Top test: Kawasaki ZX-10R old-new

Top test: Kawasaki ZX-10R old-new

Top test: Kawasaki ZX-10R old / new

The double top test of the old and new 10 ninja

The ZX-10R has never lacked power. But now the tens opens a very big barrel. Constructed from the ground up, it wants to advance to the top of the superbikes with 200 hp and traction control.

It kept us tense, strained patience and nerves. First the successful premiere at the presentation in Qatar (MOTORRAD 25/2010), which really piqued curiosity.

Und immediately afterwards the postponed sales start due to problems with the valve train (MOTORRAD 01/2011). For a long time it wasn’t even clear whether she would make it in time for this edition. But it came, albeit without ABS. Machines with (surcharge: 1000 euros) will only arrive in Europe in a week or two. But even without it, the new ZX-10R was very welcome. And so, as soon as she had reached the editorial garage, she was already on her way to Spain with her predecessor in the van. But not without handing in a business card to the test bench beforehand. And what a! After the test run, the measuring computer spewed out an enormous 197 hp for the new one.

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Top test: Kawasaki ZX-10R old-new

Top test: Kawasaki ZX-10R old / new
The double top test of the old and new 10 ninja

Regardless of whether it is tight, or fast, sweeping corners, the new one has its flat, wide Ram Air nose ahead.

That’s enough. Enough looked at, compared, felt, now you have to drive. Ritsch, zip up, visor down, let’s go. The LED bar on the rev counter lights up orange, where the predecessor provides information via a round instrument with a white background.

Dreamlike, discreet streets wind their way along the Spanish north coast and through the hinterland, almost deserted at this time of the year. And it only takes a few kilometers, only a handful of cautiously approached flukes, and one thing is clear: a completely different caliber is at the start here.

Even with the casual swing, the current Zehner shows a looseness that its predecessor does not have in the repertoire. Especially in tight and winding curves, it complies with the pilot’s steering commands almost without resistance, where its predecessor wants to be brought on course and kept on course with clear steering impulses. Boy, boy, is that thing going around the corner. She shakes fast alternating bends out of her wrist, whereas bumps in the road previously caused noticeable erection impulses, the Kawa now sails unmoved around the bends on the targeted lane. Changing the line or the incline is child’s play, because it is done with the least amount of effort, while the predecessor wants to be tackled much more forcefully. That’s great.

The 2010 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R.

This stark difference becomes smaller as the arches get wider and faster. But it doesn’t change the fact that the old Zehner is clearly put in its place here. Which is amazing, because the steering head angle and caster have only been changed slightly in terms of handiness and at 65 degrees and 107 millimeters are still rather conservative and designed for stability. Rather, behind this change in character lies a whole range of measures: On the one hand, Kawasaki has worked intensively on centralizing the masses around the focus. So the more compact motor in the chassis moved up a bit. The strut, which is arranged almost horizontally, not only allows the tank to be pulled under the seat, but also a larger exhaust collector. And this, in turn, enables a short end pot with a favorable focus. On the other hand, the interplay of fork and shock absorber harmonises perfectly. The coordination of the sensitively working spring elements is on the pleasantly taut side, which is good for a crisp speed and provides excellent stability. They filter edges and patches graciously and without undue hardness from the asphalt, where the spring elements of the ancients seem a bit more spongy and yet do not process bumps so carefully. And finally: the Bridgestone BT 016 in special "CC"-Execution turn out to be a downright lucky choice. Because they harmonize perfectly with the Kawa. All of this results in a sovereign neutrality and balance that puts it well above its predecessor and certainly at the top of the current 1000s. It is not difficult for the pilot to savor this, as he enjoys closer contact with the machine thanks to the narrower tank.

Above all, this maneuverability goes hand in hand with considerable steering precision. As if it could read the driver’s mind, the Kawasaki rushes around the corners on the targeted line, always open to course corrections. And if you were a little too optimistic about cornering speed out of sheer enthusiasm, it does not punish the grip on the brake with annoying positioning. On the other hand, the predecessor, soled with Pirelli Diablo Corsa III, is much more reluctant to turn in or tilt when braking.

The 2011 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R.

However, when it came to braking, the old Zehner had a small success. Your Tokico stoppers grip a little harder. Not that the new one is showing any significant nakedness here. The braking effect is quite good for brisk country road use and does not start aggressively or bitingly. But with a top athlete you could definitely expect a more energetic bite.

