Thanks to the original 2004 Kawasaki ZX-10R, the name evokes thoughts of rip-roaring power and handling best suited to race circuits.
While that may have been the case of the original model, subsequent versions were diluted to the point that they were regarded as decent on the road superbikes but not up to competition from the likes of the Honda Fireblade, the tech-laden Yamaha R1 or the almighty BMW S1000RR.
The 2011 Kawasaki ZX-10R was the bike to change this. It was the first of the Japanese bikes to come out fighting against the all-conquering BMW, which was launched in 2009.
MCN first rode the bike at Qatar’s Losail circuit and the Kawasaki’s superb blend of handling, braking, usable power and decent suspension certainly impressed, but was it better than the BMW?
At 198kg fully gassed, the ZX-10R had the better power to weight ratio, and it wasn’t as intense to ride as the BMW which suited a lot of riders.
2011-2016 Kawasaki ZX-10R F used buyers' guide
The modern day ZX-10R, laden in rider aids and technological advances like power modes and ABS, was also the first Japanese superbike to come with traction control as standard. It worked, and worked well.
BSB Team owner Nick Morgan loves it. “It’s a brilliant bike, the proof has been in the results worldwide, and lap records have tumbled here in the UK. It’s so damn fast, a very quick bike. With a pipe and power commander you’re tapping on the door of 200bhp and that is at the back wheel. We can push race engines to over 210bhp easily and CRT engines are closer to 225bhp, without a stupid amount of expensive work.”
The engine and chassis have proven their credentials on track, winning the BSB title, just missing out on the WSB crown and taking wins in road racing. In a typical Kawasaki trend the 2013 ZX10-R makes big power, making it the only Japanese bike to come close to the BMW S1000RR’s monster power. However it does lack a little real world mid-range compared to Japanese rivals. Some early models had recalls for rectifiers so make sure everything has been done. Also check for any crash damage. Frames can crack easily even in low speed crashes while swing-arms are also weak if hit in the wrong way by a kerb for example.