New York’s Fastest ZX-10R review

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Who’s qualified to review a liter bike? Grant and I can ride them pretty hard on both road and track, take nice photos and write some nice words. Others can throw down impressive lap times. But no one, absolutely no one, is using a bike like the 2011 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R to the limits of its performance in the same way as New York’s Fastest can. I think that makes their opinion pretty interesting. Over to you, Skank. — Ed.

So, a friend of ours picks up a new 2011 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R (the one without ABS) and does a couple of modifications to it. Nothing crazy, just an Akrapovic slip-on and an ECU reflash to remove the American power restriction. He starts swearing up and down that the bike’s a beast and decides to try and race One Arm on his BMW S1000RR.

Now, my buddy is a good rider, but he hasn’t been on a proper sportsbike in 10 years, so I warned him not to try and race One Arm. What happened? He almost hit the wall at 130mph…while going in a straight line. Funny shit, if you ask me.

Anyways, he agreed to let me ride the bike and, a couple of weeks later I was finally on a ZX-10R. Camera mounted, a few adjustments to the stock suspension, a slight tire pressure change and off to the races we went.

Now, I’m no pro racer and no so-called expert that gets paid to voice his opinion on motorbikes. I’m someone that rides his bikes fast and hard and for long periods of time on a regular basis. This is my opinion from my point of view. Usually, when I’m talking about bikes, it’s at 4am in some dark parking lot with friends. We talk tires, suspension and riding. So let’s just say that here we are at a gas station shooting the shit.

I’m over six feet tall and approximately 250lbs fully geared. First time swinging a leg over the bike it felt like it was made for me. Everything about the seating position and leg room felt great, it was just a really good fit. After gassing up and pulling my visor down, it was time to see what this bike could do.

Right away, I started playing around with it. I wanted to feel how the bike handles corners, so we hit some high speed sweepers at about 140mph. It dropped right in as soon as I started to lean and hold a line nice and steady with ease. Next, I started hitting dips and bumps at speed. Even with the Ohlins steering damper turned down to zero and just a few adjustments to the stock suspension, the Kawasaki soaked up rough pavement easily and without head shake.

My confidence in the ZX-10R was starting to go up, so I started to open it up. Since it’s not my bike and it had some bullshit tires on it, I didn’t want to go all out. So I kept to about 160mph. Again, the bike was on point. It felt really good. The only thing about the suspension I can knock is the shock. I did my best making adjustments, but the stock unit seems to sag a lot mid-corner and while exiting sweepers on the throttle. Tightening up the preload would have made the ride too stiff for the bumps. Instead, it could probably use a few shims to raise the ride height and/or a heavier spring.

I can’t really comment on how the handling of the ZX-10R in stock form compares to a Honda CBR1000RR. My CBR has had an Ohlins TTX shock and Penske fork internals since the first week I bought it. I was running this ZX-10R on OEM suspension. That worked fine, just nothing like the CBR with aftermarket add-ons. Nor can I comment on traction control, I switched it off and left it there.

The ZX-10R is definitely there on power. On my old CBR1000RR, no matter how big a jump I would get on One Arm’s BMW in the corners, he’d instantly reel me in on the straight like I was riding a 600. I remember all last season, riding my ass off trying to get as far ahead of One Arm as I could, then he’d just roll past me on the straights while I cursed into my helmet at BMW for making such a fast fucking bike.

I didn’t buy an S1000RR because I really didn’t like it. I don’t generally care for European bikes no matter how bad ass they might be. Plus, I think the BMW looks like shit. I hate the lines on it. I looked at One Arm’s BMW over and over and over and it’s just plain fucking ugly. It takes more than just a motor to sell me and I feel the ZX is the better choice.

The ZX-10R is definitely competitive on the power. With the ECU flashed, the bike is just a beast. The power comes on strong and smooth in every gear and it pulls very hard to its limiter in 6th gear.

One Arm and I did a few good roll ons from 2nd and 3rd gear and both bikes were pretty much neck and neck until the ZX-10R hit 6th gear. That’s when the S1000RR still starts to walk away. After this happening a few times, we realized the Kawasaki wouldn’t go past 13,200rpm in 6th. The guy who flashed the ECU didn’t remove all the restrictions and this bike couldn’t rev out in 6th to the 14,000rpm redline. Both bikes still managed 186mph using the same GPS unit.

In the looks department, this bike is bad ass, real sharp looking. The only thing that sucks is the stock windscreen. At high speeds, for long distances, the wind hitting my helmet becomes annoying and painful. The next day, I had a stiff neck. For someone shorter, it might be fine.

Despite that, I fell in love with the bike and decided to buy one the very next day. Instead of me looking for a bike, one found me. Someone posted a comment on my YouTube channel trying to sell theirs. He happened to live in my area, so we met up and I checked out the bike.

2011 Kawasaki ZX-10R. 900 miles, titanium/carbon Austin Racing slip-on, brand new Power Pures, Power Commander 5, ECU flash, air filter, custom dyno tune, K-Tech shock. $11,000 cash money. A handful of crisp hundred dollar bills and it was mine.

Right now, the bike is in pieces at my shop. The tank’s off and the airbox is open because that’s where Kawi stuffed the ECU. I pulled out the ECU and sent it to a specialist, who guaranteed me they could remove that 6th gear rev limiter. They warned me that 14,000rpm might be pushing it in 6th, but I figured that if the bike can hit 14,000 in every other gear, then 6th should be no different.

