The chance to review an all-new motorcycle prior to the bike’s world launch is about as rare as a Vincent White Shadow, but that’s the opportunity our Australian correspondent, Jeff Ware, received late last November when he got to spin laps aboard Kawasaki’s all-new ZX-10R. Because the new 10R is the most exciting new sportbike of 2016, we jumped at the chance to publish Ware’s review so we could be among the first in the world to share riding impressions of this important new machine. Our review was cleverly titled “First First-Ride Review,” because’s official first-ride review was intended to be posted after the bike’s world launch.

2016 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R First First-Ride Review + Video

Well, the Ninja’s official world launch took place this week at Malaysia’s Sepang circuit. Funny thing is, we didn’t receive an invite. Kawasaki tells us that, since “we” already reviewed the new 10R, it decided we didn’t need to ride it again so soon. That’s the price we pay to bring you news ahead of of the rest of the world.

Anyway, as you can tell from reading our review, the latest Ninja impresses for its World Superbike-bred chassis. Ware has huge compliments for its handling, brakes and suspension – and also for its thoroughly revised engine. But his ride was on a fairly tight racetrack, so we wondered how accurate his butt dyno was in measuring power.

Well, thanks to our friends at Farrell Performance, we now know exactly how much power a 2016 ZX-10R produces: 163.2 horsepower when measured at the rear wheel on a Dynojet 250i dyno. That’s about 2.7 more hp than the 2015 bike we tested last year, and 6.2 hp more than a run Farrell did on a ’15 under similar conditions.

Here’s a chart built from Farrell Performance dyno runs on a 2016 ZX-10R and 2015 edition. Farrell uses the SAE correction factor and has the “smoothing” of the curve set to 3 of a maximum of 5.

Here’s a chart built from Farrell Performance dyno runs on a 2016 ZX-10R and 2015 edition. Farrell uses the SAE correction factor and has the “smoothing” of the curve set to 3 of a maximum of 5.

However, there’s a lot more power lurking inside. Noise emissions regulations force  U.S.-spec ZXs to be significantly restricted at the upper end of their powerband. The tuning of the previous 10R closed down its secondary throttle plates to restrict noise and, as a byproduct, also significantly restricting power. For the 2016 10R, the throttle butterflies are controlled totally by ride-by-wire technology. Ace tuner Jason Farrell says the throttle is electronically cut to 80% of maximum once the engine hits 10,000 rpm.

“Until they’re unlocked, you never really know the true potential,” says Farrell, an ASRA national roadrace champ.

Also, as previously, European ZX-10Rs aren’t programmed with the restrictive tuning of American Ninjas. And neither are Aussie ZXs. The ProCycle dyno in Slack’s Creek, Australia, measured an incredible 194.7 hp at 13,300 rpm on a stock Aussie 10R when set to the STD (rather than SAE) correction factor. Farrell says to expect about 4 hp less if set to SAE, which is still a ridiculous 190 hp!

Next for Farrell is to unlock the ZX’s stock ECU to unleash its full potential. He guesses it’ll do about 190 horses with an aftermarket exhaust.

So, we’re kinda bummed we didn’t ride the dazzling new ZX-10R this week, but we’re happy to bring you a review of it seven weeks before our competition. We’re anxious to put it to the test on home soil next month. Stay tuned!

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  • Craig Hoffman

    It is kind of cool that the manufacturers are using the ECU to control power and noise to meet regulations instead of the bike’s tuning and hardware. ECUs can be flashed to remove those restrictions. 190 hp with the quiet stock exhaust with the right ECU settings is ridiculous. Wow.

  • ColoradoS14

    I am sure it rides great but the noise regulation hp loss claim is unacceptable to me. If BMW is able to build an engine with the same inline 4 layout that is able to meet all noise and emissions requirements than I find it hard to believe that Kawi has to restrict this bike that much. Nice to see that they have added some new tech to what is a good all around package but I’ll stick with the European bikes for now, although the Yamaha has that great electronics package. If you want the outright power king with great electronics, heated grips and cruise control the BMW is your best choice. For my money the Aprilia is still the bike to have in the Superbike category, great electronics (if still a bit behind the leaders), not miserable to ride on the street and a sweetheart on the track, easy on the eyes and holy hell that sound…

    • Sean Alexander

      “If BMW is able to build an engine with the same inline 4 layout that is able to meet all noise and emissions requirements…” That is a huge “IF” have you heard an S1000RR at full-song? According to the noise meter at Laguna Seca, our stock 2015 S1000RR was significantly louder than our stock 2015 ZX-10R, and not a single person was surprised.

      • ColoradoS14

        Which raises an interesting point, it seems to me that there is massive variability in SPL levels between bikes. I know for example that Aprilia and many of the others (Ducati, etc.) have a valve which opens at a certain rpm/load and opens the exhaust up. Maybe Kawi is hurting themselves by not incorporating such is system (unless they are). My guess, based on Kawasaki history going back to at least the 2005 ZX6R, is that they are limiting it with more conservative ignition timing, not sure why though as that would not change the sound of the engine very much. The old “jumper mod” on the ZX6R got you a real deal 6hp at the wheels back in the day.

        By the way, please do an article on how weight affects acceleration. I am a 240+ guy like you and always wonder how much it hurts me. I figure a VBOX on a couple different bikes with you and Troy let’s say would make for a very interesting article. Some roll-on and other acceleration numbers to keep me motivated to lose some lbs.

        Keep up the great work guys!

        • Alexander Pityuk

          Here you can find some info about rider’s weight and acceleration.

          • ColoradoS14

            Ahh, interesting. Thanks for the link, I am such a numbers guy I would love to see some data but this will have to suffice. Sounds like the effect is pretty large based on the article.

      • Rickey Bobby

        Certainly the S1000RR will pass noise and emission regs with the 9K rev limiter in place… before it’s “600 mile factory break in period” (wink/cough/wink) restriction is removed by the dealer.

      • Steve Cole

        I was at Laguna about six weeks ago… so many bikes with add-on pipes blowing sound to the left side of the bike… new S1000RR with two pipes curling over to the left in the stock pipe, lol

  • Old MOron

    I thought it was great when you MOrons scooped the whole world last year, very cool. But now I’m a little confused. The Ninja’s official launch took place in Malaysia, but somehow you got dyno readings from Wisconsin. Huh?

    • Daniel

      There are plenty of people who have already bought the bike. It’s weird and I don’t understand why, but the official launch is taking place AFTER many customers have already bought their bikes.

      • Kevin Duke

        Yeah, this was a very strange roll out, with the world launch coming so late.

        • Sean Alexander

          Not for us :-)

    • Ryot Gant

      Alot of people already got the bikes back in December.

      check out Jay don’s channel in youtube.

  • John B.

    Invite a moto-journalist to spin a few laps on an updated motorcycle in advance of its world premier, and he writes an article about the experience? Shocking! Better to apologize, than to ask permission.

  • Tavi Ruth

    207 bhp my ass!

  • Steve Cole

    190hp+ is there for all of the top five bikes now (current ZX10R, RSV4, R1M, Panigale, S1000RR), at least in unrestricted/UK form. It’s quite a time to love superbikes.