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Kawasaki ZX-12R endurance test

The top dog

She is the top dog in the area, superlative shows off. 200 rear tires, 178 hp, 300 km / h fast. Unfortunately, it lived up to its nickname in other ways too: a burst transmission ended the long-distance test prematurely.

Sunday morning, 1.

July 2001, 2.34 a.m. The B 27, near Vaihingen / Enz, is wet with rain and almost unused at this time. The long-distance test Kawasaki ZX-12R, mileage 44212, rolls at 100 km / h towards home, to Stuttgart. Without warning, a locking rear wheel tears the driver out of his nightly concentration and he engages in vain. The wheel moves again briefly, blocks again, the ZX-12R comes to a stop in the middle of the main road. After the initial shock, the driver is sweaty: It is impossible to imagine if this would have happened at top speed.
The following day, Kawasaki’s flagship is transported by van to the dissecting table in the MOTORRAD workshop. There are a handful of transmission parts in the oil pan. Kawasaki Germany is informed, the defective ZX-12R is transported to Friedrichsdorf and dismantled by MOTORRAD technical director Waldemar Schwarz and Kawasaki technicians. Inexplicably, the fourth gear output gear crumbled completely, the entire transmission was destroyed by fragments, the shafts are bent. In addition, parts got between the wheels of the starter drive so that the crankshaft would have to be replaced ?? the starter drive gear on the crank web is badly damaged. MOTORRAD decides to abandon the endurance test.
Any guesswork about the reasons ?? the whole thing happened without a switching operation being carried out ?? finally go in the same direction: it seems to be a material defect. According to Kawasaki, the MOTORRAD test machine is the only one in the world to show such damage. The tricky question here: will it stay that way in the future? Because hardly any other ZX-12R has unwound so many kilometers since its market launch in March 2000. A look into the transmission of the long-distance test machine of the sister magazine PS ?? she survived the 50,000 kilometers almost unscathed? reveals an almost identical wear pattern on the shift forks: the rear left shift fork has worked its way into the groove of the sliding wheel from sixth gear. MOTORRAD is of the opinion that the large play in the shift fork is not an option as a trigger for gearbox damage. The Kawasaki technicians have the following explanation for the heavy wear marks: The reliable transmission of the 178 hp requires heavily relief-ground driving claws that prevent the gears from jumping out. This puts a lot of pressure on the forks when shifting. This leads to higher wear and tear and a somewhat bony gearshift. The latter was criticized by some drivers in test operations. Apart from the harmless running marks on the connecting rod, camshaft and crankshaft bearings, the inner workings of the engine are otherwise very good, on the 545 days of operation between the first and last breath, the individual parts obviously played together well.
The driver community, on the other hand, is divided and extremely polarized. The entries in the logbook range from "awesome driving machine" to "nobody needs that". Which is true of both. The ZX-12R was uncompromisingly designed to be the strongest and the fastest. For the first time in history, a 200 mm rear tire was used in serial motorcycle construction. And always supplied the request for the bike to be set up with new food. Originally equipped with the Dunlop D 207, the Bridgestone pairing BT 010 at the front and BT 011 at the rear, available at a later date, proved to be more neutral. Wasn’t as stimulated by bumps to set up as the Dunlop and enabled an average of 20 percent higher mileage. These were again outbid by the Michelin Pilot Sport. If the Dunlop lasted 4700 and the Bridgestone 6200 kilometers, the Michelin mixture survived around 8200 kilometers, but did not come close to the grip and the homogeneous handling of the Bridgestone.
Speaking of homogeneous. The injection of the 12 series conjured up a jolt in the vehicle in the smooth overrun mode as well as in constant driving in the speed range between 4000 and 6000 rpm, which annoyed almost all drivers over the entire test distance (see How? ‘Or’ What box). There were also fine vibrations that were distributed over the medium speed range and made some fingers fall asleep.
Where there is a lot of shadow, there has to be a lot of light? Right. The slanting eyes of the ZX-12R create a floodlit clear path even in the dead of night. Actually a must, because the braking distance from top speed is 446 meters ?? anticipatory driving is mandatory. Since the electronic castration from the year of construction 2001, a voluntary restriction of the manufacturer to 299 km / h, the cabbage is no longer fat.
The ZX-12R first became conspicuous on July 25, 2000 after almost 20,000 kilometers: Editor Jörn Thomas registered mechanical noises. The workshop attests to a broken timing chain tensioner. The broken part is in the oil pan and has not caused any damage. The tensioner is replaced on guarantee. Almost three weeks and 2000 kilometers later, MOTORRAD has the Kawasaki equipped with a rear lift kit (standard from June 2000). A 4.5 millimeter thick spacer on the lower strut mount ensures that the 249 kilograms gain a touch more maneuverability without endangering superb straight-line stability even at top speed. The fact that the 1200 covered more than half of the test distance on the autobahn is due on the one hand to the sheer power that you can experience right here, on the other hand to the excellent wind protection and the moderate seating position. Travel and lawn ?? the ZX-12R combines two opposites.
This is reflected in the quite high average consumption of 8.1 liters per 100 kilometers. 5.9 liters marked the minimum, 11.2 the maximum ?? 20 liters of tank volume can be pretty tight. At the beginning of November 2000, mileage 30166, onliner Andreas Schulz had problems starting up. The clutch briefs, the linings are worn and need to be replaced. Two months later, on January 8, 2001, colleague Siggi Güttner began to lurch on the slippery road and fell so unfavorably on the alternator cover that it got a hairline crack and released the oil. Güttner drives home, only notices the crack later. To prevent consequential damage, the ZX-12R will be dismantled on February 17, 2001 at Kawasaki Germany in the presence of MOTORRAD and the bearings will be checked. Everything OK. During the inspection, the technicians discover a defective fuel sensor and a crack in the manifold and replace the parts including the tank on guarantee. At this point in time nothing can be seen of the impending gearbox damage.
Apart from a cracked tank lock that annoys some drivers for several hundred kilometers, the ZX-12R hums unobtrusively until June 10, 2001. Service manager Holger Hertneck rolls to a gas station in Trento, Italy, with a jerky rear wheel: One of the rear wheel bearings is defective, both will be exchanged under warranty, let’s continue.
B.is almost three weeks later the test ended abruptly at 2.34 a.m. The remnants of the transmission are currently at Kawasaki in Japan and are being carefully examined. Not only the MOTORRAD team hopes that it will really remain an isolated case.

