KAWASAKI ZX-10R (2008 - 2010) Review

Highlights

  • One of the faster 1000cc superbikes of its time
  • But also controlled and almost comfortable
  • Incredible trackday machine

At a glance

Owners' reliability rating: 4.6 out of 5 (4.6/5)
Annual servicing cost: £440
Power: 185 bhp
Seat height: Medium (32.7 in / 830 mm)
Weight: Low (373 lbs / 169 kg)

Prices

New N/A
Used £5,200 - £6,300

Overall rating

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

The new Kawasaki ZX-10R scored an easy five out of five; it was surely the fastest production 1000cc bike of its generation. But this ZX-10R was not all about Kawasaki’s new blistering engine and head-banging attitude, it’s controllable and handled much better than its predecessor. And despite the blistering pace it was actually easier to ride, too. Not for the faint hearted, the 2008 ZX-10R was a true superbike for the road.

Owners often changed the gearing to give the bike even more of a kick and address the fact that the stock gearing was a bit too tall. You can either go down one tooth on the front sprocket or up three teeth on the rear.

Sprockets from AFAMVortex or Renthal, with chains from either DID or EK (specifically the EK MVXZ chain with optional zero stretch technology) were popular. A speedohealer is also a good idea to make sure your speedo still reads right.

2008-2010 Kawasaki ZX-10R E

 Back to form with the ’08 model. Power and torque was up with a higher compression ratio (Kawasaki were quoting close to 200bhp with ram air). Nick Morgan says: “Our superstock bikes were pushing 185bhp or thereabouts and we could easily go to 200bhp with a tune if we needed to. They were a really quick bike and reliable, they could take a thrashing.”

Styling was aggressive as was the handling, but it wasn’t slap happy as the wheelbase had been lengthened and rake had been stretched. The engine was also lower in the chassis which gave it greater stability. Compared to the competition it lacked midrange and usable real world torque but on the track it was a weapon, and won back to back track roads tests against the competition.  Early models had a recall for a faulty regulator rectifier which was done by Kawasaki, so make sure yours had been changed.

Ride quality & brakes

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

Even though the 2008 Kawasaki ZX-10R was actually heavier than the previous version, it didn’t feel it. The shape of the motorcycle was much thinner which makes the bike feel lighter and more manoeuvrable. Its wheelbase was increased and the rake was stretched which adds stability, yet the ZX-10R still turns with ease.

However, make sure that steering damper is turned up, or upgrade the standard Ohlins steering damper for a higher spec replacement from Ohlins themselves, ExtremetechGPRScotts or Hyperpro

Given the speeds that the ZX-10R is capable of (on track, obviously) a lot of owners choose to fit a larger screen offering better wind protection. The screen produced by F. Fabbri is a good replacement. Pyramid also makes a double bubble screen for the ZX-10R, as do Puig and Zero Gravity.

Engine

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

If you want torque and bottom end power then look away now. However if you want arm ripping acceleration and a 1000cc engine that seems to rev like a 600 you’ll be wanting the all-new ZX-10R. Kawasaki is quoting nearly 200bhp with ram air, more than last year’s bike which was never a slow bike.

MCN put a 2008 Kawasaki ZX-10R on the dyno and it managed just over 170bhp at the rear wheel.

A lot of the owners found that fitting a Power Commander was a great mod on their ZX-10R. Apparently the fuelling was off below 7000 RPM on the 2008 model and the DynoJet Power Commander III cures this.

When used in conjunction with a new exhaust system (or just cans) it can also help smooth out the fueling and unleash a few extra bhp, because obviously that's what the ZX-10R needs- more power!

Reliability & build quality

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

Kawasaki have become renowned for making bomb-proof motorbikes, and the 2008 ZX-10R falls within this category. The high performance capability of the engine means that it is difficult to stress under normal riding conditions and that helps longevity.

Value vs rivals

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

The new Kawasaki ZX-10R was competitively priced, looked the part and was the fastest 1000cc production sportsbike of its time. Still you can always sleep with peace of mind, as build quality was a match for the Honda FireBlade

Equipment

5 out of 5 (5/5)

Kawasaki was the first manufacturer to fit a back torque limiter or slipper clutch, and it’s the same again for the new ZX-10R. There’s also radial brakes, petal discs, fully adjustable suspension front and rear and an Ohlins steering damper as standard.

