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The ZX-9R was a sport bike manufactured by the motorcycle division of Kawasaki Heavy Industries of Japan from 1994 to 2004. There were five model incarnations across two basic designs. Throughout its production run, it was both maligned and praised for its road-riding bias, which allowed for more rider comfort but less of a racebike-on-the-road experience of more single-minded competing designs.

The ZX-9R debuted in 1994. Kawasaki developed the model in response to Honda's introduction of the CBR900RR FireBlade for the 1992 model year. Along with Kawasaki's own GPz900R, Suzuki's GSX-R750, both of which preceded it, and Ducati's 916 and Yamaha's YZF-R1 which followed it, The FireBlade (CBR900RR in North America) is widely considered one of the five pivotal sport bike designs of all time.

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Prior to the advent of the FireBlade, large-capacity Japanese sports motorcycles had become polarised. On one side were the 750 cc sport bikes, influenced by Endurance racing and the World Superbike Championship. On the other, the "big-bore" 1000cc-plus sports-tourers had become the natural evolution of the performance bikes of the preceding 20 years. In simple terms, the 750's had the handling, the big-bores had the power. In both categories, Kawasaki ruled. The ZXR750 offered the technology and the performance of ultra-expensive racing-homologation models from Honda and Yamaha at half the price, and it outclassed the similarly-priced GSX-R750 of the time, which still featured a perimeter frame and an oil-cooled engine, while the ZZ-R1100 held the title of the fastest production motorcycle on Earth.

The FireBlade packaged a 900 cc engine into a 750 cc sport bike chassis. It combined big-bore power with sport bike handling, but, crucially, it also pioneered meticulous attention to weight-saving design. The FireBlade not only outpowered the 750's, it was also significantly lighter. This was the detail overlooked or underappreciated by Kawasaki when they set out to build their FireBlade-beater. In building the first ZX-9R, Kawasaki combined their class-leading big-bore, the ZZ-R1100, with their class-leading 750, the ZXR750, rather than commit to an entirely-new design.

KAWASAKI ZX-9R SPECIFICATIONS

  • Engine Configuration Inline Four, 4-Stroke, DOHC
  • Engine Displacement 899 cc
  • Engine Cooling System Liquid
  • Compression Ratio 11.5:1
  • Combustion Chamber Design Pentroof
  • Valves Per Cylinder 4
  • Intake Valves Per Cylinder 2
  • Exhaust Valves Per Cylinder 2
  • Bore x Stroke 75 x 50.9 mm
  • Claimed Peak Horsepower 141 bhp @ 11,000 rpm
  • Claimed Peak Torque 73 lbs. - ft. @ 9,000 rpm
  • Engine Redline 12,000 rpm
  • Overall length - 2.049 mm
  • Overall width - 719 mm
  • Overall height - 1.155 mm
  • Seat height - 810 mm
  • Wheel base - 1.415 mm
  • Ground clearance - 160 mm
  • Dry weight - 183 kg
  • Valve Angle (Included) 12 degrees intake, 13 degrees exhaust (25 degrees)
  • Combustion Chamber Volume N.A.
  • Valve Train Type DOHC, Link-plate Chain Drive,
  • Bucket Followers, Shim-under-bucket
  • Lash Adjustment
  • Valve Adjustment Interval 6000 miles
  • Intake Valve Diameter 30 mm
  • Exhaust Valve Diameter 26 mm
  • Intake Valve Stem Diameter 4.5 mm
  • Exhaust Valve Stem Diameter 4.5 mm
  • Intake Valve Maximum Lift 9.2 mm
  • Exhaust Valve Maximum Lift 8.7 mm
  • Intake Valve Timing
  • Open BTDC 55 degrees
  • Close ABDC 81 degrees
  • Duration 316 degrees
  • Exhaust Valve Timing
  • Open BBDC 47 degrees
  • Close ATDC 65 degrees
  • Duration 292 degrees
  • Valve Timing Measuring Point 0.3 mm.
  • Fuel Delivery System (4) Kehin CVKD40
  • Carburetor Venturi Size 40 mm
  • Air Filter Type Foam
  • Exhaust System Type 4-1
  • Ignition System Digital Electronic
  • Lubrication System Wet Sump
  • Oil Capacity 4.1 quarts
  • Fuel Capacity 18.9 l
  • Transmission Type 6-speed, Constant Mesh
  • Clutch Type Multi-plate, Wet
  • Clutch Actuation System Cable
  • Clutch Spring Type Coil
  • Number Of Clutch Springs 5
  • Number of Clutch Plates 19
  • Drive Plates 10
  • Driven Plates 9
  • Primary Drive Gear
  • Primary Drive Gear Teeth (Ratio) 84/ 49 (1.714:1)
  • Final Drive Sprocket Teeth (Ratio) 16/ 41 (2.563:1)
  • Transmission Gear Teeth (Ratios)
  • 6th 23/ 21 (1.095:1)
  • 5th 24/ 20 (1.200:1)
  • 4th 28/ 21 (1.333:1)
  • 3rd 28/ 18 (1.556:1)
  • 2nd 33/ 17 (1.941:1)
  • 1st 36/ 14 (2.571:1)
  • Transmission Overall Ratios
  • 6th 4.807:1
  • 5th 5.268:1
  • 4th 5.852:1
  • 3rd 6.831:1
  • 2nd 8.521:1
  • 1st 11.287:1

The first ZX-9R could be seen as a ZXR750 incorporating a number of ZZ-R1100 design features. The wheels (three-spoke cast aluminium alloy 3.5"x17" front and 5.5"x17" rear), front forks (fully-adjustable 43 mm upside-down KYB) and unbraced fabricated aluminium box-section swingarm with fully-adjustable remote-reservoir KYB monoshock were direct carry-overs from the ZXR. Importantly, the twin-piston rear Tokico caliper no longer mounted via a torque arm, and the clip-on handlebars mounted above the top triple clamp, not below. The four-piston Tokico front calipers and 320 mm front discs were common to the ZZ-R and the ZXR.



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