Total Mind F**k
Source: Performance Bikes, November 1996,
(Excerpt from the original article)
... The Honda is the first bike to seriously challenge the ZZ-R11 in the mental engine stakes, and it beats it. The Blackbird makes the Kawasaki feel... almost ordinary. Ok, so it doesn't have the same manic growl as the ram-air ZZ-R - in fact the Honda is apologetically whisper-quiet. Nor does it have the same, intense plateau of top-end power, where the ZZ-R revs on and on forever.
... When you want to squirt past the twat with the caravan who's held you up for at least 60 seconds, the Honda has to be dropped down a gear and nailed to produce the same thrust as the ZZ-R does in top. And if you really want to waste the 'van, you're looking at fourth. By which time your mate on the ZZ-R will have simply opened the throttle and disappeared...
It's hugely disappointing when you realise your shiny new Blackbird has to have its tits thrashed like a 600 to stay with the ZZ-R, and all the more when you know Honda have only geared the CBR like this so they can claim the Fastest Bike, etc...
... You can cruise at 140mph on the ZZ-R, sat almost upright. The Blackbird is as frustrating as a retro - lots of speed in brief bursts, but annoyingly impossible to keep up for long unless you want to explode under the strain.
... Mr Honda may have the outright speed record in his grasp, but when it comes to roll-on stomp the ZZ-R still has the edge.
... Not only that, but it's stronger than the Honda in other areas. It's got a better fairing. It's got a bigger tank range. It's at least as comfortable. And the mirrors work better. So stuff your poxy Honda Blackthing.
... Unlike the Honda, the ZZ-R comes with a bit of soul. Even if the ram-air system didn't work (and it does), it'd be worth having just to play tunes with. Only Honda could make 140bhp feel civilised - Kawasaki make 132bhp feel exciting.
And when it comes to getting into a rolling, high-speed, A-road rhytmh, the ZZ-R beats the Honda because of the Blackbird's 80-100mph flat spot. Here where the Honda goes flat the Kawasaki bulges with midrange muscle. No need to change gear, just open the gas and glide away on a wave of torque.
... But the ZZ-R is starting to show its age elsewhere. ... Low speed bumps and jolt rattle teeth, and the higher speed or big cornering angles the ZZ-R feels more remote and less stable than the Blackbird. Better ground clearance though.
... Where the Honda can be flicked in and out turns, the ZZ-R barrels along, more reluctant to steer and more likely to run wide in corners.
... Speaking of stopping-power, the Kawasaki has it and then some. ... I'd like to see any fancy braking system - Dual CBS, ABS, whatever - stop me quicker than the Kawasaki did. Good brakes.
... and you're looking at what is still, despite the Blackbird's 174-whatever, the fastest, most efficient high-speed blaster.