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Kawasaki ZX-10R Sports Motorbike Review

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Kawasaki ZX-10R
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MCN overall verdict rating is 4

Kawasaki’s ZX-10R evokes thoughts of rip-roaring power and handling best suited to race circuits. While that may have been the case of the original 2004 model, subsequent models have been diluted to the point where ZX-10R is regarded as a decent on the road superbike but not quite in touch with the competition of the latest Blade, techno-laden R1 and BMW’s S1000RR.
The 2011 Kawasaki ZX-10R is the bike to change this. It is the first of the Japanese bikes to come out fighting against the storming BMW and, based on MCN’s first ride (at Qatar’s Losail circuit), the Kawasaki’s superb blend of handling, braking, usable power and decent suspension will make it a better road bike than the BMW. As for track use? At 198kg fully gassed, the ZX-10R has the best power to weight ratio, and it isn’t as intense to ride as the BMW and so will suit a lot more riders. Good one, Kawasaki.

Engine

MCN rating rating is 4
Owners' rating rating is 4

Kawasaki claims the new ZX-10R produces 197.3bhp at the crankshaft from 82.7ftlb of torque, with a linear delivery of both to the rear wheel. And that’s exactly how it feels to ride. It is very tractable from low rpm, pulling cleanly and without any fuss. And on the track there’s plenty of go in the upper rev ceiling. It’s the bit in between that buyers will use more for road riding and from what can be gleaned from circuit laps the ZX-10R doesn’t lack anything here.
As expected, the motor’s an all new lump, with taller stacked gearbox to reduce size and maximise mass centralisation, and the cylinders are offset by 2mm to the crank to reduce thrust forces and enable shorter, lighter pistons to be used. A secondary balancer shaft keeps vibes to a minimum until near peak revs. Bigger dual-butterfly injectors ensure the bike keeps pulling at high rpm at speed. And for factory produced exhaust downpipes they are stunning to view (build quality) and only need a decent aftermarket end can and link pipe to extract more lunacy. 

Ride and Handling

MCN rating rating is 4
Owners' rating rating is 4

Up front is a pair of Showa 43mm USD Big Piston Front fork. For get the technical advantages but be aware these beauties allow big braking action while retaining the ability to soak up roads and deliver bags of feedback. At the back is a decent ‘horizontally’ mounted single shock. It’s not quite flat as the horizon but it and the linkages are mounted above the swingarm. Clever system and it works – minimal changes to the shock’s settings were made for track abuse.
The end result is a bike whose handling harks back to early 90s ZX and ZX-R 750cc WSB bikes where front end stability and feel is top notch and the bike is effortless at being hauled around.

Equipment

MCN rating rating is 4
Owners' rating rating is 4

The decent ‘horizontally’ mounted single shock: tick. Showa BPF forks: tick. LED bar graph tachometer: tick. Dash that switches to race-like info for track use: tick. Sports ABS on the ABS (doh!) version: big tick. Powerful but usable engine: tick. Wavy discs: tick. Adjustable footrest height: tick: Traction control: big thick tick x 3.
Kawasaki’s traction control system is stunning. It relies on front and rear wheel speeds matched to rpm, throttle position, gear selected and other sensors to predict tyre slippage and alter ignition/fuel settings to balance acceleration against loss of traction. Switchable power modes are via a bar mounted button, but greater power delivery can be instantly accessed according to throttle position i.e. fully open. Compare and buy parts for the ZX-10R in the MCN Shop.

Kawasaki ZX-10R (2011-current)

Detail Value
New price £12,999
Dealer used prices
£7,010 (2011) - £13,110 (2014)
Private used prices
£7,480 (2011) - £11,800 (2014)
  View full used price info
Engine size 998 cc
Power 197.3 bhp
Top speed 184.34 mph
Insurance group 17 of 17
  MCN ratings Owners' ratings
Overall rating is 4 rating is 3.5
Engine rating is 4 rating is 4
Ride & Handling rating is 4 rating is 4
Equipment rating is 4 rating is 4
Quality & Reliability rating is 4 rating is 3
Value rating is 4 rating is 3

Quality and Reliability

MCN rating rating is 4
Owners' rating rating is 3

Even on the pre-production bikes the panels all fitted perfectly. And the support-less fairing screen is a touch of genius – albeit a bit short for taller riders. Everything worked fine, too. Even the front brake refused to fade after repeated 170mph braking – something early ZX-10R owners will appreciate.

