North American 2011 Kawasaki ZX-10R loses 20 HP, slower than S1000RR

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According to official horsepower numbers published by Canadian Kawasaki, the North American market 2011 Kawasaki ZX-10R will have its power dropped from 197 to just 176.65bhp while torque will fall from 84.3 to 82.6lb/ft. Crucially for the numbers-obsessed liter bike market, that gives the ZX-10R an inferior power-to-weight ratio not only to the BMW S1000RR, but also to the GSX-R1000 and MV Agusta F4.

The modifications to the North American bikes have been made in order to pass strict new EPA noise regulations and include exhaust and ECU changes. While the engines remain mechanically identical to their full-power European and Asian siblings, the bikes we’ll get have had their redlines reduced by 750rpm to 13,750 while the point at which the lower peak power number is delivered falls from 13,000 to 11,000rpm. Peak torque is also lower, now arriving at 11,000 instead of 11,500rpm.

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This performance deficit has been verified by a third party source. As you can see in this video, Redline Motorsports in Calgary has scooped a first ride on a pre-production  ’11 ZX-10R and even dyno’d it alongside a 2010 model and an S1000RR. Here’s the results on the same dyno on the same day. All the power outputs here are a little disappointing as Calgary sits 3,483 feet above sea level, but same dyno/same day means this is still an accurate comparison between bikes, even if it’s not an accurate representation of numbers that will be achieved at lower altitudes.

2011 Kawasaki ZX-10R: 159.8hp
2010 Kawasaki ZX-10R: 157.2hp
2010 BMW S1000RR: 168.1hp

The BMW S1000RR is officially rated at 193bhp (as all other official power numbers, that’s at the crank, dyno measurements are at the rear wheel), making it the current king of the liter bike hill. Weighing 204kg/450lbs fully fueled, that gives it a power to weight ratio (bhp/kg) of .95:1. As we saw in our 2011 liter bike numbers comparison, the un-restricted ’11 ZX-10R makes 197bhp and weighs 198kg (wet), giving it a staggering .99:1 ratio. In restricted American form, that number falls to .89:1, putting it behind the Suzuki GSX-R1000 and 2010 MV Agusta F4 too, on par with the Aprilia RSV4 and slightly ahead of the Yamaha R1 and Honda CBR1000RR. Assuming that, all other things being equal, power-to-weight is the simplest way to express straight-line performance, these numbers indicate that the new ZX-10R will be slower than than the S1000RR, GSX-R and F4.

Of course, with modifications to the North American bikes limited to exhaust and ECU changes, it should be relatively easy for owners to recover the lost power or achieve even more with the addition of an illegal can and race ECU. However, this does raise a larger issue. With sales of liter bikes largely pegged to whichever bike wins on-paper performance pissing contests and Kawasaki charging an ambitious $13,800 (equivalent to the base S1000RR, which doesn’t include traction control) the added cost of achieving equivalent performance could sway buyers in BMW’s direction. Perhaps tellingly, 2011 ZX-10Rs are already available for discounted prices; this dealer, for instance, is advertising $1,000 off the sticker price.

Sources: Canadian Kawasaki,, YouTube, eBay

  • JimSmiffy

    Meh. The first mods everyone does is a pipe and a power commander. I think it will be OK.

  • Beast Incarnate

    It’s disappointing to see, as I imagine this change will hurt sales, but I also expect it to be easy to make up the difference with the same mods most riders do to their bikes anyways.

    Any price drop doesn’t surprise me at all, as Kawasaki’s tend to go on sale fast, even new models.

  • swfcpilot

    I think the manufacturers should sell non-street legal versions of their bikes for the people who want the best performance available, regardless of emission laws for the country they’re in. When you want to buy a bike for use on the track, it’s real annoying to know that you’re spending hundreds or thousands of dollars for lights, reflectors, emissions, passenger pags, and whatever else. It seems like it would be easy to leave that stuff off and just sell it as “dealer installed accessories”. Of course then you’d have dumbasses ride those same bikes on the street without the street kits installed. At the least, make it simple to take all of that stuff off for the track.

    • seanslides

      KTM RC8R Track.

      Or there’s always a 3 year old race bike from craigslist.

      • swfcpilot

        Well, that’s one. ;-) I know there’s a few more out there too but they tend to be smaller displacements. I just think there should be more doing it.

        And then then that craigslist bike is going to be 3 years old when you get it… and no telling how much it was abused. Still a viable option though, unless you want the latest model.

        • seanslides

          You can always buy 1 or 2 year old superbikes for a lot less than they cost to build. If you look, they can usually be found for $25,000ish.