I also pulled off the forks and shock. I’m sending them to a suspension specialist for an Ohlins 25mm kit and to have the shock resprung for my weight.

Other upgrades are a DID ERV 520 chain, Driven sprocket, Woodcraft frame sliders and reverse shift pattern. Looks wise there’s a Hotbodies undertail and hopefully I’ll get an MRA or ZeroGravity tall windscreen and 3M paint protectors.

This is the bike that will go up against One Arm and his S1000RR once my ECU is tuned and all these parts are installed.

  • stefano


    • cadillacjack


    • dux

      Pretty good review. I’ll be interested in what it’s like when the Ninja “come out of it’s shell”

  • JaySD

    You are right it definitely looks awesome. There is something imbalanced for me about the S1000rr, maybe its the lopsides headlights or the shark fins

    • Case

      The bimmer fins and headlights are both asymmetrical. The lights look like bill the cat.

      As for the Ninja, I hate the name ninja, but by all accounts the bike is awesome, except for that valve problem at high RPMs. I thought they fixed that with the recall.

      • Wes Siler

        The valve problem, which prompted the recall, is unrelated to the north american power restriction.

    • BMW11GS

      I think it looks way better in person. The S1000 that is…this just looks derivative and that windshield looks like an afterthought. Maybe Im just countering skanks summary dismissal of “European” bikes.

  • Thom

    Got to just love the disclaimer at the top .

  • Brammofan

    (slow clap for legal disclaimer) Except for: “All opinions expressed in the following article are of those of the individual author…” You got an extra “of” in there, boys.

    • Felix

      What, you think Wes is going spring for Skadden or Latham & Watkins?

      • Kerry

        It’s dark in this cage. And Wes hasn’t changed the newspaper in the corner if a week. And I don’t like the dry stale catfood.

        • Wes Siler

          If you’d put the lotion on your skin, I’d have given you fresh newspaper.

  • Alex

    I normally love the articles on this website but I really have to ask what is up with the constant pimping of the self proclaimed “finest” of New York?

    • sean (the roommate)

      i could review it…..but im slow as shit and the article would be about much hipster cred it got or if it sounded cool or if it burned my butt more than the r1

      valentino rossi could review it…but you could never connect any of your knowledge to the skill that man has and it would be way over your head

      wes could review it….but he reviews everything and is only concerned about how many russian prostitutes he can fit on the back

      the squid could review it…..but he would just talk about how it matches his cargo shorts, black rainbow sandals, and muscle T

      grant could review it….but then it would just be a photoblog

      who would you like to review it?

      • Alex

        I wouldn’t mind taking a crack at it personally!

        Who is reviewing it is not really the issue, I’m asking why there is so much importance and space wasted on promoting these guys when their merit is based upon their own given reputation. Granted, show me some nonsquidly behavior and displays of skill beyond bombing down our freeway system and I may change my stance. I just got back from Germany and I can honestly say that on an open freeway, cracking the throttle and fighting the wind is NBD, Even past a buck forty.

      • Grant Ray

        Sean, I beg to differ, you snot-nosed hipster. It’s not my fault none of the OEMs think NY media is worth bothering with before Independence Day. And even then the press “fleets” are a joke.

        i hate all you spoiled broseph-coasters.

        • sean (the roommate)

          you just made my day

  • sean (the roommate)

    what?! how dare you!! how irresponsible can you be to let this maniac write an article for you guys!!!!!! i thought you had fallen to an unsurpassable low before but this is just unbelievable. how can you call this journalism or anything except of immature thuggery? i’ve never read a review with facts so completely upside down. the s1000rr is a beautiful bike and anyone who disagrees shouldnt be given a platform to spew such vile filth…. it is completely out of line and just downright embarrassing.

    when it comes time to renew my subscription, i think i will take my hard earned money elsewhere.

    • Kerry

      For the record Sean, we didn’t have him write anything. He emailed us to talk about his new bike.

      It is good to see skank back on a Kawasaki. Afterall it was a zx7r that made him infamous in the 90s.

      • Thom

        You do have to seriously wonder about an individual who choses to go by the moniker ” Skank ”

        Thats just about as bad as calling yourself ” Numbnuts “

        • je

          Anytime I hear the name “Skank” I think of the movie “The Wraith”.

          • Skank NYCF

            And “The Crow”.

    • Richard

      I hope that was meant as sarcastic. Otherwise you sound like a sniveling, whining, over reacting d-bag. :p

      • brutus

        yea Thom.

      • sean (the roommate)

        hope? i spent a good 10 minutes trying to word that so even the idiots would know i was kidding. i sent my first draft to wes with the question “no one can possibly think im serious, right?”

        i just wanted to paraphrase what i knew was coming, but attach it to the only thing in the article that i thought people couldnt complain about (even though i actually happen to disagree and think the bmw is quite pretty).

        seriously people. calm. it. down.

        • Thom

          sean ( the roommate )

          As I’m rapidly learning , the internet is a lousy conveyor of wit and sarcasm . As well as trying to explain any idea more complex than a basic opinion . But WTF . Its fun anyway !

  • nick2ny

    Wow that’s a good looking bike. I never thought I’d fall for the techno-wasp look, but it looks great in the second pic.

    • noone1569


      Never been that big of a fan of cookie-cutter Japanese styling, but this one, this one here, sticks out. I like.

      Maybe this is why I ride a Ronald McDonald edition of the Firebolt.

  • the_doctor

    That fine print made my head hurt.

    I do like the looks of the ZX-10 over the BMW, mostly because I like symmetry.