Value

MCN rating rating is 4
Owners' rating rating is 3

The ZX-10R’s price drops it neatly behind the BMW by £1. Yep, a whole quid. And if it runs the BMW as close as we think it will, then it is good value. Granted £11,699 is a lot of money – and another £1000 for the ABS version (which adds 3kg) – but this is the price we are going have to pay for the elite of motorcycling. Kawasaki summed it up neatly by saying the ZX-10R features ‘trickle technology’, whereby new technology (sports ABS, revised cylinder mounting etc) will ‘trickle’ down to other models at lower costs. Find a Kawasaki ZX-10R for sale.

Insurance

Insurance group: 17 of 17

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Model History

2004-2006: intro of ZX-10R C1H
2006-2008: revised model ZX-10R D6F
2008-2010: revised model ZX-10R E8F
2011: all new model

Other Versions

2011: ZX-10R ABS, ABS version of 2011 model (£12,962)

Specifications

Top speed 184.34 mph
1/4-mile acceleration secs
Max power 197.3 bhp
Max torque 82.7 ft-lb
Weight 198 kg
Seat height 813 mm
Fuel capacity 17 litres
Average fuel consumption mpg
Tank range miles
Annual road tax
Insurance group 17 of 17
Engine size 998 cc
Engine specification Liquid-cooled, DOHC, 16v four-stroke in-line four. Six gears
Frame Cast ally beam frame and swingarm
Front suspension adjustment Fully adjustable
Rear suspension adjustment Fully adjustable
Front brakes 310mm petal discs with 4-piston calipers
Rear brake 240mm disc with single-piston caliper
Front tyre size 120/70 x 17
Rear tyre size 190/55 x 17

See all Kawasaki ZX-10R motorcycles for sale

Kawasaki
ZX-10R

11469 miles

£6,299

Kawasaki
ZX-10R

12018 miles

£6,495

Kawasaki
ZX-10R

14200 miles

£3,999

Kawasaki
ZX-10R

18523 miles

£5,495

Kawasaki
ZX-10R

10970 miles

£3,776

Owners' Overall Rating rating is 3.5(9 reviews)

  • Wish i had kept my blade

    giw320

    Average rating rating is 2.5

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    Ride and Handling
    Equipment
    Quality and Reliabilty
    Value
    Engine

    Don't know who wrote the test but they couldn't have tested it properly!! repeated 170mph braking with no fade utter crap. Bought a new 2012 non abs model a couple of months ago standard brakes are shocking. if you are thinking of track use budget for a Brembo master cylinder and replacement calipers from an 08 Blade otherwise midway thro a 20 min session the lever is back to the bars ??? that was with EBC dot5 fluid and HH pads. Screen wobbles like mad and does your head in. Steering damper as stock is useless and you have to replace or get it re-valved so it actually does what it should. Fairing is so close to the levers that if you have your leavers turned down you end up hitting the fairing with your fingers. Feel like I have wasted 11K.

    18 July 2013

  • Good but not perfect

    souroush

    Average rating rating is 4.5

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    Overall
    Ride and Handling
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    Value
    Engine

    very easy to handle and lovely to listen to . handlebars are a bit low for me and there is nothing can be done about it.the first gear as said is too tall. had to change the front sprocket to get the old vicious Kawa out of the Bike. couple of minor quality issues with the fairing and wiring but nothing seriously annoying. no room for a Satnav apart from the tank lead which can be distracting and is not suggested.overall a lovely Bike . definitely on the right track to win some places both on the track and the market.

    28 February 2012

  • Traction control problem

    Anonymous

    Average rating rating is 3

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    Overall
    Ride and Handling
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    Value
    Engine

    Bought a used 2011 ZX-10R with approx 2300 miles on it from a main dealer. Negative Screen wobbles quite a bit. Within the first 30 miles of owning the bike, problems with the traction control surfaced. After a total of approximately 40 miles the bike had cut out, wouldn't restart for several minutes and all traction control lights and amber dashboard light flashing. Positive Loads of room, felt quite comfortable for the short time it worked. Front brake is immense.

    28 February 2012

  • GET TO THE DEALERS NOW GET A DEAL

    sportsboyuk

    Average rating rating is 4.5

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    Ride and Handling
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    Engine

    I tested this bike and have to say its improved over the years this is a fantastic motorcycle as is the 1000 SX i tested. I had Allen Padget and his wife at the house such lovely people and passionate about there motorcycles and there customers RARE these days customer service 100% talk to ALLEN PADGET at AUTORAMA APRILIA/KAWASAKI say Jamie sent you and get a deal. dont do it next week do it now best time to buy.

