Bike World Dream Rides Kawasaki ZX-7RR

Kawasaki's first World Superbike title came in 1993 thanks to the ZXR750 (and American, Scott Russell). But then came the domination of the Ducati 916, introduced the following season and took the title the following two years and helped make Carl Fogarty a household name.

Kawasaki ZX-7RR racing pedigree

Kawasaki ZX-7RR 1996 studio static photo from Kawasaki Europe

In order to win the title back and topple the twins, Kawasaki gave the old ZXR750 K model a spruce up and launched the ZX-7RR (N1) homologation special in 1996 at the same time as the ‘standard’ Kawasaki ZX-7R - a bike that would go on to last eight years in production with only colour and graphic changes… You can read more about that in our Future Classic feature here.

Despite the riding talents of Anthony Gobert, the bike only managed three victories in its debut year and Ducati went on to win again, this time with fellow Australian Troy Corser. And bless Kawasaki - they persevered with the ZX-7RR in World Superbike until the close of the 2002 season when they packed their bags and went to MotoGP with the ZX-RR.

Chris Wanker & Iain Fearless Macpherson

Before that happened, though, they gave race fans plenty of entertainment with the sideways exploits of Akira Yanagawa in WSB while Chris Walker won the hearts of British fans after finishing runner up in BSB for two consecutive seasons from 1998 to 1999 on the ZX-7RR.

While it might not have been a title winner on the world stage, those who raced it over the globe praised it for its sharp steering and stability. And then there’s that induction roar…

How many Kawasaki ZX-7RRs were made?

Only 500 Kawasaki ZX-7RRs were made, 50 made it to the UK and only 20 were registered on the road. So if you happen to see one, go and buy a lottery ticket that very day.

Kawasaki ZX-7RR 1996 left side studio static photo from Kawasaki Europe

Kawasaki ZX-7RR differences over ZX-7R

Aside from the rarity that comes with an extra R, over the stock bike the biggest visible difference is the solo seat and the adjustable swingarm pivot. Getting under the skin a bit more, that single seat sits on a lightweight aluminium subframe, the headstock angle is adjustable and the suspension has increased adjustability with 28 turns of compression and 13 clicks rebound to the front forks and 14 turns of rebound for the rear suspension.

Kawasaki ZX-7RR 1996 studio static strip down engine carburettors photo from Kawasaki Europe

Carburation wise, standard 38mm items were replaced with a set of 41mm flat-slides and the gearbox is a close-ratio item. Another big change to the engine was a heavier crankshaft to aid traction. Getting it stopped are Nissin 6-pots that took the place of Tokico items.

Kawasaki ZX-7RR on the road

As we mentioned, they’re a rarity on the roads, but Chris Northover from Bike World got to ride one thanks to The Bike Specialists. They’d sold the bike back to its original owner (who paid double than what he sold it for), but fortunately he got ‘his’ bike back and still let Chris ride it! Watch the episode below.