    • Brammofan

      “That fine print made my head hurt.” Kerry: your job here is done.

  • HammSammich

    I really dig the red lined black wheels…There was a special edition Speed Triple a couple years ago with those and it had me drooling…

  • aristurtle

    So this is what Wes’s cryptic Twitter comment was about!

    Ah, editorial trolling.

  • Liquidogged

    “But no one, absolutely no one, is using a bike like the 2011 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R to the limits of its performance in the same was as New York’s Fastest can. I think that makes their opinion pretty interesting. Over to you, Skank.”

    Translation: (movie trailer voiceover guy reads this) These badazz dudez pushed this badazz bike to the MAXXX!!!! *cue american eagle screeching and guitar solo and maybe lasers and a smoke machine*

    Anyways, you sure Kawasaki didn’t use the bike to the limits of its performance in every possible way before they released it? Just because we don’t hear about it doesn’t mean it isn’t done.

    I thought this article was OK, compared to recent NYC fastest material and the kind of comments made by the author in the past. I still think riding at those speeds on public roads is wrong, but I respect that an attempt was made to actually write a piece about it rather than just have a youtube circle jerk over some gps-verified numbers. Discussion of tires, suspension, etc is highly relevant and adds to the value. More detail on that would’ve been interesting – suspension settings, etc.

    I still don’t understand why this test could not have taken place on a closed track, with the same riders and same bikes. Is there just not a track with straights long enough to push the bike to max speed? That seems to be the only part of the test that couldn’t be done on a local track. Incidentally, max speed is probably the least interesting part of any motorcycle, for most people. The fact that my ancient kwaka zx11 can theoretically do 176mph, for instance, has little or no bearing on any of the other performance aspects that matter.

    Point: the fact that this was all done on public roads and not on a track is not a plus and doesn’t make it more interesting. It’s just a distraction from the good stuff, and probably obscures some interesting information because of that.

    • Wes Siler

      We had no input or knowledge of what Skank was doing, he simply solicited his thoughts unsolicited.

      • Denzel

        Great info about the bike, and agree it’s not likely to be had any other way.

        BUT repeating the word “unsolicited” over and over doesn’t pass the straight face test, while at the same time HFL is establishing Skank as a pretty regular HFL contributor.

        • Kerry

          And that is a real problem for us. To be clear, nobody asked skank to do anything. He doesn’t work for HFL, he is a paying subscriber. He rides the way he does whether HFL exists or not. He rode a friend’s bike, liked it, went out on his own and bought one, rode that around, then sent an email to brag about it to HFL. Wes read it, liked it, thought you all would like it for reasons other than the shock factor of who they are (see my comments about OEMs and owner feedback). There is no secret conspiracy here, nobody is winking, nudging, nodding, etc. Skank wasnt doing a burnout while the moonlanding was faked in the HFL secret underground office/batcave. But you get a bunch of Internet commentors together and skank is suddenly alien Elvis living under an alais in NY and working for the men in black when not riding his motorcycle.

          • HammSammich

            I knew it!!!

          • Denzel

            HFL is, by publishing Skank, encouraging him to continue this behavior, and when he becomes a smear on the highway while working on another sensational article to send to HFL, watch his wife and two young children name HFL in a wrongful death action or some other creative theory based on HFL’s commercial exploitation of their now dead father.

            “Good feature story ready for tomorrow. Can’t wait for the hundreds of comments.”

            No conspiracy needed…just a sympathetic jury.

            HFL can get along just fine without Skank.

            • Wes Siler

              Ok, we’ll just report on puppy dogs and candy canes from here on out.

              • dux


              • Skank NYCF

                I love puppy dogs and candy.

              • sean (the roommate)

                can we get a puppy please?

                • sean (the roommate)

                  PUPPY COMPARISON TEST!

                • Thom

                  Puppy vs Moped comparison !

            • Kerry

              Skank was riding this way long before the internet existed, let alone HFL. Nobody is or has to encourage him to do it, if we didn’t exist he would still be out there. Anybody looking for a wrongful death claim at our door will have to battle uphill a massive amount of evidence to the contrary.

              I have heard rumor from several insiders, that a lot of the policies the NYPD has toward handling motorcycle traffic stops or rather riders that refuse to stop come from direct interaction with Skank. I don’t know if it is true or not but he was a legend for running roadblocks on one wheel in the 1990s (something I have actually seen him do).

            • Brammofan

              Geeze… Denzel – are you a lawyer? If you are, then this site is quickly running up against the human:lawyer proportion redline and someone will probably start a “vote them off the island” campaign.

              • Denzel

                …just old… enough, at least, to ramble on and on… :-)

    • Alex

      This is the point I was making earlier.

    • Kerry

      Have 10 of your friends sign up for HFL, and the if they get 10 of their friends to sign up for yearly subs, we might have enough in the till to rent tracks and get press bikes and have Grant, Wes, Sean, myself, Nicky Hayden, the Bostrom brothers, or anyone else you would like to see give feedback and right reviews. Or better yet, just build us a track in your backyard and I am happy to send skank to your house to sleep on your couch and review bikes all day.
      Notwithstanding who skank is, what we thought was interesting (at least what I thought was) is that here is a guy who bought a specific bike telling us exactly why he bought it and what he liked about it. OEMs pay millions of dollars a year in marketing dollars to get that kind of feedback. It isn’t that he is some great motorcycle street racer that makes the story, it is that he fell in love with the bike enough to go out and buy one and then further modded it.