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Kawasaki ZX-12R endurance test
The top dog

Individual case?

Since, according to Kawasaki Germany, no similar defect has occurred worldwide so far, it must currently be assumed that there is an isolated case. In the event of indefinable noises from the engine area or deterioration in the shiftability of the gearbox, ZX-12R owners should nevertheless visit a workshop as a precaution. MOTORRAD remains on the ball and will report immediately and in detail on the results of the further investigation.

Reading experiences

I bought a 2000 model in March 2001 and have now covered 5000 kilometers with it. I think the windbreak and the stable chassis are great. First and foremost, I have to complain about the high fuel consumption. In everyday use between nine and ten liters run through the injection nozzles, on the highway it is even 10.5 liters. But the unclean engine running is also a point of criticism. Extreme constant travel jolting occurs between 4000 and 6000 rpm. The thick rear tire is also noticeable in narrow passages. The Dunlop D 207 lasted almost 5000 kilometers. However, the very gentle (and annoying) run-in phase must be taken into account. Berthold Buck, Stuttgart Since April 2000 I have covered 11,500 trouble-free kilometers. Reasons to buy were the promised unbelievable power and strong styling. I don’t know any chassis problems. The new set-up improved the driving characteristics somewhat from August 2000. The only drawback of the ZX-12R is the high fuel consumption (minimum 6.5 l / 100 km) at country road speed. At high speeds, the consumption (maximum 11 liters) is okay considering the driving performance. The installation of an MRA spoiler screen increases the excellent protective effect of the fairing even more, an LSL superbike handlebars improved the handling considerably. I am super happy with the bike. It’s unrivaled, I would buy it again anytime. Wilfried Kaufhold My motorcycle was registered in June 2000 and ridden all year round, including winter. In February 2001 the valve flew out of the rim at a speed of 280 km / h, the aluminum nut that was supposed to hold it was broken. The centrifugal force released the valve from the rim and caused a total loss of pressure. There was no accident. When checking the nut of the front valve nut with an open-end wrench (only slightly tightened) it broke immediately. In March 2001 I sold the machine at 13500 kilometers. That was too dangerous for me in the long run. Ulrich Kramer, Arnsberg

