Kawasaki ZX-9R

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Kawasaki ZX-9
Also called ZX-9 R Ninja, ZX 9 R Ninja, ZX-9R Ninja, ZX-9R
Production 1994
Class Sportbike
Four stroke, transverse four cylinder, DOHC, 4 valves per cylinder.
Compression ratio 11.5:1
Top Speed 276.4 km/h / 171.7 mph
Ignition Digital with Kawasaki Throttle Responsive Ignition Control (K-TRIC)
Spark Plug NGK CR9EK `94-97[1]
Battery YUASA YTX12-BS `94-97[1]
Transmission 6 Speed
Final Drive Chain: 530 `94-97[1]
Frame Aluminum twin-spar
Suspension Front: 43 mm upside-down KYB fully adjustable, adjustable compression, rebound and preload.
Rear: Uni-Trak adjustable compression, rebound and preload.
Brakes Front: 2x 310mm discs 4 piston calipers
Rear: Single 210mm disc 1 piston caliper
Front Tire 120/70 ZR7
Rear Tire 180/55 ZR17
Wheelbase 1410 mm / 55.7 in
Seat Height 800 mm / 31.5 in
Weight 216 kg / 477 lbs (dry), 242 kg / 533 lbs (wet)
Recommended Oil K-tech 10W-40
Fuel Capacity 20 Liters / 5.0 US gal
Manuals Service Manual

It could reach a top speed of 276.4 km/h / 171.7 mph.


The engine was a Liquid cooled cooled Four stroke, transverse four cylinder, DOHC, 4 valves per cylinder.. The engine featured a 11.5:1 compression ratio.


It came with a 120/70 ZR7 front tire and a 180/55 ZR17 rear tire. Stopping was achieved via 2x 310mm discs 4 piston calipers in the front and a Single 210mm disc 1 piston caliper in the rear. The front suspension was a 43 mm upside-down KYB fully adjustable, adjustable compression, rebound and preload. while the rear was equipped with a Uni-Trak adjustable compression, rebound and preload.. The ZX-9R was fitted with a 20 Liters / 5.0 US gal fuel tank. The bike weighed just 216 kg / 477 lbs. The wheelbase was 1410 mm / 55.7 in long.


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Kawasaki ZX-9R Ninja

Kawasaki's tradition of building outstanding 900cc superbikes suggested that a hot new contender would appear in the mid-1990s. The z1 of 1973 and the GPZ900R Ninja of 1984 had firmly established the Big K's reputation for powerful, rapid and bullet-proof 900cc fours. And in 1994 came the model that was intended to maintain that reputation for another decade: the ZX-9R. The superbike world had become increasingly specialized since the days of the Z1 and Ninja, when a single brilliant new machine could outperform all opposition and be a top all-rounder at the same time. Nevertheless, Kawasaki designed the ZX-9R to fit between the firm's race-replica ZXR750 and sports-touring ZZ-R1100. Its style and emphasis were on performance, but the 9R was less extreme than some super-sports rivals. It was certainly one very rapid motorcycle, for all that. The Kawasaki's engine was an enlarged, 899cc version of the 749cc, liquid-cooled powerplant from the ZXR750. It had a ZZ-R1100 type ram-air system, big 40mm carburettors plus detailed smoothing of the induction and exhaust systems. The result was a peak output of 137bhp at 10,500rpm, and thrillingly strong power right through the rev range.

