Kawasaki Zephyr 750 (ZR750)

Red (of course)

Having finally reached the end of the break-in period (in 2.5 weeks), I can now review my bike. List price for the Zephyr (which can no longer be called that, thank you Lincoln-Mercury) is $4699, but it can be had for quite a bit less. I got prices ranging from $4500 to $4100, and finally found a 91 leftover for $3899 at East Coast Kawasaki, Trenton, NJ.

The bike is small for a 750, feeling much smaller and lighter than its primary rival, the Honda Nighthawk 750. The pegs are somewhat rearset, and the superbike style bars are slightly forward, resulting in a not-uncomfortable forward lean. I have found the seating position to just about ideal for brisk around town and freeway riding, as the wind offsets your body lean. The mirrors are adequate, but barely. If your sleeves blouse up a bit, you'll find yourself looking at your elbows quite a bit. The mirrors from the 550 Zephyr may be a solution. The passenger accomodations are OK, but not great. The rear half of the seat has quite a forward tilt to it, resulting in the passenger sliding forward during any braking. Also, the rear pegs are not rubber covered, and my SO has complained about tingly toes after only 30 mins of riding. A Corbin should solve the seat issue, and I am still trying to hunt up some nice rear pegs to cure the tingles. The grab rail is a nice feature.

The brakes are excellent. Twin discs in front, single disc in rear. The rear may be a bit touchy, as I locked it up twice in my first week (guess I'll get used to it - my 81 CB750's drum was not exactly spectacular). It only takes a two finger pull to bring the bike down from speed quite rapidly. The adjustable levers for the brake and clutch are very handy (ha ha). It took me a while to get used to the brakes constantly adjusting themselves after every stop. I thought they were grinding at first, until I was enlightened.

The motor...is a blast. It may only be 8 valves versus the Nighthawk's 16, but it walks away from the Honda at any speed. Usable power starts down around 3000, and gets serious about 5500 through 8000. After that, it tapers down toward the 10,000 redline, but still quite gutsy. It is geared a little low, and is turning around 5000 at normal highway speed. As vibration is at a minimum, this isn't really a problem. What is nice about that is it keeps the engine in the meat of the powerband when cruising down the highway. Just the thing for blasting past slower cages. Rarely have I had the need to downshift for a passing blitz. The exhaust note is subdued (I was used to a 4->1 Kerker), but sounds good. Much better than the mime exhaust on the Nighthawk.

Handling, as far as I can tell so far, is quite good. It is very quick to turn in, and keeps the line without much input from the rider. Very stable on the freeway, doesn't wander from the straight ahead without provocation. Being I ride primarily in southern New Jersey, where road designers were forbidden to use anything besides straight lines, I haven't really worked it out in the twisties...yet.

Other things... the high-beam is amazing. Riding 20-30 yards behind my friend with his EX500, my high-beam outreaches his. Since I get quite paranoid riding at night, I love having all the portable daylight I can find. Storage space in the tail is minimal. The tool kit already resides there, so a pair of gloves or a bungee net will fill the rest (or a videotape fits perfectly). Two helmet locks are great and easy to use. Gas gauge is accurate - when it hits bottom of 'E' time for reserve. Choke is very hard to modulate, and idle speed very difficult to control. Start the bike in the morning, and it zooms to 6000 instantly. Back off on the choke just a smidge, stutter and die. The toggle switch of choke levers. Chain adjustment easy due to cam-type adjuster. Nice fat tires front and back. Kawa's Neutral Finder is pretty slick. Multi-adjustable shocks in back can be adjusted for preload, rebound and compression. No adjustment in front (Some of the mags call the mushy front fork their major complaint of the bike. It does tend to dive under heavy braking, and just getting on the bike uses about 1/3 of the fork travel. Progressive Springs are recommended by the mags).

Overall, I love this bike (my 2nd). I can't wait to take a weekend trip to the mountains (hills for you left coasters) and play in the twisties.

Ken Denton DOD# 1124

sysop@rowan.edu 91 ZR750