Kawasaki takes a position

…About the vibrations Vibrations on the ZX-12R are not unknown to us. We passed on information about such problems to the manufacturer in Japan. In individual cases, strong vibrations can be reduced by precisely synchronizing the injection system. With the model A1, built in 2000, the phenomenon is well known. There was a recommendation to dealers to check the setting of the throttle valve potentiometer on machines with extreme constant travel jerking. In some cases, replacing the production ECU (control unit) with a unit specially developed for operation at high altitudes could improve the situation. This phenomenon no longer occurs with the model A2, built in 2001. Due to the electronic speed limit to 299 km / h and the associated change in the injection map, the 2000 models cannot be equipped with the ECU unit of the 2001 model. … to the defective timing chain tensioner So far there have been no related problems. An untypical damage … to the worn clutch The clutch on the ZX-12R is by no means undersized. Excessive loads and operating errors can be the cause of rapid wear. Furthermore it is absolutely necessary to adhere to the oil quality SE, SF or SG (for SH or SJ with JASO MA specification) prescribed by Kawasaki. No so-called "low-viscosity oils" may be used, as these contain additives that not only attack the clutch plate linings, but in extreme cases can also odd the lubricating performance. … to the wobbly tank lock We are not aware of any such problems. Due to constant contact with petrol, lubricant could have been washed out of the lock mechanism. A few drops of all-purpose oil can work wonders … on the wheel bearing damage It is possible that water got into the bearings after cleaning with the steam jet, causing corrosion. We regard this damage as an isolated case. … about gearbox damage Kawasaki has not known of a similar case anywhere in the world. No meaningful reconstruction of the course of the damage or a cause can be derived from the visual examination of the debris. We will send the gearbox to the manufacturer in Japan for a detailed examination and material test as soon as possible. The finding is decisive for further steps. However, there is no cause for concern until it is finally resolved.


Maintenance and repairs on 44,212 kilometers (parts) Prices in marks Brake pads (2x front, 1x rear) a total of 462.62Chain set 626.15Chain grinder 53.16Fuel sensor, tank and manifold guaranteeCoupling 341.57Wheel bearing guaranteeTaillight bulb 6.09Timing chain tensioner guarantee Inspections and wearing parts, repairs and parts 3075, 37 * tires (including assembly, balancing and disposal) 5953.88 Fuel (3582 liters at 1.95 DM) 6984.90 Total costs 16014.15 Purchase price 26590 Depreciation 10260 Estimate price (dealer dirty price) 16300Costs per kilometer (without depreciation) 0.36Costs per kilometer (with depreciation) 0.59 * 36000 inspection was carried out at Kawasaki Germany during dismantling due to suspected lack of oil and not calculated

Maintenance and repairs

Maintenance and repairsRear tires changed Dunlop D 207 4079 Tires changed front and rear Dunlop D 207 8297Rear tires changed Dunlop D 207 13514 Tires changed front and rear Dunlop D 207, front and rear brake pads changed 18597 Tires front and rear changed Bridgestone BT 011/010 21682 Tires changed front and rear BT 011/010 28612 Chainset and grinder changed 28757 Clutch and brake pads front and rear changed 30166 Fuel sensor, tank and manifold changed (guarantee) 32041 Tires front and rear changed Michelin Pilot Sport HPX 34048 Front brake pads changed 40132 Front and rear tires changed Michelin Pilot Sport HPX 42568

Condition of the parts

The running surface of the camshaft is good, but the bearing points are not running optimally. The seats of the exhaust valves are slightly hammered in and also show slight traces of fire. Cylinders The cylinder liners show very little scoring, the pistons have an excellent contact pattern. They have no grooves whatsoever and only slight running marks on the top land. The running pattern of the piston pins and connecting rod eyes is very good, but all connecting rod bearings show slight traces of wear. Crankshaft All crankshaft main bearings show minor signs of wear, but are dimensionally accurate. Clutch Unobjectionable but clear traces of wear on the clutch basket, the clutch hub on the other hand is in good condition. Gearbox Major gearbox damage from the breakage of the fourth gear on the output shaft. Chassis Only very little corrosion, all bearings in good condition.


Initial measurement Mileage 1623 Maximum speed km / h 303 Acceleration 0-100 km / h sec 2.60-140 km / h sec 4.20-180 km / h sec 5.9 Pulling 60-100 km / h sec 3.7100-140 km / h sec 3, 8140-180 km / h sec 3.7 Average consumption over 44212 kilometers Fuel (normal) l / 100 km 8.1 Engine oil l / 1000 km not measurable

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