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Beware Rexzilla – Twin Turbo Kawasaki ZRX1200

Some bikes are built for comfort, others for speed, and some, like this ZRX1200, to simply be terrifying!

Kawasaki zrx1200 twin tubo outside in the leaves ridier facing side shot

When Kawasaki’s ZRX1200R arrived in North America for model year 2001, it was lauded as the successor to the factory’s ZRX1100, the so-called Eddie Lawson Replica, a tribute bike to the multi-time Grand Prix champion.

The revised ZRX1200 R landed on showroom floors smack dab in the middle of that era’s sportbike wars when major revisions were made to the category practically every year. The assignment for the new ZRX was to bring more horsepower to the street standard class, arriving with extra cubes while outputting a factory-spec 122 hp and 80 foot-pounds torque.

All of which pales in comparison to Dan Hawley’s dragstrip-inspired interpretation of the 2005 ZRX1200, a highly worked Street Fighter-style custom the London, Ontario resident lovingly calls, Rexzilla. 

From the triple-bank of LED Speed Demon lights at the front to the Vee Rubber 360-section tire mounted on an All American solid rim at the back, it’s an amazingly complex build that challenges you to stop and take a second look at every feature.

That fat tire for example is about as big as the market has to offer and to accommodate the sheer size of the rubber it’s tethered to a chromed custom swingarm. 

The entire rear end is custom built including a fabricated jackshaft setup to transfer power to that big tire.

Practically any rear wheel shod with monster rubber has the effect of displacing the drive sprocket from the centerline of the frame. 

Consequently the drive belt or chain must also be displaced from the centerline to pass around the wider tire. The solution is to mount an intermediate shaft (jackshaft) between the output gear and the rear wheel.

Hawley, the builder, custom fabricator and owner reckons he’s invested between $35,000 and $40,000 in the creation of Rexzilla and considering the many gleaming details such as the custom triple trees, the covers, and brackets, it’s a safe bet the heavy chrome package was a major hit to the build budget. (Hawley credits Mel Harris at Plating Master in London for the shiny work.)

And of course it’s practically impossible not to be drawn into the scoops of the twin custom-built Kuryakyn intakes. They dominate the lower front and lead the way into a mind-altering twin turbo arrangement with a further kick in the pants coming from a pair of NOS bottles mounted like Sea Sparrow missiles to the tail section. 

Kawasaki zrx1200 twin tubo outside in the leaves

That’s a lot of boost for Kawasaki Zrx1200’s stock 1164cc inline four, with horsepower being in the 200-250 range, according to Hawley’s tuning with tech support coming from Sparky’s Performance Center in Tilbury, Ontario, and a custom wiring harness by Revolution Performance.

Controlling delivery of all that fearsome power is a drag race-style Pingel air shift with custom Auto Meter mini digital gauges and shift light, as well as an onboard air compressor, all of which ultimately depend on power originating from a Lithium battery housed in a custom box with clean sparks coming via Accel coils and NGK wires, and coolant flowing through a custom rad built by London’s A. C. E. Radiator.

(While we’re in the process of handing out credit, Hawley also extends special thanks to his wife Sherry and friend John Zurich for the build’s success.)

Kawasaki zrx1200 twin turbo outside in the leaves with rider

Though Rexzilla carries Kawasaki’s superbike program-derived stock six-piston brakes, suspension has been heavily upgraded with the inclusion of custom triple trees, a front end rebuilt by Race Tec, and a triple-shock setup at the back that sees a scavenge oil pump mounted underneath and the air shift tank above.

The rider of this insane beast is comfortably nestled into a Corbin seat but comfort is a relative term when you’re talking about a twin-turbo monster ZRX1200 named Rexzilla!

• John Campbell,  Canadian Biker Issue #346

• Photos: Maximilian Simson Photography

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