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Thursday, December 5, 2013

2014 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R - Ride Review

Kawasaki has always been a very aggressive motorcycle manufacturer (even though they didn’t start out by being so!!), and they have always produced prolific and class leading motorcycles (and if current WSBK results are something to go by, then boy are they leading the class). Be it the king of the quarter litre for more than two decades the Kawasaki Ninja 250 and now the Kawasaki 2013 Ninja 300, or their flag-ship the 2014 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R or the Big Daddy of Bad Boy Motorcycles the legendary 2014 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-14R, Kawasaki always demonstrated the willingness to walk that extra mile to remain the Japanese Leader of being revolutionary and ahead of its competition.

With BMW coming out with the ruthless BMW S1000RR and showed its Japanese competitors how an in-line four cylinder engine is capable of doing and achieving, the answer obviously came from non-other than Kawasaki in the form of the 2011 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R – the best and the most radical litre class motorcycle to ever come out from the land of the rising Sun, which not only boasted of power that might launch the rider to the edge of the Milky Way, but also boasted of a host of electronic aids any Japanese motorcycle has ever seen till date (I mean literally till date!!)

When ThrottleQuest.com, got a chance to put the 2014 Kawasaki ZX-10R through its paces, we were all smiles, awe and disbelief!!

Read on to know why as our Senior Road Tester Krishnendu Kes presents the Why behind the How...


Engine - Liquid cooled, four stroke, transverse four cylinder, DOHC, 4 valves per cylinder.
Capacity - 998 cc
Compresion Ratio – 13.0:1
Bore x Stroke - 76 x 55 mm
Induction - DFI® with four 47mm Keihin throttle bodies with oval sub-throttles, two injectors per cylinder
Max Power - 197.3 bhp
Max Torque – 114.3 Nm @ 11500 rpm
Transmission / Drive - 6 Speed  /   Chain drive

When I rode the 2006 10R seven years ago, the bike nearly tore itself off on its own and I had to hang on to the clip ons and I had to tame it. It was like a hungry wild beast on the hunt. And we all know how fast and ferocious hunters can be! The 2006 10R was one such machine and ever since the sound of ZedeX always brought back a feeling of awesomeness in its true meaning. Until 2009, when a game changer from Bavaria brought about a major upheaval and ushered in a storm of changes that shook the motorcycling world for both consumers and manufacturers. The S1000 double R lay down a set of new standards and basic principles; ABS, TC, Wheelie control and a host of other features. Today, these features are no more a criteria. They are standard!

And with these changes came a slew of motorcycles all of them trying to outdo the machine from Bavaria. And four years hence, they are all still struggling to keep up. And that is when we could perceive a familiar fast moving green streak over the horizon of hope. It was the new ZedeX setting a scorching trail.

When I got to test the 2014 10R, I took my time first appreciating the beauty of the design. Looks undergo a lot of changes. And motorcycles these days are increasingly prone to look more like spacecrafts. And the ZX 10R is a prime example of such evolution. What I was surprised was with the regular uneven firing of the engine; at regular intervals, the rpm would spike for short while and settle back immediately. It was not a constant humming of the inline4. A little surprising for me as I was just off my Yamaha (2008), which has a very smooth regular firing.

This motorcycle is not fast. It is frighteningly fast. Kawasaki research has moved the torque higher up. However, I did not feel that. I had linear power all along from the bottom of the futurist orange LED tacho all the way till it showed several bars of red LED glaring and smiling at me at the same time. There were no startling jerks in power or frustrating plateaus. To remain fiercely competitive, they have put in double throttle bodies and secondary injectors to increase top end. This has resulted in a wet weight of 201 kilos delivering close to 200bhp. That is phenomenal to say the least. At least on paper, this bike delivers a lot to reckon with. To squeeze more juice out of this, we will have to pit bike against bike on track and play out over time.

