WHAT MADE THE KAWASAKI ZX-7R SPECIAL?
To be brutally honest, the ZX-7R was outgunned from the very first moment it emerged in 1996. Taking over from the ZXR750, the ZX-7R swapped the ZXR’s finger followers for a ‘bucket and shim’ valve train (the ZX-10R has reverted to finger followers for 2019), altered the cylinders to give it a 2mm shorter stroke and 2.6mm wider bore and revised the motor’s internals to suit. The twin-spar frame was beefed up, six-piston Tokico calipers added, the wheels widened to allow for modern rubber and chunky fully-adjustable 43mm forks stuck in the front end while the shock was also updated. The problem for the ZX-7R was that in doing all these modifications, Kawasaki added bulk to the ZX-7R and it tipped the scales at a massive 21kg more than the GSX-R750 SRAD and even out-larded the YZF750R by 9kg! If it had made more power that wouldn’t have mattered so much, but the ZX-7R was weaker than the Suzuki and only marginally more powerful than the YZF. And that’s before you start to take the bigger-capacity Blade into the equation. By the time the R1 arrived in 1998 and the GSX-R1000 in 2001, the ZX-7R was left collecting dust in showrooms and alongside the ZX-9R, eventually gave way to the ZX-10R at the end of 2003.