Going Kwakers

Comparing the Kawasaki ZX9R with the Kawasaki ZX10R

 

Today’s commute was not on the 2016 Kawasaki ZX10R, but on the tried and trusted 2003 Kawasaki ZX9R.

And oh the differences!

Yes, it has been just one week since the ZX10R arrived (I’ve put 400 miles on the clock in that time), but how quickly I have adapted to riding the newer bike.

The differences are so many, and so great, that I could take all day to list them.

Instead, I’ll just concentrate on the riding basics.

The ZX9R has a manual choke, and getting the lever in just the right position for the ambient temperature is a learning experience.

The ZX10R has an automatic choke.

The ZX9R operates at a higher engine temperature than the ZX10R (82c-84c vs 68c-72c in a normal range).

Neither bike has a fuel gauge, though the ZX10R has a warning that comes on when there are around three litres of fuel remaining. You have to reset the trip mileage on the ZX9R after every tank-up.

Pulling away from stationary, the ZX10R feels much more positive. This is probably down to the launch control (now that I’ve set it at a level I’m comfortable with).

And it may also be coupled to the traction control (which is also set to a non-standard but comfort-inducing level).

Both bikes have Road Pilot 4 tyres front and rear, so there shouldn’t be any difference in the way they feel on the road.

Except there is a huge difference.

The ZX10R feels as though it is part of the road; it has some kind of magnetic affinity, through the rubber, to the tarmac.

Again, much of this feeling comes from the traction control, which does a marvellous job of keeping the rear wheel bonded to the road, no matter how much power the bike throws down on to the surface.

Ergonomically the ZX9R and ZX10R are very different. The newer bike puts the rider in a lower, more assertive position, and the pilot’s footpegs are raised up and set slightly further back.

Contradictingly, though, The ZX10R doesn’t give the same kind of positive connection with the clutch and brake levers that the ZX9R does, but I’ll probably change these for shorties in a month or two, and look to reposition them slightly.

The mirrors on the ZX10R are, quite simply, the best I’ve ever used, whereas the ZX9Rs mirrors have always felt a little patchy with regard to total rearview coverage.

Even though the pedigree of the ZX10R is the World Superbike Championship track, it is surprisingly comfortable to sit on.

The ZX10R windscreen looks tiny, but offers a surprisingly large amount of wind shelter.

OK, I haven’t yet opened the loud switch on the ZX10R beyond 6,000rpm, but I’ve achieved fairly rapid acceleration to legal maximums, and still felt very comfortable behind the Perspex.

The Quickshifter took a little getting used to. I’ve mostly played with it, but on Saturday I used it to accelerate away from a tool in his souped-up Citroen Saxo who was edging up my backside at some lights.

The Quickshifter turns a fast bike in to a gear-changing demon, as the Saxo driver saw (as we disappeared towards his horizon).

I still need to sort out the ZX10Rs engine braking setting, which is currently set so high it’s like a third brake is being applied when you roll off the throttle.

Road-version superbikes have come a long way in the 16 years that separate my ZX9R and the ZX10R.

The ride, the comfort, and the handling have all improved so much, that the two bikes are very difficult to compare.

The ZX10R is a 100mph-in-first-gear, 200bhp machine. Yes, it is a near-clone of the same 200mph WSB racer.

But it is a stunning piece of engineering, and an absolute dream to ride.

But don’t take my word for it.

ps: For sale. 2003 Kawasaki Ninja ZX9R. Very reasonably priced.

Made me lolz

There’s going to be some bike talk in these parts fairly soon, but this video isn’t part of that conversation.

I’m putting this video here because it’s amusing.

And it’s very well edited.

And it’s more than a little bit accurate.

And it made me lolz.

Blogathon 24/16: Lifestyle glimpse

I live with three females and a 6′ inflatable dinosaur.

There are three (two working) motorbikes in the garage.

I’ve got a lovely set of racing motorbike leathers.

And a brand new motorbike jacket (more on this shortly).

And a full set of winter textiles for inclement weather.

And two black helmets, one with a clear visor, the other with a solid black visor.

And over there (points over there) is one of my guitars, my ukelele, and a banjo* (not mine, obv)

But hey, it’s not all rock and roll in this house.

We’ve just finished watching Hotel Transylvania.

Again.

And now I’m sitting here deciding which RAID log to adopt as a standard, in my new role.

Yesterday I copied 63Mb of document templates from my NAS to work.

Today I spent a significant amount of time bending a spreadsheet to my will, through the careful application of some half-remembered VBE.

This evening one of the girls asked how old I was.

I said ‘Thirteen’.

