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2004 Kawasaki ZX-10R Track Test: Part One

MD fast guy Willy Ivins is in Florida testing the 2004 Kawasaki ZX-10R with other representatives of the American motorcycle press. He has had one full day on the track at Homestead Raceway. The following is a summary of Willy’s telephone report on his first impressions of the mighty ZX-10R. Keep in mind that we will post a thorough track test report from Willy after he arrives back from Florida.

Willy noted that the ZX-10R is physically quite small, but reasonably comfortable for a sportbike. Not much in the way of wind protection outside a racing crouch, and the footpegs are fairly high.

Kawasaki is claiming 175PS (a European measure of power slightly different from American horsepower) at the crank without ram air, and roughly 184PS at the crank with air being fed through the single nostril at the front of the bike. Not surprisingly, Willy describes the ZX-10R as very fast, but very controllable at the same time. At one point, he used the phrase “deceptively fast”, but then described spinning up the rear tire in fourth gear. Doesn’t sound too deceptive to me, just fast.

He also said that he played with the suspension settings a bit at the track (particularly, rebound damping on both the fork and the shock). Apparently, Homestead has a transition from a banked surface to a flat infield (similar to Las Vegas Motor Speedway) which sends a jolt through the machine. Slowing down the rebound front and rear caused the ZX-10R to settle much more quickly after making this transition (allowing Willy to more easily set up for a following corner).

Willy is still assessing the handling of the ZX-10R, but is generally pleased. He will ride the bike again tomorrow morning, at Homestead, and may try some additional suspension changes (including changes to rear ride height and front preload).

The only negative Willy would report at this time concerns a notchy gearbox, but he will reserve judgment on this until testing is completed tomorrow.

These images of Willy in action at Homestead today were provided via email courtesy of photographer Kinny Jones