In April of 2004 my wonderful wife gave me the birthday present of my life~ a brand new 2003 Kawasaki ZX9R. 900 cc's of road pounding power.
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~This pic was from my first good ride on the bike up to Skaggs Springs Road and down to the California coast. ~
I actually went in to look at a Z1000 but after talking to some of the guys at the shop, I realized that the ZX9R was going to be a better bike for it's intended purpose than the Z1000. Since track days are part of my riding, having suspension that I could tune for the task at hand was important to me. The ZX9R has fully adjustable suspension front and rear, rebound, compression, and preload are all adjustable. I've got one set of settings that I use for the track, then soften things way up for the street and long trips. When I bought the bike I didn't realize I would own more than one bike quite so soon so I was really looking for one bike to do everything, with an emphasis on street riding. We had to find a bike that met our budget, was brand new, and would still do all the things I wanted it to. Had you asked me one year earlier if I ever thought I'd end up with a ZX9R I'd have told you to go jump in a lake.
Still has carbs so it can take a bit of warming up before it's ready to rock and roll. Picking the bike up off the stand one of the first things you notice is that this is a pretty big bike. The tank is wide and makes you spread your legs much more than a twin or a 600. The reach to the bars is not bad for a sport bike. After getting off the KTM the bars feel really low but compared to some sportbikes/race reps out there, it's not horrible. Seat is wide and flat. Pick the bike up and get rolling and it feels balanced and smooth. When braking hard or in quick direction changes you really notice the weight. Oh yeah, it's pretty quick also. The motor pulls hard from just about anywhere and on street rides you can pretty much just use 3rd gear the whole day. It's taken me a while to learn how to ride this thing correctly, and I still have a lot to learn. I'm used to riding 600's where you need to rev the snot out of them and stoke the gear box often to make quick progress. I find myself slipping back into old habits and keeping the gearbox busy when I really don't have to. The motor is smooth and feels electric compared to the single cylinder of the KTM