dear diary

1999


October 9, 1999
After driving ZZ-R 1100's for more than 5 years the excitement was a bit gone. Sure the bike still is quick and handles good and is comfortable, but after a while you want to try something new. Well, at least I did. When Kawasaki at last decided to put the ZX-12R on the market I knew this was the time to upgrade: the specs of the ZX-12R were too fantastic to ignore.
Today I traded in my ZZ-R 1100 of 1996. The price I got for it was 16,000 NLG (~ 7600 USD). I ordered a silver ZX-12R. Price was still unknown, like the delivery date. As price a figure of 33,000 NLG (~ 15,000 USD) was mentioned. The delivery date could be March 2000...
Now the long wait starts...

October 22, 1999
I've taken the day off to visit the motorcycle show in Amsterdam. Here I saw for the first time the bike I'd already bought. They were all three there: the red, green and silver one. You could sit on the red and green one, and -of course- I did. The bike felt light, very light. I'm sure the tank was empty, but still it was a lot lighter than my ZZ-R with an empty tank. Seating position wasn't too extreme, it felt a bit more comfortable than the Hayabusa and a bit less comfortable than the ZZ-R.
On the stand they showed a video with the ZX-12R on the track. You could hear the engine howling. It gave me goose bumps. I have to ask Kawasaki if I can get a copy of that tape. That'll help me through the winter. I hope.


The A1 on the MotoRai

November 12, 1999
At last, the prices and deliver date are known in the Netherlands: the price is indeed going to be 33,000 NLG and the deliver date is February! A month sooner than expected.


2000

February 12, 2000
The long wait is coming to an end. At the end of this month, or at the beginning of the next at its latest, the bike should be delivered.
Today I visited my dealer and he had the new brochure of the ZX-12R. Pictures of it you'll find in the 'pictures' section of this site. I could also borrow the tape Kawasaki has been showing at the motorcycle show in Amsterdam. I'll try to make some mpeg's from it.

February 19, 2000
I've bought a Shoei XR-800 helmet to match my bike:


March 16, 2000
At last: the bike has arrived at my dealership. When they phoned I immediately went to them and saw it in the crate. It will take them a week to assemble the bike and to deal with the paperwork. Next week I should be able to drive it for the first time!





Label from the crate

March 22, 2000
Still no news from my dealer. It can be any day now!
Today I received a book from Kawasaki: The ZX-12R Image Book. I got it because I was one of the first 100 'ambassadors' (as they called it) of the 12. As an ambassador I should "take responsibility and acknowledge the potential of the bike and use it conscious and careful". Ain't that nice? In the book a lot of nice pictures and statements of people who developed the bike. You'll find some pics eventually on this site.

March 23, 2000, 20 km
YES!!! Today I made the first few kilometers with the 12. The paperwork isn't ok yet, but I could take the bike for a spin. First impressions: seating position not as comfortable as on the ZZ-R 1100, but not bad either. Engine runs very smooth. The first 800 km I'm not allowed to do more than 4,000 revs. Still good for 110kmh in 6th gear. The next 800 km 6,000 revs are allowed. Today I received a letter from Kawasaki Netherlands stating that the break-in period has been prolonged: from 1,600 till 3,200 km no more than 9,000 revs are allowed. This means I've got to hurry with breaking-in because at the end of April I want to take the Ninja to the track.
More impressions of the first ride: braking not as good as expected, but brakes have to be run in too. Wind protection was good: I hardly noticed I was doing 100kmh. Handling was very good and the bike felt very stable. All this of course at speeds below 110kmh. How things are at higher speeds remains to be seen.



March 25, 2000, 200 km
Despite the rain today I couldn't resist taking the 12 for a spin. I took one of my favorite roads along a dyke. The first rather fast corner I nearly missed because I had to use more force to lean the bike than expected. This probably due to the big rear tire. I got used to this very quickly though (I had to :-) ). The stability is so much better than my ZZ-R 1100. Even in the wet, not really my favorite weather type, this stability gave my so much confidence that I hardly went slower than I would on a dry road. Even though I only revved it up to about 4000 rpm the rear wheel once slipped under acceleration in the wet. These moments are always good to raise the hart rate and to increase the fun.
You can hear the exhaust noise real good because the muffler sticks up into the air. The sound is a hoarse low grumbling, I really like it.
Because of the short mud guard at the back and the fat tire the bike got very dirty very quick, so I had to clean it for the first time. I noticed that behind the headlight glass there was some condensation. I hope this moisture doesn't affect the headlight reflectors.



March 31, 2000, 400 km
Still not allowed to do more than 4000 rpm. Despite this the bike is a lot of fun. The fuel injection works great: no more stumbling when the engine is cold, always a -very- good throttle response. I expect to ride around 400km this weekend, so I can revv it up to 6000rpm.

April 2, 2000, 825 km
I did it! I've crossed the magical 800km boundary. I must confess that I cheated the last kilometers rpm-wise, I even had the bike up to redline. And boy is it fast. I drove a piece of my favorite road without looking at the tachometer. At some points I was 40-50kmh faster than when I was driving my ZZ-R 1100! Handling, stability, brakes, power, everything is so much better with the 12. I'm sure I'm going to break my record at the circuit of Assen with considerable numbers.
On the trip today the bike once surprised me when I drove away and janked the throttle. For a moment nothing happened, and then the power came in violently. This is sure no bike for beginners...
On the highway and revving it up I noticed that the wind protection was as good, if not better, than on the ZZ-R. With speeds well above 200kmh I didn't have to take cover beneath the windscreen.
The next 800km I will try to keep the revs around 6000, like Kawasaki wants me to.




April 7, 2000, 1025 km
Wend for a drive this evening. Just 'cruising' along a dyke. The brakes feel better than in the beginning. Enough stopping power I should think.
The way the power is being delivered is not always what I'd like. Opening the throttle quickly gives an immediate, fierce, response. You can feel that the engine gets a biff. I suppose it's build to endure this.
While opening the throttle quickly once in second gear I made my first power wheely.