This was accepted without question.

*removes glasses, rubs eyes, puts glasses back on*

I went to Guides last night.

No I am not an actual Girl Guide.

Obv.

I am lending some assistance with a project that the local gang, mess, posse, group of Guides want to do.

So last night I sat down and listened to eight of them.

They’re a blood-thirsty lot.

So yes, as you can see, it’s not all rock and roll here.

*listens to the washing machine, on its rinse cycle, in the kitchen*

I got asked, this evening, what my ‘running in’ strategy will be, for the ZX10R, when it arrives.

I ummed and ahhed.

I believe the first service will be due at around 500 miles?

To get to that mileage could take me all of two weeks.

Running in strategy?

I guess keep it under the red line.

I have spent a lot of time reading the online manuals and watching the various videos about the ZX10Rs on-board systems.

I know now how the ABS works.

And the launch control.

And the quickshifter.

And the tri-modal engine management system settings.

I’m going to pretty much leave the ABS alone; set it low.

Dunno about the quickshifter, but I’m not inclined to use it, and certainly wouldn’t use it during the running in period.

The tri-modal engine management system? I’m just going to leave that in ‘mid’.

But the launch control?

Oh yes, I’m going to be using that so I can BURN YOUR ARSE OFF AT THE TRAFFIC LIG…

Ahem.

I’ll use the launch control to help me avoid high-siding the bike on pulling away from static situations.

So that new jacket?

It is delicious.

It’s been made-to-measure by Hideout Leather.

We saw them at their stand at Motorbike Live! at the NEC.

I’ve been looking for a top quality humpless leather motorbike jacket for ages.

I saw just the thing on the Hideout Leather trade stand.

I tried it on.

It was gorgeous to wear, and smart to look at (so smart, you could easily wear this jacket out to the pub, despite the elbow and shoulder armour).

I wanted to take it away with me, and was very disappointed to learn that they weren’t actually selling anything ‘off the peg’, and that the jackets there were just for show.

I asked how much one would cost.

I fell over.

I stayed over.

It was a lot of money.

But when I got up and tried it on again it felt so right.

So comfortable.

So much like part of me.

So much like part of me that I handed over half of the reddies, and paid the balance a few weeks ago.

And the freshly-made jacket arrived shortly afterwards.

It feels beautiful to wear.

No, I’m not sitting here on the settee, writing this, looking at RAID log templates, whilst wearing my nice new motorcycling jacket.

Cos that would be weird.

Obv.

Hideout Leather jacket

Hideout Leather jacket

*In the words of Billy Connolly, ‘A gentleman is someone who knows how to play the banjo, and doesn’t’. I don’t even know how to play it,

Blogathon 23/16: Filtering/Making Progress

While I sit here, wishing that I’d been out on two wheels this evening, instead of at the local Girl Guides meeting, I’ve been motorcycling vicariously.

There’s a lot of that going on in this house, right now.

For example, I’m currently reading Jeremy Kroeker’s ‘Motorcycle Therapy’ (which I am enjoying far more than his somewhat self-indulgent religio-fest, ‘Through Dust and Darkness’).

I don’t just miss the motorbiking experience.

I miss filtering.

Oh God, I love filtering.

Even though some non-biking motorists don’t get that they are committing an offence if they block or impede the progress of a motorcyclist.

Motorist blocking filtering

Motorist blocking filtering

I’ve done my Enhanced Training.

That doesn’t make me a ‘better’ rider.

It just makes me more aware (which, I suppose, you might argue does make me a better-equipped rider, but that’s not necessarily a ‘better’ rider).

I’ve ridden with the rozzers (and been trained by serving and retired rozzers), and I’ve seen how they legitimately, and routinely, use the road in ways that ‘ordinary’ motorcyclists wouldn’t.

All of those training courses were great (and great fun).

And yes, as a result of a number of those courses I filter with confidence, even though I am being more observant than a number of my two-wheeled colleagues (and probably 100% more observant than a significant number of four-, eight-, and sixteen-wheeled road users).

Motorbike filtering

Motorbike filtering

I bloody love filtering.

Filtering is a great method of making progress, and the whole rationale behind the need to ‘make progress’ is adequately and often explained by the rozzers themselves through the Police System of Motorcycle Control (Roadcraft).

And by RoSPA.

And by the IAM.

And by the Highway Code.

The thinking behind filtering is that it is safer for motorcyclists to be moving forward than to be static targets.

It’s also exhilarating.

And it gives me a real buzz.

But even more than that.

Filtering keeps me safe.

Motorbike filtering is safer for you

Motorbike filtering is safer for you