KAWASAKI ZX-10R (2011-on) Review

Published: 02 December 2010

"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"

Kawasaki ZX-10R

"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"

  • At a glance
  • 998cc  -  197.3 bhp
  • 34 mpg  -  128 miles range
  • Medium seat height (813mm)
  • £12,999

Overall Rating 4 out of 5

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.

Ride Quality & Brakes 4 out of 5

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.

Engine 4 out of 5

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. 

Build Quality & Reliability 4 out of 5

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 & Running Costs 4 out of 5

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 group: 17 of 17 – compare motorcycle insurance quotes now.

Equipment 4 out of 5

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.

Owners' Reviews

9 owners have reviewed their KAWASAKI ZX-10R (2011-on) and rated it in a number of areas. Read what they have to say and what they like and dislike about the bike below.

We’re currently improving the way this section works, which means we’ve had to suspend the submission of new owners’ reviews for a short period. Please check back soon.

Summary of Owners' Reviews
Overall Rating 3.6 out of 5
Ride Quality & Brakes 4.3 out of 5
Engine 4.1 out of 5
Build Quality & Reliability 3.3 out of 5
Value & Running Costs 3.4 out of 5
Equipment 4.2 out of 5
2 out of 5

Wish i had kept my blade

18 July 2013 by giw320

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... Read more 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.

Overall Rating 2 out of 5
Ride Quality & Brakes 3 out of 5
Engine 4 out of 5
Build Quality & Reliability 2 out of 5
Value & Running Costs 1 out of 5
Equipment 3 out of 5
4 out of 5

Good but not perfect

28 February 2012 by souroush

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... Read more 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.

Overall Rating 4 out of 5
Ride Quality & Brakes 5 out of 5
Engine 4 out of 5
Build Quality & Reliability 4 out of 5
Value & Running Costs 5 out of 5
Equipment 5 out of 5
2 out of 5

Traction control problem

28 February 2012 by Anonymous

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... Read more 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.

Overall Rating 2 out of 5
Ride Quality & Brakes 4 out of 5
Engine 4 out of 5
Build Quality & Reliability 1 out of 5
Value & Running Costs 3 out of 5
Equipment 5 out of 5
5 out of 5

GET TO THE DEALERS NOW GET A DEAL

18 August 2011 by sportsboyuk

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... Read more 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.

Overall Rating 5 out of 5
Ride Quality & Brakes 5 out of 5
Engine 5 out of 5
Build Quality & Reliability 5 out of 5
Value & Running Costs 5 out of 5
Equipment 4 out of 5
4 out of 5

Nice surprise

30 May 2011 by tman39a

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... Read more 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.

Overall Rating 4 out of 5
Ride Quality & Brakes 4 out of 5
Engine 4 out of 5
Build Quality & Reliability 3 out of 5
Value & Running Costs 3 out of 5
Equipment 2 out of 5
5 out of 5

Brilliant

27 May 2011 by dave80h

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... Read more 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!!!!

Overall Rating 5 out of 5
Ride Quality & Brakes 4 out of 5
Engine 5 out of 5
Build Quality & Reliability 5 out of 5
Value & Running Costs 4 out of 5
Equipment 5 out of 5
4 out of 5

Back To Something Like 2004 At Last!!

27 December 2010 by HardRider51

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!!!! Read more

Overall Rating 4 out of 5
Ride Quality & Brakes 4 out of 5
Engine 5 out of 5
Build Quality & Reliability 4 out of 5
Value & Running Costs 4 out of 5
Equipment 4 out of 5
5 out of 5

All Kawasakies are rubbish????

24 December 2010 by SUPERSTARDJ01

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

Overall Rating 5 out of 5
Ride Quality & Brakes 5 out of 5
Engine 5 out of 5
Build Quality & Reliability 5 out of 5
Value & Running Costs 5 out of 5
Equipment 5 out of 5
1 out of 5

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

18 December 2010 by jkim

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... Read more 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.

Overall Rating 1 out of 5
Ride Quality & Brakes 5 out of 5
Engine 1 out of 5
Build Quality & Reliability 1 out of 5
Value & Running Costs 1 out of 5
Equipment 5 out of 5
Read all 9 owners' reviews in full

Facts & Figures

Model info
Year introduced 2011
Year discontinued -
New price £12,999
Warranty term Two year unlimited mileage
Running costs
Insurance group 17 of 17
Annual road tax £80
Annual service cost -
Performance
Max power 197.3 bhp
Max torque 82.7 ft-lb
Top speed 184 mph
1/4-mile acceleration -
Average fuel consumption 34 mpg
Tank range 128 miles
Specification
Engine size 998cc
Engine type Liquid-cooled, DOHC, 16v four-stroke in-line four. Six gears
Frame type Cast ally beam frame and swingarm
Fuel capacity 17 litres
Seat height 813mm
Bike weight 198kg
Front suspension Fully adjustable
Rear suspension Fully adjustable
Front brake 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

History & Versions

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)

Photo Gallery

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