Bikes: Kawasaki revs up with 200mph in its sights

For a start, there is the Kawasaki ZZR-1400.

This hyper-sports tourer (bikes that are nearly as fast as sports bikes but with bigger frames and longer wheelbases, so more comfortable for touring) boasts a stonking 170bhp and claims to be the most powerful production engine Kawasaki has made.

Some years back, a gentleman’s agreement was reached between manufacturers that no bike was to exceed 186mph. Honda’s Super Blackbird and Suzuki’s Hayabusa have remained virtually untouched and have thus become the brilliant but forgotten relatives of the bike family. Rumour has it that the ZZR-1400 will do 0-60mph in 2.6sec. That’s about as fast as Bugatti’s new £810,000 Veyron but around £800,000 cheaper. Will the ZZR-1400 be the first bike to break the gentleman’s agreement and top 200mph, or will it just reach 186mph in record-breaking time? Either way, I want to ride it.

Honda’s armchair on wheels, the Goldwing, is the first bike to get an airbag. Yes, an airbag (though I only have Honda’s word for it because I still haven’t yet figured out a way to test it). It can only be a matter of time before the Goldwing is fitted with an ashtray.

Honda is also showing off its new CBF1000. It may have the former Fireblade engine, but there’s nothing racy about this middleweight all-rounder. Although it looks dull and sounds even duller, it’s sure to tickle someone’s fancy.

For adrenaline junkies there are new sports bikes, including Kawasaki’s ZX10R and Yamaha’s £13,500 limited-edition YZF-R1SP. And if Honda’s Fireblade wasn’t sharp enough for you last year, you’ll be keen to know the power-to-weight ratio has improved still further.

These are just a few of the reasons to visit the NEC, so prepare your credit card for a battering.

The show is on at the NEC from October 29 to November 6

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