April 8, 2000, 1100 km
First service job today: oil (57.60 NLG) and oil filter (25.02 NLG) change, chain adjusted. They also greased the linkage system of the rear shock. This seemed to be forgotten by the factory.





April 24, 2000, 1600 km
Through the Internet I came into contact with Atze and Martin, two red (I must say that the red color is beautiful too) ZX-12R riders. We decided for a little get together today, to exchange some experiences and to do some driving.
Like me, Atze and Martin are still busy breaking the bike in: Atze was allowed to do only 4000rpm, Martin 6000 and I 9000. Still we could keep up with the rest of the traffic pretty well :-). Again like me, the two men were happy with their bikes: they didn't mention any negative point. Or it must be the seating position of the passenger.
Btw. 9000rpm in 6th gear equals 260kmh on the speedo...

April 28, 2000, 1775 km
Ooops. Tested the vehicle-down sensor by accident: I dropped the bike ;-((. I forgot to remove the disk lock and wanted to drive away. Well, I didn't get far. The bike fell on the left side and immediately stalled. It got some scratches on the fairing and engine cover. The clutch handle is a bit bend too. Happily it didn't fell on the expensive, right (exhaust), side...





April 30, 2000, 2250 km
Racing day! Today I've been to the circuit of Assen to try to break my lap record I've made with the ZZ-R 1100 (1:51.13). First we had to do three laps behind a marshall to warm up, after that we got four rounds to set a time.
I was a bit nervous before going on the track, because the ZX-12R was brand new, not really broken in yet and I didn't ride on a circuit for (exactly!) three years. Seeing a spectacular crash right before I had to go on the circuit didn't help.
I was wondering how the bike would behave on the track. Well, it did just fine. Stable, fast, flickable with powerful -non fading- brakes. The only thing withholding me from going faster through the corners was the abrupt power build up when opening the throttle. I was afraid I would loose the back end. Nevertheless I got the pegs to the ground... Once on the end of the straight I almost missed the corner because I was way too fast. But, thanks to the very good brakes and the stability of the bike, I could just make it. A few corners later things almost went terribly wrong when I tried to overtake a ZX-9R by passing him on the inside of the corner. He didn't see me and shut the door. Again my brakes prevented bad things to happen.



Was I faster than on my ZZ-R? Yes, I was! This time my fastest lap was 1:47.87. That made me the fastest ZX-12R of that day too. Being the only ZX-12R that day on the track did help a bit :-). Too bad the officials were unable to print out the times of the other riders in my group. It would have been nice to compare the times of the others to mine.

To put things a bit in perspective... A few months later a Dutch motorcycle magazine (Motor, June 21 - July 5) chose the sportbike of the year. Among the tested bikes was the ZX-12R. They tested the bikes on the circuit of Assen and the fasted time on the 12, driven by an ex GP racing driver, was 1:31.954. Other drivers all made times around 1:40 on the 12. The 12 ended that day as sportbike on place 7, behind the GSX-R 750, Mille R, CBR 900, ZX-6R , SP-1 and ZX-9R. Only the TT 600 ended behind the ZX-12R.

Fastest times per bike
Honda CBR 900 RR1:30,552
Suzuki GSX-R 7501:30,675
Aprilia RSV Mille R1:31,466
Kawasaki ZX-9R1:31,601
Kawasaki ZX-12R1:31,954
Honda VTR 1000 SP-11:31,987
Triumph TT6001:33,632
Kawasaki ZX-6R1:34,102




May 7, 2000, 2500 km
Fixed the rear cowling that didn't fit properly. Some washers at the right place was all it took.
On a fast, curvy, stretch of dyke road I was again reminded of the lousy way the engine reacts to closing and fast opening the throttle. Power comes in so sudden that the bike will throw you off if you aren't careful. I guess I've got to learn to live with it, but it probably will stay a great annoyance.

May 14, 2000, 2750 km
Today I won the Dynojet Power Contest held by a motorcycle dealer! The price was a rear tire! I didn't have much opposition, but who cares :-)
The other contenders were (amongst a few others) a Vmax (120 rwhp), a Blackbird (133 rwhp) and an R1 (148 rwhp). My 12 showed 162 rwhp (!!) on the chart. :-)) Considering it was a pretty hot day (33 degrees Celsius in the Dynojet cabin) the bikes could have made some more hp.
During the run a funny thing happened. They suck the exhaust fumes away with this hose they place on a stand (they've made heavier with a brick) behind the pipe. Halfway the run the 12 was blowing so much gasses that it blew away the stand, which fell over and the brick broke. Imagine, they've used this device for a lot of bikes, so it's been proven in practice, but along comes the 12 and they've got to adapt the stuff :-)


Winning a rear tire in Oss

May 20, 2000, 3300 km
At last, the bike is officially broken in! I must say that it felt broken in too today, when I was out driving. But this could be a result of the fresh temperatures (15 degrees Celsius). To celebrate this milestone I used the bike for what its been built for: driving hard and fast. At the highway I reached a speed of 310kmh on the speedo. I didn't seem wise at the moment to push it harder, but there was still a lot more in it.
At a backroad a speed camera made a picture of me. From the front! :-) When I got home, tired but satisfied, I noticed that the rear tire had only 1mm of profile left. I doubt it will go a lot farther than 4000km.

June 11, 2000, 3700 km
Together with Kevin, a visiting American doing a European vacation, I went to the ZX-day in Nijkerk. Here I spoke some other 12 riders. They were all happy with their machine and hadn't had any troubles.
On the way back Kevin tried my 12 and I tried his ZX-11. Kevin was very impressed with the power of the 12. The ZX-11 felt very familiar to me. Cornering was a lot worse than I've ever experienced on my 11's. As we found out the tire pressure was way too low.
The next day Kevin went to Germany, Denmark, Switzerland and France. In France the ZX-11 got stolen. These still are very popular bikes...