          As delivered, most sportbikes are pretty good, but you’ll end up changing brake parts around, tuning, and at the very least revalving the suspension to make em’ work.

          I think the simple answer here is this: If there was a market for it, more people would do it. KTM’s brand is built around ‘Ready to Race’ so it makes sense for them to offer the RC8R like that. Also, it’s totally bad ass. EBR will build you a fire breathing beast of a bike sans lights as well. You can also call up Moriwaki and (if you’re feeling spendy) drop $82 large on a chassis to build a bike off of.

          Or there’s always a call to hotbodies and a $500 set of race fairings. Even if you’re a slow wrench, it’s not too hard to swap back and forth for street riding and track days.

          Track only specials would be nice though…

  • vic

    since you pay 20% less than we in europe pay i find this fair

    still,nothing a decat and a new ecu can’t fix

  • pauljones

    I think that the Kawasaki’s big strong point will be S-KTRC; if it can manage to be better than the system on the S1000RR, it might make a compelling alternative. It really isn’t always about the paper numbers, and I look forward to you guys getting a chance to ride it and tell us what you think.

    • pauljones

      Plus, as has been pointed out, it won’t be hard to get that power back with no one the wiser for it.

  • MikeD

    I call this Betrayal.
    BUAHAHAHAHAHAHA…OH,THEY ARE SO F&^%d In the lower back. They deserve it after pulling such stunt.
    What a blow to the sack. Look for “possible potential future sales” to go out the window from a skyscraper’s 100th floor. LMAO.
    Like Wes said, Discount them or see them walk away for else, is a jungle out there and this kind of fuc%up cost dearly now a days.

    Oh Kawi, ur so Fu&%d! Hope u learn.

    • MikeD

      And No, i don’t care if i(anyone for that matter) can’t use 197HP on the street, THAT’S NOT THE POINT HERE.
      Also, PC and Pipe ain’t free so even if u get a discount u still have to keep paying to get where the S1000RR is.

  • Case

    This is a bummer for Kawasaki. A knowledgeable customer can get the full mojo with an aftermarket slip on (they didn’t change the headers, did they?) and PCV, but that stuff is not cheap. It would be nice to get the sweet sweetness right off the showroom floor.

    And no, you don’t need that much power to ride around on the street, but if you’re shopping this bike you surely hope to have access to it.

  • rohorn

    “The modifications to the North American bikes have been made in order to pass strict new EPA noise regulations…”

    Are those “New for 2011″ regs that the others will have to abide by yet weren’t dyno tested yet, or…?

    Too much apathy at this end to look it up.

    • Wes Siler

      EPA doesn’t list any changes since 2005, so I’m guessing it’s simply a question of designing/building for slightly different standards around the world and occasionally getting caught out.

      • rohorn

        Thanks for checking that.

        • Wes Siler

          No problem, I was wondering myself while writing to had a look around. I think the real story is what AGP wrote below, there’s ways to design around the requirements, but doing so for a single market is a big investment.

  • anix

    He wrote the bike can be bypassed. NA R1′s have different ECU’s then EU versions. Not a big deal.

    I think Kawi could of stepped up more.

    I believe the next cycle of redesigns from Honda and Yamaha will have the same hp impact from new emissions regulations. Make sense to me.

  • AGP

    The S1000RR got its (EPA approved) big power from novel engineering solutions, especially the finger-follower valve train and the three sets of valves in the headers/pipe (one of which is specifically there to pass noise requirements). BMW put the budget and research that was needed to leap the competition in performance, and then went for the kill with the electronics.

    Kawasaki, on the other hand, stuck to the same basic engine architecture from the previous generation, just tuned for more revs with lighter and better components. Not surprisingly that is not enough… Japanese I4 engines have been at their architectural peak for at least a decade – it’s not like they were making less power than possible just out of boredom. ;) Getting big power without compromising something else (emissions, power profile, low rev character, etc.) is NOT that easy. Case in point: the new ZX10R.

    As far as the Kawasaki TC is concerned, reading about it I get the feeling that it will also underperform. TC in performance applications is no longer about cutting more efficiently or sensing wheel slip beyond a sufficient rate, it is about having enough data for the software to make the correct decision. The S1000RR uses not only the wheel speed and spin delta (from the ABS), but also the lean sensor to decide if and when to limit power, which allows it to operate differently when the ECU knows the bike is leaned over (or straightening up out of a corner). This is also why the S1000RR does not need 9 settings or some silly thing like that (as is the case with the Ducati TC, for example); more data = better decisions by the software = being able to go full open throttle while leaned over on the S1000 and let the ECU maximize drive out of the corner for you.