      • Wes Siler

        Just for some perspective in relation to this comment, a race track costs ~$10,000 a day. We have rented tracks, for example Monticello in order to produce the Aprilia videos.

        That ~$10,000 does not represent good ROI for us if all we’re doing is a dry review of the kind you could read elsewhere. Instead of creating the kind of boring, formulaic content you can read in literally a dozen other publications, we focus on creating material that is unique and creative.

        And that’s why I decided Skank’s unsolicited opinions would make a good article. What he does is illegal, immoral and makes motorcycling look bad, but he does have a unique viewpoint to discuss this motorcycle from.

        You won’t read anything like this anywhere else. Can you say the same of every superbike shootout you’ve ever read?

        • Thom


          So what do we ( the readers here ) need to do to help get the OEM’s to pull their heads out of their asses , and start giving HFL some invites to Press Rides , Press bikes etc. thereby negating the need to read reviews from the likes of Mssr ” Skank ” ?

          ( where I come from back east Skank is a term for a slut , who’s verging on the ugly side and dresses like a cheap assed KMart Hooker , barely worth the effort unless you’re absolutely desperate )

          • Wes Siler

            Just keep reading and tell your friends to read too.

          • Skank NYCF

            Maybe in next review I’ll spill the beans on how I got the nick name. Had it since the age of 9. I’m 40 now. And I love it. I invented the word and got no credit for it on Wikipedia.

            • Thom

              @ Skank NYCF

              Well I’ll be interested in hearing the story , but got to tell you I’m well over 50 and the term ” Skank ” was around way before I came around so ………

              No Credit For You ! :o)

              • Skank NYCF


                • Thom

                  God help me , I’m starting to like this guy ! (skank) Double Damn !!!

          • Dumptruckfoxtrot

            I’m fairly certain that the outright antagonism HFL has shown to certain OEMs isn’t helping them. If I was a OEM I wouldn’t want to accommodate self aggrandizing snotty hipsters either. Though I’m sure that most of HFL’s contributors come across drastically different in person.

            Sure there needs to be more real criticism from motorcycle journalism. HFL’s Nesbitt articles tend to cross that line into petty name calling within the first paragraph.

            • Grant Ray

              If you were one of those OEMs, you would have already been incredibly dismissive, self aggrandizing and mildly insulting from the moment I finished saying, “Hi, my name is…”

              To this day, we are still regularly talked down to in meetings with industry management.

              • Thom

                I’ve said this before about the OEM’s and their Internetaphobia , they’ve got their heads firmly planted .

                They bitch and whine that they can’t seem to appeal to the younger generations , and then promptly turn around and ignore ( or worse ) the very Venue that would get them more connected , seeing as how most of todays Youth wouldn’t pick up a magazine , read a paper or for that matter pay attention to anything that requires more than 15 seconds of their thoughts and efforts if their lives depended on it .

                Christmas Day , even the Upper Reaches of the Auto Industry ( Ferrari Mercedes Bentley etc. ) have gone online so what the Hell are the OEM M/C manufactures waiting for ? Business 101 21st Century if you ask me .

                Any OEM Reps peaking in that care to explain ?

              • Dumptruckfoxtrot

                Yeah, you’re new. FNGs always get shit, no matter what the field. I can’t see how publishing articles that are very insulting to various OEMs will ever make it so that you aren’t talked down to by industry management.

                If you publish people ranting and throwing a hissy fit like a child, you shouldn’t be surprised when people continue to treat you like a child.

                • Grant Ray

                  The point you’re missing is that unless I’m slurping, I’ll always be talked down to by members of the Kalifornia Klub.

                  You may not know, but I’ve actually been in this business a while now. I used to do their jobs when I worked at Confederate in New Orleans, that’s how Wes and I met. I was never openly rude or dismissive to an editor, no matter what tiny a newspaper s/he worked for. My job was to facilitate their needs and engage them with the brand and the machines. Not to be a smug prick. Because I knew if I did that, I’d sacrifice coverage and seriously endanger the brand (therefor sales) to negative and detrimental critical leanings.

                  And if I didn’t know any better I’d think that, by sleight of hand, you just compared me to a hissy fit-throwing, ranting child. Huh.

                • Dumptruckfoxtrot

                  Actually Grant you and Sean are my favorite writers at HFL. I was referring to JT Nesbitt, the one writer you have that reads like someone’s livejournal.

                  Why would you always be talked down to? It’s not as if OEMs don’t change their policies from time to time. I fail to see what publishing drivel does besides alienate a portion of your audience, attract LCD tuff guy motorcyclists and make the publication lose credibility.

        • jp182

          Well said and this is why I subscribe. I could read the same old boring tripe in a magazine at Barnes while not buying it or I can read a different viewpoint on this site and I prefer different viewpoints.

      • Brammofan

        “Or better yet, just build us a track in your backyard” Maybe Alan would invite these bad boys over to the new track in his backyard.

        • Wes Siler

          Well he’s got to finish paving it first :)

  • Ben Incarnate

    Gotta say – much better and more informative writeup than what I’ve seen from Skank here in the comments. This is a far better article than I expected, no matter the other BS.

    Whether I agree with their antics or not, it’s a pretty significant statement when someone who rides the way they do goes out and buys one after an ever-so-gentle test ride. It’ll be interesting to see how things develop post-upgrade marathon.

  • Mark D

    The BMW might be asymmetrical, but come on, it looks awesome in their tri-colors. Guess that’s not really Skank’s style, though.

