The 2011 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R retails for $13,799 and will be available in U.S. dealerships by late January following a Technical Hold that turned out to be a valve spring issue.
On December 11, 2010 Kawasaki Motors Corp. released a statement that the new 2011 Ninja ZX-10R was being put on technical hold just as units were hitting showroom floors and on the tail end of our much anticipated ZX-10R First Ride at Road Atlanta. Our Road Test Editor Adam Waheed liked the new electronics as he raved about the traction control and other techno-goodies as well as the new handling. Unfortunately the big BMW-stomping horsepower didn’t materialize (The EPA-compliant exhaust was cited as the culprit) so our Ninja bubble was losing a bit of air.
Then the news of the “Technical Hold” arrived and rumors began to swirl over what the hold-up actually was. According to Kawasaki it was the intake valve springs. Here is the statement from Kawasaki.
“Kawasaki Motors Corp., U.S.A. today announced that the recent sales hold placed on the 2011 Ninja ZX-10R sportbike is expected to be lifted in late January and that sales of the highly-anticipated unit will resume as normal.
According to Kawasaki engineers, the proactive sales hold resulted from a finding that indicated possible surging of the intake valve spring when the unit is operated under unique riding conditions, such as on a racetrack. The surge could cause the intake valve to seat improperly, resulting in poor engine performance.
The camshaft, valve springs, and spring retainers are being replaced to prevent the valves from surging, without affecting engine performance.”
This could be good news for the Green Machine as recent superbikes have gone on to overcome early mechanical snafus only to experience success on the street, track and more importantly: Magazine Reviews. You may remember the Aprilia RSV4 was throwing rod bearings in the early going, forcing a worldwide recall of all production units. They won the World Superbike title the same year. The BMW S1000RR was losing valves so dealers were limiting RPM for the first 2000 to allow the valves to seat properly. They were really using close tolerances there apparently. The S1000RR went onto be anointed Bike of the Year by many publications and winning a few national Superstock titles along the way.
Now, Kawasaki gets into the game with a Technical Hold that ultimately revealed a valve spring issue on its new ZX-10R. Only time will tell how this all plays out but we are glad to see a new liter bike in 2011 – otherwise, why would we need to conduct our favorite comparison test of the year: Superbike Smackdown! Stay tuned…