The editors of Cycle World magazine recently brought together the motorcycle world’s top Japanese one-liter sportbikes for a knock-down, drag-out comparison test. After wringing them out on the race track, drag strip and twisty back roads, they chose the all-new 2004 Kawasaki NINJA® ZX-10R as their winner.
Here’s a sample of what they had to say in their June 2004 issue about the NINJA ZX-10R—the new king of superbikes:
“From our first ride aboard the Kawasaki ZX-10R earlier that morning, it became clear that this bike is best! It’s totally dominated by its motor, with an incredible midrange hit that makes you leery of turning the throttle when you’re leaned over near the tire’s edge. Once you do pull the trigger, you’d best hang on because the ZX floats its front wheel out of corners like no other.”
“Putting the spurs to the wild-n-wooly 10R at Infineon took all the courage I could muster.”
“Just for kicks, I hold the Kawi’s throttle wide-open in first gear until the engine hits the rev-limiter, and the speedo indicates 104 mph. Few gauges are totally accurate, I know, but even accounting for a little electronic optimism, that’s smokin’ fast!”
“The big, blue NINJA has the mother of all midrange hits, accompanied by a telltale Kawasaki growl. It epitomizes everything we’ve come to expect from an Open-class sportbike engine, so forceful that you’d better be pointed in the right direction when you twist the throttle. You can pull out and pass a car on the R1, no problem, but you can pull out and pass a dozen on the ZX-10R!”
“In the end, we could have made a strong case for picking any of these bikes as the winner, but chose the strongest of them all. In his own inimitable way, Cernicky summed it up best: ‘If there were four keys sitting on this table, I’d takes the Kawasa-key.’”