On a smooth road the Ninja’s track-focus makes it a joy, however throw in a few bumps and it all very quickly descends into a harsh ride that leaves you feeling decidedly battered and bruised with aching wrists.
This is a bike that is far more at home on a track and if you try and take it on anything that doesn’t resemble the tarmac you would find BSB racers riding on you are going to suffer.
That said, when you find that perfect stretch of road the Ninja comes alive and you can see why this chassis has won so many WSB titles. When it’s good it’s very, very, good. When it is bad it’s bloody horrible!
With a claimed 200.2bhp, or 210bhp with RAM air, the ZX-10R is packing one hell of a punch and the 2019 update sees its bucket and shim valve train replaced by finger followers.
It is a motor that is very much two-stage in its power delivery, which will either appeal or frustrate. Below 8000rpm it is docile and remarkably civilised, which can either be viewed as relaxed or lacking in drive depending on your point of view.
Get the revs up, however, and the Ninja switches character and goes completely insane and as the rev counter crosses the 8000rpm mark it even turns from orange to red as a warning.
In this range the sheer ferocity of drive and instant punch takes your breath away as the Ninja delivers exactly the experience you would expect from something with over 200bhp on tap.
On the road this two-stage power delivery means you can easily ride it gently when you want and then dip into the power for a quick shot of adrenalin when the road ahead is clear.
The new head makes virtually no difference to the way the power is delivered and will only be appreciated by racers, not road riders – especially as the new red cam cover, which signifies the updated head, is impossible to see behind the fairing!
This generation of motor and chassis is now effectively eight years old and the introduction of a new style of valve train is unlikely to cause any major issues in the ZX-10R’s reliability.
And anyway, how many road riders will ever stress a 200bhp engine! The build quality seems high.
The Ninja is decent value when you consider what you are getting in terms of technology and track pedigree and it is the only one of the litre inline four Japanese sportsbikes that can genuinely boast race success on a world level. In fact, since this generation was launched in 2011 it has won five of a possible eight WSB titles.
But by the same token you are getting a bike that has remained visually fairly unaltered over the years and it still lacks a TFT dash and any connectivity or datalogging apps, which does make it seem a little behind the game.
But in terms of pure cash, the Ninja is over £1000 cheaper than the Honda Fireblade and £2000 less than the Yamaha R1. The stock Suzuki GSX-R1000 is £800 less than the Kawasaki, but it lacks some of its track technology.
Insurance group: 17 of 17 – compare motorcycle insurance quotes now.
In terms of sportsbike technology, the Ninja has just about everything with three power modes, five-stage traction control (you have to be stationary to deactivate it), angle-sensitive ABS and traction control, launch control, anti-wheelie, engine brake control and 2019 sees an autoblipper function added to the quickshifter.
But, and this is a big but, the LCD dash is horribly dated when compared to the current crop of TFT displays and that really takes the shine off the Ninja. To gain semi-active suspension you need to invest a further nearly £5000 in the SE model, which also comes with Marchesini wheels.