Kawasaki ZX-10R

“A rush of re­fined ve­loc­ity”


Al­right, fine: the 2011 ZX-10R doesn’t re­ally make 197bhp. Kawasaki said it did but only 175bhp gets from brochure to back wheel. And, I’ll ac­cept, that’s less than the BMW, with its all-too-true 190bhp. The ZX-10R is less torquey than the S1000RR too, less flex­i­ble and – as ridicu­lous as this sounds for a 1000cc superbike – a fair bit revvier.

But all that makes the Ninja nicer to ride. The BMW’S onslaught of power lives in con­stant con­flict with its ba­sic, first-gen elec­tron­ics: open the throt­tle and the mo­tor wants to wheelie, so the trac­tion con­trol kills the power, then the mo­tor kicks back in, the elec­tron­ics panic and pull the plug. The ZX-10R is a more co­he­sive ride. Wind it on hard and there’s no hop­ping, skip­ping or jump­ing – just a fluid rush of re­fined ve­loc­ity. So it’s 0.2s slower to 100mph? What a dis­as­ter…

The Kawasaki’s bet­ter-look­ing too. Don’t let the BM’S cor­po­rate Motorsport colours dis­tract you – the first S1000RR is a wonky-faced gar­goyle. The ZX-10R looks re­splen­dent in its sleek sym­me­try. It’s not even ex­cru­ci­at­ingly un­com­fort­able ei­ther. In 2011 I rode the length of France (730 miles in 26 hours, with an overnight stop) and the worst pain was a knuckle skinned low­er­ing the ad­justable foot­pegs. On the road, its ride qual­ity is plusher than the BMW. On the track – well, shall we com­pare World Superbike tro­phy cab­i­nets?

The Kawasaki is a co­he­sive and en­gag­ing ride and it piles on the speed

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