Second opinion

By Steve Gregory, Staff Photographer

For a big balls out ultra sports bike, delicate is not a word you’d usually associate with such a potentially brutal machine. But delicate it is, the handling is so deliciously and delicately well balanced you could swear it had an autopilot. No razor sharp responses here to catch out the unwary, this bike is supremely predictable. Power delivery too is super linear, there’s no sudden burst of energy, it just gets faster and faster…

This machine glides effortlessly around bends and is a real joy to steer. No actual steering effort is required, you could swear the bike is showing you the way round. I deliberately over-drive the next bend, turning in later and harder than is strictly necessary, just to test that lightness of response. The machine doesn’t notice my increased effort, it simply goes where I point it. Massively stable, utterly predictable. I feel as if I’m being ignored. I get the message, the ZXR9 is better at cornering than I am.

As confidence grows, so does my speed. Steering remains neutral and delicate but higher speed shows this bike doesn’t like bumps. With my lithe and athletic eleven stone on board, it hops over every ripple in the road. It’s as if the front is somehow connected to the rear; whenever either wheel hits a bump, the whole bike pops up through it’s own centre of gravity. There’s a curious chugging under acceleration, which feels for all the world as if the rear is spinning up intermittently.

Ok so it is spanky new and the suspension isn’t bedded in. There’s also more adjustments here than the governments latest NHS statistics but I have no time to play with them. I pay the price for ignoring my own observation. I gas it up a short bumpy straight and the handlebars flick viciously side to side. As quickly as it happens, it stops. As if nothing has happened, we carry on. “Did you just shake your head at me?” I demanded. “No no, carry on, everything’s fine” said the ZX, unruffled. But I know I’ve seen a chink it its armour and I’m glad it wasn’t down some country lane or deep into a braking zone.

The super linear power and delicate handling can lull you into a false sense of security. Make no mistake, this is a very fast machine. If you are going to test it to the limit then dial in the suspension first or it will bite.

 

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