The new engine shows that. From 10,000 rpm, the Kawasaki goes off like a cat that has been kicked on the tail. With incredible energy and angry roar, she tears up the speed range. Only shortly before the limiter does the raging weaken a little. Then the LED strip on the rev counter is already burning brightly and signals with hectic flickering that it is time for the next gear. In this way, the tachometer also functions as a gearshift light that can be easily seen even from the corner of your eye. At the beginning of the test, the gear changes were a bit more bony than on the previous year’s model. But as the mileage increased, the cassette gear became more flexible.

The enormous power of the four-cylinder is a bit astonishing. Because it is neither designed to be extremely short-stroke and thus greedy for speed, nor, unlike Aprilia, Yamaha or BMW, can it serve with technical finesse such as variable intake lengths or exhaust flaps between the manifolds. Rather, it draws its strength from the same bore / stroke ratio as its predecessor. However, it is now fed by intake valves two millimeters larger, sharper camshafts and, above all, four millimeters larger throttle valves. Apparently, Kawasaki engineers have been quite successful in reducing internal friction. Can the old ten then at least score points when pulling through? In fact, it seems subjectively more powerful when starting up, for example when it comes out of turns in second gear. After all, its maximum torque is a good 2500 rpm earlier. But the measured values ​​speak a different language. The pull-through test also goes to the new one.

The compact motor of the 2011 ZX-10R (in the picture above) enables a 20 millimeter longer and more rigid rocker arm, which is now designed as a three-part die-cast construction.

Because it turns 500 rpm higher, it has a slightly shorter gear ratio. In addition, it only weighs a slim 200 and thus a full ten kilograms – the best value among the four-cylinder engines – less. Which more than compensates for the slightly lower torque below. The new drive also turns up more easily. Because it also uses around three tenths of a liter less fuel per 100 kilometers and, thanks to the balance shaft, also runs more silky, there is nothing to inherit in the engine classification for the replaced tens.

However, the new engine has one weakness: If the throttle valves are opened from overrun, the power is applied with a blink of an eye. Which can be annoying, especially at the apex of the bend and on winding stretches. A peculiarity, by the way, that the old engine carries around with it in an even more pronounced form.

The family duel has long been decided, because when it comes to equipment, too, the new one has her crouched, broad nose with the huge Ram Air throat in front. Things like an on-board computer with consumption display, outside temperature display, three different engine mappings – one with reduced, two with full power but different responsiveness – or an effective three-stage traction control, both of which can be easily selected from the handlebar, were not found with the ZX-10R. And in spite of the uncompromisingly sporty orientation, the now slightly wider windscreen even provides a slightly better wind protection in the shoulder area. Even the light output is better and the rear-view mirrors still offer a great view to the rear for a super sports car. However, given the price, the quality of the paintwork and the fit of the fairing could be a bit more valuable.

But even so, the ZX-10R of the latest vintage is by far the best ten that has ever existed. And that can only get better with ABS. This will reshuffle the cards for the great clash of superbikes. How the first part, the comparison on the country road, ends, is in the next issue.

Top test: Kawasaki ZX-10R old-new

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  • The three-stage traction control and the three different motor mappings can easily be adjusted independently from the handlebars while driving.
  • The height of the notches can be changed in a few simple steps and offers plenty of freedom of inclination even in the lower position.
  • The anti-hopping clutch works extremely effectively and keeps the rear wheel absolutely still.


  • The opening for filling in the engine oil is inclined at an unfavorable angle and is relatively difficult to access without a funnel.
  • The Kawasaki does not have an automatic gearshift, but that would be logical given its positioning.


As smoothly and neutrally as the new one dashes through the curves, your pilot has more opportunity to take a look at the dreamy landscape.

The new ZX-10R is better than its predecessor in all respects. More agile, stronger, more stable, more comfortable. Of course, the engine could use a little more bang from below. But her sociability, the playfulness of her, inspire. Kawasaki could only keep an eye on the throttle response and somewhat more powerful brakes. Otherwise: Hats off, Kawasaki.


Category engine:
Clear thing for the new model. Thanks to the generous extra power, it accelerates vehemently to 200. However, the start on the first meters is behavior, which takes time up to 100 km / h. The response behavior, which was previously delayed from overrun, did improve, but it is still not optimal. The cassette gear shifted a little more hooked than before, but this subsided with increasing mileage.

Category chassis:
Old Zehner looks pretty pale there. The newly designed chassis impresses with an absolutely successful balance. Accordingly, there is nothing to inherit for last year’s model in terms of accuracy, stability and certainly not in terms of neutrality. And because the suspension elements leave enough comfort for all their sporty stiffness, the new one also takes a clear victory in the chassis section.

Category everyday life:
Successful ergonomics have not been the strength of the ZX-10R so far. The new model puts an end to this. And because it consumes even less despite considerable additional power and thus offers greater range plus traction control, various mappings and a well-equipped cockpit with the same tank capacity, the new edition scores another stage victory – even if you should expect more in terms of processing.