The Lauch The Kawasaki Ninja ZX-9R is unleashed on a sweaty, diarrhoeic Leonard in Malaysia. Poor lamb Dateline: Shah Alain Circuit, 7 December 1993. The day dawned misty and hot, rather like the night had been. After three months of British winter, arriving in the Malaysian monsoon season is a shock to the English system. After the cold crisp air of Blighty, breathing the tropical atmosphere is like being locked in a lavatory with a boiling kettle. The weather is drastically changeable; one minute it's hot and sunny, the next, water is gushing from the sky as if God's pulled the chain. And after a week of Malaysian food, yup, I've got toilets on my mind. Kawasaki had flown 140 journalists from all over the world to test their new supersports bike, the ZX-9R, the new Ninja; even two Australians were invited - a polite one who didn't drink, and a normal one. Superbike World Champ Scott Russell and newly-signed works team-mate Tel-boy Rymer were there to keep the journalistic ego thoroughly deflated and show how fast a new Ninja can be ridden. Kawasaki was represented by the whole panel of the ZX-9R's designers headed by the legendary Ben Inamura, the man who has designed every big four-stroke kWack since his first project twenty years ago, the Zl. Out in pitlane stood two bikes, each poignantly representing a watershed in Kawasaki motorcycle history: the Zl (engine number 00000001), and an original GPZ900 Ninja. The ZX-9R was placed optimistically next to them. In a more relevant sense, the bikes which stand next to the ZX-9R are the Honda CBR900, Yamaha FZR1000 and Suzuki GSX-R1100. These are the bikes which the new ZX-9R is up against in the marketplace. I've only been home a couple of hours and someone has already called me to ask if it's 'better' than last year's market leader, the FireBlade. I couldn't answer in a word. Actually 1 couldn't answer at all. After about three sentences, the phone was left dangling and 1 was back on the bog, forming more loose opinions about Malaysian food. Next time I'm taking butties. The bike is the ZXR750's big brother, in image at least. The engine is more or less the same dimensions, the gearbox (but for the primary gear ratio) is the very same. The bikes share the same castings (but are machined differently). The ZX-9R is considerably more powerful - 139bhp at l(),5()()rpm at the crank with 71 ft-lb of torque at just 9()0()rpm. But simply sitting on the Ninja tells you this new bike is a different pot of noodles. I didn't need two days at a track to figure out that this is no proddie racer with lights. In fact it's written in between the lines of the spec sheet anyway. With a dry weight of 215kg, this bike is 30kg (661b) heavier than a Honda FireBlade.

