IT JUST HAD TO BE DONE
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.”