    $11k is an awesome deal on that Kawi, though. Thing just looks scary.

    • stempere

      I can’t seem to find it but i saw a picture of one with the round light surounded by red paint, mimicking the shape of the other light. I think i was on that tri-color base.
      It looked really good.

  • Andrew

    Just because these guys sent in this review and HFL posted it does not mean anyone condones or promotes the behavior. It is naive to think there are not people out there doing exactly what these guys are doing with bikes like this. Think what you will about the behavior, but try to separate that from the opinions of the machine.

    A review like this without advertising or manufacturer influence is valuable in my opinion, regardless of where it came from or how infamous it’s authors are.

  • Skank NYCF

    The OEM grips and bars ends are going back on. Anyone interested in the red disco grips? Free if you pay the shipping and packing.

    • Kerry

      I’ll take them, and you won’t even have to ship them, I can pick them up in person.

    • Brammofan

      Red Alert! Holy crap, Skank, Kerry’s a lawyer. Don’t trust lawyers. I’m certain he has something up his sleeve (besides his Rolex, of course).

      • Kerry

        Says the other lawyer.

      • Ben Incarnate

        You two are adorable.

        • sean (the roommate)


    • Mark D

      Have you ridden it at all with the traction control?

      Other than the monster engine, that’s the most interesting part of the bike. Wonder if you could find a use for it on oil-slicked interstates.

      • Skank NYCF

        I haven’t rode the bike used in these photos yet. I got plates for it yesterday. The bike I used to run the BMW was my friends. Once I get my bike on the road I’ll try everything it has to offer.
        And it depends on the size of the oil slick.

  • slowestGSXRever

    I actually liked this review. Nice.

    • holdingfast

      i like the review too.. I mean, it’s unlike any other review (compared to some of the euro magazines)- but that’s the freggin point. These guys are willing(, reckless enough) and able to ride as hard as they can, or even as hard as the machine can. So what they say about it has some weight – clearly not in the safety department, but these bikes are about performance – the kind of performance which anyone riding on the street seldomly ever really needs.. so someone daring to see what the limits are (of the machine, not of the man) is pretty exciting to me. Plus I wouldn’t mind being able to spend that 10k on that Repsol CBR1000 RR I/ve been drooling over for the past week.
      …Instead I get to spend 25 bucks and read about someone elses adventures here.. pretty cool.

      but then again I’m a youth (still, sort of) and the motorcycle Industry doesn’t care about me too much so I guess my opinion doesnt matter, right?

      • slowestGSXRever

        Unless you have money, and there are lots of people like you with money then no, businesses don’t care about you :(

        • nick2ny

          You should be buying a used naked bike now, and that’s where brand loyalty starts. Manufacturers should be caring about anyone who has even a chance of riding somewhere down the line. My dad gave me his ’84 Interceptor when I was 16 and I’ve been on Hondas ever since.

  • Will
    • brutus

      good work!

  • Barry

    Just so everyone (EVERYONE!) knows, this statement is flat out wrong: “Tightening up the preload would have made the ride too stiff for the bumps”. JUST WRONG. Never say it. Preload adjusts the HEIGHT of a shock. It does not change the inherent rate of the spring, nor does it adjust the valving stack at all. Now having too much preload(usually as a result of not enough spring), and being at the top of your stroke will have all sorts of fun behaviors, like going to full extension when you crest a hill, which tends to put you on your butt because there’s suddenly air under the rear tire.

    As for the new ZX10 suspension. Meh. I’ve worked on a bunch of them at the track now. The forks work alright, but all the racers strip out the big piston internals and put in real stuff. I’ve continued to hope they’ll fix the big piston forks, but they just kinda never live up to expectations.

    The rear shock can actually be made to work really well once you put enough spring on it and tweak the valving a touch. That said, at 250lbs, the stock spring as delivered is insufficient. Someone about 170 without gear is about right for the rear it seems.

    • Peter88

      Help me out Barry (I’m not kidding). I don’t know the spring rates of rear suspensions but if you have a 10 inch spring with a spring constant of 50 lb/in, and then preload it 2 inches. Wouldn’t it require at least 100 lb to begin deflecting it? Doesn’t that result in a stiffer rear suspension? I hope I didn’t open a can of worms and if the response will be too long is there a site I can go to that would explain this stuff? Thanks.

      • Barry

        @Peter88 – as other more trolly members below have stated, Hooke’s law is of course in effect. F = -kx where F is the restorative force generated from equilibrium, x is displacement, and k is the spring constant.

        However, when attempting to properly set the sag of a motorcycle shock, you’re doing so by measuring the extended position, position with just the bike’s weight, and then position with the load(generally the rider). The difference between unladen and the bike measurements as well as the difference between unladen and loaded are vital.

        “Classic” numbers for the rear measurements on these differences on modern sports bikes are 10mm bike sag, and 30mm laden sag, when measured from the rear axle to some point on the motorcycle frame perpendicular to the ground.

        However, like everything else, setup is always a compromise. Some bikes/riders need/want more or less, but those are usually good starting points. When you add preload, usually via ramp, screw or HPA adjuster on the shock body, you push on the spring, which pushes against the bottom of the shock, extending the shock, effectively raising the bike. Ideally, you want the shock body to be in the middle of its travel to maximize traction (the entire point of suspension).

        Measure the length of the spring while laden before and after the preload adjustment. Unless the shock is already at full extension, it won’t get measurably shorter. In fact, depending on the geometry of the bike (also adjusted by external ride height adjusters, linkages, fork tube height relative to the triple tree, etc), you may see the spring get longer because you’ve transferred more weight to the front of the bike.

