THIS one’s sure to have some people up in arms. Choosing the top 10 best bikes from more than half a century of Kawasaki production is never going to result in a selection that pleases everyone. But what the hell, let’s do it anyway – use the comments below to tell us what you think we’ve got it wrong.
Of course, it’s hard to even define ‘best’. From a purely objective point of view, all Kawasaki’s latest bikes are no doubt better than their predecessors, but here we’re looking for the machines that stood head and shoulders above their period rivals or have since gone down in history as game-changers or glorious peaks of motorcycling excellence.
So here's our top 10 countdown, starting with...
10: ZX-6R (2003)
Kawasaki sports bikes have always had a slightly brutish reputation as the choice for hard-core riders who are prepared to compromise on comfort and refinement in favour of the last drops of performance, and the 2003 ZX-6R was the perfect example of this. While other firms made well-rounded 600cc machines, Kawasaki bet everything on an out-and-out nutter bike. Carrying a 636cc engine (unless you can find the future-classic, 599cc ZX-6RR) that was introduced in the previous generation, the 03 bike gained USD forks, radial calipers and MotoGP-derived styling. Honda, Yamaha and Suzuki would later follow suit with much more extreme 600-class sportsters, but Kawasaki set the template.