    The Kawasaki TC system sounds just like the rest of the bike, a more refined, better version of the same engineering package – I am sure the TC will be much better than nothing (on par with the Ducati system, hopefully) but far from the revolutionary aid the BMW system is.

  • christopher laubin

    the R1′s missing horsepower compared to the euros is way more complex than just an ECU swap- cam profiles, airbox restriction-mufflers–ECU’s from europe tend to have awhole different wiring harness too…most have never recovered the missing hp- many have been missing more than just 6hp– the real question then is- Why didnt they just copy what BMW did? HOw can they get it right on the first swing?

    • adeysworld

      Copy what BMW did? BMW does not have the same EPA restrictions as the Big Four from Japan. The restriction is based on the amount of bikes released into the market, model of bike is not a factor. If BMW had as many bikes in the market as Kawasaki or any of the Japanese makes, they too would be choked up out the crate as well. We will never have a Japanese make motorcycle out of crate with it’s full power/potential.

  • Mitch

    “With sales of liter bikes largely pegged to whichever bike wins on-paper performance pissing contests…”

    No truer words said. So many buyers so obsessed with something as boring as straight line performance on a bike. Haha, men. We love quantifying things!

    • MikeD

      Hey,hey,hey…it ain’t my fault we don’t have any curves and hills in South Flori-Duh.

      Nothing but long boring str8 roads…(-_- )’, my “flat in the middle Pilot Road” Tires don’t lie. Only curves i know are some twisted highway on-ramps.

  • Bjorn

    Kawasaki could, as an act of good faith for the North American market, deliver the bike with the compliant exhaust and ECU fitted but include in the crate a “track use only” exhaust and ECU. There is nothing illegal about supplying a few goodies for the trackday brigade. Ducati did the same here in Australia back in the ’70s with the 900SS. To be compliant with the ADRs the bike was delivered with 32mm Del’Orto carbs and a pair of Silentium pipes. The 40mm carbs and Conti pipes came right along with it in the box.
    Problem solved and pissing contest won.

  • GuessWho

    I had high hopes and couldnt wait to get on one of these but now I fell like crying. I only hope it’s a simple plug in EU ECU.
    Kawi, thanks for the mind fuck.

    • pauljones

      Give it time; there’s no reason to get upset just yet. Wait until they are actually sitting in showrooms, and see what the final deal is. As Bjorn points out above, Kawasaki isn’t totally out of options.

      Besides, even if it does take more than just an ECU plug, if you’re serious about a bike, it makes no difference. You’re going to modify it one way or the other. The difference this time is that Kawasaki has made it easier to modify by demonstrating what a mild tune can do, and making those parts fairly easily accessible.

      • GuessWho

        Got a few months to wait for all the answers. Just hope Kawi can supply the answers with a simple plug-in.
        Funny how BWM pulled it off.

        • TheRealCurdin

          Ever find out anything?

  • HaVoC

    Not surprised,As usual dissapointment for KAWI AGAIN! Hopefully there will be a easy fix to get the hp back.Most get a full system and a tune so that should wake it up.BUT S1000RR bone stock make high 170whp so…

  • Trav

    A smart dealer would come up with an incentive that includes the required parts and a retuning with the initial sale.

    Couldn’t Kawasaki sell ‘offroad kits’ and make this much easier for every dealer to pull off, and be legal? Works for Triumph.

  • Redlinems

    The numbers posted here are not confirmed by Redline Motorsports who actually did the dyno and video. The reason we did not post the hp numbers is that we noticed some very significant anomalies in the curve which pointed to the possibility of pre break-in limitation electronics in the ECM. Regardless of the reason that only Kawi knows right now, the bike would not rev to the max rpm and the top end looked flat compared to what the 2010 model. It’s irresponsible journalism like this that causes confusion in the marketplace. The writer of this article did not contact Redline for the results but rather copied them from a third party website. Do not take the hp numbers as correct until we post them as we actually did the dyno. Having said that, the bike was very fun to ride, we had no problem picking the front end up. Handling is supurb and the traction control works very very well. The correct hp numbers will come out but in the meantime don’t worry about the lack of power of whether or not the bike will out power the BMW. It’s fun to ride again, something the Kawi’s have lacked since the 2004~2005 ZX10r’s.

  • MikeD

    If it’s weaker it’s WEAKER…don’t sugar coat it.Please. Any current 1K can do power wheelies, so…ur point is?

    If ur correct, that would be great tho…

  • Doubledge

    lol bmw s1000rr rules!!