Also, the 2008 ZX-10R was the first version to have the Kawasaki Ignition Management system, which is designed to reduce wheel spin under extreme circumstances.

Akrapovic products seem to be very popular amongst owners. Some have gone the full hog and fitted complete replacement systems, while others have just gone for new cans. Still, Akrapovic kit doesn't come cheap, so if you're on a tighter budget cans from Leo Vince and Sato Racing also come recommended. After all, the money you save can be put towards other worthwhile mods.

Other popular modifications include upgraded grips for added comfort and rearsets for improved ground clearance, adjustability and weight saving. Rearsets from Sato Racing and Vortex were popular.

Fitting crash protectors is such an obvious and neccessary mod since alot of ZX-10R's spent a fair bit of time on track.

Specs

Engine size 998cc
Engine type 16v transverse four, 6 gears
Frame type Aluminium back bone
Fuel capacity 17 litres
Seat height 830mm
Bike weight 169kg
Front suspension Preload, compression and rebound
Rear suspension Preload, compression and rebound
Front brake 2 x 310mm with radial four piston calipers
Rear brake 220mm disc
Front tyre size 120/70 x 17
Rear tyre size 190/55 x 17

Mpg, costs & insurance

Average fuel consumption 40 mpg
Annual road tax £101
Annual service cost £440
New price -
Used price £5,200 - £6,300
Insurance group 17 of 17
How much to insure?
Warranty term Two year unlimited mileage

Top speed & performance

Max power 185 bhp
Max torque 83.3 ft-lb
Top speed 186 mph
1/4 mile acceleration 10.6 secs
Tank range 150 miles

Model history & versions

Model history

The original ZX-10R (C1H) was introduced in 2004 and was a snarling, unrelenting and quite honestly terrifying machine. it was updated to the D6F version in 2006, and then further revised in 2008 to the E8F model.

Other versions

None.

Owners' reviews for the KAWASAKI ZX-10R (2008 - 2010)

17 owners have reviewed their KAWASAKI ZX-10R (2008 - 2010) 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 (2008 - 2010)

Summary of owners' reviews

Overall rating: 4.9 out of 5 (4.9/5)
Ride quality & brakes: 4.8 out of 5 (4.8/5)
Engine: 4.9 out of 5 (4.9/5)
Reliability & build quality: 4.6 out of 5 (4.6/5)
Value vs rivals: 4.9 out of 5 (4.9/5)
Equipment: 4.9 out of 5 (4.9/5)
Annual servicing cost: £440
5 out of 5 Cracking Road bike
11 May 2022 by Aiden L

Version: 2008 E8F Model Basically stock

Year: 2008

Just a really nice bike to ride. Confidence inspiring, smooth, stonking engine. Engaging to ride.

Ride quality & brakes 5 out of 5

The bikes suspension is hard on the front and softer on the rear. Can be quite harsh sometimes but I really enjoy it for my style of riding. Again love the riding position and the chassis provides lovely feedback and is very confidence inspiring. Although my brother who has a 07 fireblade says its very skittish but I can't tell feels spot on to me. I've owned a B1H ZX6R and a C1H ZX6R in the past and they are setup similar so I'm used to it. Must be a Kawasaki thing. You hear that alot that the Kawasaki's can be a bit more wild to ride. I personally think the fireblade is too relaxed. The brakes are the best I've had on any bike. I've only owned older bikes so not got anything newer to compare it too but I did have a 06 zx10r and the feel and power are considerably better than that which had a very spongy lever which was common and compared to my brothers 07 blade its night and day as well in a good way. Basically they don't feel too strong or too weak perfect really. Bite right at the top of the level pull. Gives really nice feedback trail braking into corners. It now has braided lines and new sintered pads and its not much of an improvement from stock rubber lines if at all really.