July 1, 2000, 4200 km
A lot sooner than hoped for, but not unexpected, the rear tire got changed today. Happily this one was for free. Otherwise it would have cost me 536.66 NLG (~233 USD): 477.91 NLG (~208 USD) for the tire and 56.25 NLG (~24.45 USD) labour costs.
On the way back from the shop I had to ride through a lot of rain. I was happy I had enough profile again on my tire to get rid of the water.

July 7, 2000, 4500 km
Well, this new tire lasted even shorter. It got punctured after a few kilometers. How cruel life can be at times. Bye free tire. I had another new one fitted at my own dealer. He charged me 479.50 NLG (~208 USD) for the tire, and no labour costs.

July 19, 2000, 4900 km

While riding my bike I saw a Subaru Impreza on the other side of the road. Nice car, I thought. Quite quick too. For a cage. And I forgot about it. A little while later I checked my mirrors and I saw the same Subaru behind me. Hmmmmmm... That's odd. They were heading in the other direction. Why would they turn around. Unless they're cops and they saw this 12 with which it's quite impossible to stay within the speed limits. I checked my speedo and happily I didn't go too fast at that moment.
To check if they were indeed following me I took the first exit, followed by another right turn, and stopped. And yes, they took the first exit, and stopped too. I knew enough. I turned the bike and went back to the road I left, very slowly, laughing, leaving them in their car, unhappy.
Life can be good too.

July 22, 2000, 4954 - 6009 km
Topspeed testing time! Now the bike is fully broken in it is about time I'm gonna test it's Vmax. The best place to do that is Germany. Parts of the Autobahn don't have a speedlimit, and the Germans are accustomed to cars/bikes driving at high speed.
I decided to leave home early, so the chance was bigger the Autobahn would be deserted. At 5.30 AM I started the bike. About one hour later I was in Germany. Because of the fact that this Saturday a lot of people decided to go on vacation the Autobahn wasn't as deserted as I hoped for, but I still got the chance to do some testing. 300 Kmh on the speedo was easily reached (in 5th gear!), but to gain some more speed was a struggle. After some tries that stranded at 310 kmh, I finally equaled my personal best done with the Hayabusa: 325 kmh (on the speedo!). At that speed I had to move the clutch cable with my left hand, because I couldn't see the speedometer needle. Even while steering the bike with one hand at 325 kmh the bike was still very stable. The rev counter indicated 11,000 rpm @ 325 kmh. So with some more road a higher topspeed must be possible. I doubt though that I will be trying again: driving at speeds around 300 kmh is very tiring and not very safe. The wind pressure is enormous. After experiencing this pressure you understand why aerodynamics are so important at those speeds.
The bike used 1 liter of fuel for every 10 kilometers while testing its topspeed. The rest of the day I spend with -more or less- relaxed touring around the river Mosel. Fuel consumption dropped then to 1 liter for every 16 kilometers.
After driving the 12 for more than 1000 kilometers in one day at all types of roads I must say that I'm loving this bike more and more. Today it proved again that it's fast, powerful, stable, smooth, not uncomfortable and lots of fun.


Piesport, Germany

August 9, 2000, 7500 km
Something is loose inside the right mirror. It has developed a rattle...
Did a traffic light sprint today with a Honda CBR600. For me it was just a test how much faster I was. With a wheely in first and second gear I left the 600 quickly behind me. Of course the Honda was no match, but it was nice to see the difference between 178 and 110 (?) hp.


At the Atomium in Belgium

August 12, 2000, 7600 km
Time for a small service job: oil and oil filter change. My front tire had to be replaced as well. I had a new stock one fitted (Dunlop D207), but the guy at the shop informed me that Bridgestone had the new BT010 for the ZX-12R as well. The front tire specially made for the 12 is called BT011. Maybe I try them next time. They might last longer...
Servicing set me back 424 NLG (~184 USD): 306 NLG (~ 133 USD) for the tire, 68 NLG (~ 29 USD) for the oil and 25 NLG (~ 10 USD) labour.
Steering felt better after replacing the old front tire. It was mainly worn on the sides. I did notice that the steering was a bit inaccurate, but I thought it was probably the tire pressure. Since there was enough profile in the middle of the tire, I thought it was still ok. Which it obviously wasn't...

August 13, 2000, 8550 km
Today I made a trip to Luxembourg. It's a small country, but great for motorcycling. I was glad I had a new front tire because there were a lot of curves. If you are in the neighborhood, I can recommend the road between Wiltz and Consthum.
The 12 performed, as always, flawless. I even believe I'm beginning to get used to the harsh throttle response.

August 21, 2000, 8650 km
When I drove off with my bike the front end felt a bit vague, imprecise. The tire pressure was ok. I decided to turn in the spring preload adjusters half way. Steering was much better now.

September 30, 2000, 10,000 km
At 9800 km the rear tire got replaced again (457 NLG). This means that the previous one lasted 5300 km. Not bad... The new tire is the stock Dunlop D207. I'm thinking about trying the Bridgestone BT010, but only as a set: I want to have the same brand of tire front and back. Maybe next time.
For the rest there's not much to report. I'm still having a great time on the bike. Especially the acceleration is awesome.

November 11, 2000, 10,650 km
I've put the bike away for the winter. It'll be at my dealer's until next spring.
Plans for next year: changing the suspension settings according to the Bike article, and buying a dark windscreen...


2001

February 3, 2001, 10,650 km
Today I received a letter from Kawasaki Netherlands stating that the bike should be checked by the dealer because of a possible crack in the fuel tank overflow, and because of the faulty fuel level indicator.
Today we had some more snow. Can't wait till it's spring again...

