Kawasaki ZRX1200R: 5000 mile review

The ZRX1200R is a cult bike – much like Reservoir Dogs and the Big Lebowski – either you get it or you don’t. This is an old-school retro muscle bike with a few modern touches. It’s been out of production for over a decade now and the only people who care about it are the enthusiasts. If you’ve started your riding career in the last decade you probably don’t care about it much.

Anyway, the bike is all engine, all torque, all muscle. The engine builds power amazingly well through the rev range and keeps me smiling all the time. It’s very easy to wheelie, easier than the Ninja 1000. The 45 tooth (+3) sprocket on the rear helps, but it’s just a matter of blipping the throttle and going wide open to bring up the front end. Very easy in first gear, but possible in second gear too. My bike has a dynojet stage 3 kit, muzzy header and a Dan-moto pipe. The muffler is very quiet at idle, but makes a nice growl when the engine is revved up.

The ergos on the bike are fully upright and extremely comfortable. The seat is plush (Mr. Wog pleated seat) and it looks as good as it feels. The handlebars are wide and the bike requires very little effort to turn. On the freeway the air flow is clean with no turbulence or buffeting. The bike offers a lot of storage under the seat. With the Ted’s battery out kit, it is actually possible to fit a whole gallon of milk there!

The ZRX has an active and vibrant enthusiast community. I’ve made many friends through that community and they have been very helpful when working on the bike. I never thought I could rebuild a set of forks or carbs, but that was possible with a lot of help from the forums. Parts are cheaply & readily available and a lot of different Kawasaki parts can be used interchangeably. These bikes are truly easy to work on – pull the tank off in 2 minutes – and everything is right there.

The other thing about the ZRX is that it gets a lot of attention. Anywhere I go people come over to look at it and talk about it. Most people ask “What year is that?” and are usually surprised to hear that it’s a 2004. Every now and then a knowledgeable person comes up, recognizes it’s a ZRX and says “Nicely done!”.


With all this being said, the ZRX is a joy. From a 450 mile tour to a trackday, it can do everything and it does it in style. I’m truly happy with this bike and it will always have a special place in my heart.

2 thoughts on “Kawasaki ZRX1200R: 5000 mile review”

    1. I like the look of that. Great looking pipe! What is it? I have a stock 2008 in classic Kawasaki green. I love it , it has character that keeps growing year by year. I grew up in the era of big naked muscle bikes but always seemed to be drawn to RD Yamahas and other sporty two strokes. I always regretted not getting a big 1100, but the ZRX has filled that vacant spot. Nice article, everything you said is spot on. I’m in Perth, Western Australia and not many ZRX’s around , so this will be a keeper. Stay safe.

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