2021 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R Review
Bike Tested: 2021 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R; Road Test No. 1367; Test Location: Mumbai
Price OTR Mumbai: Rs. 18,57,635/-
The Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R is the litre-class supersport offering with racing purpose in mind
The Ninja ZX-10R was Kawasaki’s ultimate supersport offering until the world saw the mighty H2. Even today, it is looked upon as a racing legend with a lot of respect. When Kawasaki launched the ZX-10R for the first time, it had the world amazed. Everybody knows this bike as an award-winning track hunter. For 2021, the bike has received quite a few notable changes, in and out. It claims to carry forward Kawasaki’s rich heritage and do better than the previous model in every aspect. In our road test, we thoroughly test the bike and here’s what we have to say about the 2021 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R.
MotorQuest: The Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R officially replaced the ZX-9R in 2004. It was Kawasaki’s answer to the Yamaha R1. A litre-class fight that went bonkers from 2004-2005. While the brand launched the bike in late 2013 in India. Over the years, there have been a lot of changes, but this has been the most significant update yet.
Styling – The 2021 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R looks ferocious. However, the new H2 inspired face isn’t exactly everyone’s favourite, but we like it anyway. The front cowl hosts new twin LED projector headlamps, split by a purposeful ram-air intake. Sadly, the number plate bracket hides the special ‘Kawasaki River Mark’. The front suspension has a separate pressure chamber on each side that surely conveys that the ZX-10R has some serious business going on. Adding to that are the massive 330 mm petal discs. However, we are not a big fan of the tri-spoke alloys as they look awkward and meek for a bike of this size and calibre. Moving up, the tank is has a typical shape and suits the ZX-10R’s muscular character.
The design is fantastic and the ZX-10R looks more purposeful and yet aggressive than ever
The single, track-focused seat suits the high-spirited attitude of the 10R very well. Kawasaki has always been advancing in the aerodynamics department, and this bike proves it very well. There are integrated winglets on the body of the motorcycle, giving it a clean, flush look. Thankfully, there is no saree guard on this bike since it is a single-seater. At last, the signature tri-arrow tail light happens to be an LED unit, and so do the indicators. However, we feel that the exhaust looks too plain and boring for this bike. Lastly, ZX-10R is available in a choice of two colour options – Lime Green and Flat Ebony type 2 which, translates to matte black in layman terms.
Instrument Cluster and Switchgear – This cluster is a big step-up from the previous model as the bike now gets a new 4.3-inch TFT unit with Bluetooth connectivity. In terms of features, information and adjustability, Kawasaki has loaded this cluster to the brim. This cluster controls a host of electronics including, the quick-shifter, engine braking control, launch control. Further, you can choose between four riding modes and also toggle the traction control sensitivity. Next, you have the choice between two dash layout options and adjust the brightness up to 3 levels. The cluster has a handsome resolution and offers very good visibility.
The buttons allow to scroll and browse through the cluster very easily and make for a very user-friendly experience
The switchgear setup on the ZX-10R is pretty busy. On the left, you have an integrated pass-light and high-low beam switch followed by a set of switches to toggle through and select modes and settings. Just beside that, you have three switches to control the cruise control system. And below that sits the reset button and traditional indicator and horn switches. While on the right, you have a slider-type starter switch and a select key. Just like on every Kawasaki bike, the switchgear quality feels excellent and passes a built-to-last feel.
Ergonomics – The Ninja ZX-10R is a supersport machine, and the ergonomics state that too. The new clip-on handlebar is placed flat and set forward. While the rear-set footpegs have moved up by 5 mm, translating to a more aggressive, circuit-friendly riding posture. Here, the seat height is 835 mm which is a bit intimidating for short riders. However, to make up for that, the cushioning is well balanced. The tank has a very grab-friendly sculpture which helps a lot on the track. The new windscreen is larger and allows for a proper tuck. Lastly, the mirrors are placed on the cowl and offer a decent view of what’s behind. Overall, the ZX-10R offers strict, track-focused ergonomics.
