Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R Review
|The ZX-10R was in my eyes the best of both worlds. On one hand it was comfy and super friendly to ride around town, while on the other it was able to mix it with the big boys when the road and weather conditions allowed.||
|✓||Handling, traction control, brakes, powerful engine|
|×||Seat is a little on the hard side, reports of the screen wobbling|
During the two years that I owned my 2012 Kawasaki ZX-10R, for the most part it was a pleasure. I and its previous owner carried out a few tasteful mods that included an Akrapovic end can, shorty levers, tail tidy and a single seat cowl. My particular bike was in gloss black, and from the moment i clasped eyes on it the showroom, I knew I had to have it. And that was before I had even turned a wheel on it. It just looked mean :)
Although for me the shine was quickly taken off of it due to my particular bike developing a couple of niggling electrical issues early on that resulted in multiple trips back and forth to the dealer, so that they could try and cure a pesky error message that kept being thrown up every now and then during start up which pointed to an issue with ‘a’ sensor.
During the early days, the bike had 2 replacement batteries, various sensors needing regular cleaning to cure a pesky misfire that it had developed which in the end led to the entire wiring loom being replaced! All of these issues were rectified at no cost to myself, thanks to the fantastic lifetime warranty and guarantee that the dealer has on all new and 2nd hand bikes for which they are a main dealer for! While all this was going on, Wheels really looked after me making sure that I was never without a bike, and them absorbing all of the costs.
Now I don’t want to tar this particular model of ZX-10R (the 4th generation) as being unreliable, but for me these issues did result in me not trusting the bike. The final nail in this bikes coffin was that towards the end of my time with it, it also developed an overheating problem whenever I got stuck in traffic! That was due to the cooling fan packing up. All of this on a low mileage 5 year old bike (at the time i traded it in). None of these issues are particularly common to the 4th gen Ninja, so I just put it down to me buying a lemon :(
With all that aside, when I did actually get to use the bike, I used it as my Sunday morning toy as well as my daily commuter. I only live a 5-10 minute ride away from work, but even during that short trip the bike never complained or felt like it was being asked to do something it wasn’t happy doing. On the rare occasion that i have taken my 1199 to work, it is like night and day. The 1199 at low speeds has to be in the right gear along with you taking huge handfuls of clutch to ensure that she doesn’t get bogged down or try to stall.
The ZX-10R at the time I bought it was in my eyes the best of both worlds. On one hand it was comfy and super friendly to ride around town, while on the other it was able to mix it with the big boys when the road and weather conditions allowed! The reasons for this are that the Ninja makes most of its power above 10,000 revs and its long gearing. A few people have tried to remedy this by swapping the front sprocket for a smaller one, allowing the bike to drive out of slow corners harder instead of having to rely on knocking the bike back a gear or two in an effort to keep the revs up. I and many others actually see this ‘issue’ as a plus point for the bike, which has helped herald it as a real world ‘usable’ super bike.
At the time of the bikes debut, it had what was deemed ‘cutting edge electronics’. These included an excellent traction and anti-wheelie control system to keep everything under control when things got a bit mental! When I was out clearing the cobwebs on a Sunday morning blast, I would regularly open her up in the low gears that resulted in the dash lighting up like a Christmas tree. Normally I would find myself grabbing another gear just as the engines power really came on song, meaning I was never really able to get the most out of it in the real world if I wanted to keep my license.
Second to the clever electronics, the bike has an awesome chassis with fully adjustable suspension. These help to keep it planted in the corners allowing for high cornering speeds and lean angles. However thanks to the Michelin Power tyres that were on my particular bike, when the roads were a bit cold or slippy I regularly found the front trying to wash out even at low speeds. These tyres actually contributed to me throwing it up the road once while on my way to work in the wet! I was filtering my way through the heavy morning traffic as I usually do, when I touched a small patch of diesel. Before I knew it, I found myself on the deck with the rear brake lever trying its best to get through the side of my boot! Luckily when I went down, instinct took over with me grabbing the clutch and not letting go for all I was worth. This along with some conveniently placed crash bobbins saved the bike from causing any further damage to itself or others!
In the end the reasons for me trading the Ninja in for the 1199 were that I had owned it for two years, I was sick of the niggling issues I had been experiencing with it pretty much since day one, I no longer needed to use it for commuting thanks to me replacing my ageing Pan European with a newer GS and of course me beginning to yearn for something a bit more special for my Sunday morning rides. The whole point of a super bike is for it not to be easy to ride, not to be super friendly around town and not to make all of its power at the top end. A super bike is meant to make you feel alive, be rewarding to ride, to overload your senses and lastly make your heart skip a beat when you open the shed door on that perfect Sunday morning :)
- Andy J, 2018
Capacity: 998 cc
Power: 197 bhp
Seat Height: 835 mm
Wet Weight: 206 kg
Range: 170 miles