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KAWASAKI ZX-10R (2011-2015) Review

Published: 04 September 2018

Updated: 21 November 2014

At 198kg fully gassed, the ZX-10R has the best power to weight ratio, and it isn't as intense to ride as the BMW and so will suit a lot more riders

Kawasaki ZX-10R

At 198kg fully gassed, the ZX-10R has the best power to weight ratio, and it isn't as intense to ride as the BMW and so will suit a lot more riders

Overall Rating 4 out of 5

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.

Ride Quality & Brakes 4 out of 5

Up front, a pair of Showa 43mm USD Big Piston Front forks which allowed big braking action from the 310mm petal discs with 4-piston calipers while retaining the ability to soak up bumps and deliver bags of feedback.

At the back was a ‘horizontally’ mounted shock. Although not actually as horizontal as the name suggested, the shock and the linkages were mounted above the swingarm which helped with mass centralisation. It also kept it away from the heat of the exhaust, preventing inconsistent suspension performance due to temperature changes.

The end result was a bike whose handling harks back to early 90s ZX and ZX-R 750cc WSB bikes where front end stability and feel was top notch and the bike is able to be hauled around effortlessly.

Engine 4 out of 5

Kawasaki claimed the 2011 ZX-10R produced 197.3bhp at the crankshaft with 82.7ftlb of torque and that’s exactly how it felt to ride. It accelerated hard all the way from low revs to the redline, and that was good news for road users who would do most of their riding well below the limiter.

The engine was all-new for 2011, with a taller stacked gearbox to reduce size and maximise mass centralisation. The cylinders are offset by 2mm to the crank to reduce thrust forces and enable shorter, lighter pistons to be used.

A secondary balancer shaft kept vibes to a minimum until near peak revs. Bigger dual-butterfly injectors ensured the bike kept pulling at high rpm. The Factory installed downpipes were very well made (and good looking) but many owners will have added an aftermarket end can.

Build Quality & Reliability 4 out of 5

The 2011 Kawasaki ZX-10R was a reliable and well put together machine. The support-less fairing screen was a great looking addition – albeit a bit short for taller riders. The front brake was much less prone to fade issues after prolonged use than in previous models.

Insurance, running costs & value 4 out of 5

The 2011 Kawasaki ZX-10R was launched with a price of £11,699 (plus £1000 for ABS) which made it £1 cheaper than the BMW S1000RR. The Kawasaki has held its value well, but you can find a used 2011-2015 Kawasaki ZX-10R for sale for around £8000.

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

Equipment 4 out of 5

You got a ‘horizontally’ mounted rear shock, Showa BPF forks, wavy discs, adjustable footrest height and traction control.

If you went for the ABS model, you also got a Sport ABS mode for the track which made it less intrusive.

In the modern world of TFT dashes, the LED bar graph tachometer looks a little dated, but it stands up compared to other bikes of the same age. The dash had a race mode which displayed different information info for track use too, which was a nice touch.

The ZX-10R’s traction control system was stunning. It relied on front and rear wheel speeds matched to rpm, throttle position, gear selected and other sensors to predict tyre slippage and alter ignition/fuel settings to balance acceleration against loss of traction.

Switchable power modes were changed via bar mounted controls, but greater power delivery could be instantly accessed according to throttle position.

Facts & Figures

Model info
Year introduced 2011
Year discontinued 2015
Original price £12,999
Used price £6,500 to £10,500
Warranty term (when new) Two year unlimited mileage
Running costs
Insurance group 17 of 17
Annual road tax £91
Annual service cost £140
Performance
Max power 197.3 bhp
Max torque 82.7 ft-lb
Top speed 184 mph
1/4-mile acceleration -
Average fuel consumption 34 mpg
Tank range 128 miles
Specification
Engine size 998cc
Engine type Liquid-cooled, DOHC, 16v four-stroke in-line four. Six gears
Frame type Cast ally beam frame and swingarm
Fuel capacity 17 litres
Seat height 813mm
Bike weight 198kg
Front suspension Fully adjustable
Rear suspension Fully adjustable
Front brake 310mm petal discs with 4-piston calipers
Rear brake 240mm disc with single-piston caliper
Front tyre size 120/70 x 17
Rear tyre size 190/55 x 17

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.
This is an all new model for 2011.

