Kawasaki ZX-9R

The newer Ninja is noticeably nicer

There is something about a large mass that exaggerates the feeling of speed. Which is one of the reasons why getting to a paltry 100 kph on the Kawasaki Ninja ZX-9R isn't like being shot out of a cannon. It’s more like being strapped to Saturn V as it hits escape velocity parallel to, and about two-and-half feet off the ground. If that is not scary enough, 100 feels like 150 until you look at the speedo.

As sportsbikes go, the Kawasaki fills out the top slot of the segment – in weight. Nay sayers have used adjectives ranging from portly to lardy to describe its girth. But don't believe a word. For as Kawasakis go, the extra kilos only heighten the brutal and intimidating personality of the ZX9R. The testers who say they are unable to corner hard are the ones who scrabble for the Ninja's keys when its time to drone the thousand miles home. For, this is the most spacious and comfy of the litre class contenders, bar none.

The girth manifests itself in the corners all right – it brings a sense of stability, but causes the bike to want to sit up at the slightest excuse. However, the suspension – on the soft side – will absorb mid-corner bumps that will have other hyperbikes shaking their heads like professional head bangers.

You sit relatively upright and carry much less weight on your wrists. Which means that you can use the 137 bhp, 899 CC four-cylinder much longer in anger without the chiropractor being one of your waypoints. Look at this way, this is the bike to make sport-tourers look slow and hyper sports bikes looks like torture racks. The flat whirr that this engine is making is a far cry from the rabid howling of the Ninja we rode earlier. Blame the ecoweenies – the can allows none of the glorious howl to come through. The can will release as
much as 145 bhp.

As models go, this bike is the last of thecarb-ed Nines and its power delivery is far saner than the snatchy Ninja we last rode. The sound is flat, but the engine makes up for that with enough power anywhere to outwit
traction at the rear. Fortunately, the brakes do match the engine pretty handily. Two fingers will slam your helmet into the tall-ish screen as the four-piston callipers burn speed away. 

The Ninja has been made more civil than last time around, but the changes are relatively few. The biggest change is a detachable rear subframe that minimises parts that need to replaced in a crash. What remains untarnished is the huge explosion that occurs with the twist of the throttle and the lightness in the head.