Our collector friend from Utah is at it again. If you're not sure about whom I'm talking, check out this uber-rare Kawasaki KR-1R that he is selling from his collection. That is the caliber of model and condition that Gary brings to the table, and the two 400s pitted up against each other at auction today are no different. In one corner, you have a 1993 Kawasaki ZXR400R in original OEM condition. In the other corner, a rare 1989 Suzuki GSX-R400SP with exhaust. The problem is you can only pick one. I wouldn't care which one I scored; both are simply gorgeous. Let's meet the players:
When Kawasaki introduced the first ZXR400R model in 1989, it was the fastest of its peer group. With seemingly more grunt (although still adhering to Japanese home market power output limitations) and the highest top speed, it was the bad boy to have in the home market and in Europe. Interesting fact is that peak HP changed very little over the years of the model run; Kawasaki opting to bolster the torque curve in subsequent iterations rather than shooting for peak numbers. Again, this likely had more to do with home market regulations, but the result was a great all around mount: reasonably comfortable for commuting (or getting to the twisty bits), great handling due to small-ish size and weight (about 350 lbs dry), top-shelf components (upside down fork, Uni-trak, aluminum chassis, slipper clutch) and the ability to hit nearly 140 MPH on the straights. Here in the US, where the only real 400 we saw was the FZR, the Kawasaki reeked of performance in the sort of unobtainable way that made hardcore riders want them all the more. While this is not the rarest of the rare, finding a good clean example in the US is definitely not an everyday occurrence. That is the reason the last ZXR400 Gary listed was snapped up; good examples of rare bikes never last long at auction.
From the seller:
The first bike is a 1993 Kawasaki ZXR400R M model with only 3,318 kilometers (2,061miles). It is in mint condition and is completely stock. All fairings and components are 100% genuine OEM Kawasaki. Original tires, chain and sprockets along with factory warning labels. You NEVER see JDM bikes like this one.
Suzuki was way ahead of the 400 game with the GSX-R; first released as a 1984 model, it had all the wonderful slab-sided uniqueness of its bigger brothers. And like the original GSX-R ideology, the 400 was light - undercutting the competition by several pounds (read: 20+ lbs); on a smaller bike, that is significant. As the model evolved, some of that weight came back. In 1988, the GXR-R400 gained a brand new (stiffer) chassis - known as the GK73A - accounting for some of that weight gain. In the end, the 400 Gixxer is on par with the Kawasaki in the weight department (approx 350 dry). This 1989 SP model was intended as a homologation unit for racing. Don't get your hopes up on more power, however; home market bikes were all capped on HP, and in the end all reported about the same (or very similar) numbers: 59 HP. What the SP model got you was the solo accommodations, upgraded suspension (including a remote reservoir rear shock) and a close-ratio transmission. The 1989 model also introduced the braced swingarm, adding pounds but aiding handling - and looking super cool at the same time. Like the Kawasaki, this was a model never officially brought into the US. That makes it rare Stateside, but the SP model is also pretty rare in the rest of the world as well. Arguably, the GSX-R is the least common of the 400cc class and as SPs were intended for racing, finding a clean survivor is not easy.
From the seller:
The second choice is a very rare 1989 Suzuki GSX-R400 SP (Sports Production) with 8,690 kilometers (5400 miles). It is in mint condition also with only a few small scratches on the left side on the rear fairing from rubbing against another bike during shipping. All fairings and components are 100% genuine OEM Suzuki except for the Yoshimura Cyclone full exhaust. The original OEM factory Suzuki exhaust is included with the sale of this bike. This baby RK comes with brand new Bridgestone Battlax tires. The bike color looks black indoors. It is actually metallic dark blue when outside in the sunlight. The metallic blue sparkle really pops in the sun. Its gorgeous!
From the seller:
This is a "Your Choice" auction. The winning bidder will get their choice of bikes. You don't get both, just one, for your high bid. These bikes are premium examples with extremely low miles, collector quality. Both bikes run like the day they were new. Both come with Utah titles and they are titled as street motorcycles for road use. These are rare premium bikes in premium condition for a premium price. Rare low mileage bikes like these don't come around often. If you would like more pictures please contact me and I will send you all the photos you want. $500 deposit thru PayPal due immediately after auctions end. Bike to be paid in full within 5 business days. Again, Winning bidder gets their choice of bikes. You don't get both, just one bike of your choice for your winning bid.
Well there you have it. Let the battle commence. Performance wise, the latter stages of bike development during this time was up against the Japanese power regulations; there is not too much to choose on that front. How each of these bikes delivers on that performance is a very unique experience, however. Drool over the pictures, and this pick your sides. Are you into Team Green and do you go for the ZXR based on brand loyalty? Do you lust after the GSX-R SP? Maybe it's time to raid the 401k and the kid's college fund and make Gary a serious offer on both (just don't forget that KR-1R while your at it). Check both bikes out here, and Good Luck!!