Proof That Modern Isn’t Always Better: Tricked Out Old Kawasaki Ninja ZX-12R Attempts To Prevail Over A Yamaha YZF-R1

The Ninja ZX-12R was one of the fastest motorcycles of its time. But is it fast enough to keep up with the new kids? Find out here!

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Modern-day sportbikes, such as the Yamaha YZF-R1, are super fast. That being said, true blue enthusiasts still remain adamant that there’s just something about the raw performance of old-school sportbikes with no electronic leash around their necks, such as the Kawasaki Ninja ZX-12R.

Can’t pick a side of your own? Well, let this drag race between a Kawasaki Ninja ZX-12R and a Yamaha YZF-R1 help you make up your mind.

The Competitors

Proof That Modern Isn't Always Better: Tricked Out Old Kawasaki Ninja ZX-12R Attempts To Prevail Over A Yamaha YZF-R1
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The first contender in this race is the Kawasaki Ninja ZX-12R, that puts out 178hp and 101 lb-ft from its 1199cc, four-cylinder engine

The first contender in this race is the motorcycle responsible for the 299kmph (186mph) speed restriction, the almighty Kawasaki Ninja ZX-12R. With its 1,199cc inline-four engine, the then-flagship Ninja put out 178 horsepower and 101 pound-feet while weighing 545 pounds (wet).

The bike featured here though isn’t stock and has been specifically prepped up for drag racing as evident by the extended swingarm, free-flow exhaust, and aftermarket bodywork.

Proof That Modern Isn't Always Better: Tricked Out Old Kawasaki Ninja ZX-12R Attempts To Prevail Over A Yamaha YZF-R1
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Next up, we have a 2014 Yamaha R1. This features a 998cc, inline-four engine pumping out 182hp and 85 lb-ft

Waving the modern sportbike flag is the Yamaha YZF-R1. This right here is a 2014 model which made 182 horsepower and 85 pound-feet from its 998cc, four-cylinder engine and weighed 454 pounds (wet).

There aren’t any major updates to the bike apart from what looks like a full-system Akrapovic exhaust.

Kawasaki Ninja ZX-12R vs Yamaha YZF-R1 Drag Race

Proof That Modern Isn't Always Better: Tricked Out Old Kawasaki Ninja ZX-12R Attempts To Prevail Over A Yamaha YZF-R1
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Without further ado, let’s get to the drag race.

As soon as the lights go green, the Yamaha R1 rider nails the reaction time, getting an early jump over the Kawasaki. However, that lead was short-lived because once the ZX-12R, with its looong swingarm, got going, it managed to put its power down far more efficiently than the wheelie-ing R1.

Proof That Modern Isn't Always Better: Tricked Out Old Kawasaki Ninja ZX-12R Attempts To Prevail Over A Yamaha YZF-R1
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Now, swipe up to know which bike actually won. PS - We’re pretty sure you’re on the wrong camp!

Ultimately, this helped the Ninja ZX-12R fly past the R1, giving it the win by nearly 1.5 seconds.

Check out their quarter-mile times below:

Bike Time Speed
Yamaha R1 11.274s 138mph
Kawasaki Ninja ZX-12R 9.893s 148mph

What Did We Learn?

Proof That Modern Isn't Always Better: Tricked Out Old Kawasaki Ninja ZX-12R Attempts To Prevail Over A Yamaha YZF-R1
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So which bike is your money on?

Well, we can’t really conclude that the Kawasaki Ninja ZX-12R is simply faster than the YZF-R1 because it did have a few noteworthy modifications done to it. Plus, the R1 rider was struggling with wheelies, so clearly the R1 can still go much faster, even in its stock form.

Nevertheless, there are no two ways to it that the Ninja ZX-12R in terms of pure performance is still fast as ever and right up there with modern sportbikes.

Punya Sharma
Punya Sharma
An avid motorcyclist who's always up for a ride to the canyons or the race track. My riding skills are better than my writing skills. ;)  Read full bio
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