Despite being updated with Brembo calipers for 2016, the brakes on my ZX-10R are weak.
During our superbike shoot-out earlier in the year we brake tested all the bikes and the Kawasaki took 50.24 meters to stop from 70mmph – exactly the same as the out-going ZX-10R, despite having higher spec calipers.
To put that into perspective the BMW S1000RR takes 47.88 meters to stop from the same speed and the Panigale just 45.85 meters.
Not only do the Kawasaki’s brakes lack overall stopping power, there’s none of that nice, tactile feel at the lever, even at road speeds. On track the cornering ABS lets the brakes off when you trail brake into turns, so it’s hard to commit.
Is it the pads? The ABS system? It’s been my mission to find out.
I’ve fitted a dongle from Kawasaki that disables the electronic ABS system. It gives the brakes more consistency on track, but it doesn’t change the feel through the lever or the overall power.
New SBS brake pads have helped. I use Dual Sinter pads on my BMW S1000RR race bike and they give WSB-levels of feel and power and it’s certainly helped Kawasaki. For the road I’ve tried the SBS Sinter pads, which improve feel at lower speeds.
But they’re still not as sharp as they could be. Now that can only be down to the fact the brake lines still have to run through the ABS control unit, under the seat, rather than going directly from lever to caliper. All the reports from the ZX-10R launch earlier in the year said the brakes were fantastic, but they were all non-ABS versions.
The only thing left to do is overhaul the braking system and remove the ABS system completely, but I’m not keen on undertaking such an overhaul. There’s no reason why you can’t have ABS and strong brakes – just look at the Panigale and S1000RR.
Of course, the ZX-10R’s brakes work fine in normal conditions and the ABS system can be a life-saver. I’m just going to have to accept they’re not as good as they could be.
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