Even when the 750cc class ruled the racing world Kawasaki’s superbike was known for being a bit heavy, a bit long and, on the road, for giving your wrists one hell of a beating. So, given the amount of incredibly desirable metal available for not a lot of money, why on earth would I buy one now?
Well, the story goes like this. A number of years ago, I scratched a living as the PR/Marketing Manager for a privately-owned British Superbike team. These days most teams are privately owned, but this was in the era when Honda, Suzuki, Yamaha and Ducati all had factory teams – or very heavily supported teams - in the paddock. I was part of Hawk Kawasaki, a team that operated from the owner’s double garage and converted completely stock Kawasaki ZX-7R roadbikes into BSB-ready weapons. With Glen Richards and Scott Smart at the helm these bright green beasties were well and truly in the fray. Even more so when the 1000cc rule came in and we continued our challenge up against GSXR1000s and R1s – with a 250cc displacement disadvantage.
The fat fairing and hunkered down muscle of the team’s race bikes always appealed to me, and whenever I see one of the Hawk bikes at a show it always stops me in my tracks. So, after an encounter with Richards’ number 75 race bike at last year’s NEC show it was pretty inevitable that it wouldn’t be long before I found myself with a 7R stashed in the garage. Particularly as they seem to have hit rock bottom in terms of second-hand value. Mine is a 99 plate, so just squeezes into Retro RR’s 80s and 90s sportsbike niche. With only 19k on the clock and a full Kawasaki history it hardly shows the 17 years it has been on the road – until you hit the saddle. Instantly the wrists remind you that we aren’t in Kansas anymore and the only way to find a modicum of something approaching comfort is to assume a ridiculous racing crouch. But that induction noise, the eagerness to sprint forward and that stable swift approach to any A-road means this will always be a firm favourite.
And yes, I should have bought a green one. Everyone knows they are faster.