Kawasaki ZX-10R (2008) review

Details
Manufacturer:
Kawasaki
Category:
Sportsbikes
Price:
£ 8950
Overall
4
Need Insurance?
Seriously quick, track focused missile, now with more power and more usability.
Some of the bullish character has been lost.

Most, or all of the above is largely true, but I’m more than happy to make an arse of myself in the name of sunny foreign press launches. As Niall and Whit were busy at the NEC show, I lunged at the opportunity to redeem my previous road test misdemeanour from this summer. More importantly though, I was very keen to see if the third incarnation of the ZX-10R would remain the loveable but demented rogue, or finally mature into a proper contender for the ultimate track tool.

Its qualities were matched by its failings, as far as the masses were concerned. I, for one, loved the raw motor with its class-leading low-down grunt and raucous air intake roar. I also liked the fact that a high degree of physical rider input was necessary to counteract the wayward chassis. It made it fun, if a little exhausting, and certainly intimidating for some. The bottom line however, was that the Japanese competition made models that were easier to ride fast and that, at the end of the day, is how these bikes are judged. I should point out that my fairly spectacular dismount in southern France a few months ago had nothing to do with the bike, but rather a rogue front Dunlop that had created unpleasant moments for most of the riders on that particular test. No such problems here as the bikes are fitted with Pirelli Diablo Super Corsa’s on the first day and a softer version developed specifically for this circuit on day two.

So, what have Kawasaki done to address the criticisms of the 2006 model? Well, there seems to be a fresh ethos at the factory to produce a more powerful yet more controllable bike, with emphasis on increased chassis feedback and flickability, and far greater potential for success in the superbike racing arena – let’s see how many podiums Laconi and Tamada can amass between them. As a part of this, the bodywork has been designed to fit the rider more snugly, allowing a more race-like stance with less obtrusion from the fuel tank and fairing. It certainly looks dinky and very narrow and once tucked in, fitted me perfectly.

The significant changes over the outgoing model include the predictable increase in power (185bhp and 197bhp with ram air effect which is up 13 & 17bhp respectively) along with a lighter and more rigid chassis and sub frame. Re-shaped intake ports and combustion chambers are to thank for the stronger top-end surge. Improved mass centralisation is down to the welcome return to a conventional exhaust layout. Gone, thank God, are the cumbersome and ugly under seat items (aren’t they all?) that blighted the rear of the predecessor. Secondary injectors are added along with a revised and quieter ram air system thanks (or no thanks if you enjoyed the ferocious racket of the current bike) to new intake funnels. Lighter aluminium discs and a few titanium internals help keep the claimed dry weight to 179kg, a slight 4kg increase over the incumbent. It’s fair to say that the new model, despite there being no change to the handlebar/seat/footrest relationship, looks and feels a far more serious a track tool, and that’s before firing up the motor. One final inquisitive lap of the bike and I have to say that the new styling does work for me. I love the side profile, in particular the sky-high tail unit and the excessive use of black, even down to the anodised foot pegs. I could happily do without the front indicators (a tiny £110 LED replacement will be available as an accessory) that look like fat caterpillars en route to a leaf party and the nasty black end cap on the silencer. Never fear, titanium Akrapovic cans with carbon end caps will remedy this at around £450 by the time the bike goes on sale late Feb/early March next year.

Read more: http://www.visordown.com/road-tests-first-rides/first-ride-2008-kawasaki-zx-10r/4390.html#ixzz0xcx6Dj41

Most, or all of the above is largely true, but I’m more than happy to make an arse of myself in the name of sunny foreign press launches. As Niall and Whit were busy at the NEC show, I lunged at the opportunity to redeem my previous road test misdemeanour from this summer. More importantly though, I was very keen to see if the third incarnation of the ZX-10R would remain the loveable but demented rogue, or finally mature into a proper contender for the ultimate track tool.

Its qualities were matched by its failings, as far as the masses were concerned. I, for one, loved the raw motor with its class-leading low-down grunt and raucous air intake roar. I also liked the fact that a high degree of physical rider input was necessary to counteract the wayward chassis. It made it fun, if a little exhausting, and certainly intimidating for some. The bottom line however, was that the Japanese competition made models that were easier to ride fast and that, at the end of the day, is how these bikes are judged. I should point out that my fairly spectacular dismount in southern France a few months ago had nothing to do with the bike, but rather a rogue front Dunlop that had created unpleasant moments for most of the riders on that particular test. No such problems here as the bikes are fitted with Pirelli Diablo Super Corsa’s on the first day and a softer version developed specifically for this circuit on day two.

So, what have Kawasaki done to address the criticisms of the 2006 model? Well, there seems to be a fresh ethos at the factory to produce a more powerful yet more controllable bike, with emphasis on increased chassis feedback and flickability, and far greater potential for success in the superbike racing arena – let’s see how many podiums Laconi and Tamada can amass between them. As a part of this, the bodywork has been designed to fit the rider more snugly, allowing a more race-like stance with less obtrusion from the fuel tank and fairing. It certainly looks dinky and very narrow and once tucked in, fitted me perfectly.

The significant changes over the outgoing model include the predictable increase in power (185bhp and 197bhp with ram air effect which is up 13 & 17bhp respectively) along with a lighter and more rigid chassis and sub frame. Re-shaped intake ports and combustion chambers are to thank for the stronger top-end surge. Improved mass centralisation is down to the welcome return to a conventional exhaust layout. Gone, thank God, are the cumbersome and ugly under seat items (aren’t they all?) that blighted the rear of the predecessor. Secondary injectors are added along with a revised and quieter ram air system thanks (or no thanks if you enjoyed the ferocious racket of the current bike) to new intake funnels. Lighter aluminium discs and a few titanium internals help keep the claimed dry weight to 179kg, a slight 4kg increase over the incumbent. It’s fair to say that the new model, despite there being no change to the handlebar/seat/footrest relationship, looks and feels a far more serious a track tool, and that’s before firing up the motor. One final inquisitive lap of the bike and I have to say that the new styling does work for me. I love the side profile, in particular the sky-high tail unit and the excessive use of black, even down to the anodised foot pegs. I could happily do without the front indicators (a tiny £110 LED replacement will be available as an accessory) that look like fat caterpillars en route to a leaf party and the nasty black end cap on the silencer. Never fear, titanium Akrapovic cans with carbon end caps will remedy this at around £450 by the time the bike goes on sale late Feb/early March next year.

Read more: http://www.visordown.com/road-tests-first-rides/first-ride-2008-kawasaki-zx-10r/4390.html#ixzz0xcx6Dj41

Score Breakdown
Overall
4
Engine
5
Brakes
4
Handling
4
Comfort
3
Build Quality
4
Crash Media Group
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