ZX-12R only clocks 190.8mph for now

3 March 2000 16:17:43GMT

By Ben Purvis

KAWASAKI'S ZX-12R has disappointed in initial speed tests
around the world. Even the firm's own official test in the UK failed to
top the speed MCN has clocked on a Suzuki Hayabusa.

But Kawasaki is still claiming the bike is faster than a
Hayabusa and says that will be proved when they are tested
side-by-side in exactly the same conditions.

When MCN first tested the Hayabusa last year, we
clocked 193mph on the two-mile test straight at a
breezy and damp Bruntingthorpe.

At Italy's eight-mile speed testing bowl, Nardo, we clocked 194mph.

All last week, MCN received reports of speed tests in which the
ZX-12R was being tested to a maximum of 187mph. That led to
speculation Kawasaki may have deliberately restricted the bike
ahead of proposals for speed limiters due to come into effect next

Kawasaki's own test, conducted in front of independent observers on
Friday, will at least dispel that rumour. The bike did 190.8mph on a
two-mile runway at the former RAF Alconbury airfield, near
Huntingdon, Cambs.

It is a long time since an importer made its speed test findings public
- and a measure of Kawasaki's concern over figures being reported
around the world.

Since the ZX-12R was unveiled at the end of last year, Kawasaki
officials have privately insisted it would be the fastest in the world.
For now, that honour must remain with the Hayabusa

However, the Kawasaki test may not be the end of the story.
According to the firm, the ZX-12R it tested had just 200 miles on the
clock, and is likely to produce more power when run in.

Officials also say the bike was still 1000 revs short of the rev-limiter
when it passed the timing lights. Weather conditions were dry and
overcast with a slight sidewind, which may have affected speed.

Geoff Selvidge, a senior manager at Kawasaki UK, said: "There
was not the room we expected at the start of the straight, which
meant we couldn't carry as much speed into the run as we would
have liked.

"But we're happy with the result. At this stage we're very confident it
will get the title of fastest production bike in the world."

Kawasaki may be confident the ZX-12R is faster than the Hayabusa,
not so road testers around the world. The best result achieved by
them so far is 187mph, recorded by Cycle World magazine in

Another U.S. magazine, Motorcyclist also tested the bike in
California, managing "just" 183mph on a five-mile straight public
road - closed by the California Highway Patrol. The conditions
seemed perfect for that run - cool and bright with no wind - but even a
Hayabusa run on the same day only clocked 184mph.

California-spec ZX-12Rs have slightly different end cans but the
same magazine put the bikes on the dyno and found their ZX-12R
made a healthy 162bhp at the rear wheel while their Hayabusa
managed 164bhp.

One possible explanation for the disappointing speed figure in
Motorcyclist's test is the altitude. At 2000 feet above sea level the air
is thin enough to sap power. It could cost six per cent of bhp at
2000ft due to the lower levels of oxygen in the air.

British tuning expert Tony Scott said: "The thin air will reduce power.
Both the bikes should go faster than that, but people speculate the
ZX-12R will do 200mph. I can't see a stock production bike ever
doing 200mph."

Dutch magazine Motor achieved 184.7mph on a ZX-12R on a
12-mile straight in France. The magazine's Joost Overzee said: "We
took it flat-out. There was no traffic or wind, so the conditions were
ideal, but we couldn't get the bike to do over 297.4kph (184.7mph).

"It stopped accelerating at 296 or 297kph on every run, even though
it wasn't at the red line. The bike made 166bhp at the rear wheel on
the dyno, even though it only had 200km on the clock."

We will only know which is really the fastest bike in the world when
we test the Hayabusa side-by-side with the ZX-12R and Honda's
Super Blackbird. MCN will be doing just that and bringing you the
results within weeks.