Ride and Handling

Rake/Trail - 25.0 degrees / 109.9mm
Front Suspension - 43mm Big Piston Fork (BPF), rebound, compression and spring preload adjustability 4.7in wheel travel
Rear Suspension -  Horizontal Back-link. High/low-speed compression, rebound and preload adjustable. 4.9in wheel travel
Front Brakes - 2x 310 mm petal discs, radial-mount  4-piston calliper, ABS
Rear Brakes - Single Single 220mm petal disc, ASB
Front Tyres - 120/70 ZR17
Rear Tyre - 190/55 ZR17
Seat Height - 812 mm / 32 in
Claimed Weight - 198 kg
Fuel Capacity - 17 litres

As I got astride, first impression of the bike, it felt lightweight, nimble and easier to ride than a 600 Supersports! But that is something that we are now increasingly getting used to after the bikes from Bavaria and Aprilia. The handling has become easy. Even a preteen can take this out and not feel overwhelmed! However, I would not recommend that. The riding stance is easy and my initial impression of the 2006 10R of yore being extremely aggressive faded into distant memory. The twin spar aluminium frame has been made from an all cast assembly of barely seven pieces optimising flex to give maximum feedback to the rider. And boy, does that feedback come in handy! As I took the large leaning curve at over 100 clips, I could feel every bit of the tarmac talking to me through my clipons. This is a clear result of studied chassis geometry married very well with engine mounting. They say it is a race track and street motorcycle. I would not think twice about adding flexible panniers to this and touring a thousand kilometres a day! Everyday.

For the exhaust note, well, my bike had an Akrapovic slipon. The sound was pure music.
I have heard some people say that the brakes lack bite. I definitely do not agree. The ABS is not proprietory. But the ABS is doing an incredible job of stopping a 201 Kilo missile from being projected into orbit. And we remain firmly grounded on tarmac instilling superb rider confidence. However, I would like to test this BOSCH on wet and gravel laden roads before giving a final verdict. We did not wait for the November rain.

The gear shifts were not clunky. When you are buying a bike worth 17Lacs, the gears better be really good. It does not come with a quickshifter however, which is a pity for such a neat package like this.  I would whack open the throttle at every gear shift and as I crossed the 250kmph mark with ease, I rapidly downshifted and jammed on the brakes to check on the effectiveness of the Bosch. The electronics did their job; no rear wheel spins, no fishtailing, no wheelies, impeccable braking and as I said earlier, fabulous handling.  

Final Verdict

Does all this mean that the new Kwacker is anybody’s bike. I would refrain from saying that. The bike from Bavaria is still much easier to ride. The ZX is lightning quick, very easy to ride and handles easy too. But it is not a beginner’s motorcycle. Hence it is not an everybody’s motorcycle either. This is a forgiving Kawasaki; but she will only forgive you so much and no more. You must be a responsible rider with a few years of riding experince to back you before going for this machine. And when you get it, I promise you that you will not be disappointed at all.

The ZX is back again doing what it was known to do, go frighteningly fast. Does this mean that the Japs are coming back again? Will the Japs rule the streets and tracks once again. With the RSV4 Factory and the Bavarians still leading, I would not think so. But the Japs are not staying back anymore. It is surprising to see a new machine coming out of Japan right in the middle of an economic crisis that has outlasted itself and still continues to haunt every aspect of our consumerist lives. This itself is an encouraging sign from the land of motorcycing. The new Green beast may usher new changes from the land of the Rising Sun in the domain of litre class Superbikes!

All this wouldn't have been possible without the big heart of the Man with the Machine - Nitesh Jain. A BIG Thank You from Team ThrottleQuest for your gesture brother!!

Ergonomics diagram - cycle-ergo.com
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  1. Seems like some kind of competition to the BMW! Good job there Kenda and Sajal

    1. The other motorcycles to truly compete with the S1000RR being the RSV4 Factory and the Panigale, this Kwacker is the only Japanese who dares to stand in front of the Bavarian might and shows real potential to challenge!!


Item Reviewed: 2014 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R - Ride Review Description: Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Sajal
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