KAWASAKI ZX-10R SE (2018 - on) Review

At a glance

Owners' reliability rating: 5 out of 5 (5/5)
Annual servicing cost: £200
Power: 197 bhp
Seat height: Medium (32.9 in / 835 mm)
Weight: Medium (454 lbs / 206 kg)

Prices

New £18,949
Used £13,000 - £15,700

Overall rating

Next up: Ride & brakes
4 out of 5 (4/5)

Kawasaki has broadened the ZX-10R’s appeal by letting you change its suspension and therefore its character with a touch of a button. It’s most impressive on the road where you can choose the set-up you want to suit the kind of road you’re on. It’s pretty handy around the circuit, too, but aftermarket race suspension will also be the way to go for racers and serious trackday riders. 

Ride quality & brakes

Next up: Engine
4 out of 5 (4/5)

The semi-active suspension is at its most impressive on the road. One of the ZX-10R’s most impressive traits in standard form is the plushness of its Showa forks and shock. That velvety ride quality is still there in Road mode, but it’s slightly tougher, as the magic damping control does its thing when you brake, throttle and lean. It all adds up to a ZX-10R with a crisper feel. It’s lighter, more talkative in your hands and rock-solid stable. 

You can feel just how much damping range there is (a sign on top drawer suspension) by experimenting with ‘Track’ mode on the road. The extra damping support it gives actually helps the Kawasaki steer and change direction even easier, putting an even bigger grin on your face, but unsurprisingly it doesn’t handle road bumps as well.

A setting between Track and Road (easily done in Manual mode) would be perfect, but when you don’t feel like doing your Johnny Rea impression on your favourite stretch, the beauty of the KECS is you can click it into its soft setting and enjoy a comfortable ride.

You could even go a step further in Manual mode and set the SE really soft for motorway cruising and for riding in the wet.

Flick into Track mode on the circuit and with its stronger damping control, the Kawasaki stays firmer at the back, holding itself up under hard acceleration and slowing the rate of dive when hard on the brakes. But at full lean the suspension softens to help tyres meld into the Spanish tarmac. It’s lighter steering through chicanes, more stable and less effort to ride fast.

This electronic set-up short-cuts hours and possibly even days-worth of trying to dial in the perfect set-up yourself, but as impressive as the KECS the forks have a slightly dead feeling as you trail brake into the apex and steering still isn’t as sharp as some if its superbike rivals.

It’s also worth noting fork and shock preload (which is still a pig to get to) isn’t electronically adjustable, so for circuit work you’ll still have to dig out your screwdriver and C-spanner to set suspension sag. 

Lighter wheels are an undoubted plus, but you’d can’t feel their benefit riding the SE in isolation and the IMU-fuelled traction control, anti-wheelie, quickshifter and autoblipper are up there with the best in business. Kawasaki disconnected the conservatively-set ABS for us on the track and while the M50 Brembos monobloc calipers don’t lack power, they lack the joyful feeling and bite of the best set-ups out there. 

Serious circuit heads will still be better off with well-set aftermarket suspension and bespoke springs, but the SE is perfect for occasional trackday riders. Just flick a button to have fun all day and ride home without rattling out your fillings.

Kawasaki’s electronic suspension doesn’t change the ZX-10R’s overall character or the way it performs, but at the touch of a button it lets you feel how differently it can ride and handle, without having to get on your hands and knees with a screwdriver wondering what screw it is you’re supposed to be turning

Engine

Next up: Reliability
4 out of 5 (4/5)

The SE uses the same inline four-cylinder motor as the standard ZX-10R, which on our dyno makes 191bhp at the rear wheel. It’s plenty powerful, but a lack of mid-range punch and tall overall gearing makes it feel sluggish unless you really rev it.

Reliability & build quality

Next up: Value
5 out of 5 (5/5)

The suspension units themselves are tried and tested. The only things to go wrong are the electronics controlling them and the motors inside. These systems have been around for years now in rival machines and no major problems have been reported.

Value vs rivals

Next up: Equipment
4 out of 5 (4/5)

Priced in the same ballpark as its premium superbike rivals, it’s not cheap, but the semi-active Showa suspension units are the same top-spec gas forks and shock found on the base and ZX-10RR models.

Equipment

5 out of 5 (5/5)

The ZX-10R SE features Kawasaki’s (and Showa’s) first self-adjusting forks and shock. As well as suspension that’s designed to always give you the perfect amount of support, bump-absorption and comfort when you need it, the range-topping machine also gets the lightweight Marchesini wheels and autoblipper from the homologation special ZX-10RR. It also has a quickshifter, riding modes, an IMU controlled traction and wheelie control, ABS and Brembos.