March 17, 2001, 10,650 km
Got my bike back from winter storage. The dealer did a service job too. The costs were (in USD):
Oil filter7.26
Front tire113.04
Spark plugs126.65
Oil29.66
Brake/clutch fluid5.21
Grease2.17
Labour215.21
Total499.20

I had no idea the spark plugs were so expensive!
It was nice to be back on the bike again. The weather was quite chilly and the roads were wet, so I didn't go far. Still managed to make a rear wheel slide though (unintentionally)...

March 30, 2001, 10,800 km
In September last year there stood an article in the Bike about the ZX-12R suspension setup. Today I changed the settings according to the recommendations made in this article:
 PreloadCompressionRebound
FrontWind down until two and a half rings are visible above the forkIncrease to three clicks from fully hard to help compensate for the soft springsWind the rebound fully on; thicker oil would be better to slow the forks down
RearThe only adjustment from standard increases preload, in fact it needs softeningIncrease to six clicks from full on to help the weak spring deal with added loadAdd five clicks to the standard 10 compensates for the lack of preload adjustment

Did it help? I'm not quite sure yet. It seemed that I could go faster on my favourite piece of road. This could mean that the suspension was doing its work better. At the end of next month I'm taking the 12 to the circuit of Assen. Let's see how the suspension works there...

April 30, 2001, 11,800 km
We Dutch celebrate at this day the birthday of our -previous- queen. So this is an official day off. For me, like last year, this means that I can have some fun at the circuit of Assen.
To my great surprise I discovered yesterday that my rear tire was almost completely worn already. Bad timing! Still I went to Assen: there should be enough rubber left...
The weather was great, and I started in a group of 34 bikes, to try to make a quick lap around the circuit. After three warming up laps behind a marshall we were allowed to drive as fast as we could (or dared).
I thought I was quite fast around the track, although cornering with the ZX-12R still is something that should be done with great care. Once I almost lost the back end after winding on the power too soon. Of course I made my traditional mistake of going too fast before the dreaded Geert-Timmer curve. Again I could stay bearly on the bike. Must have been a great view for the many spectators...
When winding on the power on the 2 straights the bike started weaving a bit. Was this caused by the worn rear tire, or was it the new suspension set up? I don't know. I'll try some acceleration tests after the tire has been replaced.
After almost half an hour of intensive racing the chequered flag fell and we headed back to the pits. The first thing I did was checking the rear tire. To my surprise there still was some thread left. So I could make it home too with this tire.
And now the lap times. I was a bit quicker than last year, but not a lot. This time I did my fastest lap in 1:46.483, with an average speed of 132.292 kmh. Last year my time was 1:47.87, so I was more than a second faster, but I hoped for more. I ended on place seven of 34 riders, not bad. The quicker bikes were a Yamaha YZF600 (1:37), a Kawasaki ZX-9R (1:41), a Honda CBR600 (1:42), a Yamaha FZR600 (1:45), a Honda CBR929 (1:46.400) and a Honda CBR900RR (1:46.415).
On my way back home the engine died on me: no more fuel! 233 Km on 1 tank of 20 liter, that means almost 1 liter on every 12 kilometer. Those few laps on the track sure took there toll. Twenty minutes after calling the auto club (don't you just love those cellular phones?) I was on the road again and arrived home soon after.

May 3, 2001, 12,000 km
Today I got my rear tire replaced by a brandnew stock Dunlop D207. Although there still was some, not much, rubber left, I wanted a new one since I was going to the track again. The tire costed me this time 523 NLG, a lot more than the previous one. The previous one lasted only about 2200 km (~1375 ml), which isn't long, to say the least. Must be because I'm getting more comfortable with the bike and hence asking more from the tires?
In the evening I went to race on the police training circuit at Lelystad. The event was organised by the NVVM, a Dutch organisation for enhancing riding skills.
The track at Lelystad isn't a real circuit like Assen, but still good for a lot of fun. It's rather narrow, and has a lot of corners. There's only one straight where we were allowed to overtake. At the end of it I reached speeds of about 240 kmh. It was raining a bit that evening, but that didn't hinder us a lot. A few times I was behind a Yamaha R1 before the straight, and we could do some acceleration tests. The R1 sure is a quick bike, the first few hundred meters it could keep up with me, after that it was bye, bye Yamaha. Of course it should do better in the twisties, but with this rider it didn't, I could follow easily.
The weaving of the bike didn't reoccur, so it must have been the worn rear tire that caused this at Assen.
After a couple of hours and -almost- emptying a fuel tank I went home again

May 5, 2001, 12,250 km
Just for the looks, I fitted a pair of Philips VisionPlus headlight bulbs. The claims they made didn't sound bad either: up to 50% more light on the road, 10-20 metre longer beam, better reflections from roads and signs.
I haven't tried them in the dark yet, but the blueish light looks nice.

May 12, 2001, 12,300 km
I got my bike back today after replacing the tank because of the recall. From my dealer I got in the mean time a loaner bike. Well, bike... A Yamaha T-Max 500 scooter. Typical a means of transport for people with no affinity to motorcycling whatsoever: you get on and drive away. For a short while it was funny to ride it, but soon it became a bore. The only thing you could do was enjoying the surroundings, riding the scooter was no fun at all. There was no excitement, nothing. Thank goodness I could switch back to my 12 again today.

May 25, 2001, 13,000 km
The bike overheated twice because the fan didn't kick in. I think they forgot to connect some wires after replacing the tank. I'll have to sort it out asap.

June 7, 2001, 13,300 km
It wasn't a wire. The temperature sensor was broken. Today it got replaced under warrenty. When my bike was in the shop I could use a Kawasaki ER 500. Although a motorcycle too, it just cannot be compared with a ZX-12R. You lack power, brakes, stability and weight too. Well, the latter is the only positive thing about the ER 500 I can think about. It's a good bike to learn riding a motorcycle on though. But I was very happy when I got my 12 back again.

