I need a new (used) commuter bike and am looking at a low-mileage 2000 Kawasaki ZR-7 (750cc). Anyone have anything good or bad to say about them, and anything in particular I should look for when I check it out? Many thanks.
I recently bought a 2001 zr7S and went through the whole thing including upgrading the fork internals. I have two other naked bikes. A 2017 z900 and a zrx1200r.
I can say this, though down on pòwer compared to the other two... I love it.
It's one of the more comfortable bikes I've owned and it moves out just fine for real world riding.
No liquid cooling is a bonus come maintenance time.
When you go check out the bike tell the owner you want to hear it cold start after it's been sitting overnight. These bikes can be finicky starting cold if the valves need adjustment.
If it has been maintained and it runs right it will continue to do so, they're reliable. Remember, it's not a superbike, just a good old fashioned good bike.
A main advantage of the 7 over the 7S is you don't have to be concerned with the bothersome fairing buzz.
I have a thread with a similar title you may want to read through. I put a bunch of stuff in there about my refurbishing and got excellent feedback from the members here. I'll try to link it.
Hi all, I'm going to look at a '01 7S tomorrow. It has 19,000 miles on it and by the pictures looks immaculate. I have not yet spoken to the owner so I know nothing of the bike. I'll check for a rusty gas tank, leaky fork, shock seals. Brakes. Sniff the oil. Start it and listen to the engine...
I'd say buy it. I love mine. Does it do any one thing great, not really. What it does excel in is it does everything pretty well. It's a fairly robust bike, easy to work on (relatively speaking - troublesome issues are still troublesome, just not as many factors that could be the culprits...)
As for what to check... check the chain and the brakes. That's always a good sign of how / if it was taken care of.
Also if you buy it download a copy of the service manual. You can find the pdf versions online for free, or if you can't just ask and we can show you where to get them
In 2002, I bought a gently used 2001 zr-7s and kept it until 2016. Put about 20,000 miles on it. Except for a blown rear shock and bad starter it was reliable and low maintenance. As noted above the fairing had an annoying buzz that I could never eliminate despite taking it apart twice and putting foam tape everywhere. That’s when I started wearing ear plugs whenever I rode. Overall I would say it was just average. The motor is strong, especially low in the rpm range given that it is a smallish four cylinder engine.
It was comfortable though my current Versys 650 is better. It’s heavy and wallows a bit when cornering if the road surface is not smooth. The Suzuki SV650 of the same vintage was a better all round bike, but they were more popular and therefore probably more expensive on the used market.
The only problem I've ever had with my ZR-7 (and I have been riding it, on and off, for 20+ years now) is that the starter motor carked. Replacement was pretty easy (even for me, once I realised there are actually 4 screws holding the starter motor cover, and not 3). I managed to get a replacement in good condition from a wrecker for $AUD75 instead of paying $AUD600 for a new one.
I have owned a 2001 ZR-7s since 2007. It was my second bike after a Katana 750 and I still have it while the sport bike is long gone. I love the ZR. Very easy to work on, extremely reliable and relatively cheap to fix. It is not going to win any track days but it handles nice enough and is fast enough for street riding. I have used mine as a city commuter and a long distance tourer. Went 8,000 miles in 2 months zig zagging from Michigan to California and back in 2007 and did a Washington DC to South Dakota ride in 2019.
Zero mechanical issues, just added gas and changed the oil. Big tank (5.8 gallons), neutral riding position, and I get 47-57mpg so you can go far on a tank. The oil/air cooled engine is old tech but it is in a lower state of tune making it very durable. All that said I have done a number of modifications to mine and I enjoy doing preventative maintenance.
Things to look out for.
Valve adjustment. These bikes do need manual valve adjustment and it should not be ignored. Ask when it was last done and do follow the advice others noted on the cold start. If properly adjusted you should hear a slight tapping/rattle sound from the upper part of the engine when it starts. If you are used to modern liquid cooled engines it will sound like something is wrong but loose valves are better than tight valves. It is not a huge deal and a mechanic can do the adjustment if you don’t want to but if the valves are damaged from neglect it will be an issue.
If you buy it:
Do the brakes. New pads, new fluid, check the rotors and change the brake lines. You can get new rubber for not too much and I would recommend upgrading to braided steel lines.
The stock suspension is soft and after 20 years you should definitely rebuild the forks and rear shock (even if they look ok). There are lots of threads on fork rebuilds and upgrades.
It is carbureted so if you are not comfortable working on carbs make sure you know an old school mechanic who is and have them cleaned and properly. If you want to rejet there are plenty of threads on that. I have a Ivans kit that has worked really well.
Check the oil sight glass to make sure the oil is not old, low, or has gas in it. This bike has a vacuum operated petcock that can fail with age and send gas through the carbs into the engine and eventually fill the crank. The petcock is easy to rebuild with kits online but something to be aware of.
If you are getting a misfire (listen/check the exhaust headers with a temp gun to see if one is cooler than the other) and the carbs are clean then check out the ignition coils and wires. Probably a good thing to just swap out in general after 20 years. I did mine last year and my MPG went from ~45 to over 55.
Finally, there are freeze fittings under the swing arm. Usr them.
In short, I have really liked the ZR. I think it is a solid bike and should not disappoint as long as you are reasonable in what you expect it to do. It is a 20 year old bike so be ready to do some maintenance and it should take care of you.
I got my 2000 ZR7 in 2007 with 7000 miles. I have put another 24000 on it. I used it mostly for commuting back and forth to work and a weekend trip or two per year. I have upgraded the front fork springs, the rear shock and a few other things. I love the bike. I also put a Corbin seat on it and that definitely helped on longer rides. It's nothing fancy, it just always works and is fun to ride. Every year I contemplate upgrading but then can't bring myself to do it. If your looking for something high tech, this isn't it, but there's something about it I love. Good luck.
Slightly off topic...
To the above posters.. If you want to vastly improve the forks for not much more money than the price of the Racetech cartridge emulators I suggest the Traxxion Dynamics "Axxion Rods". They are cnc damper rods fitted with real cartridge shim stack valves, not just pop off valves such as what the Racetech units are.
They will turn the ZR forks as close as possible to cartridge forks. They are $299 per set including the shims set up for your riding style by Traxxion. At this point you install the proper springs and spacers for your weight, new oil, seals and wipers. The whole kit including seals springs, spacers and oil cost me $478.
It is what I did and cannot recommend them enough. I have no connection to Traxxion except a totally satisfied customer. Worth at least a call to them.