Owner: peter Hard­wicke, 54, Gateshead

Classic Motorcycle Mechanics - - QUICK SPIN -

I’ve had two ZX-7RS and I doubt I’ll be parted from the one I have now. Maybe it was a nat­u­ral pro­gres­sion to own a 7R af­ter hav­ing a ZXR750 for three years be­fore­hand and re­ally en­joy­ing that. As soon as I saw news of the newer bike com­ing out I knew I had to have one, so in ’96 I had a green one parked in my garage. It felt a bit dif­fer­ent to the ZXR, es­pe­cially the en­gine. It was much more gutsy and didn’t need to be revved that hard. Mind you, I’m not sure I liked that at first ‘cos it felt less ex­cit­ing. In time though, I warmed to it, re­al­is­ing it just needed a calmer right hand. My mate’s GSX-R 750WT felt way too much like hard work to get the best from by com­par­i­son. Jump­ing back on mine al­ways felt a lot eas­ier as it didn’t need any­where near as much gear-chang­ing. I mainly used my 750 for week­end blasts and track­days. Max­ton did the sus­pen­sion for me, which made a big dif­fer­ence. It made roads feel smoother and im­proved the feed­back. My mate’s GSX-R might have felt a bit lighter to chuck around, but I much pre­ferred how much more planted my Kawasaki felt. Know­ing I could al­ways trust it made me feel so much more con­fi­dent. Af­ter three years I’d done 18,000 miles on it and thought it was time to trade it in for an­other one. Be­cause I’d en­joyed the first, and not had a sin­gle prob­lem with it, pick­ing an­other ZX-7R was an easy de­ci­sion. I toyed with the idea of an R1, but I guess old habits die hard. how­ever much of the mo­tor as you fancy, but even though it’s ‘only’ a 750, and an in­line four at that, you don’t have to cane it too hard to get it to de­liver its goods. Spread broadly, the power is all the more us­able, and doesn’t need the revs you might ex­pect. Strong midrange grunt, and sorted fu­elling means tap danc­ing on the gear lever isn’t a must-do to gain­ing speed. Some­times the re­laxed na­ture of the mo­tor’s de­liv­ery makes it feel big­ger than it ac­tu­ally is. It’s very real world, very en­dear­ing, and way more re­al­is­tic than the rel­a­tively fran­tic three-quar­ter litre GSX-R of the day. Think­ing of that bike also re­minded me of try­ing the late Simon Beck’s tricky to ride flat-slide carbed ZX7RR. The need to jig­gle revs and throt­tle open­ings to get the best from it soon had me pre­fer­ring the cooking ver­sion thanks to its bet­ter ride­abil­ity. The six-pot brakes on the ZX-7R weren’t quite as sharp as I’d have liked, though I do re­mem­ber them feel­ing a lit­tle want­ing back in the day. As I wasn’t in­clined to thrash the Kwacker, that’s more of an ob­ser­va­tion than an ac­tual com­plaint. I dare say some mild tin­ker­ing with dif­fer­ent pads and lines would im­prove mat­ters any­way. Some work to make the slightly harsh sus­pen­sion feel a lit­tle plusher might have been a good idea too. Change is some­thing Kawasaki very much re­sisted dur­ing the bike’s seven year life, only re­ally al­ter­ing its My sec­ond one’s done 33,000 miles, but hasn’t missed a beat and still looks great. It’s prob­a­bly been re­li­able be­cause I al­ways get it ser­viced on time, ev­ery time, and re­ally look af­ter it gen­er­ally. Treat­ing it a bit more care­fully than I used to with the first one might have some­thing to do with it too. I only use this bike for plea­sure, and only on the road, and though I go up to ride around Scot­land on it ev­ery year with some mates, we have a back up van to take all our kit. It’ll han­dle a tank bag okay, but any more lug­gage than that just doesn’t feel or look right. It’s be­come more of a clas­sic th­ese days, and I think that’s why I want to hang on to it. It’s a lovely bike. colours as time went by. And when you only do that, it’s a clear sign of the bike be­ing pretty sorted in the first place. I know I thought it was pretty good in 1996, but to still have re­ally en­joyed it al­most 20 years later (al­beit for slightly dif­fer­ent rea­sons) is a sign of me think­ing it’s a pretty com­pe­tent bit of kit too. If it had slightly higher bars, I dare say I’d be in­ter­ested in own­ing what has be­come a real clas­sic.

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