Besides, Ben Inamura spelt it out before the testing began. The cyncial hack takes such speeches with a pinch of salt, but at his word, Mr Inamura stated: "Our challenge was based on fatigue-free, safe and steady handling of the machine...it is also our appointed task to provide pleasure to not only a specific group of people with highly developed riding technique, but to every motorcycle enthusiast...In dealing with such issues as the weight of the ZX-9R, for instance, we came to the conclusion and reaffirmed the fact, that what is most required of a machine is total balance." See, no hint of proddie racing - and a sly dig at the twitchy FireBlade to boot. Full leathers, 85°F, 80% humidity, 150mph. These things are certainly incompatible. My helmet now smells like a pair of tramp's socks. But I doubt I'll get any sympathy. The track test disappointed those who were hoping for a ZXR750 with added oomph. In contrast to that sharp little turner, getting the Ninja from extreme to extreme requires some serious physical effort, as does pulling the bike in tighter around Shah Alam's totally unfair decreasing radius bends. Turning in initially is no problem and neither should it be with a rake angle of 24° and 93mm of trail; the bike just rolls over like a big, fat puppy and stays obediently on line while you tickle its belly-pan. Once over, it's a paragon of stability. Further affirmation of the Ninja's road bias is Kawasaki's choice of tire, a specially formulated Bridgestone BT50 radial, with strengthened sidewalls and carcass and the least sticky compound of any so-called supersports tire on the market. The extra beef is aimed purely at high speed stability, in a straight line especially. We tested this later, on a motorway - 150+mph and no worries. On the track, the tires were a seriously limiting factor, sliding early on the gas coming out of turns. It was so bad, and so easy to slide, that fantasies of deliberate rear-wheel steering were being realised. The rear was being run at 43psi, 7psi more than the Bridgestone representative was recommending. The mechanics were under strict instructions to keep every bike on standard settings. The over-soft rear suspension didn't help either. In stark contrast to the early ZXR750, the Ninja 900 is allowed to use plenty of rear wheel travel, but it's barely kept in order by a soft spring and damping which even the Kawasaki personnel agreed (after vociferous whingeing) should be set on full, both extension and compression. They'd already screwed the preload adjusters right up before we arrived. Adjusted so, the bike wouldn't squat so much under acceleration and the tire could keep more of a grip. On standard settings, front and rear suspensions are slightly mismatched. The front is more heavily sprung and less compliant over slower ripples and bumps. On the track you could feel them topping out under gas along the back straight. With just two twenty minute sessions per rider each day, there wasn't much opportunity to take advantage of the fully adjustable suspension in a meaningful way. Despite these frustrations, the track test showed the Ninja to be a perfectly stable motorcycle in extreme conditions. Hard on the brakes, from 130mph for a second gear corner, the bike would slow under full control; rolling off momentarily in fifth for a fast, bottle-testing right-hand kink on the back straight, the Ninja stayed tight and together. There was never a sign of weaving or yawing in corners or on brakes - just dead stability. The weight and speed of the bike ask a lot of the brakes. They perform this considerable job well, although they don't offer much feel at the lever. However, the suspension transmits plenty back from the front tire keeping you conscious of the point of lock-up. One journo from Down-Under, Ken Wootton of Australian Motor Cycle News, was prompted by a very long-tailed monkey to put the whole lot to the ultimate test. The moment was caught by our man from Kawasaki UK, Glyn Fisher, who videoed the whole Beadlesque incident. It wasn't the last time the Oz hack would be smoking rubber this trip. Now why didn't Glyn get that on video. Kawasaki is famous for building unburstable and brutish motors and the ZX-9R is cast in the traditional mold. Track testing allows full exploration of a bike's power, but it also takes the edge off the sensation of speed and acceleration. Even so, having recently ridden a '94-spec FZR1000 on a track, my feeling is that the ZX-9R hasn't quite got the heady rush of the big Yamaha beyond 8000rpm. It's strong, but not surprising. Nor does it have the frantic pick-up and zip of the FireBlade. It's a more general, brutish delivery in ZZR/ZX-10 style, all shudder and grunt. Kawasaki have paid much attention to creating a flat, wide torque curve right through the range, ironing out power steps and, perhaps, simply giving an impression it isn't as strong. Speed freaks have been catered for, without doubt. There is a perceptible extra squirt to the Ninja, right at the top of the revs, in the last 1500rpm to the ll,500rpm redline, which bodes well for an impressive top whack (in keeping with the Big K tradition). The Ninja has, of course, the Twin Ram Air intake, a system which Kawasaki have been steadily developing. I spoke to Engineer Inamura about the system, which is rumoured to be worth big horsepower at high speed. He actually played it down, saying: "It's not so much about making power as keeping it. The main benefit is to keep the horsepower delivery constant in any condition, by drawing in fresh, cool, air from the front of the bike." At high speed, a conventionally fed airbox would be offering the motor heated air at negative pressure; with Ram Air, the Ninja gets better the faster it goes. The gearbox was a subject of much controversy at the launch. Although the upchange was precise enough, a few bikes (though not mine) were refusing to drop into second under high rpm. During all my track sessions, the down-change ranged between noisy and explosive going down to second from third. Selecting first was like lobbing a brick down a dry well. You could see the K staff trying not to wince following the order for a session to begin. Flocks of tropical birds would whirl into the air in alarm at the collective clatter of clashing cogs. It's ironic because Kawasaki have a clutch gadget which is designed to avoid all this: the Back-Torque Limiter, which allows the clutch to slip slightly on down-changes. Vibration is apparent and tickles yer bum through the seat at higher rpm. The motor is mounted at three points, one rubber-mounted, two rigid and there are rubber inserts in the frame to damp out resonance. Really.

Track Conclusions

I had five sessions, twenty minutes each on the ZX-9R around Shah Alam. I hated the track and I was indifferent about the bike. Ignoring the gearshift, the tire letting go at a whiff of throttle and soft rear suspension, I came away a little subdued.The Ninja was supremely stable, it turned in quickly, but was heavy to flick back; my hands and wrists ached at the effort. Ground clearance good. Handling overall, predictable and neutral. It was fast enough and picked up well. Was I having fun? No, not yet. It was all too much like hard work. I reserved my judgement of the bike until after the road riding - two days, a meet-the-natives thrash from Shah Alam, up to Port Dickson on the coast and back via Melaka to Kuala Lumpur.