        Hence, adjusting the preload of the bike has not increased the restorative force in the static spring at that point in the travel. Where you feel the “harshness” of too much preload (as mentioned by @HammSammich below), is when you’ve added so much preload that the bike is effectively topped out all the time.

        In HammSammich’s case, he took the additional load off the bike, which prevents it from being near the middle of its stroke, and you suddenly have several things working against you. One is the force imparted by Hooke’s law which you must now overcome, assuming that the spring is never allowed to go completely uncompressed. However, adjusting for the middle of the suspension travel is more vital because that’s where you spend most of your time while riding. And that is where the spring RATE becomes a much bigger factor.

        In a corner or under acceleration out of a corner, the shock (assuming standard sports bikes here with a monoshock in the rear, and standard forks in front. Tesi’s, BMW’s, and other front-shock bikes are a bit different ;) will compress at a rate controlled partly by the linear spring force (also assuming you don’t go into coil bind or have a progressively wound spring or helper springs), partly by frictional drag, and the remainder by the internal compression valving. If the spring is too small of a rate (relative to the front compression rate), it will dynamically compress too much and change the geometry of the motorcycle, generally adding rake and trail, making the bike want to stand up and run wide in a corner.

        If you want to learn more, I highly recommend you take the RaceTech or Penske suspension courses, or at least read the Race Tech suspension training books. Most of the information I’ve seen online is misinformed and more likely to do you harm than good.

        If adding more preload to a bike makes it feel harsh to the rider, I can almost guarantee they have too soft of a spring, and are trying to use the wrong adjustment to “fix” their problem, when they really want a different spring/valving combination. There are ways to compensate for too low of a rear spring rate using compression/rebound adjustments and fork adjustments to balance things out, but it’s never the right direction to go, and is a compromise at best.

        • Devin

          I want to read this because I feel there is good information in there but use paragraphs man. Can somebody format this please.

          • Sean Smith

            You’re welcome.

            • Devin

              Thanks, I read this now, and learned some things.

        • Peter88

          Thanks Barry. You could’ve just sent me to the RaceTech or Penske books and I would’ve been happy. I appreciate the explanation.

        • Sean Smith

          As an HFL contributor, I believe that trolling the comments is actually part of the gig.

          “If adding more preload to a bike makes it feel harsh to the rider, I can almost guarantee they have too soft of a spring”

          This is what Skank was talking about and what I was referring to.

    • mugget

      Haha, yeah I spotted that little bit about the preload…

      Interesting comment about the big piston forks. So they have not really lived up to the hype? Is this true for the BPF used on the latest Gixxers etc?

      • Sean Smith

        It’s true. I’ll let you know how they stack up to the truly wondrous (Just to be extra clear, the old GSX-R forks are not so hot) suspension package of the K9 GSX-R once I ride the new one.

    • Richard

      NLB of KFG, is that you?

    • Sean Smith

      I have to take Skank’s side here. Blame Hooke’s law.

      When a spring is squished, it gets stiffer.

      When you adjust preload, you are not adjusting the height of a shock, you’re adjusting how the spring acts over the entire length of the stroke. Add preload and it gets harsh up top because you’re running in a stiffer part of the spring.

      I’m not a suspension expert, but I do know this much.

      • Skank NYCF

        Barry has no idea WTF he’s talking about.
        And FYI I was talking about the rear shock. If you tighten up the spring on the “rear shock”, IT WILL MAKE IT STIFFER. I feel bad for the ZX owners and any other bike owners you touched.

        • Grant Ray

          Skank, touching bikes is one thing, but touching bike owners is just gross.

          You sick bastard.

        • Liquidogged

          You sent your article into a site that thrives on discussion, and when someone disagrees with your opinion, this is your response? It’s like sending a steak to the zoo and getting pissed when a lion eats it. WTF are you expecting? If he doesn’t know what he’s talking about, how about you cite some references or credentials? Barry’s offered some. And before you get all pissy, remember that YOU sent in the article, so if you can’t take the heat, get the hell outta the kitchen.

          • Skank NYCF

            “Preload” simply means the compression the spring is under when the suspension is not subjected to any weight. By adjusting the preload, you adjust the “sag” of the bike. Sag refer to the suspension travel not the height!!!
            I dont need to show any creds when I’m stating a fact. I’m right. Period. Done. You and Barry have no argument here.
            I think I just turned on the a/c
            And I like my steak well done.

            • Roman

              “And I like my steak well done.”
              How are we supposed to take anything else you say seriously after such a blatant display of ignorance?!

              • Skank NYCF

                You take this way to serious.
                Where I come from we like to argue and break balls at the same time. If you confused my ball breaking a “blatant display of ignorance”, oh well.

                • Roman

                  Um, you realize that’s exactly what I was doing right? Tongue in cheek, all in good fun, etc… But seriously, medium-rare is where it’s at.

        • Barry

          skank, please see my discussion with Mr. Peter88 above. I’m not going to get in a flame war with you. I’ve set up hundreds of motorcycles and work at one of the most recognized suspension shops in the state. And yes, I too was referring to the rear shock. I’m merely trying to provide useful tuning information to this community.

          • Skank NYCF

            Forget about ride height and bike geometry. Thats a different topic. I talked about sag and going over bumps and dips. I put it real simple. I like my bikes on the soft side. By doing so I loose height. By adding shims or on a after market shock I can get the bike to my riding height/geometry of my liking.

