Only one rider has ever won four consecutive World Superbike championships and Kawasaki’s Jonathan Rea is that man. His bike? A relative of this street-legal production Ninja ZX-10R. No Jekyll and Hyde machine, despite its outlandish performance (Cycle World dyno-tested a 2016 ZX-10R at 167 hp, and the same bike scorched through the quarter-mile in 10 seconds at 147 mph), the 10R can be ridden every day. Truthfully, the seating position is harsh in city traffic, as the clip-on handlebars encumber the wrists. But at freeway speeds, the machine feels entirely different—natural, composed, telepathic, and willing to leap instantly into hyperspace.
The rampant power derives from a highly tuned 998cc DOHC inline-four with a boatload of electronics to help the rider manage a rapid-fire world. Key technologies include three power modes (100, 80, and 60 percent), three-mode launch control, traction control, a quickshifter (for upshifts only), a cornering-management function that balances brake pressures and power delivery for smoother line tracing, an engine-braking control function, and, of course, ABS. As with selected other Kawasakis, the Ninja ZX-10R is available in the Japanese brand’s official racing colors.
Likes: Rheostatic power delivery, selectable and seamless rider aids
Dislikes: Like walking a testy hyena on a short leash at low speeds
Verdict: A Millennium Falcon for the street