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2011 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R First Look

Tuesday, October 5, 2010
Line-beam headlights enable the fairing to be made shorter  while LED turn signals are integrated into the mirror assemblies. Convenient turn-signal couplers allow easy mirror removal for track-day use  while the rear fender assembly holding the rear signal stalks and license plate frame is also easily removable for track days - 2011 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R
The 2011 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R features an all-new engine and chassis, as well as stock traction control and optional ABS.
Kawasaki promises faster, lighter, better with its new 2011 Ninja ZX-10R. A complete ground-up redesign, the latest Ninja Superbike features an all-new engine and chassis, including the use of the Showa Big Piston Fork and an all-new rear linkage assembly. Retailing for $13,799, this latest Ninja also features stock traction control, as well as an optional ABS version ($14,799). Oh, did we mention it’s 22 pounds lighter?

SPORT-KAWASAKI TRACTION CONTROL
Production traction control in a Superbike may have been paved by its European competition, but now Kawasaki steps up with its own system, dubbed Sport-Kawasaki Traction Control (S-KTRC). Sourcing speed sensors on each wheel the S-KTRC system monitors acceleration, engine rpm, throttle position, wheel speed and slip. Software in the Ninja’s ECU processes the data “200 times per second” to deliver maximum traction. Astute readers will recall Kawasaki debuted production traction control on its 2010 Kawasaki Concours 14 sport-touring bike. The Concours system is designed to cut out ignition when detecting wheel slip, acting as a safety feature on slick or unstable surfaces (like wet roads or gravel). The new S-KTRC works differently, tuned to predict unfavorable traction conditions and reduce power before slippage occurs, ensuring maximum grip and forward drive.

gravity-cast three-spoke wheels are significantly lighter than the hoops fitted to the 2010 bike  and combine with the very latest in brake technology - Tokico radial-mount calipers grasping 310mm petal discs up front and a 220mm disc and lightweight single-piston caliper in back. The result is powerful stops with plenty of rider feedback and the added confidence of the KIBS ABS system - 2011 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R
Wheel speed sensors run both the standard S-KTRC traction control and the optional KIBS ABS on the new Ninja (top). A new instrument console features an LCD display that shows the amount of electric assistance from the S-KTRC. (bottom)
Instrumentation is totally new as well; the unit highlighted by an LED-backlit bar-graph tachometer set above a multi-featured LCD info screen with numerous sections and data panels. A wide range of information is presented  including odometer  dual trip meters  vehicle speed  fuel consumption  Power Mode and S-KTRC level indicators  low fuel  water temperature and much more. For track use  the LCD display can be set to race mode which moves the gear display to the center of the screen - 2011 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R
Claimed to be derived from Kawasaki’s now defunct MotoGP effort, the S-KTRC system provides three settings: “Level 1 for max-grip track use, Level 2 for intermediate use and Level 3 for slippery conditions.” Riders switch between the modes via thumb switch on the left handlebar, with an LCD graph on the instrument console showing the amount of electronic assistance in real time. The LCD display is just one feature on an all-new instrument cluster.
 
The S-KTRC is further tunable with a Power Mode system, with Full, Medium and Low settings. The Medium setting delivers the performance of the Low setting when throttle is less than 50%, with additional performance on tap once the throttle is twisted past the halfway mark. The three power modes are available in each S-KTRC level setting, making nine options total.

ABS – KAWASAKI INTELLIGENT ANTI-LOCK BRAKE SYSTEM
The second headlining feature on the 2011 ZX-10R is optional ABS, which Kawasaki labels the Kawasaki Intelligent Anti-lock Brake System (KIBS). Weighing seven pounds total, the Bosch-designed ABS is reputedly 50% smaller and 800 grams (1.8 pounds) lighter “than current motorcycle ABS units.” The KIBS utilizes the same wheel speed sensors from the stock ZX-10R’s traction control system, with the ECU computing the input of wheel speed, caliper pressure, rpm, throttle position, clutch engagement and gear position. When the computer senses a potential lock-up, brake calipers release to regain tire traction. The ABS-equipped ZX-10R will retail for an extra $1000 at $14,799.

