2011 Kawasaki ZX-10R vs. 2011 BMW S1000RR Shootout - Street

Can the all-new Ninja even the score in the street?


Fit ’n’ Finish, Extra Touches, Fuel Economy, etc.

The BMW’s funky, asymmetrical, function-over-form styling is finally wearing thin with some of us now that we have what is to date the best looking ZX-10R.

Tight fitting panels, no noticeable creaking or vibrations in the bodywork, along with a much-needed departure from the previous 10R’s origami shapes, make the new 10 look clean and polished.

2011 Kawasaki ZX-10R vs. 2011 BMW S1000RR

With respect to some of the S1000RR’s details, Curmudgeonly Kevin wasn’t at all keen on its cheap-looking black plastic body-panel trim or the “goiter-like” appearance of the exhaust collector when aggressive lean angles expose the bike’s belly-pan area. Kevin did, however, admire the polished look of BMW’s beefy swingarm that now wears a larger, presumably more effective, boot heel scuff guard.

And Kevin’s always a fan of self-cancelling turn signals, which this Beemer has. Also kind of trick are the RR’s headlight pitch/angle adjusters located within easy reach on the backside of the lights. I gave the Best Mirrors vote to the Ninja, as their shape and position give a good rearward view and don’t become blurred beyond usefulness by engine vibration – rare accomplishments for most sportbikes.

If fuel economy in a literbike is important to you – and right now we’re guessing mpg is important to everyone! – take note then of an observed 36.5 mpg for the BMW and 37.0 mpg for the ZX.

Another fuel fun fact: According to a label on the BMW’s gas tank the RR can run 89-octane; the ZX requires a minimum of 90-octane. Depending on fuel costs where you live, the few cents difference between the two octane ratings may add up over the course of months if prices at the pump continue to rise. Just sayin’.

2011 Kawasaki ZX-10R vs. 2011 BMW S1000RR


Regrettably, picking a favorite literbike for the street wasn’t any less perplexing than was picking a winner at the track. A solid case for why either bike should come out on top seems at once both easy and impossible.

In the macro view of what matters most in cutting-edge, race-bike-like liter machines, creature comforts may get ranked as close to trivial. But an honest assessment – like the one we made in the beginning that supposes most sportbikes spend their lives on the street – says rider comfort is a big deal on the street, and why it factored so heavily in our decision-making.

“Ultimately I chose the ZX-10R as my street ride because it’s that much more user friendly compared to the BMW,” opined Troy. “And I don’t mind the fact that the Ninja has less power, because 163 horses are more than enough for me, especially on the street.”

In addition to rightly pointing out high horsepower figures are superfluous for street duty, and that overall chassis and brake performance are closely matched, Troy highlights that, perhaps above all, “people want to buy something they’ll be glad to look at each time they open their garage.”

2011 Kawasaki ZX-10R vs. 2011 BMW S1000RR

In no uncertain terms Troy says the Kawasaki looks “downright mean” while the asymmetry of the BMW to him sometimes “looks weird and like it’s different just to be different.” However, he acknowledges BMW’s claim that the S1000RR was styled for function first, looks second. But in a comparison this close “a small thing like appearance,” says Troy, “is enough to sway opinions.”

Of course, price carries a lot of weight, too. The 2011 ZX-10R with optional ABS has an MSRP of $14,799 – a significant saving of $1081 when compared to an S1000RR equipped with Race ABS and DTC.

Literbike Battle: By the Numbers
  Kawasaki ZX-10R BMW S1000RR
Engine 998cc (76.0 x 55.0mm) inline-Four, DOHC, 4-valves per cylinder; 13.0:1 c/r 999cc (80.0 x 49.7mm) inline-Four, DOHC, 4-valves per cylinder; 13.0:1 c/r
Frame Aluminum frame & swingarm Aluminum frame & swingarm
Suspension 43mm Showa BPF
Fully adjustable horizontally mounted shock
46mm USD fully adjustable
Fully adjustable shock w/ high & low speed damping
Rake, Trail, Wheelbase 25.0°, 4.2 inches, 56.1 inches 23.9°, 3.7 inches, 56.0 inches
Tires 120/70 x 17 and 190/55 x 17 120/70 x 17 and 190/55 x 17
Brakes Dual Tokico radial-mount 4-piston; 310mm rotors; optional ABS Dual Brembo radial mount 4-piston; 320mm rotors; optional ABS/DTC
Seat Height 32.0 inches 32.0 inches
Curb Weight 436.6 lbs (443.2 w/ABS) 450 lbs (455 w/ABS)
Fuel Capacity 4.5 gal 4.5 gal
Base MSRP $13,799
$14,799 w/ABS
Rider-selectable traction control (S-KTRC) and 3-mode engine mapping are standard
$15,880 Premium Package (Race ABS w/Dynamic Traction Control, Gear Shift Asst.)

Related Reading
2011 Kawasaki ZX-10R vs. 2011 BMW S1000RR Shootout
2011 Kawasaki ZX-10R Review
2011 Kawasaki ZX-10R Unveiled
2010 Literbike Shootout
2010 BMW S1000RR Review
All things BMW on Motorcycle.com
All things Kawasaki on Motorcycle.com
All sportbike reviews on Motorcycle.com

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