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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
obviously Kawasaki knows a thing or two

It seems on the motorcycle forums that people have started to look upon Kawasaki as a second rate company without the skill or competence to produce cutting edge sport bikes. Now I know that street bikes and race bikes are not the same thing, but still if the race bike wins the title, it would seem to me that the street bike is what it is by choice, and not because Kawasaki can't build a sharp bike.

It seems to me that their claim of making the best real world sportbikes is true after all, and not just weaseling to explain why they don't have the sharpest 600 on the market
 

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Re: obviously Kawasaki knows a thing or two

I think people have that opinion of Kawasaki sport bikes because Kawasaki has chosen to leave their bikes unchanged for longer than the other manfacturers, and when they do make changes they are to bring their bikes up to the level of the competition, not to leap-frog it.

I also think that the ZX-12R debacle hurt their image tremendously. They implied in no uncertain terms that it was gonna blow the side panels off the 'busa. Then, supposedly because of legal and/or regulatory issues, the bike presented to the public was actually slower than the 'busa. I think a lot of people saw that and inferred that Kawasaki wasn't capable of making the bike it promised. I'm not a Kawasaki insider, so I don't know the real truth.

One thing that I saw in Kawaski's favor in terms of technical competence was the article in Sport Rider magazine last year about the effectiveness of various ram-air systems. It was pretty clear that Kawasaki was the best at that, and that's a non-trivial technical challenge.

As for real-world sportbikes, I'm a big fan of the concept of a comfortable, practical sportbike, but I also realize that I'm in a minority in having that opinion.

Kudos to Kawasaki and E. Bos for the 600 title.
 

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Re: obviously Kawasaki knows a thing or two

The 'real world' comfortable sportbike is why I traded in the CBR for a ZX6R. I can bomb around on that all day and still have feeling in my hands and rear at the end of the day. The difference in performance between any of the 600's is so slight that you have to push the bike to its limits; limits that very few (myself included) actually take the bike to.

To see real differences in acceleration you have to move up on the displacement scale.

Anyway, Congrats to both Eric Bostrom and Mat Mladin
 

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Go BOSTROM!!!

Ever since I watched Willow Springs last year I couldn't wait for Eric to take the title. He really was robbed and rode an excellent season both this year and last. It was also great to see Kawasaki take the championship. Everyone here in the states thinks of them as second rate, and the ZX-12R didn't do much to help, but they're line-up is solid and I wish them luck. They really do need to get some some better paint shcemes though, and what's the deal with the ZX-7R, did Kawi forget about it??
 

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Re: obviously Kawasaki knows a thing or two

Give ALL the racers stock bikes and Thursday evenings, have the whole field randomly assigned stock motors and ignition - with stock-limited HP, from each participating manufacturer for each race weekend of the season . . . ..then we have a chance of finding out the best sportbike for each of the different tracks in the differing conditions - motors go back to the bench and get rebuilt consistently. Then we can maybe find out about riders and their teams' abilities in setting up. I have to say that I would expect to see the same faces on the podium 7/10 times. But force the manufacturers to compete without factory racing tricks and give the underpaid racing masses an equal shot at a championship. Then it becomes a real manufacturers battle that we can all participate in. Wouldn't this alone sell 00's maybe 000's more sportbikes and increase racing participation nationwide?
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
the ZX-12 was treated very unfairly by the press

While it may not have displaced the hayabusa as the speed king unequivocally (the average 2000 and derestricted 2001 model year 12s and busas both run 190-192mph as measured on a GPS reciever), the 12 is still an excellent bike and far from the turkey that Motorcyclist and others have made it out to be. I have one and I chose it over the Hayabusa because a. I am a Kawasaki fan, and b. it fit my 6'3" frame much much better. I have ridden the Hayabusa, and it is a superb bike. Its difficult to say which is better and it comes down to which one's character you like better. I certainly have not ended up with less than I could have had, and I just wonder at what motivates the magazines to write what they do.

It was too bad that kawasaki weren't able to or weren't allowed to back up their claims on the 12's top speed. But it is still a very good bike, and any one reading the magazines and not having ridden one will get the wrong idea.

I think Kawasaki is looked down upon because people form their opinions based on what magazines say, and all the magazines care about are bikes that are hotter, sexier, faster than last years, so they can put them on the cover and sell more copies at the newstand, and keep whipped up the frenzy for hottest bikes and thus the demand for info about them.

Kawasaki makes bikes for real world riders, not for the magazines, and not for the jokers who buy what they magazines tell them to.
 

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Re: obviously Kawasaki knows a thing or two

Sounds very similar to an idea that I proposed a while back on one of these forums...

Each manufacturer provides 5 bikes (in 600 Supersport trim per my example ... but it could be even closer to stock, per your example) and a fixed-size team to work on each bike. Then, on Thursday, there's a semi-random selection process that assigns a given rider to a given bike/team. The rider may bring a fixed number of people to the team also.

