The Kawasaki ZX-10R is the motorcycle that wrested the hooligan tag off Suzuki, and never lot it go. Even today, if you want the hardcore of the bunch, you buy a used 2005 to 2008 Kawasaki ZX-10R. Which really wasn't the case before 2004.
While the Yamaha R1, Suzuki GSX-R and Honda FireBlade were living it up., Kawasaki persevered with the outdated-at-birth-ZX-9R. It wasn't good enough at the time, and by 2003 standards it was well off the pace. The Kawasaki ZX-9R was on all levels behind the competition, playing catch-up. Surely not a popular choice.
But Kawasaki stunned us with the ZX-10R – a motorcycle with more than enough fire-power to tempt even the most ardent Suzuki fan. The reborn ZX-10R looked like the tool Kawasaki was racing around on in the MotoGP. It was sharp and modern, banishing the portly ZX-9R from thought immediately. The sharp aerodynamic nose is punctured by a huge trademark Kawasaki induction cavern. Wavy 'petal' discs reside at the base of the fully adjustable 43mm upside-down forks. It was superb light at 170kg, and pumped out on the road a claimed 160 horsepower.
Everything was so compact and minimalist, right down to the clocks, Kawasaki were dead serious about going after the liter-class crown. The reality of what they'd created was astounding.
The Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R was fast. Very fast. Perhaps, for some, too fast, in some ways, if only because it was rather flighty with it. The new chassis could turn as quick as the engine could rev. It was as though they took all the flak and criticism in good humor, and went totally overboard in response. It could stunt for Japan too, but it lacked overall poise and control, which the 2004 Yamaha R1 had in abundance. The Kawasaki ZX-10R came close but not close enough.
Six year's later though, the Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R is enjoying something of a renaissance. The 2010/2011 Kawasaki ZX-10R is powerless against its liter-class competitors and with the expected 2012 Suzuki GSX-R1000 coming out soon it would be again at the last popular motorcycle.