Kawasaki ZX-10R Traction Control Comparison

MotorcycleUSA Staff | August 31, 2012

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MotoUSA investigates traction control and learns how each top manufacturers system performs in this 2012 Superbike Traction Control Comparison Video.

Rather than copy another manufacturer’s traction-control blueprint, Kawasaki has chosen to invent its own solution. Dubbed Sport-Kawasaki Traction Control (S-KTRC), this technology was born from Team Green’s foray in MotoGP competition and is standard equipment on every new 2012 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R.

In contrast to all the other ‘reactive’ TC systems, which apply correction only when certain parameters are exceeded, the Ninja’s hardware has logic built in allowing it to actively compensate for wheel slip. It does this in lieu of a gyro (Aprilia and BMW) or accelerometer (Aprilia and Ducati) by combining an MV-like rate-of-change programming with a more traditional wheel speed-equipped set-up. The computer monitors incoming data consisting of throttle and gear position, rate of throttle angle opening, as well as crankshaft velocity and, of course, front-and rear-wheel speed to anticipate slip. It applies correction by altering the ignition curve only. S-KTRC also employs separate wheelie control maps in each of the three modes, however, launch control is absent.

Although the Kawasaki offers the least amount of adjustment (three levels — one being the least degree of intrusion, three the most, and can also be turned off), it is very simple to use. Swapping between levels is as easy as pressing a toggle button on the left handlebar. And the best part is that can be accomplished while riding, as long as the twist grip is closed. A bar-graph-style activation meter advises the rider that the system is intruding, however, it is difficult to ascertain behind the windscreen.

The Kawasakis S-KTRC system only offers three-levels of adjustment. In spite of this the TC performed well offering fairly smooth intervention and excellent wheelie control.
The Kawasaki’s S-KTRC system only offers three-levels of adjustment. In spite of this the TC performed well offering fairly smooth intervention and excellent wheelie control.

Due in part to its fluid application the Kawasaki’s traction control instills a high degree of confidence. Although it does feel like it overly limits acceleration at times, it can’t be deemed harsh-feeling as the case with the MV or Ducati set-ups. Acceleration force numbers off Turn 6 and 15 were positive with both riders registering above average readings. One feature we really liked was the performance of the wheelie control, which activates almost invisibly and allows the rider to stay full pinned on exit. Top speed was also near the top for Waheed (S-KTRC Level 1) but for Siglin it was only fourth best (Level 2), which supports the theory that the computer is still a little too intrusive—especially in its middle of the road setting.

Actuation was marginally more graceful than even the well-sorted electronics inside the BMW. This allows the rider to maintain a minor slide and be more assertive with the throttle without having to worry about the rear end moving with excess or the chassis see-sawing through turns as engine torque is modulated. In the Level

Kawasaki ZX-10R Suspension Settings:
(From full stiff)
Height: 7mm (from top of clamp to tube)
Preload: 5
Compression: 3.5
Rebound: 3.5
Ride Height: 12mm shims
Low-Speed Compression: 0 (closed)
High-Speed Compression: 0 (closed)
Rebound: 1.75

2 setting the corner speeds through Turns 2, 8 and 14 were toward the back of pack but in Level 1 they were right there with the Yamaha, BMW and Aprilia. Looking at the lap times shows a nearly five second difference in what Siglin was able to do with S-KTRC off (1’53.98) versus on (1’58.92). For Waheed the gap was narrower but still two-plus seconds slower.

We really liked Team Green’s electronics due in part to its ease of use and predictability. And while it was a little less intrusive than say the BMW’s set-up, it still cuts acceleration for it to be deemed a true performance addition for faster, more experienced track riders. Perhaps a wider adjustment range and less restrictive settings on the minimum setting could do wonders for this package.


CHRIS SIGLIN: “I really like the Kawasaki’s TC. It had a smooth transition between on/off — that’s what stood out to me the most. The wheelie control worked great, too. It was

The calibration of the Kawasakis wheelie control is downright superb.
The calibration of the Kawasaki’s wheelie control is downright superb.

smooth and allowed you to carry a wheelie and slowly brought the front wheel to the ground. At certain parts of the track it did overly restrict acceleration but it never surprised me and instilled a lot of trust.”

ADAM WAHEED: “The Kawi’s TC works really well. Probably the single feature I like about it the most is how smooth it triggers. It’s not quite as seamless feeling as the Yamaha or Aprilia but it is close. That made it easier to find the limit and trust the electronics enough to mash the throttle open with the bike leaned over. However, road camber comprised its functionality more than say the BMW but I still wouldn’t deem it bad. The functionality of the wheelie control is also superb. This was my third-favorite system.” 

Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R S-KTRC Level 2
Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R S-KTRC Level 1

MotorcycleUSA Staff