KAWASAKI ZX-10RR (2021 - on) Review

Highlights

  • Only 500 examples to be built for WSB homologation
  • Titanium conrods, lightweight pistons, Marchesini wheels
  • It’s the bike Jonathan Rea will be riding and he helped develop it!

At a glance

Power: 201 bhp
Seat height: Medium (32.9 in / 835 mm)
Weight: Medium (456 lbs / 207 kg)

Prices

New £24,799
Used £18,000 - £24,800

Overall rating

Next up: Ride & brakes
4 out of 5 (4/5)

The Ninja ZX-10RR is a bit of an idiosyncratic bike because despite its exclusive status, it lacks the sex appeal of an Italian homologation special and instead is built purely to win on track.

So while it does have Euro5-compliance, lights and indicators, Kawasaki aren’t expecting any road riders to actually buy one. Its success will be judged on world and domestic race tracks, not showroom floors.

Realistically, as good as the RR is on track, unless you are a pro racer you are probably better off saving £9000 and buying the standard model...

2021 Kawasaki ZX-10RR front

Ride quality & brakes

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

Benefitting from the same geometry changes as the stock bike (an 8mm longer swingarm for stability, 2mm more fork off-set and a 1mm lower swingarm pivot point), the RR’s lightweight seven-spoke Marchesini wheels mean it drops into bends with greater eagerness than the R.

You need to treat it more like a racer and throw it at an apex rather than gently roll in but it rewards aggressive input through noticeably better agility than the stock bike. Unlike the R you have the option to adjust the RR’s swingarm pivot point but this is really only a benefit to race teams.

For 2021 Kawasaki have altered the suspension set-up on both the R and RR with more weight now placed over the front wheel through revised spring rates (firmer on the rear, softer at the front) as well as a new riding position, which helps the Ninja’s agility.

Slightly strangely, Kawasaki don’t fit braided steel lines as standard to the stock Ninja, however they do on the RR this gives it much better brake feel for track riding. With less lever movement and more consistent braking performance, they are a huge benefit.

Should the stock bike have them? Rubber lines do give a nice initial ‘squish’ for road riding, so arguably braided lines suit the track-focused RR more than the R. The RR also gets the new aero package, which apparently adds 17% more downforce when compared to the old shape of fairing that lacks the integrated winglets – racers may spot this, road riders are unlikely to.

2021 Kawasaki ZX-10RR knee down left

Engine

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

The RR gets lightweight internals in the form of Pankl titanium conrods and low friction pistons as well as a more aggressive inlet cam. Shedding nearly 500g from the RR’s spinning parts when compared to the R’s motor, these make a big difference to throttle pickup.

While not that noticeable hard on the gas in a straight line (it also has the R’s lower gearing), when you first open the throttle to exit a bend the RR is more instant in its response and quicker to build up acceleration.

The extra 500rpm over-rev the RR gets is also really handy on track, allowing you to hold a gear where on the R you are forced to either short-shift or bounce it off the limiter. But it’s not all good news.

Despite its higher-spec motor, the RR only makes 1bhp more than the R and actually has 2.3ft.lb less torque. Why? As it is road-legal it is Euro5-compliant and that has strangled its performance through emissions restrictions in the exhaust and ECU. Kawasaki are confident a full system and ECU re-map (when available) or kit ECU will release at least 20bhp.

2021 Kawasaki ZX-10RR uprated engine components

Reliability & build quality

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

As the RR is a road-legal production motorcycle, you get two years’ warranty – although as you would imagine, this may have a few clauses in it that means race bikes aren’t covered... The same is also probably true of the PCP deal!

In terms of reliability, there is no reason to assume the RR will be any less reliable than the R and on the road you are highly unlikely to ever stress the motor. The build quality seems good and Pankl manufacture their parts for use in extreme situations such as a WSB race bike, so all should be well there too.

2021 Kawasaki ZX-10RR right side

Value vs rivals

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

As the RR is such a unique bike, it is hard to really comment on running costs and value. If you buy one as a road bike it has the same service intervals as a normal ZX-10R, which is every 7500 miles with a valve-clearance check at 15,000 miles.

In terms of value, there is an argument that a homologation special such as the RR may go up in value or be seen as a longterm investment, especially as the vast majority will be taken on track, but history suggests that this isn’t the case with the ZX-10RR, so don’t assume you are being clever by buying one and keeping it on the road.

When you look at its rivals, you are really only talking about the Ducati Panigale V4 R, which is an eye-watering £34,995, and the £30,935 BMW M1000RR. Honda, Yamaha and Suzuki don’t have full-on homologation specials.

That said, the Yamaha R1M is £22,602 and Fireblade SP £23,499 and both come with semi-active suspension where the normally-suspended Suzuki GSX-R1000R is £16,999. The Aprilia RSV4 Factory is £23,000 and also features semi-active suspension.

2021 Kawasaki ZX-10RR on track

Equipment

3 out of 5 (3/5)

The RR is a platform for race teams and as such comes with all the parts homologated that FIM rules won’t let them change. So you get lightweight Marchesini wheels, titanium Pankl conrods and lightweight engine internals as standard alongside the new aero package.

Road riders (there may be a few...) will appreciate the new TFT dash which has connectivity via Kawasaki’s Rideology app, standard fitment cruise control and the option of adding heated grips.

A Performance Edition adds a road-legal Akrapovic carbon slip-on can, tank pad and a smoked screen for an extra £800. If you want to go beyond this you are talking factory kit parts and that’s when it gets very expensive... 

2021 Kawasaki ZX-10RR left side

Specs

Engine size 998cc
Engine type Liquid-cooled, 4-stroke in-line four
Frame type Twin spar, cast aluminium
Fuel capacity 17 litres
Seat height 835mm
Bike weight 207kg
Front suspension 43 mm inverted Balance Free Front Fork with external compression chamber, compression and rebound damping and spring preload adjustability, and top-out springs
Rear suspension Horizontal Back-link with BFRC lite gas-charged shock, piggyback reservoir, compression and rebound damping and spring preload adjustability, and top-out spring
Front brake Dual semi-floating 330 mm Brembo discs. Caliper: Dual radial-mount, Brembo M50 monobloc, opposed 4-piston
Rear brake Single 220 mm disc. Caliper: Single piston
Front tyre size 120/70ZR17
Rear tyre size 190/55ZR17

Mpg, costs & insurance

Average fuel consumption -
Annual road tax £96
Annual service cost -
New price £24,799
Used price £18,000 - £24,800
Insurance group -
How much to insure?
Warranty term Two years

Top speed & performance

Max power 201 bhp
Max torque 82.7 ft-lb
Top speed -
1/4 mile acceleration -
Tank range -

Model history & versions

Model history

2017: Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10RR The first RR model only comes in ‘Winter Test’ colours and features a standard motor with a modified head to allow it to run higher-lift cams and a few strengthening features. It also has Marchesini wheels, an autoblipper and single seat unit.

2019: Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10RR- A far more dedicated RR model, alongside the stock bike the RR gains a new finger-follower valve train but the RR adds Pankl titanium conrods, lighter pistons, a higher rev limit, Marchesini wheels and a single seat unit.

Other versions

The standard Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R was also updated in 2021. Kawasaki ZX-10RR Performance comes with a smoked screen, tank grips and Akrapovic exhaust and costs £25,599.

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