“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