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My experience first. I have been riding on two wheels for roughly 20 years now, first on dirtbikes (kx80, kx125, atc250r, trx250r) in the mid-80's and then on road bikes (first with a CBR600F) beginning in '89. Bikes since then are '91 zx-7, '93 zx-7r (the real "r" version), '95 cbr900rr, '98 r1, '02 gix 1k, '03 gix 1k, '04 zx-10r, and current K5. Extensive racing on many tracks in the eastern U.S. with WERA and CCS (putnam park, IRP, grattan, road atlanta (old and new), roebling, jennings, moroso, homestead, among others). I am 6' 1", 210 without gear, in good shape (for the riding impressions later).

Ergonomics. At first blush the two bikes are wildly different in their seating positions. ZX is much more "race oriented" with a tall saddle and low bars. This makes for more discomfort over longer runs, but the tank is very comfortable to lean over (great design) and the seat is nice and wide for good support. K5 seat is a bit too narrow and my inner thighs feel it after more than an hour on the bike. But the upright seating position is great for highway runs. Wind protection is much better on the K5.

I put the two bikes beside one another on similar race stands and the clip-on height of the two (bar touching bar) is about 2" apart. This, combined with the narrower tank, cramped gauge cluster/ram air intake, and closed inner fairing design make the 10 feel like a smaller, lighter, tighter package. However, much of this "feeling" is simply perception. Here's why.

Just rocking the bikes between my legs, the ZX feels substantially lighter than the K5. But the reality is that they are within 5 lbs. of each other. I chalk the difference in feeling up to weight distribution... more on that later.

Side by side, the two bikes are nearly identical in height at each major point (windscreen top, tank top, tail top). The only differences are in overall length and wheelbase. The 10 is several inches shorter (body of the bike) than the K5 and the wheelbase is quite a bit shorter than you would think from the magazine stats (those few millimeters really make a difference).

Build Quality. I'll give this one to Kawasaki but both could use improvement. The welds on the K5 are pretty bad (worse than the 10), but the plastic fits better and the screw holes for simple things (like the rider's seat) match up better than the 10. Cooler bits on the 10 though. The wave rotors, the lightened sprocket, the prettier wheel design, the switches and control gear on the 10 just have a higher "cool" factor.

Riding. First, props to Kawasaki for finally building a great sportbike after a long hiatus. The motor has great character, is loud as hell, and has a great top end rush. The bike rumbles and shudders when you blip the throttle.... you really "feel" the 10 when it accelerates. Additionally, by placing the rider right over the front wheel they have been able to replicate the great front end feedback that older Kawi race machines were known for (i.e. the zx-7's of the Russell WSB years). You can feel every pebble in the road with that front end. The bike is also stable as Gibralter once in a turn. Those two attributes can't be beat by the K5.

Unfortunately, the Kawi has some very serious short comings that racers and exper road riders will not be able to overlook. As much as I cried for years for them to make a smaller, ligher machine, I think they went too far. I immediately put an Ohlins damper on it, so I didn't notice the straight line instability that others complained of. However, on the track, the bike simply would not ride straight with Dunlop D208GP's. At Jennings, the bike would shudder from side to side down the back straight so violently that I thought something was bound to break. Pirellis cleared it up, but then we were killing rear tires. They developed a very odd ragged groove pattern at Barber, and tires were garbage after a few sessions. The bike was awesome diving into turns hard on the brakes, and midcorner was fair (solid, but always remain mindful of what the rear is doing).. But exit and acceleration were real bad. The bike kicks the rear very easily and wants to wheelie everywhere. Very entertaining but a handful to ride quickly. You're physically and mentally tired from riding this bike at the track.

