IT JUST HAD TO BE DONE

Practical Sportsbikes (UK) - - GPZ900R -

For­mer MCN road tester Chris Dabbs has been a fix­ture of the UK bike press for decades, but in 1984 it was all new to him: “I’d only just started at Which Bike? magazine, so I was find­ing my feet. I re­mem­ber get­ting the first GPZ900R, prob­a­bly the first one in the coun­try, and I was 21 and I’ve got the flash­est bike in the world, so what was I go­ing to do? Straight up to Lon­don to show off round the West End of course – it just had to be done, even though it was piss­ing down.

“The thing is though, it looked amaz­ing, and I re­mem­ber be­ing im­pressed by the power, but al­though ev­ery­one waxed lyri­cal, I didn’t re­ally get on with it. The rid­ing po­si­tion was quite ex­treme for the time, for me – nar­row ’bars, it felt too stiff, too harsh. Ev­ery­thing about it was just so pur­pose­ful, but I pre­ferred a softer set-up. I felt more com­fort­able on the FJ1100 – I could just throw that on its side and even if it was drag­ging ev­ery­thing on the floor, I felt I could feel where the limit was. The GPZ had much more ground clear­ance, but I didn’t feel I could use it prop­erly. Prob­a­bly a lot of that was down to the orig­i­nal Miche­lin tyres. I prob­a­bly ap­pre­ci­ate it now a lot more than I did back then – it’s re­ally stood the test of time.”

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