Kawasaki ZX-7RR Ninja


Make Model

Kawasaki ZX-7RR Ninja




Four stroke, transverse four cylinder, DOHC, 4 valves per cylinder.


748 cc / 45.6 cu-in
Bore x Stroke 73 X 44.7 mm
Cooling System Liquid cooled
Compression Ratio 11.5:1


4x 41mm Keihin FCR carburetors


Starting Electric

Max Power

122 hp / 89.1 kW @ 12000 rpm

Max Torque

8 kgf-m / 50 jt-lb @ 9300 rpm


6 Speed
Final Drive Sealed chain

Front Suspension

43mm Upside-down forks. 13-way adjustable preload and rebound, 17-way compression.

Rear Suspension

Uni Track monoshock. adjustable ride height, 22-way preload, rebound and compression.

Front Brakes

2x 320mm discs 6 piston calipers

Rear Brakes

Single 230 mm disc 2 piston caliper

Front Tyre

120/70 ZR17

Rear Tyre

190/50 ZR17
Seat Height 805 mm / 31.7 in

Dry Weight

200 kg / 440 lbs

Fuel Capacity 

18 Litres / 4.7 US gal

Road Test

Superbike Group Test

Dreadful carburation Adjustable steering angle Not an instant dream machine

If you buy a ZX-7RR, the race version of I Kawasaki's ZX-7R, you're acquiring the m basis of a 1996 World Superbike machine. You're also paying almost three grand more than you would for the standard bike. So you might be expected to want the best engine available. You might even want the thing to carburate properly.

But no. As both racers and road-riders have found, the engine gets all choked up the moment you crack open the throttle. When I rode the RR at Snetterton, it was impossible to get clean drive out of corners and power had to be fed in gently. I could understand if the problem only arose at low revs, but it happens right up to the 12,500rpm red line.

The crux of the matter lies in the 41mm, flat-slide carburettors, which - depending on who you talk to - run either too rich or too lean, and allow too much fuel into the cylinders, literally drowning the performance. Kawasaki has homologated the RR with both 39mm and 41mm carbs, making both legal to use in racing, and current wisdom is that the smaller-bore units work better.

Reigning British Superbike champion Steve Hislop uses jetted down 39mm carbs. According to the Nemesis Kawasaki rider, the engine performs perfectly with the smaller carbs and is more responsive in the mid-range. Apart from the carburation glitch, the engine has been uprated in two significant ways: the flywheel is 20 per cent heavier than standard, and the crank cases are a lot stronger

The lighter flywheel used last year gives better straight-line acceleration, especially in low gears, but makes wheelspin coming out of corners a real problem. The flywheel's extra weight produces more torque effect, allowing the rear tyre to grip between power pulses. Tuners are removing up to ten per cent of the flywheel's weight, but that still leaves it heavier than the road bike's.


This year's crank cases are stiffer with beefed-

up journals, but they carry a weight penalty. Racers used to find their crank cases would break up, but that's now been rectified.

The close-ratio, six-speed gearbox is sweet, although I managed a few false neutrals when changing down. First gear is a little taller than normal, but perfectly useable on the road. The RR's gearing is slightly taller than the R's, but not appreciably so.

The majority of RRs will end up in the hands of racers (of the 50 that came into Britain this year, only 20 went to road riders). It's almost as if Kawasaki assumes that from-the-crate carburation isn't critical, as racers will undoubtedly tune their machines to buggery. For road use, and the occasional track day, the ordinary ZX-7R is sorted and a far better bet.

The 200kg claimed dry weight of the racer is just three kilos lighter than the roadster, which is a little bit of a porker anyway. Both machines share the same twin-beam, aluminium frame, but the RR boasts an adjustable steering head, so the rake can be changed from the normal 25 degrees to 24 degrees, which also shortens the trail by 5mm.

I rode the RR with the rake at 25 degrees, and unsurprisingly it steered exactly like the standard bike, with a beautifully planted front end. The suspension is more sophisticated than the roadster's, with a far greater range of damping adjustment, but our test bike's shock was set up too hard for Snetterton's bumpy surface, which rather spoiled the ride (we didn't have time to twiddle those knobs).

While the standard ZX is fitted with six-pot Tokico front brake calipers, the racer has six-pot Nissin calipers, but quite honestly I couldn't feel any improvement. There's still a slight lag before the pads bite, and the Tokico calipers are massively powerful anyway.

The RR also comes with second rate tyres. You'd expect a thoroughbred to have really

sticky rubber, but the Dunlop Sportmaxes took a long time to warm up, and even then they did not inspire confidence.

If the ZX-7RR sounds rather disappointing, remember it was not designed as a road bike. Top racers will strip and tune the engine, junk the standard suspension, replace the tyres (for certain), so if the engine doesn't carburate properly, that's tough luck for the few road riders who've bought them.

Glitches can be ironed out and once that's done any owner will be left with a stupendous road bike, and a piece of history. It's a stunner as well, with a simple green-and-purple colour scheme, a lovingly sculpted tail unit, and superb finish quality. See one in the flesh and you'll wince at the thought they're ruthlessly pulled apart for racing.

* Thanks to Paul Nolloth for letting us ride his ZX-7RR,

Source Bike Magazine of 1996