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Fast becomes faster

4th Jan 2015 7:56 am

If Kawasaki’s Ninja ZX-14R wasn’t fast enough, Stuart Lima has turbocharged one to output an insane 280bhp, and we’ve just gotten astride.

At first glance, the green motorcycle in the photos looks like a regular Ninja ZX-14R, sans a side fairing. But this one is a very different beast; a one-of-a-kind custom motorcycle, whose brutish power output will send shivers down your spine. Look closely at the engine, and you will notice several modifications, as well as the lack of a full-sized exhaust. The more mechanically inclined of us might even spot that this ZX-14R has a turbocharger for its already powerful engine. YouTube bikers will certainly be aware there are already some turbocharged ZX-14Rs in the US and Europe. What makes this green monster unique, however, is that all its modifications have been carried out in Mumbai.

Stuart Lima of 7th Gear Customs is a known name in the Indian motorcycle and drag racing circuit. Apart from running a workshop, Stuart partners with Rongom Mukherjee of Elite Octane,’ organising the popular Valley Run drag race held annually at the Aamby Valley airstrip, above Lonavala.

By self admission, Stuart is always on the lookout for more power and more performance. However, the idea of subjecting a ZX-14R to forced induction struck him when he first met Rickey Gadson. Now, Rickey is 11-time world drag racing champion, who sets sub-10 second quarter-mile times on motorcycles for a living. At the 2014 Valley Run, he completed the quarter-mile in 9.843secs on a Ninja ZX-14R, tuned by 7th Gear Customs.

Rickey is used to riding turbocharged motorcycles back home in the US, and pointed out to Stuart that in India everyone runs naturally aspirated motorcycles and there are no turbocharged machines on two-wheels.

That’s when Stuart decided to embark on the project of making a one-of-a-kind motorcycle, the likes of which India hadn’t yet seen. As luck would have it, Sonu, a ZX-14R owner based in Hyderabad approached Stuart as he wanted to improve his quarter-mile times on a dragstrip. Stuart pointed him in the direction of a turbocharged ZX-14R. Most owners would refuse considering this is an expensive proposition, apart from the fact that it had never been achieved in India.

Having worked on a lot of ZX-14Rs and armed with a knowhow of what was required, Stuart and his team of mechanics got to work. A made-to-order turbocharger kit was procured from Garrett.

In naturally aspirated engines, the air first passes through an air-filter before being sucked into the engine via inlet valves. In a turbocharged engine, a turbine wheel is connected, and at higher rpms, propels exhaust gases which spin the compressor faster to suck in more fresh air and force-feed this into the engine inlet tract. In theory, it’s simple, but as Stuart now knows, putting it all together and getting it to work is quite another thing.

On the ZX-14R, things are a bit different as the air filter-box sits within the chassis. Replacing it with aluminium or a carbonfibre box isn’t an option. So, it needed to be prepped first and thoroughly sealed up as there are many minor outlets where air pressure that’s been pulled from the turbine wheel could be lost. Next, the turbo was assembled and bolted onto the exhaust header pipes, doing away with the stock exhaust completely. 

Post this, a lot of other original parts were dispensed with, and several cooling lines, hydraulic and fuel-lines were re-routed. With the turbo running at 4PSI and stock engine internals, Stuart claims his motorcycle currently makes around 280bhp at the rear wheel, a jaw dropping number considering the stock engine already produces a whopping 210bhp, at 10,000rpm. We wanted to experience this beast and managed to coax Stuart into letting us take his bike out for a short spin, before its drag run.

I turned the key, and thumbed the starter to be greeted with a roar, much louder than on the standard bike. Then came a brief wait of about a minute, letting the turbo spool up before guiding the Ninja’s mean nose through the by-lanes of Shivaji Park. Soon enough, I was riding on wider roads. Almost immediately, the ZX-14R gave me a warning, as I made the error of not being gentle enough with my throttle modulation. The rear wheel squealed, as the fat tyre laid down a broad, dark strip on the tarmac. I grabbed a fistful of clutch, promptly shifted into second and gently rolled open the throttle. The front wheel bobbed up without any effort, and the whole world suddenly rushed past as though someone had pressed fast-forward. 

The big Kawasaki’s stock motor is known for blisteringly fast acceleration. However, once the turbo on this motorcycle kicks in at over 2,000rpm, there’s a lethal mid-range post which all hell breaks loose. This process is repeated in every single one of the ZX-14R’s six gears. This turbocharged ZX-14R produces so much power that there’s wheelspin even shifting into fourth if you’re not judicious with throttle control. After covering a few 100 meters, my temples were pounding, hands trembling and brain was still to come to terms with this bike's frantic, road-shrinking pace of acceleration.

Needless to say, this turbo ZX-14R delivers immense performance gains over the stock motorcycle. Its incredibly fast rate of acceleration is clearly superior to any other motorcycle's on Indian roads.

Stuart and his mechanics get a big salute from us for redefining our understanding of what is truly fast and mental on a motorcycle. Now, if you want superior performance from your sportsbike, enough to distinguish yourself from the pack, and have around Rs 4 lakh to spare over and above the cost of your bike, you know whom to call.


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