2016 Kawasaki ZX-10R Review and Dyno Test

Kevin Duke
by Kevin Duke

How much power does the new Ninja make?

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 Motorcycle.com’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.

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!

Kevin Duke
Kevin Duke

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2 of 16 comments
  • Tavi Ruth Tavi Ruth on Jan 27, 2016

    207 bhp my ass!

  • Steve Cole Steve Cole on Feb 07, 2016

    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.