June 25, 2001, 14,375 km
F*ck! Punctured my rear tire again. The second time this happened to me with this bike. Is there some kind of law of nature that states that the more expensive the tire the bigger the chance you punture it? If so, than I've proven it often enough!
I was 30 km from home, but I made it riding slowly with the flat tire. Since now it had to be replaced anyway I thought I try to get home with it, and made it.
With 2375 km this tire lasted a bit longer than the previous one...
The new tire costed me 540 NLG (~ 207 USD).

July 1, 2001, 14,500 km
When rubbing in my new rear tire I noticed that when I approached speeds of 320kmh (indicated) the bike started to hesitate, just as if it was running out of fuel. I must ask the guys at my dealer's if they've replaced the ECU too, when replacing the tank. It could very well be that I've got a 2001 ECU which doesn't allow the bike to run faster than 300kmh (real)... Or maybe I'm just seeing ghosts...

July 11, 2001, 14,900 km
It can't be the ECU that's causing this -little- problem: the 2000 and 2001 versions aren't interchangeable, since the connectors are different. So there must be another cause. Could be the air filters...
Yesterday I've bought another ZX-12R! The color isn't determined yet, but I think it'll be a silver one too. It's one in the scale of 1/12 of Tamiya, one of the best model manufacturers in the world.


The finished model

July 13, 2001, 14,900 km
I fixed the rear signals like described on Dale's site. The rear looks even better now.

July 14, 2001, 14,900 km
Finally my Zero Gravity XL dark smoke windscreen arrived. I've ordered it about two months ago. They must have delivered it from the States by rowing boat or something. Still it was worth the wait: it looks great.

July 27, 2001, 16,500 km
Just came back from a trip to Germany: the Sauerland. A great place to ride motorcycle, with lots of winding roads. Once again it's been proven that you can tour on a ZX-12R as well. Allthough at the end of the day I started to feel my wrists. The bike behaved very well. Most of the time I drove around using just its low rpm torque. Of course on the way back home on the Autobahn I unleashed the beast and drove mostly with -permitted!- speeds approaching the 200kmh.


Somewhere in Germany

August 4, 2001, 16,700 km
Steering felt a bit vague lately. Not as precise as usual. I thought it came from the front: the worn front tire, or not enough tire pressure up front. As it turned out to be it was the rear tire that needed some more pressure. Well, what do I know? Riding motorcycle for more than 20 years and still learning.

August 11, 2001, 17,700 km
Just came back from a lengthy tour to Germany and Belgium. I did more than 900km in less than 10 hours on the 12. Of course I had to try the topspeed in Germany. I didn't came further than an indicated 320kmh. The hesitation I felt a while ago at speeds above 300kmh didn't occur again.
The weather was good during this trip and the roads were great, so I had a very good time aboard the mighty 12.
After 10 hours, almost continuously except for fuel stops, on the bike, my behind and shoulders felt sore, but I still think this bike is suitable for -fast- touring.
I really do need a new front tire now: the center is fine, but the sides are worn. And I have to inspect the brake pads. I find it extraordinary that they last this long on this bike.

August 17, 2001, 17,880 km
Had a new front tire fitted today. The previous one lasted 7,230 km. The new tire costed NLG 339,-. Steering is much better now.
I asked my dealer to check my brake pads too, since I couldn't believe they would last very much longer. I mean: almost 18,000 km on the same set of pads is very long. Especially for a bike like the ZX-12R. And indeed, they had to be replaced. One problem: the pads weren't in stock. D*mn! Tomorrow I have a advanced riding course and I'm sure break tests will be part of it. There was some 2 millimeters of material left, they told me. I don't think I will be able to wear that in one day. I hope... I'll have to ride like an old woman now: slowly (relatively) and braking soon and carefull...

August 18, 2001, 18,000 km
Today I went to an advanced riding course, organised by the Dutch Kawasaki Club. In the morning we practiced braking, braking and avoiding obstacles, riding tight corners and more of this stuff. I learned quite a lot (again), like pulling in the clutch and keeping your arms as straight as possible when braking hard. In the afternoon we were taught the most ideal line around the circuit. Not the racing line, but the line you would use on the street. We drove with some riders behind an instructor (in real life a motorcycle cop...). After doing this for about 20 laps I knew the line very well and was ready to go faster, but this didn't happen. So I lagged a bit behind in order to be able to take those corners with some more speed (scraping my right footpeg when doing so). I guess they must have interpreted this lagging behind as 'not being able to keep up' and they placed me in a group of even slower riders. This was for me the signal to quit. Not a big problem since in this way I could spare my brakes.
Still an entertaining and instructive day.


The group at Lelystad


One of the tests

August 24, 2001, 18,100 km
At last I had the front brake pads replaced. This costed me NLG 291.10.
While waiting for the mechanic to finish I remembered that at 18,000 km the bike should have another service job. Ah well, this can wait until the rear tire has to be replaced. Which won't take long.

August 25, 2001, 18,900 km
In the scourging heat I drove today to Belgium to do some touring. I ended up in south Belgium in a place called Bouillon. A very nice town, certainly worth a visit. Because of the heat I didn't put on my leathers, but just jeans. I think it's better to keep -more or less- cool and be able to ride concentrated than to loose your concentration due to the heat.
The major disadvantage of wearing jeans trousers is (besides the minimal protection) that you start to feel your butt a lot sooner.


Bouillon, Belgium


Somewhere in Belgium

August 29, 2001, 19,000 km
For the first time in a year and a half somebody was brave enough to act as a passenger on my bike. While driving a little bit she complained that she continuously slipped forwarth. For me it wasn't easy either: because she had to hold me, due to a lack of grips at the rear, I started to feel my wrists very soon. Still it was a nice experience and she told me she would love to ride with me again, so sitting on the passenger seat couldn't have been too bad...

September 28, 2001, 19,200 km
Went to the dealer to have a small service job done. The rear tire had to be replaced as well (of course). The previous one lasted this time 4,825 km. A normal life span I guess. For the service job (mainly oil change) and tire replacement I payed NLG 666.30.

