchable and never far away even from inclusion in a super sports mega-test purely because of its prepostorously powerful engine.
... It is still a very good bike but it suddenly feels very dated. Compared to the Thunderace it appears to be from a different generation and, you have to say that it is.
The way it looks right now is this: all the other bikes can do what the ZZ-R can but they can also go round corners a lot better and many of them are just as fast. It really is that simple.
... The layout is nice and familiar with the massive comfy seat and bars splendidly atop the yokes providing a good starting point for touring. The basic layout is excellent and it really has been nicely thought out; it feels like you have got a lot of bike for your money. You wouldn't be far wrong.
Once started, however, the big Zed immediately failed to impress with awful- by-today's-standards carburation and a generally turgid bottom end response.
... Don't get me wrong, it's still an immense piece of go fast architecture but it didn't feel as good as I remembered the last one after a diet of Aces, RFs and really minging GSX-Rs. However, there still isn't much that's going to get past you in a straight line, if that's your bag.
However, where the old Kwack really gets itself into trouble is on the twistery. Let's get this straight - there's nothing actually wrong with the geometry; in fact if anything it's excellent, steering sweet and true with a thoroughly predictable turn-in and more like a giant RF900 than you could ever imagine. No, the main problem is with the suspension.
... What the ZZ-R desperately needs is some pukka shockas and particularly those that hold up the front.
... Barreling down the 'B's' The Kwaker is actually quite good fun, bucking and wallowing but never getting too out of shape until you decide to brake for one of those corner thingies. ... Even when applied gently the anchors create so much commotion at the pointy end that you wonder if it was all worth it. The forks dive heavily and, as you try and turn in they begin to patter - the harder you try and turn in the worse the patter.
... The difference between the ZZ-R and say the Thunderace or the GSX-R is that these bikes, although big can actually be forced onto the pace whereas the Kwack isn't capable of being ridden to the same extremes.
... So, for the moment I'd relegate the ZZ-R to the role of super tourer which it fulfills excellently.