Other versions

2011: ZX-10R ABS, ABS version of 2011 model (£12,962)

Owners' Reviews

13 owners have reviewed their KAWASAKI ZX-10R (2011-2015) 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 (2011-2015)
Summary of Owners' Reviews
Overall Rating 4 out of 5
Ride Quality & Brakes 4.5 out of 5
Engine 4.4 out of 5
Build Quality & Reliability 3.8 out of 5
Value & Running Costs 3.7 out of 5
Equipment 4.4 out of 5
5 out of 5

The highest spec machine in its class. And Beautiful too.

29 March 2018 by D MIFSUD

This bike has it all, incredible spec, stunning looks, fantastic build quality and an unbelievable engine. For me it beats all the other standard 1000cc superbikes hands down.

Ride Quality & Brakes
5 out of 5
Fantastic ride thanks to the Plush high quality suspension. Tech package works well, steering damper excellent. The best mirrors I've ever used on a sports bike.
Engine
5 out of 5
Predictable and smooth in low revs and absolutely insane in high revs. Ballistically terrifying combined with the perfect street bike. Spend £200 on a decat pipe and you get and extra 15bhp, taking it to an on-paper 220-odd bhp.
Build Quality & Reliability
4 out of 5
Extremely well made. Built to last. The odd fairing rattle now and then.
Value & Running Costs
5 out of 5
Cheap to service, bulletproof build quality. Not bad on fuel. Very practical.
Equipment
5 out of 5
Has everything found in the best spec bikes and more. 3 Power modes, 5 levels of lean sensitive Traction Control, cornering ABS, Wheelie control, 3 levels of launch control, ability to change engine breaking, Quick shifter (that you can switch off), with an ECU Flash you get an autoblipper, Also very intuitive placed switch gear that includes a lap timer. Also comes with metal brake lines, top of the range big disc Brembo brakes, Bridgestone Battleaxe tyres and the Showa balance free gas powered suspension developed for the WSBK.
Buying experience

Kawasaki comes with an excellent 2-year warranty that can be extended.

5 out of 5

Beautiful Beast!

13 June 2017 by Krish

People envy you for owning this. Even girls would come up and say she is a beauty. I come from 2007 ZX10R and riding 2016 puts a big smile on my face. This is a beast, beauty and a fun machine!. Thanks to the quickshifter and 207bhp you are way ahead of your friends :) and the riding experience turns you into a fast rider. Biggest fun is, the way this machine takes corners. It's designed to take corners and it is best at it. Especially if you don't have to put so much effort. Here is a picture of her http://puu.sh/wiKX4/edb9e0b68e.jpg

Ride Quality & Brakes
5 out of 5
-
Engine
5 out of 5
Remove cat & put an akro! you will love each gear, especially first and 2nd sounds sooo lovely. On a motorway it feels like you are on a track :)
Build Quality & Reliability
5 out of 5
-
Value & Running Costs
4 out of 5
Maintaining this baby is little expensive but we all have one expensive hobby so yeah i don't expect her to be cheap!
Equipment
5 out of 5
-
Buying experience

Dealer. Went smooth.

5 out of 5

03 February 2016 by Stevo zx10r

Having owed an 05 and 08 in knew the 13 plate bike was going to be good. Wow what a bike, so easy to ride fast with the electronics keeping it safe and sounded great with link pipe and aftermarket exhaust fitted. A top bike if you love your sports bikes but be prepared to buy tires, getting through 2 front and 3 rear tires in 5,500 miles. Just sold the bike this week and looking forward to getting the 2016 ZX10r

Ride Quality & Brakes
4 out of 5
Only used on sunny days to have fun. Always got off smiling even after 100 mile rides.
Engine
5 out of 5
-
Build Quality & Reliability
5 out of 5
Never missed a beat, but i always had it garaged and on a trickle charger after a brand new zx636 battery failed after 6 months and was not covered under warranty.
Value & Running Costs
4 out of 5
-
Equipment
5 out of 5
The traction control was great and saved the day more then once. Fitted RnG crash bungs and rad cover for piece of mind, tail tidy, screen and carbon front fender for looks plus link pipe and can for the amazing sound.
5 out of 5

22 December 2015 by lozza

de-cat it and have it flashed and your life will pass before you @180 give your suspension the dave moss treatment change the screen for a zero gravity version dump the stock 016's and fit some RS10's crack the throttle and hang on for dear life nuff said!