From my short time on the K5, the power feels much stronger than the 10. Certainly, down low there is no contest. The K5 can lift the front from around 4k, whereas the 10 needs about 8k on the clock. Diving in on corners, the front is more vague than the 10, but the mid corner feels awesome (again, this is on the street, not at the track yet). The drive feels very good off the turn. In fact, here is my analysis of a very important aspect of the two bikes - weight distribution. The 10 feels to carry its weight very high. It wheelies at any provocation. The K5 appears to carry the weight much lower (the low seat height contributes). When you accelerate off the turn on the K5, you get straight forward progress. The rear wheel doesn't get under the weight of the bike so noticeably and the bike does not have the sensation that a ton of weight is being transferred from front to back. This probably sucks for the stunters, but it's great for the racers. I notice this when accelerating in any gear... the bike simply rushes forward instead of feeling like it wants to lift the front.

Brakes. Both about equal in power and initial bite. My prior gix 1k's overheated very badly and the line stretch made the lever come all the way back to the bar. Stainless lines are a must but I haven't yet tested the K5 under extreme conditions.

So, there are at least some preliminary observations. As road bikes, they are both tremendous machines. The character of the 10 is great, and because I like the forward riding posiiton and great front end feedback, I would keep it if I weren't goin' racin'. At the track, the 10 is a nightmare to set up and every millimeter change to suspension settings or geometry results in a huge difference in feel. This is a very frustrating bike to deal with at the track. Fixing its problems requires a new redesign in my opinion (swingarm angle is a major part of it from what I have learned from the AMA boys) and any racer will need to spend big bucks to be compete against the new K5.

Suzukis are known for being great race machines right out of the box and the results of the K5 are proving the same is true this time around. I always think the suspension could be improved, but racers will do that on their own. Mike Fitzgerald is getting my stuff very soon. After taking care of that, swapping the brake lines, and adjusting the bike to fit me better (I'm thinking about a taller seat and lower bars to change the riding position a bit), this will be the way to go.

Race reports on the K5 to come.
 

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Great write up. I will be at Roebling next Monday doing a trackday. My second on on the 10. My first one I messed with the suspension and I think I have it nailed down.
 

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I have a trackday tommorow on my racebike, i'll let you know how it handles with a penske triple, sbk forks, aftermarket damper, proper gearing, race brakes, etc.

 

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Awesome write up! I have been contimplating selling my 01 1k for either the 05 or a ZX10, this was very informative for me.
 

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Wow, best review that I've read on this forum of a K5 vs. 10R. Thanks!
 

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My experience first. I have been riding on two wheels for roughly 20 years now, first on dirtbikes (kx80, kx125, atc250r, trx250r) in the mid-80's and then on road bikes (first with a CBR600F) beginning in '89. Bikes since then are '91 zx-7, '93 zx-7r (the real "r" version), '95 cbr900rr, '98 r1, '02 gix 1k, '03 gix 1k, '04 zx-10r, and current K5. Extensive racing on many tracks in the eastern U.S. with WERA and CCS (putnam park, IRP, grattan, road atlanta (old and new), roebling, jennings, moroso, homestead, among others). I am 6' 1", 210 without gear, in good shape (for the riding impressions later).

Ergonomics. At first blush the two bikes are wildly different in their seating positions. ZX is much more "race oriented" with a tall saddle and low bars. This makes for more discomfort over longer runs, but the tank is very comfortable to lean over (great design) and the seat is nice and wide for good support. K5 seat is a bit too narrow and my inner thighs feel it after more than an hour on the bike. But the upright seating position is great for highway runs. Wind protection is much better on the K5.

I put the two bikes beside one another on similar race stands and the clip-on height of the two (bar touching bar) is about 2" apart. This, combined with the cramped gauge cluster/ram air intake, and closed inner fairing design make the 10 feel like a smaller, lighter, tighter package. However, much of this "feeling" is simply perception. Here's why.

Just rocking the bikes between my legs, the ZX feels substantially lighter than the K5. But the reality is that they are within 5 lbs. of each other. I chalk the difference in feeling up to weight distribution... more on that later.

Side by side, the two bikes are nearly identical in height at each major point (windscreen top, tank top, tail top). The only differences are in overall length and wheelbase. The 10 is several inches shorter (body of the bike) than the K5 and the wheelbase is quite a bit shorter than you would think from the magazine stats (those few millimeters really make a difference).

