Sunday, August 12, 2007

Fast Past: Gary Nixon rides the Kawasaki ZX-RR

The 2006, 990cc, 240bhp Kawasaki Ninja ZX-RR. Below (left) Gary Nixon and (right) the mid-1970s Kawasaki KR750 which Nixon used to race...

 It’s often said that most of today’s motorcycle racers are not ‘hard’ enough to have raced in the 1960s and 70s. With tyre / brakes / suspension technologies lagging behind power outputs, and no electronic wizardry to help riders control their machines, motorcycle racing in that era was certainly very different from what it is now. But how would it be if a racer from that period got to grips with a modern-day MotoGP machine?

Motorcycle Cruiser have an answer to that question. They’ve done this feature where legendary American racer from the 1960s/70s, Gary Nixon gets to have a go on a 2006 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-RR. Nixon, now about 65 years old, won the Daytona 200 in 1967 and AMA Grand National Championships in 1967 and 68.

Shinya Nakano and the 2006 Kawasaki ZX-RR MotoGP machine are the only reasons why we've posted this pic here. Honest...

The last bike Nixon raced was a mid-1970s Kawasaki KR750, a two-stroke Formula 750 beast with a wild, three-cylinder 750cc engine. The bike weighed about 140kg and with 120 horsepower on tap, top speed was close to 280km/h. The 2006 ZX-RR MotoGP machine has a 990cc, four-stroke engine that makes 240 horsepower. Top speed is 320km/h.

So what does Nixon think of the ZX-RR? He says that a Yamaha R1 which he recently rode, feels like a minibike compared with the MotoGP Kawasaki. ‘The guys that race these bikes aren't just from different countries, they're from a different planet! Anyone involved in this scene – especially journalists – should ride one of these bikes before they write about the guys that race them,’ he says...

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