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The Kawasaki ZRX1200 musclebike delivers the style and character of early-1980s factory Superbikes, but with modern-day performance. With its distinctive paint schemes, bridged-aluminum alloy swingarm and four-into-one exhaust, the hugely popular, well-acclaimed ZRX1200R calls to mind the KZ1100 Eddie Lawson Replica from Kawasaki’s early racing years.
The ZRX1200R’s torque-happy engine is based on the mighty Kawasaki NINJA® ZX-11 powerplant. Horsepower distinguishes the ZRX1200R from the rest of the unfaired pack, and its engine is tuned with emphasis on low and midrange rpm performance. This allows for abundant torque, and in turn, the bike’s user-friendly personality on the street and amazing roll-on performance on the highway.
The ZRX1200R engine features electroplated cylinders, which transfer heat much quicker than steel so tighter tolerances can be utilized to generate more power. Pistons with concave domes are found in the lightweight, all-aluminum cylinder block.
Adding to the ZRX1200R’s incredible torque is the bank of large-bore 36mm Keihin carburetors featuring the Kawasaki Throttle Responsive Ignition Control (K-TRIC) throttle position sensor. Connected to the digital ignition system, K-TRIC varies ignition timing according to throttle position and engine rpm so that the ignition compensates for differing engine loads. The result is crisp throttle response and better fuel efficiency, plus the carburetors have coasting enricheners to prevent backfiring.
Engine vibration is reduced, especially in the 2,000-rpm range, due to a diaphragm spring that has been placed between the primary gear and clutch housing. The spring not only provides smooth low-rpm operation, it also works with the shift drum and cam profile to help improve shifting of the five-speed transmission.
The four-into-one exhaust system is made entirely of stainless steel with a polished muffler. California models have a catalyzer in the exhaust system to reduce emissions without cutting power.
The engine rests in a tubular-steel, double-cradle frame with an additional gusset behind the steering head for greater rigidity. The swingarm pivot is located for excellent rear suspension action and traction from the wide rear-wheel, and to reduce chain-torque reaction. The swingarm features an underside-braced design, and is shaped for increased rigidity.
Driveline lash is reduced with the use of a urethane rear-wheel damper borrowed from the NINJA® ZX-12R sportbike. Exceptional braking is provided by the dual 310mm front discs with opposed six-piston calipers, while the rear brake uses a single 250mm disc clamped by an opposed twin-piston caliper. Hollow three-spoke wheels grace both ends.
The ZRX features a comfortable, upright riding position. Hollow footpegs and rubber-mounted handlebars reduce vibration, while aluminum grab rails are located on both sides of the seat. The 5.3-gallon fuel tank is specially designed so that a tank bag can be easily installed.
Like its award-winning predecessor, the ZRX1200 snagged “Best Standard” in Cycle World magazine’s Ten Best list for 2001 and is a finalist for Motorcyclist magazine’s “Bike of the Year” for 2001, among other accolades. It’s no surprise, then, that the ZRX1200R carries on Kawasaki’s legendary performance heritage in the Open class.
Naked With Kawasaki
Kawasaki’s Traditional category represents the group of bikes that are often referred to as “retro,” “neo” or “standards.” But those monikers simply don’t do justice to the Kawasaki models that fall into this class, which is why Kawasaki created its own label.
For example, no one could possibly describe the ZRX1200R as merely “standard.” Not only has this award-winning bike proven itself in magazine shootouts, it’s a success on the sales floor as well. Credit goes to the torquey, user-friendly engine, the easy-handling chassis, and the striking Eddie Lawson-era paint scheme.
Also available is the ZR-7S, a “naked-style” motorcycle with a mini fairing for wind protection. The beauty of the ZR-7S is that it’s friendly enough for beginners to ride, but still invigorating enough for enthusiasts to enjoy. Additionally, Kawasaki offers accessory saddlebags for the bike, which add to its versatility as a high-mileage mount.
2002 Kawasaki ZRX1200R – Specifications/Technical Details
USA MSRP Price: $7,899 USD
Canadian MSRP Price: See dealer for pricing in CDN
4-stroke, liquid-cooled In-Line Four
Bore x Stroke
79.0 x 59.4 mm.
DOHC, 16 valves
Keihin CVK36 x 4
Kawasaki Throttle Responsive Ignition (K-Tric)
Double cradle tubular steel
43 mm fully adjustable, conventional cartridge-type front fork, offers 12 positions compression and rebound damping adjustment as well as fork spring preload
Fully adjustable rear shock
opposed 6 piston caliper work on 310 mm floating discs
opposed 2 piston caliper works with a 250 mm disc
Candy Lime Green/Pearl Alpine White, Passion Red/Galaxy Silver
Specifications are subject to change without notice, in accordance with national regulation and legislations.