Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R SE Review
“ WOW! The first thing I noticed was how comfortable the bike felt. The electronic suspension is brilliant and almost like floating on air. ”
What Is It?
The 2018 Kawasaki ZX-10R SE is a premium sports bike and features a super fast electronic suspension system.
Engine: 998 cc Inline Four, 197 bhp
Economy: 45 mpg
Range: 170 miles
Seat Height: 835 mm
What Is It Like?
I first started riding motorcycles at 17, working my way up from a Gilera 50cc up to a Yamaha FZ600 over the next 5 years.
Unfortunately for me I had a high speed accident where a car pulled out in front of me on a dual carriageway and was lucky to walk away from it with minor injuries. The driver did get done for careless driving and I was not at fault. However, the accident did put me off bikes for the next 27 years.
To cut a long story short family life took priority and approximately 3 years ago I decided it was time for me to have a little fun before I’m too old for motorcycles.
Choosing the SE
I work about 30 miles away and a motorcycle was a convenient way to avoid traffic congestion. I was really happy with the ZZR1400 for commuting but a fellow workmate got me to try a few track days.
I did not feel comfortable taking the H2 on track as I feel it may be a target and quite expensive to throw down the track. The ZZR1400 was capable but just too heavy for me on track.
If I wanted to do more track days I needed a re-think about the bike I was using for both daily commuting and racing. Buying a third bike just for track was out of the question at the time so I needed to find a bike which could do both.
When the Big Z went in for its next service it was suggested to me to use the Kawasaki ZX10R-SE as a courtesy bike.
WOW! The first thing I noticed was how comfortable the bike felt, not really the riding position as this is still a sports bike but the electronic suspension is brilliant and almost like floating on air.
Reading the brochures about the electronic suspension I thought it was a bit of a gimmick, how wrong I was. It really does work and works well.
Riding around the country lanes around and on the twisties the bike feels like it's on rails. The next thing I noticed was how quick it was to stop.
Under hard braking the brakes are sharp and the suspension gives a great sense of safety. One thing I do remember about the first time I rode that bike home was the big grin on my face.
Bearing in mind the bikes I have owned I'll now get on to the power. While the bike is more than happy to bimble around town the fun factor really begins at about 8,000rpm but you really do have to hang on and the sound of the Akrapovic exhaust is sublime.
Does It Live Up To My Expectations?
I needed a bike for day to day commuting and a track bike rolled into one and this bike delivers that. I thought about the ZX-10RR model for the track days I do but I'm not convinced it would be suitable as a commuter and I didn’t want to have to mess around with different suspension setups every time I went to the track.
With the ZX10R-SE in road mode the suspension makes long journeys a pleasure to ride, in track mode the suspension really does stiffen up and works well. It can be changed at a flick of a switch, no manual messing with suspension set ups and takes a few seconds to change settings.
I have not really messed around with the manual settings as road and track modes have suited me although it's possible to manually set the electronic suspension how you like.
I have done about 6 track days to date on this bike and consider myself a Intermediate-Fast rider. The first time out at Silverstone a young man about half my age on a ZX-10R said he came out of pits along side of me and thought get out of the way old man, but after the first corner admitted he would never see me again as I disappeared into the distance!
Handling, suspension and confidence that the motorcycle provides. If you want a bike for everyday riding and track without any hassles this is a great choice.
The Bridgestone tyres fitted as standard are good but I found I was flat spotting them quite quickly so I replaced these with Pirelli Rosso Corsa II tyres which I have found have a longer life for commuting and I have complete confidence with them on track.
The dash is out dated and needs upgrading, however, I have since ridden a ZX10R-SE courtesy bike with an aftermarket TFT dash fitted and it's rumoured to be fitted in future as standard. This dash can be fitted for about £1,000 as an aftermarket option and has GPS for lap times as well as the usual settings and features of a standard display.
To Sum Up
I have done about 9,000 miles since buying this bike and do not see me changing it any time soon. One tip - do not use the track mode suspension setting on road because your backside will soon regret it.
- Leslie D, 2019
Kawasaki ZX-10R - Standard road focused model with less powerful brakes, no quickshifter and less fancy wheels.
Kawasaki ZX-10RR - Track focused bike with light wheels and a quickshifter but no electronic suspension.
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Check out this video review from Bike World.