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KAWASAKI ZX-10R (2004-2005) Review

Published: 23 November 2006

Updated: 02 December 2019

One wild ride and an absolute weapon in experienced hands

Kawasaki ZX-10R motorcycle review - Riding

One wild ride and an absolute weapon in experienced hands

Overall Rating 5 out of 5

The Kawasaki ZX-10R is sold as the ultimate track bike – the 2004/05 ZX-10R was one of Kawasaki’s first machines after the firm gave itself a kick up the arse in 2002. The 10R’s one wild ride and an absolute weapon in experienced hands. It’s light, makes massive power and handles superbly on the track – a bit of a handful on the road though.

2004-2005 Kawasaki ZX-10R C used buyers' guide

The original, hardcore ZX-10R took the world by storm. Light at a quoted 170kg dry with an arm-ripping 181bhp according to Kawasaki, it was always going to be lively and attract a certain type of customer. Nick Morgan team owner of MSS racing simply describes the original bike as, “bloody brilliant bike, 160bhp stock, 175bhp with a fettle and a great chassis”. Back in ‘04 it came with radial brakes on petal discs, fully adjustable suspension front and back and digital dash with lap timer. It was aimed at the racy, track day public and proved to be a big hit.

Reknown for head shaking handling when ridden very hard on public roads, most new customers fitted aftermarket steering dampers. Some early models had generator problems which you need to keep an eye on and the wrong tyre pressures or poor tyres can affect scary handling. A trick of the trade was to change the linkage on the 04 ZX-10R to ZX-6 linage, but it’s not recommended by Kawasaki. A cheap way to increase stability is to lengthen the wheelbase, make sure the rear spindle is towards the back of the arm.

Ride Quality & Brakes 4 out of 5

The Kawasaki ZX-10R is effortless and precise. As easy to chuck about as a 600 and pretty stable regardless of whether you’re easing round a damp roundabout or hurling it reet over on a track day or race. Like all modern sports bikes it can be twitchy and isn’t for the inexperienced. Brakes are incredibly strong too.

Engine 4 out of 5

The Kawasaki ZX-10R's 181 bhp is never going to be anything other than a rush that drugs can’t match. It couldn’t quite match the GSX-R of the time for low down drive but get the revs up and the 10R’s hard to fault. It’s civilized and flexible enough at lower revs to make pottering a possibility too – although that’s really not what the bike’s all about.

Build Quality & Reliability 4 out of 5

The ‘big four’ Japanese marques all produce pretty solid bikes these days and Kawasaki is no longer a league behind Honda. That said fasteners, brake hose connections, wheels, brackets and brake calipers can suffer if used in winter. No major reliability problems have shown up.

Insurance, running costs & value 4 out of 5

The Kawasaki ZX-10R is always good value next to a used FireBlade. Used prices are under £4000 which is excellent value for money for such an animal of a superbike. Insurance isn’t cheap so get a quote before you buy. Major servicing and tyre wear’s not for paupers either. But all rivals are the same – except the Italians which are more expensive.

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

Equipment 3 out of 5

The Kawasaki ZX-10R is minimal but not without a few extras. There’s a shift light which you can set to remind you when to change gear. Instrument cluster which is shared with several other Kawasakis can appear unclear to some – the LCD rev counter sweeps round the edge and isn’t as obvious as an old-fashioned needle gauge.

Facts & Figures

Model info
Year introduced 2004
Year discontinued 2005
Original price -
Used price -
Warranty term (when new) Two year unlimited mileage
Running costs
Insurance group 17 of 17
Annual road tax £91
Annual service cost £350
Performance
Max power 181 bhp
Max torque 85 ft-lb
Top speed 180 mph
1/4-mile acceleration 10.7 secs
Average fuel consumption 38 mpg
Tank range 141 miles
Specification
Engine size 998cc
Engine type 16v in-line four, 6 gears
Frame type Aluminium twin spar
Fuel capacity 17 litres
Seat height 825mm
Bike weight 170kg
Front suspension Preload, rebound, compression
Rear suspension Preload, rebound, compression
Front brake Twin 300mm discs
Rear brake 220mm disc
Front tyre size 120/70 x 17
Rear tyre size 190/50 x 17

History & Versions

Model history

2004: Kawasaki ZX-10R launched.
2006: Replaced by completely revamped model.

Other versions

None.

Owners' Reviews

9 owners have reviewed their KAWASAKI ZX-10R (2004-2005) 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 (2004-2005)
Summary of Owners' Reviews
Overall Rating 4.9 out of 5
Ride Quality & Brakes 4.7 out of 5
Engine 5 out of 5
Build Quality & Reliability 4.2 out of 5
Value & Running Costs 4.8 out of 5
Equipment 4 out of 5
5 out of 5

Only for the experienced

07 January 2019 by Chris D

This is an absolute lunatic's bike. I have had several litre bikes - Also RSV/996/1199 Panigale and, for the money, the Kawasaki is a genuine weapon. This bike is certainly not for a novice as it is brutal and lives up to all the hype. It's still an ace tool by today's standards.

