First ride: Jonathan Rea's Kawasaki ZX-10R

Published: 23 November 2016

There are three very distinct differences between a full-factory, WSB-winning machine and any bike with lights and indicators you’ve tried before, no matter how good. 

Jonathan Rea’s Kawasaki ZX-10R is unbelievably easy to ride in the corners, goes absolute stink down the straights and has the kind of electronics no road bike could ever hope to have. 

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Let’s start with the silicone. At every point around the circuit at Aragon (where we tested the bike) this WSB racer is a cacophony of strange noises. There’s the gurgling engine braking control, the off-beat, big bang drone when the motor shuts down to two cylinders in the corners at less than 30% throttle (thanks to its dual throttle bodies – banned in WSB next year) and the pop and crackle of traction control and anti-wheelie at full throttle.

Rea’s bike knows where it is on track so it activates its own pit lane limiter, controls the amount of torque it dishes out turn-by-turn and changes how much it freewheels into fast and slow corners.

It’s unbelievably roomy and so light it weighs the same as the road bike’s shadow, so it couldn’t be easier to turn and flicked from side-to-side. Then there’s the plush factory suspension, planet-stopping brakes and the easy throttle response – all hallmarks of having the best engineers in the business to set it all up.

Add in a motor that shrieks along the straights with such venom it feels like it’s going to blow itself to smithereens (I reckon it has a good 230bhp) and you’re left with a machine that has helped Rea win two championships on the bounce and left me wanting so much more. 

 

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