Monday’s Motorcycle

This Motorcycle today… It’s the Kawasaki ZX-11.  When it was in production, this bike was the fastest thing on two wheels.  The acceleration was unmatched and the top speed was…  far too fast for any reasonable person to want.  Now, there are faster and quicker bikes out there.  But the ZX-11 remains a monster and faster and quicker than most still. Now the current Speed King is the ZX-14, but the 11 is it’s Daddy.

Here’s the thing about this ZX-11 here.  It’s mine.  I picked it up yesterday.  When I got my Superhawk, this was the bike I had gone out to get.  Unfortunately the bike was in pieces as the owner was working on it.    I couldn’t just jump on it and run, so I had to go to a second option.  I loved the Superhawk, but it wasn’t what I had planned on buying.  For that reason I still wanted one, even though I had a great machine.  The Superhawk’s V Twin was fantastic engine, low RPM burbling, instant throttle response through all RPM’s… it’s a great machine to ride.  But the power did have a tangible top end.
The ZX-11, the power is different… It’s more like I’m riding a Jet Engine strapped to a pair of wheels.  I twist the throttle and the RPM’s come up, but not the speed… not yet… Like a Jet Turbine spooling up, the thrust doesn’t come until it spins up fast. But when it comes, it comes in a big way.  It surges forward like an F-22 Raptor and it doesn’t feel like there is any limit.

I thought the Superhawk was a fast bike.  I really did.  Because it was, but the ZX-11 is fast on a whole new level.  I’ve named this bike “Shadowfax” because it’s shown me the meaning of haste.  It’s also much more comfortable.  The riding position isn’t “Attack Mode”.  It’s more upright. Less fatiguing.   More wind protection.  You could ride this much farther distances… which is cool because it has a larger fuel capacity for more distance.  A much longer range machine.  Which is just what I’ve been wanting.

It’s a much wider bike.  Heavier.  But it still feels agile.  As much as the Superhawk was.  But I’ve promised my wife that I was done with the knee dragging.  My shoulder is far more injured than we knew and gives me more pain now than my arm and knee did after I crashed.  So my bride says I need to slow the hell down.  And I agree.  I do.  But she says that in a controlled environment, I can pursue my goal… 200 MPH.  It’s a compromise, but a fair one.  Rather hard though… because the bike wants to cruise at hyper velocity, so smooth and stable it’s like it’s nothing.  Speed is deceptive here.  With the wind protection, power, I thought I was cruising at 60.  I looked down and saw I was rolling at 90.   I have to check my speed all the time because it keeps building and I’m always letting off the gas. This bike wants speed… it’s made of it.

It’s also the first Kawasaki that I’ve ever bought.  It’s a far cry from a Honda.  In fact, it’s Honda’s chief rival for the Jap Bike market.   While I remain a Honda fan, these big Ninjas are truly impressive machines!

Update:  Sold the Superhawk for enough cash to not only buy this machine, but inspect it, register it, and pay the monthly mortgage.


23 thoughts on “Monday’s Motorcycle”

  1. I used to have a a ZX10 and she was by far my favorite machine. Super comfortable and very smooth. I learned that a radar detector is necessary to help keeping the speed under control. Sweet ride, just be safe and keep the rubber side down.

  2. Back in the bad old days(early ’70’s(?) I had a chance to ride a Kow 350 triple, a 500 triple AND a 750 triple. All of these were two-stroke’s which meant that when you twisted their tails, the R’s came up RIGHT NOW. Remember this was before fast moving four strokes.
    I remember bringing the 350 back from a test ride and missing third as I downshifted. Bike went into second at 60mph and as I gave it gas the front end came off the ground. That was scarey.
    The 750 was truely an unbalanced monster with enough hp/torque that if you cranked it the bike would hold the front wheel off the ground for as long as you had the cajones to let it go.
    Now I’m leting go of my 750 Duc Paeso because I’ve gotten old/smart enough to know when I shouldn’t be on a particular bike…

  3. Congrats Ogre. That is indeed an awesome bike. I took my buddy’s up to 150 (by speedo though they are notoriously inaccurate) on the freeway once. It’s smooth, comfortable and powerful. If I hadn’t bought my Bandit a ZX11 would have definitely fit the bill.

    Take a look at some bar risers. He put them on his and it made a good long distance bike into a great one.

  4. You found a beauty there… not many of them around anymore that are not “hooptie stretched” or “chromed” out and look like crap. I have owned 2 (1998 and now a 1999) and also a number of the 600cc models from Kawasaki over the years (Both a 93 ZX6D and a 95 ZX6E) and I must admit it is truly a bike you will not want to get rid of. (should not have sold my 1998 but when companies Merge things get a bit shaky and felt it better to have the cash in the bank) I found out when I bought the first 1998 exactly what I was missing in my life and that was the additional 500CC or so difference between all the 600’s I was riding. The 1999 I have now (which was a $300 storage war prize) had some impressive Dyno numbers after some work and is my go to “need for speed” bike in the stable. (Next to my ’07 Honda ST1300 which is my “old man bike”) Be safe on that bike and have fun.

  5. You were riding it a little gingerly yesterday, almost as if you were skeeered! Or you were exhausted, one of the two. Nice bike though. Amazing condition considering its age.

    1. Gingerly? Feh… I was just cruising along… sweating buckets. Too hot to ride hard. That and I promised my bride that I’d tone it down.
      Guys, check this out… Here I am just rolling at a nice sedate 80 or so… Then I felt a disturbance in the Force…. Checked left mirror. No one. Checked right mirror. No one. Huh. Something is wrong here. Look back again and there was M back there drafting me on my Six like a Messerschmidt ready to go guns on me. That was funny. He snuck up on me.

  6. Heh.

    The Goof and the CBR1100XX are better bikes, IMO, but you should have fun with the Ninja.

    Of course, if you just want stupis speed, you’ll want an eye-abuser.

    1. For Sport Bikes, yes. For a Sport Touring machine, I disagree. I find the riding position to be comfortable.
      After an hour though in the saddle, the Corbin isn’t really doing it. But after an hour, one is ready to stretch his legs anyways.
      I’m really digging the 200 mile range though.

      1. When I had my goof, I found that once you got past 110 MPH on a Montana freeway, lift over your back suddenly made the seat and position comfortable.

  7. Did someone put higher handlebars and a comfy seat on it?

    I thought Ninjas were strictly sportbikes.

    1. The egros of the ’90s were different than today. Your wrists weren’t below your tailbone.

      I sat on it for a minute. Corbin seemed fine. Clip-ons could use some height IMO for distance. Helibars or Gen-mar wouldn’t be a bad idea if it were mine.

      1. I’d do higher bars if I had hard luggage. As it is, I kinda like it… But I can’t get into a tight speed tuck… And I can’t shift my weight like I want… But this is due to the Corbin. I may change that.

  8. Happy for you. On behalf of your readers we just ask you to keep it upright, and to park it when you are not feeling well.

  9. Ogre-san: Nice choice! I really liked my C-10 Concours, which is not that different from your Ninja in performance (yes, the C-10 is a little more sedate). Would have kept it except it was designed for a smaller body than mine, and it showed on long rides. Cheers!

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