Category Security:
Here, the newcomer is not covered in fame. The idea of ​​the braking system is okay for the country road, but it does not meet the demands of a top athlete. On the other hand, the new one shines with a low set-up moment, which cannot be said of the predecessor.

Category costs:
6000 intervals for inspections are not uncommon at Kawasaki, but they are still not a brilliant achievement. The inspection times of the new ones are also longer, which puts more strain on the wallet.

 Max points  ZX-10R model 2010  ZX-10R model 2011 Overall rating  1000  658  687
Price-performance note  Top grade 1.0  2.7  2.5

The 900 euros more that the new ZX-10R costs are well invested in view of its qualities, which are reflected in a clear victory in points.

Technical specifications

The brakes are good, but not quite on the usual top level of the new tens.

Kawasaki ZX-10R (values ​​in brackets: 2010 model)

Water-cooled four-cylinder four-stroke in-line engine, a balance shaft [no balance shaft], two overhead, chain-driven camshafts, four valves per cylinder, bucket tappets, wet sump lubrication, injection, Ø 47 [43] mm, regulated catalytic converter, 424 W alternator, 12 V / 10 battery Ah, mechanically operated multi-plate oil bath clutch, (anti-hopping), six-speed gearbox, O-ring chain, secondary ratio 39:17 [41:17].
Bore x stroke 76.0 x 55.0 mm
Displacement 998 cc
Compression ratio 13.0: 1 [12.9: 1]

rated capacity
147.0 kW (200 hp) at 13,000 rpm
[138.0 kW (188 PS) at 12500 rpm]

Max. Torque
112 Nm at 11500 rpm
[113 Nm at 8700 rpm]

landing gear:
Bridge frame made of aluminum, upside-down fork, Ø 43 mm, steering damper, adjustable spring base, rebound and compression damping, two-arm swing arm made of aluminum, central spring strut with lever system, adjustable spring base, rebound and compression damping, double disc brake at the front, Ø 310 mm, four-piston fixed calipers , Rear disc brake, Ø 220 mm, single-piston floating caliper, electronic slip control [no electronic slip control].
Cast aluminum wheels 3.50 x 17; 6.00 x 17
Tires 120/70 ZR 17; 190/55 ZR 17
Bridgestone BT 016 tires tested "CC" [Pirelli Diablo Corsa III "N"]

Mass and weight:
Wheelbase 1425 [1415] mm, steering head angle 65.0 [64.5] degrees, caster 107 [110] mm, spring travel f / r 120/125 mm, seat height * 810 mm, tank capacity 17.0 liters.
guarantee two years
Service intervals 6000 km
Colours Green / black, black
price 15495 [14595] euros
Additional costs around 180 euros

* MOTORCYCLE measurements

MOTORCYCLE measurements

Drawing: archive

The performance chart diagram of the two ninjas.

Even performance, and from 10,000 rpm the old Zehner has nothing to report. Its slightly higher torque at lower speeds more than makes up for it with a shorter gear ratio and lower weight. But neither are draft giants. Elbow-long lower gears and closely spaced upper gears, like a racing gearbox.

Driving performance:

Top speed (manufacturer information) 295 [298] km / h

0-100 km / h 3.3 [3.2] sec
0-140 km / h 4.6 [4.7] sec
0-200 km / h 7.2 [7.6] sec

60-100 km / h 3.7 [4.2] sec
100-140 km / h 3.3 [3.4] sec
140-180 km / h 3.4 [3.5] sec

Speedometer deviation
Effective (display 50/100) 48/95 km / h

Tachometer deviation
Display red area 14000 / min
Effective 13500 [13000] / min

Country road 5.4 [5.7] l / 100 km
Theor. Range of the highway 315 [298] km
Fuel type super

Mass and weight:
L / W / H 2130/900/1130 [2120/840/1130] mm
Seat height 810 [815] mm
Handlebar height 850 [865] mm
Turning circle 6630 [6550] mm
Weight with a full tank 200 [210] kg
Payload 178 [178] kg
Wheel load distribution v / h 52/48 [51/49]%

Brake measurements

Drawing: archive

The braking diagram of the two ninjas.

Both models convince with a very easy to dose brake system. Nevertheless, the front stoppers on the 2010 model are a bit more snappy. The slightly lower seating position and the slightly longer wheelbase on the 2011 model reduce the tendency to stop compared to the previous model.

Brake measurement from 100 km / h:

Braking distance model 2011  39.8 m
Reference Suzuki GSX-R 1000  38.3 m

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