Build Quality. I'll give this one to Kawasaki but both could use improvement. The welds on the K5 are pretty bad (worse than the 10), but the plastic fits better and the screw holes for simple things (like the rider's seat) match up better than the 10. Cooler bits on the 10 though. The wave rotors, the lightened sprocket, the prettier wheel design, the switches and control gear on the 10 just have a higher "cool" factor.

Riding. First, props to Kawasaki for finally building a great sportbike. The motor has great character, is loud as hell, and has a great top end rush. The bike rumbles and shudders when you blip the throttle.... you really "feel" the 10 when it accelerates. Additionally, by placing the rider right over the front wheel they have been able to replicate the great front end feedback older that great Kawi race machines were known for (i.e. the zx-7's of the Russell WSB years). You can feel every pebble in the road with that front end. The bike is also stable as Gibralter once in a turn. Those two attributes can't be beat by the K5.

Unfortunately, the Kawi has some very serious short comings that racers and exper road riders will not be able to overlook. As much as I cried for years for them to make a smaller, ligher machine, I think they went too far. I immediately put an Ohlins damper on it, so I didn't notice the straight line stability that others complained of. However, on the track, the bike simply would not ride straight with Dunlop D208GP's. At Jennings, the bike would shudder side to side down the back straight so violently that I thought something was bound to break under the bubble. Pirellis cleared it up, but then we were killing rear tires. They developed the oddest ragged groove pattern at Barber, and tires were garbage after a few sessions. The bike was awesome diving into turns hard on the brakes, and midcorner was fair. But exit and acceleration were real bad. The bike kicks the rear very easily and wants wheelie everywhere. Very entertaining but a handful to ride quickly.

From the my short time on the K5, the power feels much stronger than the 10. Certainly, down low there is no contest. The K5 can lift the front from around 4k, whereas the 10 needs about 8k on the clock. Diving in on corners, the front is more vague than the 10, but the mid corner feels awesome (again, this is on the street, not at the track yet). The drive feels very good off the turn. In fact, here is my analysis of a very important aspect of the two bikes - weight distribution. The 10 feels to carry its weight very high. It wheelies at any provocation. The K5 appears to carry the weight much lower (the low seat height contributes). When you accelerate off the turn on the K5, you get straight forward progress. The rear wheel doesn't get under the weight of the bike so noticeably and the bike does not have the sensation that a ton of weight is being transferred from front to back. This probably sucks for the stunters, but it is great for the racers. I notice this when accelerating in any gear... the bike simply rushes forward instead of feeling like it wants to lift the front.

Brakes. Both about equal in power and initial bite. My prior gix 1k's overheated very badly and the line stretch made the lever come all the way back to the bar. Stainless lines are a must but I haven't yet tested the K5 under extreme conditions.

So, there are at least some preliminary observations. As road bikes, they are both tremendous machines. The character of the 10 is great, and because I like the forward riding posiiton and great front end feedback, I would keep it if I weren't goin' racin'. At the track, the 10 is a nightmare to set up and every millimeter change to suspension settings or geometry results in a huge difference in feel. This is a very frustrating bike to deal with at the track. Fixing its problems needs a new redesign in my opinion (swingarm is a major part of it) and any racer will need to spend big bucks to be competitive with the new K5.

Suzukis are known for being great race machines right out of the box and the results of the K5 are proving the same is true this time around. I think the suspension could be improved, but racers will do that on their own. Mike Fitzgerald is getting my stuff very soon. After taking care of that, swapping the brake lines, and adjusting the bike to fit me better (I'm thinking about a taller seat and lower bars to change the riding position a bit), this will be the way to go.

Race reports on the K5 to come.
Boy, I sure wish we had someone like you testing the bikes for the mags. The reviews lately give no real info. Even RRW is mostly the Ulrich kid describing in boring ass detail every line that he takes and not telling nearly enough about the bike itself.
Thanks for the very useful info. I had pretty much deduced that the ZX was a handful and that it really was not the best tool for scratchin' knees down a curvy road. Now that has been verified by someone I trust.
 