Engine 5 out of 5

Stock bike: Engine is generally very smooth. A little vibey under 4000 rpm after that it goes ultra smooth. loves to be revved. Again comparing it to my brothers 07 fireblade as its from the same era which has one of the best 1000cc sportbike engines for the road this bike has taller gearing, higher rev limit and a slightly weaker lower rev range under 5000 rpm unless you're in lower gears as the engine likes to rev up and down the rev range freely so using the gearing is a must. I generally have to carry a gear lower than him so if he's in 3rd I'm in 2nd but I don't use first gear if he's in 2nd as its got plenty of acceleration but this is how the bikes designed to be used and again suits my riding style. The blades setup more lazy and relaxed than the 10R a little more up and go initially in higher gears at the same speeds so in slower sporty relaxed road riding I guess you could say the blades more superior but once the pace increases the 10R starts to come into its own. Obviously the differences are subtle on the road and it comes down to preference & individual rider skill. On paper the 10r has more power than the blade and it feels so. My brother has ridden the 10R a few times and he always describes the power as ballistic and rampant after 6000rpm and I have to agree. The blade is very stable when full throttle but doesn't have the same power kick nearer the top of the rev range, this bike bucks and the front end goes light and wheelies so you need to be careful on bumpy roads when accelerating. In a straight line it begins to walk away from the blade but obviously well above the speed limit. With all that being said its a lovely road engine. Beautiful mid-range, Even the slightly weaker bottom end is nice on the road, very smooth at road speeds, Flexible and balanced doesn't just jump out of your hands when you whack the throttle open, progressive power. Wicked induction roar.

Reliability & build quality 4 out of 5

Only issue has been with the charging system. I believe it was the stator that needed replaced. It did have the rectifier recall done in 08/09. Other than that it's been faultless. Hopefully not an ongoing thing. Replaced at 30000 miles. Other than that very well built.

Value vs rivals 5 out of 5

The same as any big bike really.

Equipment 5 out of 5

I've never needed or wanted any traction control or anti wheelie or ABS so this bike is perfect for myself. I guess it's very basic by nowadays standards, practically bare bones. When I hear of bikes like the 80 wheel HP CB650R having traction control I just think why? I love the slipper clutch.This bike is said to have a very basic form of traction control but it doesn't really. It's hard to describe. I've only ever felt it in first gear accelerating full throttle from 10 mph or so but it doesn't feel like you'd think it would and it doesn't activate with any repetition. It just randomly activates and you try the same thing again and doesn't do anything. Apparently its only there to protect the catalytic converter from damage from a sudden spike in RPM when the wheel slips. Other than that I've never felt in anywhere else.

5 out of 5 Kawasaki Zx10r 2008
10 April 2020 by Alan MacDonald

Version: E8F

Year: 2008

Annual servicing cost: £200

Excellent road bike with plenty room to move about A fantastic very capable bike even 12 years on

Ride quality & brakes 5 out of 5

Race bike for road with excellent brakes, again main dealer serviced brakes so spot on

Engine 5 out of 5

Power at all speeds and gears

Reliability & build quality 4 out of 5

Rectifier packed in twice Once under warranty and again 2018 Looks like 5years max from this part

Value vs rivals 4 out of 5

Main dealer excellent service and keep bike as Kawasaki made it

Equipment 4 out of 5

Standard

Buying experience: No issues

5 out of 5 Longest I've owned a bike (16 months) so must be brilliant!
23 May 2019 by Mikey B

Version: E8F

Year: 2008

Annual servicing cost: £120

All day long comfortable & never lacking in performance. By far one of the best bikes I've owned (& I've owned a few!).

Ride quality & brakes 4 out of 5

Front brakes are easily upgraded with braided lines & decent pads. Apparently can be upgraded further with better calipers & master cylinder, but they're good enough for me without going to that level.

Engine 5 out of 5

Engine is ballistic as you'd imagine. Rides far smoother than my previous bike (RR5 Blade) & feels a lot more modern too.

Reliability & build quality 5 out of 5

I had the reg/rec official recall done on mine, despite being almost 3 years late for it. Local Kawasaki dealer were friendly & fine about this.

Value vs rivals 5 out of 5

Self-serviced rather than garage/workshop

Equipment 5 out of 5

Nicely laid out instruments, which are c;ear to read. Large digital speedo & gear indicator. Also a rare plus point is that the standard mirrors are excellent.