    18 August 2011

  • Nice surprise

    tman39a

    Average rating rating is 3

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    Overall
    Ride and Handling
    Equipment
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    Value
    Engine

    Got a 30 min ride on an ABS version and i was pleasantly surprised....great engine, friendly suspension and overall quite comfy...nice and easy to pootle about on so could commute. Hate the rev counter...distracting even in daylight and would never see myself needing the TCS etc on the road....however was happy to get back on my ZZR1400...no gadgets, straight forward dash and oodles of low end power.

    30 May 2011

  • Brilliant

    dave80h

    Average rating rating is 4.5

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    Ride and Handling
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    Engine

    Thought I'd add this to even up the balance as people are putting on reviews who haven't even ridden the bike. Took one out for an afternoon in the wet and thought it was amazing. Handles well, feels so light compared to my wee 600. Inspires confidence and puts a huge smile on your face, the roar from the Ram Air is like music to your ears. Sod it, I'm buying one!!!!

    27 May 2011

  • Back To Something Like 2004 At Last!!

    HardRider51

    Average rating rating is 4

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    Engine

    Looks like Kawasaki has wised up. Mind you, if they re-released the 2004/2005 model with a steering damper as the 2011 bike they would probably take top bike again. LOL!!!!

    27 December 2010

  • All Kawasakies are rubbish????

    SUPERSTARDJ01

    Average rating rating is 5

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    Engine

    What JKLM? you are talking crap, I have a zx6r and have never had an issue with ever nor friends that have a Kawasaki.

    24 December 2010

  • !Warning! Don't Buy Kawasaki Bikes! Garbage!

    jkim

    Average rating rating is 2

    Show Details

    Overall
    Ride and Handling
    Equipment
    Quality and Reliabilty
    Value
    Engine

    I owned a previous model 09 ZX10 brand new. Was horrified upon first oil change, "low pressure oil Warning" lamp was on for 3 minutes, starving upper engine of oil! Turns out ZX6's, EX500's and Vulcan's also have problems pumping oil after oil changes. I also discovered my bike was pulling to the right because poor engineering allowed a .60th of an inch gap, causing forks to bend in, causing fork seals and bushings to wear premarturely. This also caused bike to pull to the right. All and all, Kawasaki's make great performing bikes but as far as quality and reliability, fit and finish, I would never recommend anybody buying Kawasakis. Kawasaki Consumer services were also nasty and mean, hung up the phone on me. Not to mention this new 2011 model there is a tech hold and rumor has it bad rings and cylinders wear our prematurely. Doesn't surprise me as kawasaki's are the worse bikes in my opinion.

    18 December 2010

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z1ppy2010

z1ppy2010says

Although I am only 16 and all my friends dream about owning one of these or the Yamaha r1, I don't know what it is about the Kawasaki that makes it seem too lairy and although it is every boys dream to own one of these because of the name, ninja, and ninjas are fast and from what I've heard they are, powerful enough to get you nicked in 1st gear. I've never been a fan of Kawasaki, I prefer the more subtle honda's and ducati's because the look better and are probably a hell of a lot more fun to ride

15 December 2012 01:11

evilgenius

User's Badge

evilgeniussays

Bit harsh jkim

You put your review in the wrong place, you had an 09 ZX10R not a 11 ZX10R. If you had a test ride on a, 11 ZX10R and thought it was rubbish fair enough, because lets face it, its an expensive mistake to buy and go I’ve made a mistake, take it back to the dealer to P/X it. WHAT! its worth £3000 grand less, s**t.

jkim silly boy.

22 May 2011 08:41

dave80h

User's Badge

dave80hsays

Excellent

I took one of these out for a day from my local dealer and have to say I was very impressed, gives loads of confidence! Wish people would stop putting in OWNERS REVIEWS when they don't even own the bik, they muck the whole thing up!!!

08 May 2011 23:46

Frankyspain

User's Badge

Frankyspainsays

buy suzuki

Kwaks are cheap nasty and unforgiving

04 February 2011 08:06

bikenutter

User's Badge

bikenuttersays

WTF jkim!!!!!!

What a way to mess up the rating system just because you have some bad experiences with kawasaki. It's an OWNERS rating system! Buy one...then review it.

24 December 2010 21:04

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