Specs

Engine size 998cc
Engine type Liquid-cooled, 16v, inline four
Frame type Ali twin spar
Fuel capacity 17 litres
Seat height 835mm
Bike weight 206kg
Front suspension 43mm Showa forks, semi-active
Rear suspension Single rear Showa shock, semi-active
Front brake 2 x 330mm discs with four-piston radial Brembo calipers
Rear brake 220mm single disc with single-piston caliper
Front tyre size 120/70 x 17
Rear tyre size 190/55 x 17

Mpg, costs & insurance

Average fuel consumption -
Annual road tax £93
Annual service cost £200
New price £18,949
Used price £13,000 - £15,700
Insurance group 17 of 17
How much to insure?
Warranty term Two years

Top speed & performance

Max power 197 bhp
Max torque 84 ft-lb
Top speed 186 mph
1/4 mile acceleration -
Tank range -

Model history & versions

Model history

2018: ZX-10R SE introduced. Features Showa semi-active suspension and the autoblipper and Marchesini wheels from the ZX-10RR

Other versions

ZX-10R, 197bhp, 206kg

Base model, launched in 2016 with Euro 4 motor, lighter engine internals, Showa gas forks, chassis and styling mods, Brembo monoblocs, quickshifter, rider modes, traction and wheelie control.

ZX-10RR, 197bhp, 206kg

The homologation special RR is the one you want for racing. It’s no more powerful than the R, but has stronger crankcases, DLC-coated tappets, a larger cylinder head to accept high-lift cams, lightweight wheels and a blipper.

ZX-10R SE, 197bhp, 206kg

New for 2018 the SE has the engine, chassis and electronics of the ZX-10R, the autoblipper and lightweight wheels of the RR with new electronic semi-active Showa suspension. 

Owners' reviews for the KAWASAKI ZX-10R SE (2018 - on)

1 owner has reviewed their KAWASAKI ZX-10R SE (2018 - 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.

Review your KAWASAKI ZX-10R SE (2018 - on)

Summary of owners' reviews

Overall rating: 5 out of 5 (5/5)
Ride quality & brakes: 5 out of 5 (5/5)
Engine: 5 out of 5 (5/5)
Reliability & build quality: 5 out of 5 (5/5)
Value vs rivals: 5 out of 5 (5/5)
Equipment: 4 out of 5 (4/5)
Annual servicing cost: £200
5 out of 5 Conan The Destroyer
02 September 2020 by Waza Boy

Year: 2018

Annual servicing cost: £200

Holly molly,where to start.My bike has a full system and full custom map etc with 200+bhp and 200mph because i wanted something different and it now totally transforms the heavily restricted nature of its original form. It is now a ground to ground heat seeking missile that chews up most things in its path (and it shoots flames out the back of the Akra) I love the subduded colour scheme, handling,braking and the ease of use of the traction control /anti wheelie and power mode buttons. However, other than me not being to hold on to my fire breathing dragon tight enough (lol) the dash does look a little antiquated and a lot of info going on in small places. New dash for Christmas hint hint.Also, the pegs are quite high just to remind you of what a thorough bred you are riding.Setting up the suspension and riding modes took quite a while but was exciting, particularly the launch control ! The auto -blipper up and down is fab to use and with the full exhaust system pops and bangs which provides masses of grins and childish behaviour and makes you short shift through the gears ( you do have to back off the revs when going back down the box though) Surprisingly the decals on the bodywork and wheels aren't lacquered for a machine costing as much as it does. Power is now immense and blows my mind with good low end and masses of midrange now. The top end is truly amazing and i'll be honest, scary! I turned the traction and anti wheelie to 1 out of 5 and it made me feel like was a failed and over weight ex BSB star with power wheelies out of mild bends and leaving 100 yard darkies up the road.Ditching rear pegs and the colostomy of the original crap exhaust has saved kilo's( if only the rider could do the same) Some people might say whats the point. Well it makes a truly devastating road bike with fantastic handling and the option of adjusting power,suspension etc. at the the touch of a button.

Ride quality & brakes 5 out of 5

At first weren't sure about the brakes as they seemed very powerful, but must of gotten used to them now. Ride quality is exceptional for a sports bike and takes my bulk into account. Read MCN review for more info. Ridges and rises in the road ( sorry track) can be used as launch pads. I must say i was amazed at the wet weather ability and descent mirrors too.

Engine 5 out of 5

Off the scale in its derestricted and fettled form. I have ridden a bog standard KRT edition and i was a little disappointed to be honest and it felt very strangulated. Also, no vibes from the engine and nothing rattles or vibrates. Got followed by the fuzz down a local stretch of motorway so had to keep myself under control and flicking through the modes found out i was doing 48 mpg's !!

Reliability & build quality 5 out of 5

So far so good in 3,000 miles other than decals not being lacquered. I'll keep you posted.

Value vs rivals 5 out of 5

Tyres, currently have Michelin Power RS. Will update when i get on a track day.

Equipment 4 out of 5

All the modes are great fun to use and try out ( never tire of trying the different combinations out) Prefer the Michelins to the original Bridgestones. Headlights are good too, but they are not the latest xenons.

Buying experience: Well i went in to buy a Bmw HP4 carbon and look what happened. Bought from my local dealer and they did an amazing deal as i had no part exchange and probably cus they are sick and tired of me keep changing my mind. Also they delivered it free of charge as i damaged my knee and couldn't ride the dam thing for 2 weeks.

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