Buying experience: Privately

5 out of 5 Wicked
10 May 2018 by Mjcenterprise

Year: 2008

Annual servicing cost: £1,000

I am 50, live in the USA and have been riding Kawasakis since I was 16. I've had a Ninja 600 2, Ninja ZX-750RR (not street legal) and this will be my 4th ZX10R. Wicked pull after about 7000rpm. I like the steering dampener, even though it is ancient. The power is crucial I would recommend.

Ride quality & brakes 5 out of 5
Engine 5 out of 5

Torque is a beast. I pull on Hayabusas.

Reliability & build quality 5 out of 5
Value vs rivals 5 out of 5
Equipment 5 out of 5

Buying experience: Advertised for $15,000 with Two Brothers full exhaust etc. went higher. Cash in hand, I got it for $12,000.

5 out of 5 Best bang for buck out there
11 April 2014 by Tomenski

This bike is WICKED. Its so so very fast, so light and unbelievably comfy. I cannot believe how cheap these go for in comparison to other models of the same year. This bike is still I think the lightest (or one of) 1000cc Jap bikes these is to this day. So powerful, the handling it great, the brakes work amazingly well although don't feel sharp which does give a small impression they are not strong but it just means you can grab them hard with out worry. There simply is no better bike that this for under 6k and anything for the 7k mark will be heavier and slower and over priced so unless you can afford over 8 grand you cannot get a better bike that this with an exhaust. I do recommend that you go up a couple of teeth on the rear or down one on the front but do that and boom amazing bike.

Ride quality & brakes 5 out of 5
Engine 5 out of 5
Reliability & build quality 4 out of 5
Value vs rivals 5 out of 5
Equipment 5 out of 5
5 out of 5 Beast
30 December 2013 by preunit

A roomy, beautifully fuelled, comfy superbike, a doddle to ride around town and a beast on the track. Solid brakes, barking engine, not one for the faint-hearted, enjoy :-)

Ride quality & brakes 5 out of 5
Engine 5 out of 5
Reliability & build quality 5 out of 5
Value vs rivals 5 out of 5
Equipment 5 out of 5
5 out of 5 Best 1000 for the ££
01 August 2013 by markmcc21

Been riding for around 7 years now and this is my 8th bike. Fast bikes so far are 954 Blade, tuned FZ1, Mille, ZX6r and this ZX10r. The Blade was excellent, rare and loved the look of it, but when I wanted to move on and get a more upto date bike I looked around and for the £6k I had, this beat the bikes R1, GSXR and CBR of same yr and price. Iv covered about 2k now so thought id review it. Its ferocious when accelerating, turns in nice and feels secure and light. The brakes work fine and don't fade. Get about 170 motorway miles and worse iv seen 130. When parked up I cant stop looking at it. looks mean and the size of a proper 1000cc bike. I don't like the small looking CBR1000rr. Its comfortable to tour for the wkend as I did about 600 miles around Scotland. Im not keen on the current ZX10r so I think my next bike is a 2010 R1 when I can afford it!

Ride quality & brakes 5 out of 5
Engine 5 out of 5
Reliability & build quality 5 out of 5
Value vs rivals 5 out of 5
Equipment 5 out of 5
5 out of 5 nice
22 November 2011 by emikawasakininja

nice bike

Ride quality & brakes 5 out of 5
Engine 5 out of 5
Reliability & build quality 5 out of 5
Value vs rivals 5 out of 5
Equipment 5 out of 5
4 out of 5 Bugger
22 May 2011 by evilgenius

08 ZX10R, Just great in town, duel carriage and motorways, handles well, motor pulls well, build quality could be better, few rusty bits on mine, even though its had an easy life, and then it would not start, 2 weeks at a dealer and cross your fingers it won’t happen again. Time to P/X. Apart from that great.