September 30, 2001, 20,200 km
I had to rise at 3.15 AM this morning, because I had to be in Paris at 10.00 AM together with Hans, a guy I know from the Kawasaki club. At 10.00 AM the Paris motorcycle show (Mondial du deux roues) would open its doors and we wanted to be there amongst the first people to enter the show.
We left at 4.30 AM to do a trip of 485 km. We expected that this trip would take us about 5 hours. But since Hans has a ZX-12R as well and since there was almost no other traffic at this time of day we could ride real fast. The speedometer needle could seldom be found on the left of the 220kmh mark. Because of these speeds and the resulting fuel consumption we had to do a fuel stop every 45 minutes. Once we accidentally drove by a fuel station when we had to refuel. We knew it would be difficult to reach the next one so we had to drop the speed to about 120kmh for a while. A few hundred meters before the next fuel station I ran out of fuel. The engine stalled, but after a little while I could start it again and happily I could just make it to the station.
After 3.5 hour we arrived way too early at our destination. This meant that we did on average 138kmh. All those refuel stops dropped the average speed quite a bit.


The new ZX-12R in Paris (who's that geezer at the background?)


Special ZX-12R

The show was quite nice. The main reason to go there was for Hans and me the new ZX-12R. Hans liked it a lot and is planning to buy it next year. Personally I don't like the new look: too much ZX-9R. There's nothing wrong with the 9, but the 'old' 12 had a quite distinctive look I like a lot.
With my ZZ-R1100 background I wanted to see the new 1200 with my own eyes too. Again I don't like the way Kawasaki has changed the front: too much GSX750/Triumph. The rest of the bike looks quite nice though.
At 1.00 pm we started our 'old' 12's again and headed home. Because of the rain and the heavier traffic our average speed dropped to an abominable 74 kmh and we arrived at home after 6.5 hours.
Again I liked the way the 12 acted on this day: fast, comfortable and safe!

October 14, 2001, 21,200 km
It's become clear to me that the Netherlands is too small for a bike like the ZX-12R. In no time you are at the border with Germany or Belgium.
So, today I decided to go to Germany again. The place where it's allowed to drive as fast as you can. In an hour or two I was in the beautiful city of Cologne and finally saw the famous cathedral with my own eyes: a very impressive piece of architecture.
On the way to Cologne and reaching speeds approaching the 300kmh I noticed that the ZeroGravity shield gave me less windprotection than the stock screen. The only difference -besides the color- between the two is that the stock screen has this thicker edge. This must deflect the wind at those speeds just a little bit more and is in this way more comfortable.

November 10, 2001, 21,650 km
For me the motorcycle season ended today. I brought the 12 to the dealer where it will stay warm and comfy until next year.
In this year I drove exactly 11,000 km on the bike. It has been a great season and I wished I could have driven the bike more often. I've used the bike in very different circumstances (touring, racing, Autobahn burning) and I can't think of a negative point of the bike. Well, maybe the fuel consumption. For the rest it's all I could wish for: great looks, brakes, handling, power, etc, etc.
I hope the winter will be over very soon!

November 16, 2001, 21,650 km
Today I received a letter from Kawasaki recalling the bike again. This time the valve stem nuts seem to be a weak point: it is possible that they crack, so they have to be inspected and probably replaced. I have to call my dealer and ask them to check the nuts.


2002

January 1, 2002, 21,650 km
E-day (or something like that): most of the European countries are using the Euro (€) now as currency. So expect prices in Euro's from now on.
It's very strange to use another currency in your own country. Everybody has to get used to it. It's like being a foreigner in your own country, currency-wise.

March 9, 2002, 21,650 km
Today I picked the bike up again at my dealer's. For me the winterstop is over, 4 months after its start.
To have a good start of the season I had the bike serviced: this costed me € 377,35:
DescriptionAmountPrice (€)Total
Forte 2 Motor Power18.718.71
Sparkplug IU27A#4423.7995.16
Oil filter18.148.14
Nut14.434.43
Clip11.751.75
Screw11.861.86
Oil3.6010.7838.81
Brake/clutch fluid3.001.935.79
Small material13.403.40
Labour4.30 209.30
   377.35

I got a new right mirror too. I've been complaining several times about this rattle inside of it. They never fixed it, but now I finally got a new one. The valve stem nuts have been replaced too.
Since the weather was quite nice today I took the bike for a spin. It felt all very familiar immediately. Just as if I drove it yesterday for the last time. Half a tank later I was back again and put the 12 in the garage I've recently bought for it.

March 10, 2002, 22,000 km
Went out for another ride today. It was kinda chilly and windy, but nevertheless great fun.
First I rode along the river Waal. I've done this a million times, but it's a nice season starter.
Next I went to an intersection were a lot of sporty riders come to do knee-downs and more of this stuff. I didn't knee-down, but managed to get the pegs to the ground. After a lap of 10 around this intersection I had enough and went home. Of course taking the long way.
On another dyke, along the river Lek, I passed a BMW K75RT. When I looked in my mirror I saw that he was trying to follow me. Hoping it wasn't a cop with an unmarked bike, I wound up the power to try to shake him. I must say that this wasn't easy. This guy knew how to drive. Of course on the straights I lost him, but that wasn't quite fair. So, we played for a while until we came to a corner in which he made a mistake. In my mirror I could see him getting into the verge of the road, dropping his bike. I turned and helped him getting his bike upright again. His fairing was full of scratches, quite an expensive sunday for him. He should have know better: you can't challenge a Ninja without paying the price .
On my way home I got passed by an ambulance with his lights and sirens on. A bit further on the road a biker and a car had collided. The biker sat on his bike that was lying down. It looked to me he wasn't seriously hurt. I drove further and safely arrived home. Quite an interesting sunday this was...

