Owner: peter Hardwicke, 54, Gateshead
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.