A night of riding Shotgun

Published on August 10th, 2009

It’s been quite awhile since I got my hands on a crotch rocket and I was ecstatic when I got the permission from the owner to have a try on it. My first ever ride was a C70 ‘Kapcai’ and it was quite a horrid experience as I accidentally wheelied the bike into a 13-foot drain at the first rev while leaving the pillion face-first into the tarmac. After that first experience,  there was quite a few accidents I had but as someone who I can’t quite recall his name said to me before, “accidents made you a better rider/driver.” There must be an ounce of truth there I think.

So lets get back to the crotch rocket I had my hands on during the weekend. It is a 2008 ZX10-R owned by a dear friend of mine. This is his fourth bike and he just bought it three months back. So far he used to have a 150cc TZM, ZXR250, CBR600 before he upgraded to this ZX10-R 2008 model as he had enough of being left behind on the 6.

One thing for sure the ZX10-R is a looker. From the 2004 model up to the latest 2009, the hard-edged curves had me in love with it within seconds. This particular one comes in the shade of Pearl Wildfire Orange and it does stand out even at night.There are other shades of paintjob offered by Kawasaki, Metallic Diablo Black, Candy Plasma Blue and the easily-recognized Lime Green.

The only thing that I hate would be the conventional displacement and unconventional design of the muffler. A change to aftermarket exhaust is way much better in terms of looks and performance. The owner changed the exhaust to a slip-on Two Brothers Racing muffler for better response and yet I still managed to get a third degree burn on my right calf. (that’s me being stupid riding in shorts instead of proper riding gear!)

The race-ready engine hybrid instrument cluster kept the RPM meter analog whilst the other digital and it is easier to read compared to fully digital system instilled in the 2004 – 2005 model. It was kept minimal and simple and true to the bikers’ spirit in keeping it real… really fast! If only I was in proper riding gear I would have strived to its limit. Still, hitting more than 200km/h is an easy feat on the crotch rocket  and it brought me to speed haven before I even had the time to say grace.

The best bit about this crotch rocket is the KIMS (Kawasaki Ignition Management System). I have an experience on the 2005 model and I would say it’s one hell of a speed demon to handle. A slight twist of the throttle and you’d be thrown aback struggling for grip. The fact that the response was lightning quick… it took me quite sometime to get used to the bike. It was as if a beast has been unleashed and I was expecting the same feeling when I got on the 2008 model… somehow it felt as if the beast has been tamed thanks to the KIMS. Easier to handle and the engine response was smooth compared to the latter. I had no worries attacking the corners as there wasn’t any rear-wheel slip and that made me opened the throttle even more at the corners compared to during my short and scary affair with the 2005 model.

The Kawasaki Ignition Management System bounds the sudden spike in engine speed and even though it gave the feel of having traction control, it is not the issue here. Basically the sophisticated ECU retards ignition timing when it senses wheelspin via a myriad of sensors such as engine speed, throttle position, vehicle speed, gear position, cam position, etc. The system doesn’t engage when the throttle is twisted hard. Rather, it will engage only when rear-wheel slip is detected at neutral throttle openings.

As far as I’m concerned, riding the 2008 model is easier compared to the latter; 2005 model even when this crotch rocket is quoted to be close to 200hp with ram air. Superb handling and control of this particular streamlined beauty is precisely engineered for those speedster and corner huggers… and with 299km/h speed limit it is reputedly the fastest 1-litre bike available in the market.

As for drawbacks, Kawasaki has yet to solve the issue of easily-leaked forks as what most ZX10 owners suffered. It was the same issue when the owner bought the bike as in two weeks time, the problem occurred. Apart from that, a sportsbike is just not for everyday use regardless how much in lurve you’re with it… unless you’re married to a masseur or better still a chiropractor after riding it thru the usual bumper-to-bumper scenario, compromising the unethical drivers, the ever-famous rempiters and potholes strewn all over the tarmac.

I would not say much about the features as you can always check the tech spec on your own… from the various Kawasaki official websites throughout the world via the world wide web. The best way to know the riding dynamics of this particular crotch rocket would be to test it on your own. One thing for sure this crotch rocket is a must-have for me if I have the cash to own it… and sad to say that is just what I don’t have.

words: Hage`  pix: Syawal Ahmad

Technical Specifications:

Engine type: Liquid-cooled, 4-stroke In-Line Four

Displacement: 998cm³

Bore x stroke: 76.0 x 55.0mm

Compression ratio: 12.9:1

Valve/Induction system: DOHC, 16-valves

Maximum power: 138.3kW {188PS} / 12500rpm

Maximum power: with RAM Air 147.1kW {200PS} / 12500rpm

Maximum torque: 113 Nm {11.5 kgfm} / 8700 rpm

Fuel system Fuel injection: ø43mm x 4 (Keihin) with oval sub-throttles, dual injection

Ignition: Digital

Starting: Electric

Lubrication: Forced lubrication, wet sump with oil cooler

Transmission: 6-speed, return

Final Drive: Sealed chain

Clutch: Wet multi-disc, manual

Frame type: Backbone/Twin-tube, aluminum (Pressed/die-cast composite structure)

Rake/Trail: 25.5°/110mm

Suspension (front): 43mm inverted fork with DLC coating, rebound and compression damping, spring preload adjustability and top-out springs

Suspension (rear): Bottom-Link Uni-Trak with gas-charged shock and top-out spring.
Stepless, dual-range (high/low-speed)
Compression damping.  Stepless Rebound damping.  Fully adjustable Spring preload.
Race-ready engine Hybrid instrument cluster

Wheel travel (front): 120mm

Wheel travel (rear): 125mm

Tyre (front): 120/70ZR17M/C (58W)

Tyre (rear): 190/55ZR17M/C (75W)

Brakes (front): Dual semi-floating 310 mm petal discs, 10-button aluminum rotor carrier Dual radial-mount, opposed 4-piston (aluminum)

Brakes (rear): Single 220mm petal disc Single-bore pin-slide, aluminum piston

Steering angle: left/right 27°/27°

Dimensions (L x W x H): 2110 mm x 710 mm x 1135 mm

Wheelbase: 1415mm

Ground Clearance: 125mm

Seat height: 830mm

Fuel capacity: 17litres

Dry weight: 179kg

Headlights On (AHO): N/A


  1. Posted by zx2rr on August 11th, 2009, 11:19

    Sweet! Ya kept it short alright. Oh btw, the owner did a 294kmh on Karak h/way last Sunday…and it ain’t wobbled a bit. Guess the suspension fiddling has started to pay off :)

  2. Posted by 39crew on August 20th, 2009, 00:37

    henskem abang botak ku. sungguh bergaye. sesuai jadi rider dari driver 😛

  3. Posted by Traffic Mag on August 27th, 2009, 23:03

    seriously? hahaha! i’d be one once i have the cash for the bike 39crew.


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