            All my shocks come with a separate ride height adjustment. Once I “my” suspension feeling right to “my liking” I make my height/geometry adjustments and go from there.

            Anyone willing to give it a try, go to your bike and tighten down the preload on the rear shock all the way and tell us what you feel when you sit or push down on it. Than loosen it up and do the same.

            Yes, I know the height of the bike will change when playing with the preload. But thats not the main function of the preload. It’s main function is to set sag to the riders liking. That’s why after market shocks come with a separate height adjustment and by adding shim under the OEM top mounting bracket will do the job also. You should know this.

            BMW made it real easy on their S1000RR. Just remove the mounting bolt and flip the spacer and you get your ride height with out riding on a spong or brick depending on witch you go.

            The End.

      • HammSammich

        Yeah, gotta go w/ Skank here too. I’ve accidentally left my preload maxed after riding two-up, and after a couple of miles, I was pulling over to set it back rather than risk a spinal disc compression…

  • mugget

    Good article – definitely interesting to read… and I’d rather read that than some other review that details the valve sizes and other engine internals…

  • Paul_55

    Finally a bike review from someone close to my size, instead of a munchkin. :)

  • Dumptruckfoxtrot

    This was pretty good actually.

  • Deryl

    “Funny shit, if you ask me.”

    There is the rub, I could shit care less what the shit you think.

  • jonoabq

    The stock windscreen looks just like a shield in “evil dead 2″ about 1:17 in…kidding. No really, it looks like shit.

    Now get it on some tight canyon roads in Colorado with huuuuge drop offs and constant elevation changes…outright speed not being the issue, breaking/turning/suspension composure being the deal maker.

  • DoctorNine

    I am interested in any skilled individual’s opinion of the tools that they use. You wanna complain that your pool cue is reviewed by a pool shark? Seriously? Please!

    • dux

      I’m on your side, too. I want my bike lock to be reviewed by a professional thief as well as a locksmith.

      • Surj

        Turns out Skank can help you with that, too.

        Full thread:

        It’s one thing to do your time and get on with life, but an entirely different – and fucked – thing to be still be glamorizing it and acting badass. Most riders hate bike thieves – why should we pay HFL to read “articles” (that aren’t that great in the first place) from one?

        • Wes Siler

          Yes, Skank is a criminal. I think we’ve presented that message all along, it’s been lead or followed by “what these guys do is illegal, immoral, dangerous and a big part of the reason why cops and the public hate us.” The reason we’re interested in them is because they do something unique and offer a unique perspective from an aspect of motorcycling that’s often ignored by the motorcycle press. If you read real media, outside the motorcycle world, you’ve likely seen interviews with serial killers, terrorists and mass murderers. That’s because a glimpse inside their minds is interesting.

          • Surj

            Yeah, you said “these guys ride beyond the limits of the law” but I must have missed the part where you said “Skank is a former – and unrepentant – leader of a ring of motorcycle thieves.”

            I’ve certainly read lots of interviews with various types of criminals, but HFL has never run Skank’s material as a “glimpse into the mind of a bike thief.” Big, BIG difference and not one that your response here even begins to cover, in my opinion.

            I don’t have much beef with folks riding fast, as long as they’re not hurting anyone. So I’ve just shrugged off the recent fascination with the NYC Fast & Furious bullshit. But I’m not interested in reading “bike reviews” from an a bike thief, especially one that revels in his past crimes as much as Skank does. Read his posts over on the WERA board. This fucker claims he would have taken any of our bikes with a smile.

            • Ben Incarnate

              Good points all around, Surj. The fuss has been tremendous when the suggestion was simply dangerous riding. This is a different level and a damn shame if the crew knew all along.

            • Skank NYCF

              What’s your address? I need some bike parts.
              And now a slow clap for the Mr.Internet Police.
              Wow, this is a shocker!! I wasn’t expecting my past to ever be brought up. Again and again and again. It’s old news but it seems like a #1 topic over on WERA 7 years after the fact. You’re a little late Walter Cronkite. And thanks for keeping everyone safe from the big bad Skank.
              I’ll be more than happy to share my story about my life of crime and what was involved in fencing off stolen goods.
              I was thinking about writing a book or screen play about the whole thing.
              So, what’s that address again?

              • Surj

                Thanks for demonstrating exactly what I’m talking about, right here on HFL. Let me make sure I have this right – you’re asking for my address so you can steal my bike, right? Seems like that’s what you’re saying.

                Look man, you’re made it painfully clear that you don’t care about your past being dredged up, and that you did your time. But there are two points here:

                1. Your braggadocio and amateurish shit-talking paint you as an unrepentant asshole, probably accurately. Sure, you did your time, but does anyone believe you’re not still a slimeball? Doubtful.

                2. I’m not interested in continuing to give even a paltry few of my dollars to HFL – or anyone else – to read bike reviews from someone like you. I know you don’t care and maybe the HFL team doesn’t either, but I doubt I’m the only one. Working outside the motorcycle media mainstream is an admirable endeavor, but if you’re part of that, I’m not.

