The new Kawasaki ZX-10R, new engine, new frame, a substantial restyle and the latest electronics – Kawasaki have come over all serious.
This short, blunt implement is the new Kawasaki ZX-10R. Everything on the new Kawasaki ZX-10R is new. The engine is shorter and more compact – the gearbox is stacked far more steeply, shown by the 20mm higher clutch, giving a smaller, lighter engine that's easier to position for ideal weight distribution. The current motorcycle's bore and stroke is less oversquare than the Yamaha YZF-R1 and Aprilia RSV4, and positively long-stroke next to the stubby dimensions of BMW's S1000RR. The new Kawasaki ZX-10R has a wider bore and shorter stroke for extra revs, bigger valves and more top-end power. A bigger air intake, located closer to the nose charges the airbox.
The new Kawasaki ZX-10R engine is bolted into a new cast-aluminum twin-spar frame, the small engine giving space for a longer deep-braced swingarm. What's interesting is the shock layout. It isn't going up conventionally through the swingarm, working between a linkage and the frame, but instead is mounted almost horizontally as it is on the new Z1000. The most likely reason is to allow a certain shock length and movement ratio, giving finer damping control. Suspension at both ends is by Showa, the front end using big piston forks like we see on the ZX-6R and GSX-R1000. Brakes are dual semi-floating 310mm petal discs with a rear single 220mm petal disc. For the ABS version Kawasaki added the Kawasaki Intelligent anti-lock Brake System (KIBS). KIBS is a multi-sensing system, using the input from numerous sources. In addition to front and rear wheel speed sensors (standard for any ABS system), KIBS also monitors front caliper hydraulic pressure and various information from the engine ECU (throttle position, engine speed, clutch actuation and gear position). It is the first mass-production motorcycle system to feature communication between the engine ECU and ABS ECU.
And because the wheel speed is being measured, it'd be weird not to run traction control, so Kawasaki added Sport-Kawasaki TRaction Control (S-KTRC) on the new ZX-10R. S-KTRC is an highly sophisticated traction control system which is based on MotoGP racing technology.
The Kawasaki ZX-10R has never been lacking in power or attitude – all had the 2010 Thai version some performance issues – in standard form its focus and stiff set-up make the new Kawasaki ZX-10R sing on track. What it's lacked is a bit of control and a dash of refinement. With Kawasaki's confidence and experience form successfully using electronics on other motorcycle models, and the superior ride from the new suspension, there's every chance the new Kawasaki ZX-10R could be a revelation. Now we only need to convince Kawasaki Thailand to keep the ZX-10R in the line-up.