March 24, 2002, 22,222 km
On this chilly day I tried for the first time the new ZX-12R. I could try the bike of Hans Hagebeuk.


Me trying carefully Hans's new bike


Hans's bike

Seating position was a little more bend over than my own bike, but not uncomfortable. I drove only a few hundred meters, with a max rpm of 5000. The engine felt more smooth and not as agressive as the A-model. Steering was very light. All in all I can say that this will probably be my next bike.
On my way back from the meeting of members of the Dutch Kawasaki Club I drove on the same dyke as mentioned before. And again another bike tried to follow me. This time an all-road. Because I wasn't really trying to shake him he was able to, more or less, keep up with me without parking his bike next to the road.
What's up with those non sportsbike riders? Have they got something to prove, or are they just being playful? Well, nevermind, I'm game .

April 1, 2002, 23,000 km
The weather forecast for today was good, with temperatures around 18 Celcius. So I decided to make a daytrip to the river Mosel. Again. I've been there several times and I like it a lot because to get to it I first have to travel a few hundred kilometers on the German Autobahn. Most of the way to Koblenz doesn't have a speed restriction, so I could try the topspeed. Again. This time I stranded at 310 kmh, probably due to the rucksack on my back. With speeds around 300kmh I emptied the fuel tank within half an hour.
Near Koblenz I saw a traffic sign giving directions to the place Remagen. I've seen the movie 'The bridge at Remagen', or something like that, and I thought I go and see this famous bridge myself. Well, I didn't find it. Didn't they rebuild it after the war?
After Remagen I went south again to the Mosel and followed it until Cochem. It's a very nice stretch of road. At Cochem I followed the road to the Nuerburgring. You could drive on the famous Nordschleife, but I didn't do it this time because it was very busy and I didn't want to wait. After the Nuerburgring I went home again.
When I arrived home again I'd done 800 kilometers in 9 hours.
I think I have to replace the rear tire asap. Again. Maybe I'll give the Michelin HPX tires a try.

April 20, 2002, 23,450 km
Today I had a new rear tire fitted. This time a Michelin Pilot Sport HPX 200/50ZR17. The tire costed € 238.00, labour was € 13.60. The previous one lasted 4250 km. Which isn't bad, but the Michelin should last longer. Or so I've heard. Time will tell...

April 25, 2002, 24,000 km
During a trip with the Dutch Kawasaki Club I felt the rear tire twice slipping. Is this due to the harder compound, or was I a bit over enthusiastic? On April 30 I'm going to ride on the track of Assen (weather permitting). I expect that I will experience then how much I can trust the Michelin.
I bought the Motorcycle Service Manual for the 12 from Hans, since he has the newer model now. In it I read that the 'H' behind the model number of my bike (ZX1200-A1H) stands for honeycomb type catalyst. That's one mystery less.

April 30, 2002, 24,000 km
Due to the lousy -typical Dutch- weather (rain and wind) I decided not to go to the circuit of Assen. There I could ride on the renewed track, but with this kind of weather there is no sense in doing so. I'll have to find another place to test the Michelin.

May 9, 2002, 24,300 km
A beautiful day today. Time to try the Michelin. I think handling has improved, compared to the Dunlop. There's enough grip for my driving style. Highspeed stability (320kmh) is without problems too. One thing though. After the highspeed test (in Germany, of course) I had a look at the rear tire and I saw something I haven't seen on the Dunlops: at the center of the tire there was this rubber build up like you see when you've taken the bike to the track. Only when driving on the track you see this on the sides of the tire. Has the tire been slipping at speeds above 300kmh? Or is it just an indication of the amount of grip the Michelin was offering? I don't know. But, except for this last point, I like the Michelin. Better than the Dunlop? Maybe when it's offering more mileage too.

May 26, 2002, 24,300 km
This sunday my brother and I went to a so called 'racket-day' organized by a motorshop. Here you could test ride the new Kawasaki's and you could test the power of your bike on a Dynojet. Hans did this with his 2002 model with Akrapovic exhaust. Below you find some pics I've made with my recently bought Canon Ixus V2 (aka Powershot S200).


B1 on mobile Dynojet

Putting some weight on the rear tire



The result: 170hp. Notice that this bike won't do 300kmh! Compare it with the dyno run of my 2000 model, which is able to run 305 kmh.

June 2, 2002, 25,500 km
The Kawasaki Club organized today the Power Day: every member could have the power of his/her bike measured on a Dyno. The one with the most power would get a prize. I thought I might give it a shot. The first bike on the dyno was a ZZR1100 Turbo! Duh. No much use to continue the contest, I thought, since this bike had more than 200 hp. But I think (I haven't seen the results of all the runs yet) I had the most powerfull stock bike: 164hp. Two horses more than the last time it got measured. See the Dyno print out
Back home I saw that a bolt that connects the subframe to the frame was gone. I doubt my dealer will have it on stock.


Making another Dyno run, 2 years and 22,000 km later

June 4, 2002, 25,500 km
Damn. Received a speeding ticket today for doing 54(!) where 50 kmh was allowed. Bastards! This is going to cost me €28.

June 5, 2002, 25,500 km
I phoned my dealer yesterday for the missing bolt and today they phoned back they already received it from Kawasaki. It can be quite convenient to live close to the European distribution center of Kawasaki. I got the bolt for free.

June 15, 2002, 25,700 km
Although not completely worn I've got the front tire replaced by a Michelin Pilot Sport 120/70ZR17. This cost me €182.61. The previous one lasted 7,820km. Not bad at all.
I need tires with as much tread as possible because next week I'm going to the South of France, a ride of 1200km.
It is a bit to soon to make clear conclusions about the new tire, but steering felt a bit heavier than with the Dunlop.