The selection rules would ensure that no rider gets the same bike/team twice in a year, and gets no single manufacturer's bike significantly more than another, etc.

There are actually two championships at stake: the riders' championship, and the manufacturers' championship.

The winning rider can really claim that it's his ability that won his championship, not simply a better machine. The winning manuf can really claim that their bike is better, not just that they happened to sign the best rider.

Seems like a great series to me.
 

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Re: the ZX-12 was treated very unfairly by the press

True comments about Kawasaki regarding the quality and 'usability' of their bikes. However they've been exceptionally bad at managing expectations of their customers. ZX12 is the best example. It was an unwritten expectation that the green machine would unleash a GSX13r beater and break the 200mph barrier. For whatever reason (most likely due to reglatory restrictions as Kawk makes really fast bikes) they said nothing and brought out a bike much slower than the general public expected.... thus in the general public's eye, they failed.

I hope they get their act together and start convincing the public that they're bikes are excellent as perception is generally why we purchase one bike over another in this time of huge choices and only slightly different machines (in each niche)
 

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Re: the ZX-12 was treated very unfairly by the press

It's been a long time since I read that article, but I came away with the feeling that

a) They were VERY disappointed that it wasn't as fast as Kawasaki said it would be

b) But it was still a very good bike, especially in the high-speed touring dept

c) Although not quite as good as the Hayabusa, in more ways than just top-speed... I could be remembering incorrectly, but I recall the suspension being a major differentiator

So... I didn't get the impression that it was a complete loser of a bike, but maybe that was just me.

As for fit, I'm a big fan of Kawasaki, since they seem to be the only manuf who makes sportbikes that have a chance to fit those of us over 5'9".

I'm still confused why they do not make high-end sportbikes with options to customize the fit... for example... they could make 3 or 4 sets of footpeg brackets and 3 or 4 sets of clipons and several different seat heights, widths, and shapes. Different tank shapes might be overkill, especially if you had the other options in place, but nothing kills my interest in an otherwise desireable bike with more certainty than climbing aboard only to find that those ridges in the tank that are supposed to be above your knee are digging right into the side of it. Ideally, it would be like bicycles, where you could buy different frame sizes, too.

This kind of optional equipment might raise the price a bit, but given the choice between an $11K bike that's uncomfortable, and a $12K bike that fits... which one would you choose?
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Re: the ZX-12 was treated very unfairly by the press

Some magazines have criticized the 12's suspension compared to the Bus, but I haven't a clue what they are talking about. Its 2" shorter wheelbase, and its steeper steering geometery make it a lot quicker turning and more agile than the Bus. I don't see that get mentioned very often. A ZX-12R lapped the Kyalami circuit in south africa neck and neck with an R1. It was slower flicking side to side, but faster driving out of corners and on the straights. I don't see any magazine acknowledging the 12's superb handling (for what it is) The one thing I will aknowledge is that the 12's frame was very stiff originally and didn't provide as good feedback at the limit.

But again, this is not about better or worse than the Busa. Its about a balance of traits and characteristics. They are different and they are both very good. I just thought it damned unprofessional of magazines to reduce the bike to a top speed number, even if that was what Kawasaki was pushing. Any criticism that was leveled at it in that regard was justifiable, but it seemed that they were upset enough to start raking its character over coals, making its flaws look fatal and barely mentioning its strengths.

Consumers, I can understand, lost interest when it didn't do the only thing about it that captured their attention. But magazine editors are supposed to be more rational and responsible than that. its just shameful that they disguise their prejudice with reasonable sounding rhetoric. Not that I am upset any more. I see gixxers, R1s, Haybausa all the time, but I have seen only two other ZX-12s on the road. I appreciate the rarity, and I don't need anybody else to ooh and ah at my bike. After all, needing the oohs and ahs of your peers is what drives the development of the sportbike, isn't it?

also that $12k price was all hooey. I paid $9900 for mine, I know people who paid $8500, and few people paid much more than $10k.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
let me also add:

At the weekend, a new world record was set for a production bike on an oval at Rockingham. The track is designed to show the handling/high speed handling of bikes whatever on a tight oval that must conform to some standard (i.e. 1/4 mile in length, something like that).

The GSXR1000 raised the record to 122mph.

A 12R also broke the record at 121mph.

The Hayabusa went 118mph
Not saying that this is a be-all, end-all test. Draw your own conclusions. Again, I am not dissing the Hayabusa. Only trying to illustrate that the 12 has strenghths that rarely, if ever, got any mention in the rags
 

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Re: obviously Kawasaki knows a thing or two

Das, I think you hit the nail on the head. Kawasaki at least gives the appearance that they don't do nearly as much R&D as the other manufacturers. Clearly that is not entirely true re:ram air systems.

To what extent the R&D issue exists, it only highlights (in a huge way) how well the Bos+Kaw team works together! That team has a formula that kicks major butt.

As another poster said above, why would Bos want to change what works so well. Ever heard "If it works, don't fix it".

Seeya in Daytona!
 
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