On the Road to Mandalay

After half an hour on the road, I was beginning to wonder why we'd gone to the track at all. The men from Kawasaki had been saying it all along - 'city bike', 'street bike', 'road bike'; nobody ever mentioned a 'track bike'. Whose idea was it anyway? In retrospect, the ideal launch would've given us the first three days on the road and the last on the track. An air-conditioned track. The problems weighing so heavily on our minds at Shah Alam evaporated (along with most of my body fluids) on the road to Port Dickson. Or rather, it didn't show as badly. The gearbox up to 8000rpm would change down acceptably - bit noisy, bit clumsy. Neutral to first selection was still akin to dropping a bowling ball, but I didn't expect that to change with the scenery. I could live with it. The soft rear damping which held back the more throttle-happy chappies at the track, started to work in a more positive way, allowing the tire to stay in contact with the bumpy road. We were galloping at speeds which would've had a ZXR rider bucking clean out of the saddle. On full rebound adjustment, the rear was just about under control, allowing just a little pogo-ing, though it never even suggested a yaw or a weave. On British roads, the suspension will be fine, though fat blokes might need a stronger spring. I had no complaints about the tires' road performance. You can appreciate the motor's midrange spread on the road. It felt a little flat under 8000rpm on the track; on the road it just has huge power everywhere and country roads are no place for 8000rpm+ action. Loping along, riding the torque is what this bike's about. It's much more ZZ-R11 than ZXR7 in power delivery. And when the road opens up, hang on, because it's a short trip to the redline. An outstanding feature of the bike, only really appreciated in normal riding, is the relaxed and comfortable riding position. There's no Suzuki-style scrunched legs, your weight is well distributed, with a bias on to your wrists. It isn't as severe as the ZXR, nor are you hugged into the tank so closely. It's a good compromise and again underlines the bike's aim to be an 'all-rounder'. My complaint would be that it doesn't allow you to alter your riding position, which can be tiring. The fairing/screen is well-designed for a 5ft 11 in rider (me). The protection goes up to the base of my helmet at cruising speeds, which is about right to minimise buffeting and cover the body. On the subject of comfort, pillions have been given no consideration whatsoever. No grab rail, nothing. The finish of this £8100 motorcycle is good, as good as any other Japanese motorcycle. The equipment  is adequate: a temp gauge and a fuel gauge, nicely presented. The combination of a wide spread of power, neutral and obedient handling and balanced riding position adds up to one of the fastest roadbikes ever built. Not in itself - a ZZ-R1100 is quicker, I'm sure - but much more importantly, in what it allows you to do. You can use this bike. As a track bike, if you get the chance to a give it a go, you'll not keep with the FireBlades. But it won't scare you either. The third Kawasaki 900 in twenty years isn't about to make the splash its forebears did. Not with GSX-Rs and FZRs in the world already. But like those models, it's good enough to run and run.

Source Superbike Magazine 1994

Make Model Kawasaki ZX-9R Ninja
Year 1994
Engine Type Four stroke, transverse four cylinder, DOHC, 4 valves per cylinder.
Displacement 899 cc / 54.8 cu-in
Bore X Stroke 73 x 53.7 mm
Cooling System Liquid cooled
Compression 11.5:1
Induction 4x 40mm Keihin carburetors
Ignition Digital with Kawasaki Throttle Responsive Ignition Control (K-TRIC)
Starting Electric
Max Power 139 hp / 103.6 kW @ 10500 rpm
Max Power Rear Tire 129.ho / 96.1 kW @ 10400 rpm
Max Torque 94 Nm / 69.4 lb-ft @ 9000 rpm
Transmission 6 Speed
Final Drive Chain
Frame Aluminum twin-spar
Front Suspension 43 mm upside-down KYB fully adjustable, adjustable compression, rebound and preload.
Rear Suspension Uni-Trak adjustable compression, rebound and preload.
Front Brakes 2x 310mm discs 4 piston calipers
Rear Brakes Single 210mm disc 1 piston caliper
Front Tire 120/70 ZR7
Rear Tire 180/55 ZR17
Rake 24°
Trail 97 mm / 3.8 in
Wheelbase 1410 mm / 55.7 in
Seat Height 800 mm / 31.5 in
Dry Weight 216 kg / 477 lbs
Wet Weight 242 kg / 533 lbs
Fuel Capacity 20 Liters / 5.0 US gal
Consumption Average 18.9 km/lit
Braking 60 - 0 / 100 - 0 12.9 m / 37.2 m
Standing ¼ Mile 10.2 sec / 215.7 km/h
Top Speed 276.4 km/h / 171.7 mph
Road Test Motosprint 1994 Motosprint 1994 Test


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 2019 Western Power Sports Catalog. Western Power Sports. 2019.