2012 Kawasaki ZX-14R | Doin' Time

Staffers’ Rides

Wrist: Dave Sonsky
MSRP (2012): $14,699
Miles: 4225
MPG: 36
Mods: None

Unlike any of the longterm test bikes I've had the pleasure of calling my own over the years, the ZX-14R hasn't required a lot in the way of aftermarket upgrades (and post-purchase cash) to get it performing in a way that best suits my riding style. The electronics have been flawless, and I've found that my left thumb flicks through settings before and during each ride, even if it's just a quick errand. That speaks volumes about the rider's ability to customize the bike for various conditions, and not just superficially. The power and traction-control settings were likely designed more with safety in mind than to find the optimum combination for max wheelspin, backfires and front end lift, but I'm riding like a fool safely, so in the end it all comes around.

I set my solo silliness aside recently when the wife requested a Saturday run "like we used to do on the 'Busa." She was referring to the canyon rides we often took on a 2008 Hayabusa testbike that she adored for its speed and comfort combo-the same reason owners cherish theirs. She was more impressed with the ZX-14's acceleration but prefers the Hayabusa's stepped seat because it props her up higher over the pilot's head where she can better see the road and the dash. Can't please 'em all.

Prior to the aforementioned ride I performed the standard safety check (tire pressures, chain tension, etc.) when it occurred to me that the stock tires had more than 4000 miles on them, including a track day. While the Metzeler Sportec M5 Interact rear is nearing the end of its life cycle, it hasn't surrendered yet. Despite scores of freeway commuter miles it hasn't thinned out abnormally in the narrow path where 180+ horses routinely trounce. I was surprised and impressed, particularly considering the consistent abuse it regularly receives. I definitely endorse this tire for any high-horsepower sportbike.

That’s one hardy Metzeler. After more than 4000 miles—much of it on one wheel—the stock rear tire is getting near the end but is definitely not dead.