< AllMoto's Motorcycle Investor mag


allmoto logo

Motorcycle Investor mag

Subscribe to our free email news


Completing the set

(Travels with Guido 368, Mar 2023)

kawasaki zx-12r

Adding number three to the lunatic end of the shed

It was time to revive the fly-ride program. The catalyst was re-reading our 2020 profile on Kawasaki's mighty ZX-12R and noticing there so far wasn't one in the shed. And there needed to be.

hayabusa blackbird

You see I'm a fan of 1990s-to-early-2000s big-statement performance motorcycles, such as Honda Blackbird and Suzuki Hayabusa. Examples of which are in the fleet. From a performance hound point of view there was one bike missing, namely Kawasaki's ZX-12R – or the premium Ninja in some markets, launched on the cusp of the century.

Why not? Well, I've been busy...distracted.

Was there also a Yamaha that qualified, to complete the 'big four' Japanese group? No, not really. I've owned a couple of FZR1000s, but they are from an earlier era, while an R1 (lovely as it is) also belongs to a different set, namely pure sports bikes.

At the time we're talking of, brand Y didn't really have a full-on sports tourer monster in the 290-300km/h club. The closest model was the ultra-capable FJR1300, but that didn't really cut it in this company. Fast, but not hero fast.

Anyway, as a serial obsessive, I kind of started searching the online world for a good ZX-12R. Some of the ones on offer are rubbish, as they've been mistreated. That's the fate of many performance motorcycles – each rider down the ownership trail is less and less well-funded, and the owner often less and less informed. What once started as someone's pride and joy becomes yet another second-hand bike that's kind of kept going.

That's not a criticism – I've been there.

But here's a bit of advice for would-be sellers: Don't try to tell me how terrifyingly fast it is – I already know; And don't show me a bike with obviously dodgy and cobbled-up mods without some explanation.

What I'm looking for is a motorcycle that has a reasonable history, with some explanation of its mods. Preferably with the original parts as part of the package. And I found one. At Au$8000 (US$5300, GB£4400), it was a year 2000 example, one of the more expensive offerings on the market and it had a claimed odo reading of 62,000km (38,500 miles).

What really got my attention was I was dealing with the first owner, who had all the books, keys, and original muffler – it's now wearing a Muzzy unit.

A little chat on the speaking trumpet convinced me the bike was genuine, though I wasn't entirely up to speed on a couple of his recollections of its mechanical history. No matter, as a whole it stacked up and we agreed I'd pick it up some weeks later.

Have I done the right thing? The owner will never win an award for photography, but I'm nevertheless reasonably comfortable with the prospect.

Okay, another little note here: Who on earth started this thing where vehicles should be photographed on grass? Unless it's a lawnmower, you've cocked up! Find a goddamn bit of bitumen or concrete.

Anyway, moving on, the plan is to fly to Brisbane and ride it back Melbourne, a mere 1800km (1100 miles) or so. This is part of muggins' ongoing fly-ride program, will be the sixth bike I've done this with in recent years and I can recommend the experience. Or not – it may depend on how the latest acquisition goes.

As for the Kawasaki, this kind of fills out a mental gap in the shed: Blackbird, Hayabusa and ZX-12R. It should be a nice set of top-order predators from the nineties-noughties era. That makes sense, doesn't it?

We'll let you know how we get on...

See our Kawasaki ZX-12R profile here

Blackbird profile here

Hayabusa Gen 1 profile here

Our other fly-ride bikes:




Honda Valkyrie Interstate GL1500CF

Kawasaki GPz900R


More Travels with Guido columns here

More features here

See the bikes in our shed


Produced by AllMoto abn 61 400 694 722
Privacy: we do not collect cookies or any other data.

allmoto logo

Try our books...

Travels with Guido







Email newsletter


News archive


Our Bikes stories

Travels with Guido columns


About AllMoto

Email me