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

Wish i had kept my blade

18 July 2013 by giw320

Don't know who wrote the test but they couldn't have tested it properly!! repeated 170mph braking with no fade utter crap. Bought a new 2012 non abs model a couple of months ago standard brakes are shocking. if you are thinking of track use budget for a Brembo master cylinder and replacement calipers from an 08 Blade otherwise midway thro a 20 min session the lever is back to the bars ??? that was with EBC dot5 fluid and HH pads. Screen wobbles like mad and does your head in. Steering damper as stock is useless and you have to replace or get it re-valved so it actually does what it should. Fairing is so close to the levers that if you have your leavers turned down you end up hitting the fairing with your fingers. Feel like I have wasted 11K.

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

Good but not perfect

28 February 2012 by souroush

very easy to handle and lovely to listen to . handlebars are a bit low for me and there is nothing can be done about it.the first gear as said is too tall. had to change the front sprocket to get the old vicious Kawa out of the Bike. couple of minor quality issues with the fairing and wiring but nothing seriously annoying. no room for a Satnav apart from the tank lead which can be distracting and is not suggested.overall a lovely Bike . definitely on the right track to win some places both on the track and the market.

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

Traction control problem

28 February 2012 by Anonymous

Bought a used 2011 ZX-10R with approx 2300 miles on it from a main dealer. Negative Screen wobbles quite a bit. Within the first 30 miles of owning the bike, problems with the traction control surfaced. After a total of approximately 40 miles the bike had cut out, wouldn't restart for several minutes and all traction control lights and amber dashboard light flashing. Positive Loads of room, felt quite comfortable for the short time it worked. Front brake is immense.

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

GET TO THE DEALERS NOW GET A DEAL

18 August 2011 by sportsboyuk

I tested this bike and have to say its improved over the years this is a fantastic motorcycle as is the 1000 SX i tested. I had Allen Padget and his wife at the house such lovely people and passionate about there motorcycles and there customers RARE these days customer service 100% talk to ALLEN PADGET at AUTORAMA APRILIA/KAWASAKI say Jamie sent you and get a deal. dont do it next week do it now best time to buy.

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
4 out of 5
-
4 out of 5

Nice surprise

30 May 2011 by tman39a

Got a 30 min ride on an ABS version and i was pleasantly surprised....great engine, friendly suspension and overall quite comfy...nice and easy to pootle about on so could commute. Hate the rev counter...distracting even in daylight and would never see myself needing the TCS etc on the road....however was happy to get back on my ZZR1400...no gadgets, straight forward dash and oodles of low end power.

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

Brilliant

27 May 2011 by dave80h

Thought I'd add this to even up the balance as people are putting on reviews who haven't even ridden the bike. Took one out for an afternoon in the wet and thought it was amazing. Handles well, feels so light compared to my wee 600. Inspires confidence and puts a huge smile on your face, the roar from the Ram Air is like music to your ears. Sod it, I'm buying one!!!!

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

Back To Something Like 2004 At Last!!

27 December 2010 by HardRider51

Looks like Kawasaki has wised up. Mind you, if they re-released the 2004/2005 model with a steering damper as the 2011 bike they would probably take top bike again. LOL!!!!

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

All Kawasakies are rubbish????

24 December 2010 by SUPERSTARDJ01

What JKLM? you are talking crap, I have a zx6r and have never had an issue with ever nor friends that have a Kawasaki.

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
-
1 out of 5

!Warning! Don't Buy Kawasaki Bikes! Garbage!

18 December 2010 by jkim

I owned a previous model 09 ZX10 brand new. Was horrified upon first oil change, "low pressure oil Warning" lamp was on for 3 minutes, starving upper engine of oil! Turns out ZX6's, EX500's and Vulcan's also have problems pumping oil after oil changes. I also discovered my bike was pulling to the right because poor engineering allowed a .60th of an inch gap, causing forks to bend in, causing fork seals and bushings to wear premarturely. This also caused bike to pull to the right. All and all, Kawasaki's make great performing bikes but as far as quality and reliability, fit and finish, I would never recommend anybody buying Kawasakis. Kawasaki Consumer services were also nasty and mean, hung up the phone on me. Not to mention this new 2011 model there is a tech hold and rumor has it bad rings and cylinders wear our prematurely. Doesn't surprise me as kawasaki's are the worse bikes in my opinion.

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

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