Video: an in-depth look at the 2011 Kawasaki ZX-10R

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Paul Hood from England’s The Daily Mirror sent over this video he made about the 2011 Kawasaki ZX-10R. He looks at the bike’s history, technology and performance, riding the new superbike at Qatar’s Losail circuit at night.

  • Luke

    Introducing the 2011 ZX-10R Deathwish. With over 200 hp on tap this year’s top of the line Kawasaki can punch even the fattest squid right through the toughest armco barriers. We spoke with Kwaka’s Minister of Truthspeak, Martin Slartibartfast, for more details.

    “Well we’re pleased to delivery what the world really needs: another all new bike. Absolutely no parts are interchangeable and we’ve achieved a new record with only two cracked plastic panels being required to make this bike an insurance write off,” Martin said.

    “Our proudest innovation here is really focusing on our target market,” Martin continued, “which is hardcore track day enthusiasts. With the economy going so well and motorcycle sales continuing to soar, it’s a great time to really focus on a narrow but fast growing demographic. Many track day punters are very frustrated at having completely outridden our previous models, and are frankly quite fed up with the lack of power in litrebikes today.”

    “Of course,” said Martin, “the 2011 ZX-10R builds on Kawasaki’s strong racing pedigree. I can’t overstate how deeply this bike integrates lessons from some of our greatest racing successes, such as Olivier Jacque’s second place in the wet during the 2005 Shanghai MotoGP.” Martin allowed himself a small smile and seemed lost for a second looking at the bike. “Yes,” he continued, “you’re looking at the bright future of motorcycling right here. We couldn’t be more proud.”

    • Mark D

      Slartibartfast! Sir, you win a gold star.

    • mugget


      Fattest squids through toughest armco, two cracked panels for insurance write-off, racing success in 2005… nice. Well done, sir.

    • dux

      Hehe. No more comments necessary

    • Denzel

      Nothing like [well done] parody to shine the light of truth…

    • Myles

      Meh. I know it’s supposed to be cool to make fun of the fastest bikes (And the slowest bikes! And the bikes that cost too much money! And the bikes that don’t capture the “essence of motorcycling”!), but let’s think about this. This bike makes a ton of power, weighs less than last year, has various power modes for safety, and a great traction control system. For under 14k. It’s faster than just about every car in the world by any measure. It has a really cool instrument panel. It sounds really cool. It’s green. Doesn’t it hit the same part of your psyche that needed that Countach poster on your wall as a kid?

      I know cynicism is alive and well, but it seems like every new bike is either too fast (this) or not focused enough on performance (diavel). Shouldn’t the fact that this is faster than a Ferrari and cheaper than a Hyundai bring praise? Especially considering a ton of changes have been made to make this a more daily-ridable bike? Especially considering the history behind the Ninja brand?

      • aristurtle

        I agree. I love the engineering that went into this thing, I love how it looks, I love the arms race between Kawasaki and BMW. I love the whole concept, really.

        But I’m still not going to buy the thing, so this might not be what Kawasaki’s looking for.

      • Mark D

        Haha, you are right, of course; seeing that Kawa Green shorts out my neurons and heads right for the reptile brain.

      • Luke

        Cynical yes, for a good reason. Because this represents a sizable R&D purse being squandered on squids, trackday wannabes, posers, and the clueless. All of whom, having been cut off from easy access to credit, are disappearing in vast numbers and are not being replaced.

        Incremental engineering improvements are well and good, but given the moribund state of the motorcycle market, is the right investment in more horsepower and a completely redundant replacement of all bodywork panels?

        I find it ironic that an industry that relies on its customers embracing a certain degree of risk is unable to embrace risk when it comes to design. We make design leaps when we step off a proverbial cliff and learn to flap our wings on the way down. Or when we’re pushed.

        What about that fancy dash? How about some iPhone or Android integration? Can I dock my phone and use it for GPS? How about GPS data logging so I can share rides on a social network? Why not make it a huge customizable touch screen LCD that could do anything? Why not integrate a camera (or a slot for a camera) into the nose piece? How fucking cool would it be to get off a bike and have your session already on your phone for some basic editing and upload?

        How about logging telemetry and making automatic recommendations about how I adjust the bike to suit my riding style? Why not tell me I should take a higher gear on the highway for more fuel efficiency? You could build half this shit into a $100 Arduino board with a few weeks hacking.

        Why can’t the bike be modular? Why not tease customers and make money off people who aren’t going to buy a *whole* new bike, by making major components interchangeable between certain models, and easy enough for a regular joe? Young people with disposable income on two wheels are doing stupid shit like making bamboo handlebars for fixies with playing cards in the wheels. These people already have a sense of balance and more money than sense, how do we attract them to a motorcycle?

        Why does it look mostly like last year’s bike up close? (btw, I had a close look at one in my Kwaka dealership last Friday). Why not aggressively restyle? Who cares about wind tunnel performance when 99% of riders won’t go over 80mph for more than a few seconds? Why not put a giant set of fucking tentacles dangling off the side panels? Do *something* other than make another indistinguishable sportsbike shape.

        You brought up the Diavel. Ducati got one thing right. Some people fucking hate the thing, and other people want to rub themselves all over it. That is the zone you want to be in. That is the zone all motorcycle manufacturers, unless they are building fleet vehicles or scooters for Indonesia, need to be in.

        I appreciate there are some people for whom this kind of bike with a few knick-knacks attached is a major hard on. But given the way the bike industry is headed, I don’t know if that is a reliable place to pitch your tent.

