Kawasaki is primed to up its literbike game in 2016 with a revamped, “WSBK influenced” Ninja ZX-10R. A press release and teaser photo, posted on Kawasaki’s European website, comes about a month before a scheduled media launch in Barcelona, where the green machine will be put in the hands of journalists for its first shakedown.
This is all we get for now…
It’s been four years since the ZX-10R received a major overhaul, and in that time Kawasaki has gone from struggling in the World Superbike championship to its current status as the brand to beat. Kawasaki is keen to emphasize that the gains enjoyed on track are being implemented in this newest iteration of the ZX-10R, stating in the accompanying press release that it possesses “a direct link to the Superbike that Tom Sykes successfully campaigned to secure the 2013 WSBK Championship…and that was subsequently honed to take Jonathan Rea to such success in the current season.”
The Japanese manufacturer provides a few hints to watch for, including a redesigned cowling shape. Kawasaki also touts a “comprehensive upgrade of the suspension components and the adoption of a premium grade braking system” as being new for 2016.
In MotoUSA’s recent Superbike Track Shootout the ZX-10R grabbed third place overall. Our testers praised its stability and predictable, linear engine performance, but also noted its sometimes vague feel in the corners as well as its relatively basic braking package and heavier feel compared to its high-spec rivals. Suspension and braking performance left testers wanting more when riders took the machines out to the street, where the ZX-10R placed last, so upgrades in these departments promise to make the package more competitive. Engine work to liven performance and addressing the tall gearing of the bike (another point of contention for some of our test riders) would be welcome as well.
Yoshimoto Matsuda, Project Leader for KHI, said of the new ZX-10 in the press statement: “This is not a ‘clean sheet’ design as the current Ninja ZX-10R is such a good base to develop from. With the new model we have focused our development resources on an overall engineering and performance improvement. We are proud of the result; it means a significant advance in terms of both chassis and engine performance as well as providing the platform to introduce new, state-of-the-art rider aids and other technology.
“The input the KHI development team has received from the Kawasaki Racing Team, and riders, Jonathan Rea and Tom Sykes has created what we are sure many will feel is the most competitive and potent Ninja ZX-10R yet. A motorcycle equally at home on the race track or as a highly responsive daily riding road machine.”
Stay tuned for more details and a First Ride review of the 2016 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R.