Why did I do it? I will never know. What am I talking about? Well, I just bought the latest (April 2000) issue of Performance Bikes. The cover story is a group test of the new GSX-R1, 'Blade, R1 and ZX9-R. Now, I know that the ZX9 is not a balls out sportsbike, but I was not sure I was expecting this! The GSX is a brand new bike that was set up to challenge the R1. Not only has it challenged it, but by all accounts, beat it hands down. It would be a bit niave to think the ZX9 was going to threaten the new commer, but slated so much - well, ouch.

Out of the four bikes on test, the GSX strolls away with it. It is obviously an out and out sportsbike, and the performance figures seam to speak for themselves. 143bhp and top speed of 180mph coupled with a weight of 170kg. It has up to a three year headstart and an extra 100cc on some of the contenders. I have never ridden this bike, but don't doubt as a track tool, it is the dogs.

What I am going to moan about is the R1 v 'Blade v zx9. With comments like
"Poor old Kawasaki. Always the last keys on the table"
"starting to feel a bit dated"
"Big and Heavy - Thats how the ZX9 feels"
"So where does the ZX9 go from here?. Down hill fast."

But wait....... lets look at the figures.

Performance ZX9-R CBR929 R1   GSX-R
Power (bhp) 120* 120 131   143
Weight wet (kg) 211 202 207   195
0-60 (s) 3.4 3.2 3.5   2.7
70-0 (s) 3.4 3.4 3.3   3.1
1/4 Mile (s) 10.7 10.5 10.4   10.1
Lap Time (s)

Circuit - Pau Arnos

1:30.45 1:30.41 1:30.66   1:29.07

* - This is known to be low - 125-128bhp is more likely.

Now, for me the final row - Lap Times - is the quite important. It encompasses everything - acceleration (power, weight), aerodynamics, topspeed, handling and confidence. There is NO difference between the first three bikes. Now, the ZX9 and CBR are arguably road bikes first. The R1 - a track bike?. PB argues that it takes more effort to drive the '9 round corners to achieve the same lap times. So what..... However, they were kind enough to point out that the very thing that makes it an effort on the track, makes it a godsend for fast sweeping road stuff. Also, if I am honest, I must admit to the effort side of things. Otherwise, I would never have jacked up the rear end to compensate.

BUT, the GSX-R does whip them all. 1.5 seconds a lap is a HUGE difference.

Without doubt, praise should be given to Suzuki. Am I surprised??? NO. The GSX-R750 should have told everyone what was about to come - excellent handling ALMOST as quick as the 1000cc bikes and certainly as fast. The extra 250cc has done just what you would expect.

The only comment I do fully agree with is "you can't use any of these bikes we tested to their full potential". If you read this article, you would not buy a ZX9 (or probably 'Blade). However, who would not recommend a ZX9 to a friend / prospective buyer?

Ahhh, I feel better now.