Ride quality & brakes 4 out of 5
Engine 4 out of 5
Reliability & build quality 3 out of 5
Value vs rivals 4 out of 5
Equipment 4 out of 5
5 out of 5 Great Bike
25 March 2010 by ocleansb

I just got the 2010 zx10r two weeks ago after selling my RSV factory and Ducati 999 to try on a Jap bike. Done 800Km and I enjoyed riding this bike.Good power, good handling and nice design. Not much changes from 08 model but still a great bike in the market.

Ride quality & brakes 5 out of 5
Engine 5 out of 5
Reliability & build quality 5 out of 5
Value vs rivals 5 out of 5
Equipment 5 out of 5
5 out of 5 The King
24 March 2010 by ninjace

Bought in April 2009 from George Whites in Swindon, Absolutely awesome bike. Never let me down. Great handling and performance. I LOVE IT.

Ride quality & brakes 5 out of 5
Engine 5 out of 5
Reliability & build quality 5 out of 5
Value vs rivals 5 out of 5
Equipment 5 out of 5
5 out of 5 zx10r cracking bike
22 September 2009 by mickp40

best bike ive rode faster than my 12r and easy to ride fast

Ride quality & brakes 5 out of 5
Engine 5 out of 5
Reliability & build quality 5 out of 5
Value vs rivals 5 out of 5
Equipment 5 out of 5
5 out of 5 I Love this beast
22 August 2009 by Nuvem

Had a ZX7R 11 yrs ago and became a fan of Kawa... Also had Duke 998 and R1 ...05!! Bought a ZX10 couple mounths and done 2.5k and I can tell this bike its about heart. I felt in love with this beast. It rides like devil but you you are in control all the way. Race ready engine, brakes to cope and HUGE FUN. Outstanding bike *****

Ride quality & brakes 5 out of 5
Engine 5 out of 5
Reliability & build quality 5 out of 5
Value vs rivals 5 out of 5
Equipment 5 out of 5
5 out of 5 09 ZX10r
02 June 2009 by jocasaja

I have now done 2500 miles, and this bike is terrific. The rear diablo corsa III still has at least another 500 miles in it and it is keeping its profile. I have fitted a Fuel end can - which fitted well and looks good - sounds great as well - baffle out - lovely throaty tone without being silly loud. However in disconnecting the cables from the servo - servo motor knackered but I bought an Ivans Eliminator from SG Motosports which stops the fi warning lights from flashing. It is not the most comfortable bike, but if you can get into a relaxed thrash mode then it is fine for an hour or two. Planning to tour Germany and Holland in the late summer. The gearbox is fantastic, smooth clutchless shifts even from 1st to 2nd. However this bike is all about its amazing engine - fantastic machine

Ride quality & brakes 5 out of 5
Engine 5 out of 5
Reliability & build quality 5 out of 5
Value vs rivals 5 out of 5
Equipment 5 out of 5
5 out of 5 zx10r
31 March 2009 by jocasaja

had my black zx10 for a week - now done 300 miles. I tried the fireblade, but found this fitted me better. I am impressed with the build quality and I even like the looks. Got a really good deal on an 08 bike, which I think looks better than the 09 which has a silly silver piece each side. Fitted an R&G tail tidy and have a double bubble screen on order. My nephew has just bought an 09 repsol blade which looks and sounds great, but I prefer the ergonomics of the zx and also think the engine is smoother and stronger. They are all bloody marvellous really

Ride quality & brakes 4 out of 5
Engine 5 out of 5
Reliability & build quality 5 out of 5
Value vs rivals 5 out of 5
Equipment 5 out of 5
5 out of 5 one evil beast
18 March 2009 by kwackadave

ive had mine since last april and its got 16k miles on so far only problem ive got is the build quality the winter has made almost all metal corrode but i love every second on it

Ride quality & brakes 4 out of 5
Engine 5 out of 5
Reliability & build quality 3 out of 5
Value vs rivals 5 out of 5
Equipment 5 out of 5
5 out of 5 zx-10r
31 July 2008 by ianzx10

Awesome bike with a brilliant engine, done 6k miles, it's focused, but so it should be. A terrific, comfortable road bike that handles well and goes like stink!

Ride quality & brakes 5 out of 5
Engine 5 out of 5
Reliability & build quality 5 out of 5
Value vs rivals 5 out of 5
Equipment 5 out of 5
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