I Will Swap All My Organs For A ZX10R!
I figured if I’m going to get my ZX9R on track this year, I should at least get the valve clearances done to make sure all is well. I’m sure I could handle this job myself, but can’t be arsed fiddling about getting shims etc, so booked the bike into about the only motorcycle mechanics I still trust to touch my bike – Stealth Motorcycles of Redditch.
Expecting to be bikeless for a while, I was chuffed to the core when a mate offered to lend me his ZX10R Ninja. And a bit scared.
If I hadn’t been made redundant last year, this is the bike that I would have been buying for myself just about now! I couldn’t wait to get on it and see what it was like.
So after some quick pre-flight checks and asking what I should be watching out for, I swung my leg over the big black beast for the first time… And all my expectations after this have been shattered!
The bike is a bit smaller dimensionally than my 9R. And it’s lighter. And has around 40 horsepower more.
I pottered dow the road, noting that the throttle is a little snatchy at low revs (no doubt just the injectors) but it was all very smooth and well-behaved. I arrived at a junction and stalled it – again, no drama, it’s just a much more sensitive clutch than I’m used to.
I pulled away smoothly and glanced down at the digital speed readout to see WHAT THE HELL?!?
Pulling virtually no revs with no effort whatsoever the speedo just shoots up. I know my bike is no slouch, but when you’re trying to get to 60mph fast you know you’re giving it beans. On the 10R you have no idea until you look down.
With absolutely no drama, and barely a wail from the twin Akrapovic cans it will just grab an illegal number and slap it up on the speedo display with seemingly nothing in between.
The power bogs down a tiny bit below 4000rpm, but above that it’s totally smooth all the way to, well, it says 12,000rpm but I don’t think I’ve even seen the shift light come on yet! The twin cans sound a lot quieter than I expected – but then that’s whilst I’m sat above and in front of them – the rest of the world may have a different opinion on their sound levels. To reel it all back in the brakes have amazing feel, and are very progressive whilst having more than enough power to pull you up in a hurry. They’re perfect.
Suspension is pretty hard, and the bumps do throw you around a bit. To be honest this is exactly how I prefer my bikes set up, and I’m sure a few twists of the adjusters would soon get it all working to your tastes.
What is clear is that the bike is awesome in the corners! It goes EXACTLY where you want it whenever you want it there, and you can feel how perfectly balanced it all is. Within minutes of riding it I was already fully confident keeping me feet on the pegs and balancing at traffic lights without a single wobble.
When you drop it into the corners it just tracks as if it’s on rails. After only a couple of hours I can already feel it’s the best handling bike I’ve ridden on the roads. In fact I’d say that it’s at the very least equal to the track bikes I’ve hired in the past.
In short, this 2006 Kawasaki ZX10R is such an amazing piece of kit, it’s unreal. It would flatter any rider – even a total novice. Its limits are always just on the horizon, teasing you to just have a go and see if you can get anywhere near them – but of course the closer you think you are to them, you realise they’re still miles away! If a toddler could reach the controls he’d be in shot of getting a TT podium finish on one of these – they’re THAT good and easy to ride fast!
The scariest thing about it is just how tame it is. I was expecting to be fighting it everywhere to keep it in line, but the reality is that it will do exactly what you tell it to do – be that pootling through a 30mph zone in heavy traffic to cruising fast sweeping bends without ever worrying you may have overcooked a corner.
I did find I was getting pins and needles in my right thumb and wrist when riding through built-up areas, but otherwise the bike was perfectly comfortable and would be easy to ride all year round without any problems.
I would LOVE to try one on a racetrack.
I would also now swap every organ in my body for one! What an unbelieveable machine!