June 19, 2002, 25,700 km
Just for the fun I've rented a Honda GL1800 Goldwing for today. Boy is this bike smooooooth. You just got to love 6 cylinders and 1800cc. The sound under acceleration is great. The gearbox was a bit cluncky though. But then you don't do much gear changing on a Goldwing. Riding this bike is so relaxed, due to the seating position and the big windscreen. I did like the radio too.
After 450 easy kilometers I mounted my own bike again: feet high in the air and arms down below. Quite a different sensation. I immediate felt the urge to do motorcycling the other way again: full attack! Not sailing smooth through curves, but attacking them, trying to master them at optimum speed. Revving high and making wheelies when possible.



This day proved to me that the motorcycle determines the way you ride, not the motorcyclist. Usually I have this need for speed, but on a Goldwing this urge was totally gone and I'd been transformed to a law abiding model citizen that didn't speed and enjoyed the surroundings. On the ZX-12R I was focused on one thing: the stretch of tarmac in front of me and how fast I could leave it behind me.
It would be nice to have a bike like the Goldwing next to the ZX-12R. But unfortunately it's a bit expensive to do this.
And I still don't like the front Michelin. I've got to check the tire pressure, maybe that's the cause of this lousy steering.

June 21, 2002, 25,733 km
I just knew it. No new tire can steer that bad: the tire pressure of the front Michelin was way off: 30 psi in stead of 40. Why do I have to correct the work of an expensive mechanic?? Ah well, glad I got it sorted out. Now I can enjoy taking the curves again.
While cleaning the bike I saw that the bolt I had lost earlier was loose again. I've got to use some loctite to keep it in place.
I'm almost ready for the big trip: Sunday the 23rd I'm going to the south of France. A trip of about 1200 km. The plan is to do this non stop. Except for the fuel stops that is. I hope to do it within 12 hours...

June 23 - June 27, 2002, 25,733 - 28,947 km Holiday in France
Read all about it here
The Michelins behaved great during this trip: high- and low speed handling, grip, everything felt ok. I think the wear isn't bad either.

July 6, 2002, 29,000 km
Today was the Kawasaki Powerday. A day where Kawasaki presented its product line: road bikes, crossers, quads, mules, jetski's and last, but not least: it's lawnmowers. Yeah!

Another Kawasaki 1200

August 4, 2002, 29,600 km
Made my first stoppie today. More or less unintentionally. I must confess that I'm no hero with wheelies, stoppies, knee-downs. Maybe when it wasn't my own bike...

August 10, 2002, 29,600 km
My brother has been run down by a drunk driver while riding his bike in the Belgium Ardennes. Happily he came away with it with 'only' a lot of bruises, and some stitches in his knee and elbow. It could have been much worse. His bike is totalled. During his stay in a Belgium hospital they robbed him of € 200. Talking about bad luck...
He's now home again and will probably need several weeks to be able to go to work again.
Moral of this story? Be careful out there? If you don't do it to yourself, chances are that someone else will do it to you. We still practice a relatively dangerous hobby. This accident made me wonder it it's all worth it. I think it is. I ride for more than 20 years without major accidents like the one my brother experienced. And he's been driving for only a few years. But you don't control all the circumstances yourself. You've got to have a bit of luck with this hobby.
Again: Be careful out there! Trust no one and nothing! Ride like they're all out to get you!

August 18, 2002, 30,333 km
Proving the 'law of Jeroen' again. Remember: "the more expensive the tire the less time it will last". The Michelin got puntured, 50 kms from home. Almost at the same spot I got my last puncture. This time I drove -carefully- home on the flat tire too. I'm getting quite experienced doing this.
Before I went on holiday to France I bought a tire repair kit. But there's no much use in it if you leave it at home...
I think the Michelin would have last for some several thousands of km's more. There was quite a lot of thread left. Pity I'm not able to compare it to the other tires now.

August 24, 2002, 30,333 km
Just picked up my bike again from the dealer. He's fitted a new Michelin, and because it was time for a small service job, he changed the oil and filter too. The bolt from the battery cover that got missing has been fitted also.
This tire and the other stuff has cost me €342.90.

October 5, 2002, 31,000 km
I just couldn't resist it. I went to my dealer to ask him about some action he had with financing and I left the shop with a new black ZX-12R model 2002!
I think I got a good deal, not spectacular, but good enough. For the 'old' one I got € 9825,- back. This left me with € 6000,- to pay.
This week I will bring my bike to the dealer and then have to wait until March 2003 to pick up the all new black ZX-12R B1!!!

October 12, 2002, 31,111 km
Today I brought the A1 back to my dealer. Before I brought it back I've put the original windscreen back, and replaced the Philips VisionPlus bulbs for the original ones too. No need to give the new owner presents.
I've had a lot of fun with the A1, but now was the time to upgrade to the updated B1.
So here ends my ZX-12R A1 diary. Next year the ZX-12R B1 diary will start.


'Old' A1 at my dealers


My new B1 at my dealers

October 19, 2002
To my great surprise the new ZX-12R B2 costs less than I've payed for the B1. It seems that the Yen has gotten cheaper?
I saw the new price at a motorcycle show in Amsterdam. The ZX-12R was there in it's 'new' colors: black, silver and green.


Me, with big smile on green B2


The new silver B2


The black B2, my new new bike

My very first bike, the Kawasaki Mach IV, was there too, in the exact colors that I've had. Nice to see it again.


Kawasaki 750 Mach IV, 2-stroke, 3-cilinder

The first thing I did after the show was going to my dealer to tell him I'd rather have a cheaper 2003 model than the 2002 he has sold me. He was just as surprised as I was of this price cut, and he told me it was no problem to change the order. So now I will pick up a B2 on stead of a B1 in March 2003!
My old A1 stood in the showroom with a price of €11,250 on it. So this is your chance to buy a hardly used bike which has been owned by some old geezer :-).

Read all about my experiences with the B2 here!

November 25, 2002
Hmmmmm, 'minor' set back. I got fired today...
I have until Februari 15 to find another job. If I don't find one than I don't think I can buy the new ZX-12R...