Performance – Rocketing the ZX-10R is a 998cc, quad-cylinder motor that churns out 203 PS of power at 13,200 RPM and 114.9 Nm of torque at 11,400 RPM. This is a monster of an engine! It is tuned more towards the top end but, the mid and low end have improved quite a lot. What we love about this machine is the pinpoint throttle accuracy, allowing the rider to feel the power going down. We all know the rev-happy nature of inline-four engines, and this one is particularly way too rev-happy! It feels like this motor summons all of its power for the top end which it used to from the start but this time around the mid-range packs a punch too. Gearing duties are done by a slick-shifting 6-speed gearbox assisted by a bidirectional quick-shifter. The bike flies to the speed of 100 km/h in 3.62 seconds while the top speed is limited to 299 km/h.
The sweet symphony from the in-line four motor is iconic and the pops and burbles are quite booming
As mentioned before, this bike gets three standard riding modes, namely- sport, road, rain and four customisable rider modes. Obviously, the prefixed modes cannot be altered in any way, while the rider modes are fully customisable. For up to 3-levels of power and 5-levels of traction. Refinement wise, this motor is a shining star but, there are a few tingling vibrations encountered while wringing it too hard. Being a litre-class superbike, this one too heats up quite a lot but, the heat management is commendable as the bike never seems too hot to handle, kudos to the new oil-cooled added alongside the massive liquid-cooled radiator. Lastly, the ZX-10R returns a fuel economy of 14 km/l, and with a 17-litre fuel tank, the riding range lies at up to 200 km.
Riding Dynamics – The Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R wears Showa’s balance free forks up front and a fully adjustable mono-shock at the rear. This setup, paired with the twin-spar chassis provides excellent feedback and offers a brilliant front-end feel. As expected, this machine handles like a dream! Due to the new elongated swingarm, the chassis can channel the power better than before. What has also improved is the front end feel, as the bike feels more connected and agile around corners than ever before. Kawasaki has also revised the gear ratios and a larger sprocket to improve tractability and the difference is noticeable.
The Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R has perfect handling characteristics, it’s a track bike made for the road!
It tips into a corner accurately and gets up pretty well too. This bike loves to be pushed hard and fast around the corners like a fanatic. The Bridgestone Battlax tyres were a bit too worn on our test bike but still managed to offer decent grip. However, these tyres are strictly for dry surfaces as they tend to lose grip easily on wet roads. Switching between lanes is enjoyable but, you do realise weight at crawling speeds. About the brakes, the ZX-10R gets twin 330 mm discs up front backed by Brembo M50 monoblock callipers and a rather small 220 mm disc at the rear which have a sharp initial bite and strong progression.
Verdict – At Rs. 18,57,635/- (on-road, Mumbai) the Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R sounds like a steal. The ZX-10R is a track-focused supersport bike that is best suited for experienced riders. This one is built for the road but it belongs to the racetrack. If you are looking for an upgrade from a middle-weight superbike, the ZX-10R is a very good option. What sets the ZX-10R apart from its competitors is the price. After all, it is the most affordable litre-class supersport you can buy that doesn’t really compromise anything too much, allowing you to have all the fun without settling for less.
* Inclusion of an electronic steering damper is a likeable touch
* The bike offers excellent riding characteristics
* Pricing of the motorcycle is very reasonable
What’s Not So Cool
* The omission of a pillion seat for the Indian market is absurd
* Ergonomics are best suited for people below 6 feet
* The absence of a fuel gauge is not justified
2021 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R Specifications
* Engine: 998cc, Liquid-Cooled, Inline-Four Cylinder
* Power: 203 PS @ 13,200 RPM, 213 PS with RAM AIR
* Torque: 114.9 Nm @ 11,400 RPM
* Fuel Type: Petrol
* Fuel Consumption: 22-25 km/l
* Frame: Twin spar, cast aluminium
* Gearbox: 6-Speed
* Tyres: 120/70/17 (Front), 190/55/17 (Rear)
* Suspension: 43 mm USD Forks (Front), Adjustable Monoshock (Rear); Showa
* Brakes: Dual 330 mm Discs (Front), 220 mm Disc (Rear); Dual-Channel ABS
2021 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R Dimensions
* Length x Width x Height: 2085 mm x 750 mm x 1185 mm
* Wheelbase: 1450 mm
* Seat Height: 835 mm
* Fuel Tank Capacity: 17-litres
* Kerb weight: 207 Kgs