                • Skank NYCF

                  Why don’t you go cry about it.
                  What’s so funny is all the energy you’re putting into this. I see all the little cry babies over on WERA can’t figure out who I am, with all the research, Googling and energy you guy’s are putting into me and they still can’t get it right. I’m not Mike, jerkoff. That’s the funny part.
                  7 years later and all you bench racers are all gaga over me.
                  Here’s a little NEWS flash for you. Everyone knows who I am and what I’ve done. So go call the FBI,CIA,NYPD, and whoever else you like. I’ll be waiting for them to contact me so I can tell them to blow me before slamming the front door in their face.
                  I’m by far not justifying or making some excuse for what I’ve done. It was wrong and I paid for it. But I never broke into anyones home, garage or personal took anyones bike. I paid for the parts, resold them and got busted along with a bunch of other people I didn’t know across the city. No, it doesn’t make me better than the actual thieves. I know that.
                  I didn’t cry and bitch. I did wrong and I took my medicine like a man and did my time. Now, I’m all about family and riding.
                  And if I piss off little forum post whores along the way, ooh fuckin’ well, I really don’t care, cause I’m going to keep on doing what I’m doing and you can keep on crying about me.

    • Ted

      While I get where you’re going with this, your analogy falls apart when all the pool shark does is break with it. Sure they can hit the ball hard, but can they sink the finesse shots afterward that actually matter?

      • Devin

        No, it still works. Real pros use one cue for breaking and one for afterwards. If you are interested in a new cue for breaking, somebody who does just that and is good at it is a great source of info.

        Plus for the rest, it satisfies a curiousity.

  • solidaridad

    For no good reason I don’t really care for Kawis. Maybe cuz they’ve always been a dime a dozen.
    Great review! This guy might have a future if he doesn’t kill himself first.

    • motoguru

      I feel the same way about Suzuki’s. Life long hater for no real reason.

  • damien

    Kawasakis have always held a special place in my heart. Not sure why, as I’ve never owned one, but they do.

    Hmmm… My favorite color is green. Maybe that’s it?

    Decent write up.

    • Myles

      Me also, I think the combination of Green and as a little kid referring to all sportbikes as “Ninja Bikes!” has left a huge soft spot for Kawasaki.

      I’ve never ever ever been to a bike shop that had Kawai’s and not sat on a zx6r or zx10r. Usually both, and I always want to leave with one (usually the 6r, always in bright as Green).

      • Mark D

        Yeah, growing up, all sport bikes were Ninjas, and they were all bright green. Its ugly but in a cool sort of way. Hard to explain, I guess.

  • Brendan

    I read this whole article with a thick Brooklyn accent.

    • Skank NYCF

      Try it with a Queens accent.

      • Devin

        Like Fran Dresher from The Nanny?

        • Thom

          No no no my friends , you need to read it like I did with a hard core Wise Guy Joisey accent , inserting the extra MF , SFB and FA thru out to keep it real !!!


          ( born in Joisey , lived in Hells Kitchen and the Garment District back when a Loft wasn’t some pathetic , over priced Yuppie excuse for a Condo and even the cops wouldn’t go into Central Park . You Youngins got it so easy in NYC these days . Oh ! And did I mention the potholes ? Those dents you all whine about these days were nothing in comparison to the road canyons back then where you could easily lose a small VW Beetle [real one ] or drown in one on a bad day ! :o) ;o) )

    • adeysworld

      My articles are to be read with a thick BKLYN(GoodFellas) accent. SKANK, ONEARM – QUEENS(KING OF QUEENS STYLE).

  • Scott Pargett

    Love the style this article. Everyone’s so worried of watching their words like politicians or something. This was a refreshing read. The quote below sets the stage nicely. Thanks guys.

    “This is my opinion from my point of view. Usually, when I’m talking about bikes, it’s at 4am in some dark parking lot with friends. We talk tires, suspension and riding. So let’s just say that here we are at a gas station shooting the shit.”

  • RT Moto

    The article is great and I applaud HFL for keeping an open mind regardless of what the “right” crowd find acceptable (in regards to publishing articles). That’s what makes you different and what keeps me subscribed.

    As for the bike, I have always thought the liter Kawi’s were beyond ugly. But this one, it’s different… It’s the first time I have seen one in black and I must say that I would more than think about getting one if I was in the market for a 1000cc ride. It just looks damn good.

    • Ivan


  • JMS

    “If they hate then let em hate and watch the money pile up.”

    Keep doing what you’re doing, it’s why I subscribe.

  • Coreyvwc

    Performance merits aside, it just looks cheap and plasticy…
    Even more so when swathed in that delightfully tacky yet unrefined green.

  • ktaisa

    i would like to see average comments for NON NYC fastest articles VS average comments for NYC fastest articles

    HFL i think you know how to get those hits up.

    probably about 10 to 100

    • Ted

      Momma didn’t raise no fool.

  • Skank NYCF

    ‘The following video(s) from your account have been age-restricted pursuant to YouTube’s Community Guidelines’.

    I smell a rat among us.

    • Ben Incarnate

      No worries. An age-restriction act more like a big bucket of “holy crap, this must be interesting!”

      But it has smelled ratty in here lately. I think HFL dropped the coin that should go to the sanitation services on their Aprilia vids in a financial move that I whole-heartedly endorse. Hell, I even promote it.

  • Scott-jay

    These riders are way outside my envelope, but the article reminds me of glossy moto-mags with its recitation of products.
    I want these NY cats to be outlaws, not consumers.

  • Von Scotch

    Oh wait, not those two again, Blah, irresponsible, blah, I for one will not be re-newing my membership, etc. etc.

  • Tony M.

    I’m so offended by the content of this article that I refuse not to renew my membership! Where else will I go to complain about people speeding. Why, I spend all my time going 55 in a 65 in the left lane and I think everyone else should too. (end sarcasm)

    I look forward to hearing how it performs once you’ve got it fixed up.