        Like all good rants fueled by liquor and the faint smell of a armored leather jacket hanging nearby, this won’t be to everyone’s cup of tea. Individuality is what makes our community what it is … I don’t see any individuality in the 2011 Kawasaki ZX10R Ninjasquidmasher.

        • rohorn

          There’s already an iPhone app for this bike that you probably never heard of. It is called “Off”.

        • Wes Siler

          My god man. Make sure you only use superpowers of logic like that for good.

          • aadmanz

            Wes, I think you have found a new editor..

        • tomwito

          I would loved to hear what you said had they actually put giant tentacles on it?

        • Ivan

          That’s why I bought Z1000 2010 last year and couldn’t be more happy with it.

          If you buy a motorcycle that is not very suitable for street riding – expect some drawbacks when it comes to such use of it. Supersports are designed to be driven on the track. It’s only logical that the top priority for engineers is to do everything to help to shave off lap times.

          We are looking at a Gumpert Apollo of motorcycles here. The market for it still has some demand. The vehicle (I would imagine) attracts all sorts of people to it. I doubt that even 30% of them have the appropriate skills to use it though…

          The competition is not sleeping and Kawasaki does not want to lose its share regardless of the ups and downs in the racing history of the company.

          The market for real street machines with sport flavor to them just really began to form (imo). Streetfighters are an attempt to address that niche of performance orientated yet comfortable, practical and cheaper to maintain bikes. There is quite a selection of them available today with some really awesome offers, but for all I know – this market still is very very open (unlike the one for supersports). My guess is that with Ninja 1000 Kawasaki should definitely get some more of the pie this year.

          As I’ve mentioned – the Z1000 was that perfect blend of everything that I was looking for in the motorcycle last summer. I definitely do not call it perfect and did not see it so as such… But, I would call the whole ‘platform’ – almost perfect. Every single thing on it (except of the fender that went off it straight away) – I either liked or had no problems with. In the same time, loving to modify things I knew that I will be getting into the modding ‘as soon as I can’ (wish and can afford too). That is – I knew that we would make a great couple long before I was getting a credit to pay for our beautiful relationship (sad that one has to do so sometimes, right?).

          Luke, it’s been a pleasure to read your post not only because it is informative and very well put together, but because it also helped me (one more time) to realize that one of those ultimate machines are not suitable for the roads I ride. And well, the thought about MOAR POWER:-D has crossed my mind even with the new Zed. It’s foolish really, since in about 90% of the cases I cannot remotely utilize what’s available (everywhere, except of some straights that is).

          I am glad to see the new ZX10R. I would love Z1000 2012/13 to have an option for S-KTRC for example. I also, think that guys like Luke (and me ahah) should get hired by some of the motorcycle companies and get paid for some of the wonderful ideas that we have, which we would gladly share and see being used on the streets:-D

          There is lots to say about something you love and being passionate about – I am sure all of you know what I mean. I will stop and just conclude with a touch of a beauty if you allow…

          Yes – that’s my baby=)

          • BeastIncarnate

            Ivan, your baby looks just like my baby. Well done.

    • Kirill


  • robotribe

    Yep. The “need” for this bike is grounded in the same reality as those sensible folks who live in Los Angeles with an F350 Super Duty truck fitted with lift kit and off-road tires as their daily driver.

    To each their own, but they’re not fooling anyone except themselves.

    • Ceolwulf

      In all fairness, that identical comment has been made about the fastest bike from every generation since, oh, probably the CB750.

      • robotribe

        Absolutely. However, I’d argue that there are policies and realities that exist today which could indicate a relative plateau in power pissing contests:

        1. Laws like the French 100 HP limit
        2. Rising fuel prices
        3. Global growth in lower displacement bikes
        4. Shrinking numbers of easy credit disposable income weekend warriors
        5. The industry trend in posting fuel economy numbers in published specs
        6. Continuing development of EV bikes that will only get better, faster and cheaper

        I ain’t got nothin’ against the lust for MORE MORE MORE POWER, but the global economy isn’t cooperating. I doubt it ever will again like it has the past few years.

        • Ceolwulf

          Good points, unfortunately.

          Well, doesn’t much concern me, I can’t even make best use of my old CBR600 yet :)

        • Mr.Paynter

          All true.
          I hope to f_ck I get on a litre bike whilst they are still stupid enough!

          I love pretty much anything on two wheels, and someone upstairs here hit it on the head, the child/squid (it’s in all of us in varying ammounts) in me wants the meanest fastest thing I can get my hands on!

          Will we not miss the option if litre bikes actually disappeared forever?

          • dux

            Hopefully motorcyclists stay crazy enough to sustain the mighty liter-bikes. One day I will partake in the mighty feast of power.

  • Tim

    yeah what Luke said. Wow, what a clear-headed diatribe. I love to see the latest and greatest, but at the end of the day my old CBR 1100 is plenty sporty FOR ME, and when I wanted a new bike a KLR served the purpose. I am apparently not the right demographic, but then I don’t buy things on credit, so I already am a freak.

  • hooligan317

    I’m still a fan… consider me a fat squid with a deathwish looking for the nearest armco barrier.

  • Liquidogged

    @Luke: I agree wholeheartedly, great writing, great points.


    “Some people fucking hate the thing, and other people want to rub themselves all over it.”

    I’d say there’s a good bit of both of those responses on this thread already, so maybe Kawi DID hit it with this bike?

    I myself tend to be a bit bored with the literbike show because I’m waiting for electrics to catch on. I sense that the ICE has begun its decline in supremacy. It kind of has to, or we’ll all die. However, there’s still plenty of interesting technology being developed for ICE bikes that will find its way into Ebikes.