There's no doubt that the 2011 Kawasaki ZX-10R was the most anticipated sportsbike of the year. So, it is any good?
Thirteen years seperates these two. Oh, and 73bhp.
I've been riding past this '98 plate Kawasaki ZX-7R for weeks on my way to work. This morning I couldn't help but park up and have a quick nosey. Despite looking a little bit dirty, this looks like a mint, original example of what was once a genuinely exiting bike from Kawasaki. The brakes were in good nick, the fresh looking tyres worn pretty much all the way to the edges and it even had an original pipe. I'll confess that I miss the sweeping needle of an analogue clock set, the ZX-7R dash typifying sports bikes of the late 90's. This was a 203 kilo 112bhp 750, which may not sound like much now, and it wasn't much back in 1996, but that didn't stop people from buying into the Kawasaki dream. It wasn't a bad race bike either, winning the odd World Superbike race right up until Sugo in 2000. I know there's been a ZX-9R in between my bike and this one, but they never got me going like the lardy 750 used to. I'm not sure if it's just the green paint, but I can see the bloodline. I've stuck an old school on board video of a ZX-7R getting a pasting onto the bottom of this page, turn it up and have a look.
Just a quick update this morning. I ended up riding for a bit with a guy on a brand new, old shape, ZX-10R. With an Akrapovic end can he paid just £8,500 brand new for his bike. He was was the smuggest looking biker I've ever had the misfortune of meeting at the lights. I'm sure he felt that he had the better deal, both of our bikes had new registrations, were the same make and the same model, but his was nearly £4k cheaper than mine. Now, I love a bargain as much as the next man, but it took every ounce of my will power not to highlight the reasons why his bike was so heavily discounted. If we were riding Fireblades, or GSX-R 1000s I could understand where he was coming from. But, we weren't. He was riding an outdated also ran, I was riding the best bike Kawasaki have built in my generation. I didn't have the heart to tell him that he could spend ten grand on the bike he was riding and it still wouldn't be as good as the new one. He might not have known we were racing when the lights went to amber, but we were, and I nailed his hat on. Pffft.
I managed to get a full Akrapovic exhaust system in to test on the ZX-10R last week. After a couple of months running with the Two Brothers racing end can and MWR filter, I was looking forward to seeing if I'd get any more than the 178.4 bhp that the current combo delivered. The new system slipped on like a shiny full titanium made to measure slipper. I think it looks ace too. With the MWR filter in and the Akrapovic on, the bike showed 182 and the power curve was as clean as a whistle. I wanted to try another run with a mod on the airfilter, so I removed the backing plate and put it back in the bike. Two minutes later I had 184.8bhp at the wheel and 197.1bhp at the crank. No doubt a Power Commander and some more dyno time at Carbontek will see 200bhp breached, though I doubt that'll ever be at the wheel. Check out the video on our Facebook page of the ZX-10R bellowing all the way to 12839rpm and 184bhp.
The ZX-10R is currently having a bit of a rest at Kawasaki UK HQ, following the 1000s test that we've been working on for the Summer issue (on sale on June 13). It was slightly overdue a service once the test had finished, so I wasn't surprised when the boys called me from Bruntingthorpe to inform me that the clutch was on its way out. I don't mean it was knackered, far from it really. The ZX-10R still managed 188 miles an hour in near perfect speed testing conditions. That's the same as the quotes top speed for the original Suzuki Hayabusa back in 1999. Remember what a stir that figure caused back then? This time it hardly raised an eyebrow as we expected strong numbers from the Kawasaki. I wasn't surprised, really. The too tall gearing isn't an issue for me anymore, but I do find it a constant source of hilarity. I like the way the rev counter has the audacity to rev into the 'red' zone at 109 mph in fourth gear, yet if you rev it out in second it'll pull 132mph. I also had to remove the MWR airfilter and the Two Brothers Racing exhaust that I'd painfully fitted, so now the bike is back in standard trim. For now.
Another sun kissed commute to work this morning.
I'm sure if the weather stayed like this, crime rates would plummet.
Everyone seems to be so much more polite, even on the roads. I'm still
encountering the odd mental Ghanaian, hell bent on running me off the
road while he natters down his mobile. But, when the sun is shining on
me like it was this morning, I'm happy to let it slide. Anyway, I was
busy this morning. I decided to count the cars that I overtook on my way
in. I got past 203 of the little buggers. Can anyone beat that?
Despite the Kawasaki ZX-10R
having 187bhp at the wheel, it's proving to be quite a nifty little
commuter. The mirrors are too wide to stick with the pushbikes in the
really tight stuff, but if a scooter goes through a gap, then we usually
My initial concerns about gearing are fading. I know the
gearing is too tall for 99 per cent of everyday riding, but I'm not
struggling with it anywhere near as much as I thought I would. Maybe I'm
too busy trying not to become a bonnet ornament on a Mazda Bongo to
Weekend lay-ins are a precious commodity in the Hogan house. With three young
daughters, two cats, two fish and Henry the Hamster, there are mouths to feed
at pretty much all hours. Sunday morning is usually my turn to feed the five
thousand and today was no different. Once done however, I took the opportunity
to get out and fit a new tail tidy to the Kawasaki. I've been sent a huge box
of stuff to try from Italian aftermarket newcomers Rizoma. Not all of the parts
are really my cup of tea, but everything that I've played with so far feels
really well built.
The instructions were detailed, right up to the point where they said that
getting the old part out was completely up to me. I rolled up my sleeves, belt
fed a stack of custard creams to everyone, put Peppa Pig on loop and got stuck
It took an age to get the thing in, way longer than I'm happy to admit. I gave
myself thirty minutes, but took two hours. The problem was I decided that
rather than rushing it, I'd remove as many parts as was necessary to make the
job easier. Rather than squeezing my fingers into a tiny gap and covering
everything in the inevitable claret, I stripped the lot out. At one stage my
four-year old sympathetically commented on the crash that I'd had in the front
garden. There was green plastic and bits of bike everywhere. The tail tidy fits a treat though,
entirely worth the hassle. I only encountered one small problem. The holes for
the number plate mounting bolts were too small. They were in the perfect place,
but they needed a zap with my Makita to open them up enough to hold the plate
on. Click to www.rizoma.com and have a look at what else they do. I promise it's not like the usual tat that's out there.
I had to have a look at the power figure, despite not having the O2 eliminator
plug that should have been in the box with the Two Brothers pipe fitted. And,
despite the fact that the thing runs so rich that it makes my eyes water at
traffic lights. It felt like I was carrying my own Christmas present round in a
box, I'd have a sneaky peek and nobody need know. I even went to a different
dyno house than the one I normally go to. www.sbkcity.com is only a ten-minute
stroll from the office, so off I went.
The result? 180 bhp at the wheel, running like a lottery winner. I should have
OK a confession straight away. The ZX-10R is in the possession and control of Mr John Hogan, so anything that goes on it, anything that changes on it, is down to him. But I (KP) borrowed it the other day (JH was off on a Ducati launch and it was a nice day, so...).
It wasn't much of a ride, but it was the first time I had ridden it on the roads since I attended the launch at Losail track in Qatar. Two things. The Two Brothers end can is smart and not too loud, though I'm not sure it doesn't mess with the fuelling a bit. The Michelin Power Road III tyres felt great on the road and thirdly, finding neutral from first or second was a pain in the arse. Otherwise? Wow. I better give the keys back now and let John tell you what he thinks...