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My experience first. I have been riding on two wheels for roughly 20 years now, first on dirtbikes (kx80, kx125, atc250r, trx250r) in the mid-80's and then on road bikes (first with a CBR600F) beginning in '89. Bikes since then are '91 zx-7, '93 zx-7r (the real "r" version), '95 cbr900rr, '98 r1, '02 gix 1k, '03 gix 1k, '04 zx-10r, and current K5. Extensive racing on many tracks in the eastern U.S. with WERA and CCS (putnam park, IRP, grattan, road atlanta (old and new), roebling, jennings, moroso, homestead, among others). I am 6' 1", 210 without gear, in good shape (for the riding impressions later).

You sir, are the motorcycling standard of which 99% of all riders should be listening to.

Great write up!!!
 

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that was one of the best reviews i have read. good luck with both bikes, and keep us updated on how the k5 is on the track.
 

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The following has nothing to do with Scott's respectable review.


You own both bikes but you seem to prefer the ZX10R. Just my observation.

I prefer the GSXR.

About the weld quality of the K5 being poor. Can't judge a welds integrity by how it looks. The welds on my bike look very good.

The GSXR's have always been raw machines of pure dominating performance. When will the other ricers build something that will keep up with confidence instead of looking pretty? Certainly hasn't happened yet in my opinion.

The '05 ZX10R is still last years chassis and engine isn't it? And the same issues Scott has described were the same problems with the '04.


Show me a new and improved ZX10R and I will buy it! The '05 certainly can't compare to the new GSXR. Absolutely not, that's how I see it this year.

In '04 the ZX10R was praised for it's stonking power. Woopie I have 170 some odd horsepower but it's inside a package that doesn't know how to put to the ground and give the rider stability and confidence to perform. So now what do I do with it? Well I can park it at the local coffee shop and look good with my R1 buddies.

Unfortunately the ZX10R is similar to the R1 with top end results where most rider can't or won't use especially on the street. The '04 GSXR is a better bike than the '04/'05 ZX10R and R1. So how can the ZX10R or R1 compare to the '05 GSXR? It can't! The '05 GSXR 1000 is awe inspiring. It has the power (175.5 crank/hp) and the design prowess to put it to the ground. You guys are missing out on the ride of a lifetime.
 

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Finally a post on the matter that doesn't sound full of crap :) Thanks for the real-world comparison.

I've been a die-hard Kawasaki man all my life, until they let the ZX-7 languish and Suzuki came out with the 2000 model 750. I got my 1k in 2001 (ordered late 2000) and absolutely love it, but would love to get a ZX-10R as well. I just sold my ZX-6R (racebike) and both ZX-7's (93 and 94, the latter kitted with R-model forks and everything else) as I plan to get married later this year, but there WILL be a ZX-10R in my future.

Hopefully by the time I can afford to add another bike to my dwindly 3-bike fleet, they'll put a decent gauge cluster on it.

Thanks again for the review.

Clint
 

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Finally a post on the matter that doesn't sound full of crap :) Thanks for the real-world comparison.

I've been a die-hard Kawasaki man all my life, until they let the ZX-7 languish and Suzuki came out with the 2000 model 750. I got my 1k in 2001 (ordered late 2000) and absolutely love it, but would love to get a ZX-10R as well. I just sold my ZX-6R (racebike) and both ZX-7's (93 and 94, the latter kitted with R-model forks and everything else) as I plan to get married later this year, but there WILL be a ZX-10R in my future.

Hopefully by the time I can afford to add another bike to my dwindly 3-bike fleet, they'll put a decent gauge cluster on it.

Thanks again for the review.

Clint
Why do I get the feeling there is a Ninja membership here at Gixxer.com.


Maybe bmfgsxr can set you up with your own forum called "I own a ZX10R and love to talk about it".


Look... I like all bikes...well sort of...
but I also like the best machine that can accomplish goals on the track and street. The GSXR has always been that bike we all know this. I'm still waiting for the other guys to come up with something different to make a statement and so far nothing. Kawasaki was probably the closest effort in 04 and this year it's the same ZX10R.... while the R1 is still all looks that lives in a penthouse and the Honda is overweight in a fancy dress.

The GSXR is pure race bred excitement and will always be. But hey it's your money, enjoy.
 
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