Ride Quality & Brakes
4 out of 5
The bike has great brakes, is very light but can be a handful. A steering damper is a must, but still expect a bar wiggle if you're riding hard.
Engine
5 out of 5
The ZX-10R has a killer engine, ruined years later whilst trying to calm the beast.
Build Quality & Reliability
5 out of 5
-
Value & Running Costs
5 out of 5
Including a set of tyres
Equipment
3 out of 5
Who needs them? Its a race bike for the road. If you need the other kit, consider a different bike. This isn't for you. That said, I'm not a big fan of the rev counter.
Buying experience

I bought privately since the gap between private and dealership has closed. Beware of ex-race bikes, and inflated dealership prices. Great Japanese reliability.

5 out of 5

16 April 2017 by Jake Lutz

2004-2005 is hands down the best year still to date (2017) overall for the 1000cc class.

Ride Quality & Brakes
4 out of 5
Definetly needs an aftermarket steering stabilizer for high speeds
Engine
5 out of 5
-
Build Quality & Reliability
5 out of 5
-
Value & Running Costs
5 out of 5
-
Equipment
5 out of 5
-
5 out of 5

04 July 2016 by Angel Coronado

MY BABY IS A BEAST FROM HELL! While there are skeptics or haters let me just say that my baby is 12 years old and still destroying modern streetbikes!!! Haven't been beat by any busa, R1, not even any of her sisters. Wouldn't want any other bike! She is the ultimate WIDOW MAKER."

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
The only thing I didn't care for was the single riding light unless you ride with the high beams. Added demon/halos. A perfect compliment to a wicked beast.
Buying experience

privately

5 out of 5

09 November 2015 by Scott B

This bike is pure joy inmotorcycle form

Ride Quality & Brakes
5 out of 5
Absolute joy to ride
Engine
5 out of 5
Nice and manageable at lower rpms, a fire breather at mid to high rpms,
Build Quality & Reliability
5 out of 5
-
Value & Running Costs
4 out of 5
Cheap bike to buy, but above average maintenance demands. To be expected from this monster though
Equipment
3 out of 5
Stock this bike is bare bones
Buying experience

Private purchase $5900 spring 2014

5 out of 5

What a machine

16 November 2011 by Anonymous

Fantastic superbike and great value. Three years ago after having a go on a friends 08 model I had to trade up to one. I went looking for zx10s and plumped for a mint C1 (thought 06/07 was ugly). How glad am I. It feels raw like a race bike, you can really feel the road, the air screams in the box and you're totally involved in the whole riding experience. Newer superbikes will get you round a race track tenths quicker, but you'll have so much more fun. As journos have mentioned it does need respect, but only in the top half of the tacho. It's a great road bike and not restricted to the track. You can also ride it slowly as it's a real pussy cat. I'm 6'2" but still find it comfortable, can potter through town and have toured Europe only having a little discomfort on long motorway stints. The bike has been 100% reliable the finish has surprised me, being really good and par with my Honda before. It does like tyres and my mechanic says it's a pig to work on, but they are the only downsides. Really struggled with what to replace it with but fate interferred and due to a neck injury I've now joined the sit up and beg brigade, getting a sensible Superduke! This is a great bike but I preferred my 10. Go on, get yourself one, you won't regret it.

Ride Quality & Brakes
4 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

durability issues.

11 June 2009 by godshand69

Love my 05 zx10. Got it because it was closest thing to a GP bike for street. !3,00 miles on it now and only problem is lower case cracking. had it fixed by kawisaki 1.5 urs ago, cost 4,500 buks. Now it looks like it has done it again. They said it has weak spot in case right above the water pump. it cracks right where a bolt hole is and oozes oil. Small amount but any is too much. Kawasaki corp accused me of rough riding and refused to pay at 1st. I ride curves and wheelies, no drag strip or stetched BS. I love this bike and treat it like my kids but I cant see keeping it if i keep having this issue. Taking it to get it looked at sat-6-13-09. maybe they will fix again. if not they can have it and am done with kawasaki. Only bike I have ever owned and think they have engineering issues with the lower motor casing. Any repies would be appreciated.

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

ZX-10r

22 January 2008 by HF_ZX10r

I love this machine to bits. The seating position is excellent for my 5ft 10" frame. The power deliver is smooth and abundant till around 6000 revs, that's when the demons from hell really get out of their cage. Crack the throttle open too quickly and the front wheel will be heading skyward in most gears. It's nibble and efficient at what it was designed to do on the track. It's also reliable and smooth around town. However you'll need to give it a little respect or you'll be in a lot of trouble really quickly. The only bike you'll ever need!

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
-
5 out of 5

ZX10R

03 March 2007 by Sham

What a beautiful, amazing bike. Performace is great with enough power to do whatever you want. It's a shame Kawasaki ruined the looks of the bike with the updated version because the 2004 model looks better than the new one. In 18 months I've covered over 12,000 miles, been through several sets of tires and have enjoyed everthing about the bike. Servicing costs a fair bit but there are far less ZX10R's on the road than R1s, Fireblades and GSXR1000's so you feel unique and happy.

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

march 2004 blue not reliability

17 January 2006 by jana

Great bike covered 17000 in just over a year spent over 3000 pounds no goodies. Strengths: Engine. Weaknesses: The cluth has broken twice and now will not start now in shop now to find problem.

Ride Quality & Brakes
5 out of 5
-
Engine
5 out of 5
-
Build Quality & Reliability
1 out of 5
-
Value & Running Costs
5 out of 5
-
Equipment
4 out of 5
-

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