ENGINE
The same basic engine architecture adorns the ZX-10R, with a 16-valve Inline Four featuring a 76 x 55mm bore and stroke displacing 998cc. Internal changes revise the Kawasaki mill, with larger intake valves (31mm instead of 30mm) and wider, polished intake ports. Exhaust porting is also revised. The valving and porting changes aim for “more controllable power delivery and less engine braking, just the thing to smooth those racetrack corner entries and exits.” The camshafts are higher-lift and made from lighter, stronger chromoly steel, which replaces cast iron. Pistons feature shorter skirts and are mated to stronger, lighter connecting rods. The internal tinkering increases compression to an even 13:1, compared to the 12.9:1 of the predecessor.
Chassis geometry was juggled to offer the best possible stability and handling quickness. Rake  at 25 degrees  is a half-degree steeper than on the 2010 machine  while trail has been reduced from 110 to 107mm. This slightly more radical front end geometry  and the quicker  lighter handling it allows  was made possible largely from the new engines more controllable power  engine placement and the CG differences it generated  and the frame and swingarms newfound flex characteristics - 2011 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R
The Ninja's engine dimensions are unchanged, but internal changes include larger intake valves and revamped ports, as well as new pistons, connecting rods and crankshaft.
The final piece of the ZX-10R ABSs power-production formula is a race-spec exhaust system featuring a titanium header assembly  hydroformed collectors  a large-volume pre-chamber containing two catalyzers and a highly compact silencer. Due to the headers race-spec design  riders and racers looking for more closed-course performance need only replace the muffler assembly - 2011 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R

A larger nine-liter airbox (up from eight liters) works with 4mm-larger throttle bodies (now 47mm) and sub-valves in the ram air-assisted fueling. Air intake has also changed, repositioned to the front of the bike, and it appears lower, for “more efficient airbox filling and increased power.” Secondary injectors promise improved “top-end power characteristics.”

The crankshaft, also claimed to be made of harder material, has been relocated “approximately 10 degrees higher relative to the output shaft” to improving handling with centralized mass. Other changes include a “secondary engine balancer assembly this year, which allows a number of vibration-damping parts to be simplified.” The new parts reduce weight, along with a lighter battery, fuel pump and ECU.

TRANSMISSION
Spacing in the cassette-style transmission now features a closer fourth, fifth and sixth gears. The ratios have been fine-tuned “for less squat/lift during acceleration and deceleration, which allows more precise suspension tuning in back.” The standard spec slipper clutch is adjustable.

EXHAUST
A “race-spec” exhaust caps the ZX-10R power production, with titanium headers, a prechamber housing two catalyzers and the silencer. As for an aftermarket pipe, Team Green touts that its titanium-header design will only require a slip-on assembly.

Kawasaki reps are keen to point out its production bikes follow the letter of law in emissions regs. This is verifiable in our past exposures with the ZX-10R, which is routinely one of the quietest Superbikes in stock trim. As such, an unmodified Kawi will not challenge the class-leading muscle stats of the nearly 200-horsepower BMW S1000RR. Some aftermarket ECU mapping, however, could uncork the green meanie so that it sniffs around that coveted 200 mark.
Kawasaki engineers wrapped all this new technology in bodywork as advanced and stylish as anything on this side of a MotoGP grid. Shapes are more curved than edged this year  and the contrasting colored and black parts create a sharp  aggressive image - 2011 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R
The new Ninja's chassis is all-new as well, with redesigned frame and swingarm, as well as new suspension components.

CHASSIS
The 2011 ZX-10R rolls on a redesigned twin-spar aluminum frame. The new frame, which is cast from just seven pieces, features “optimized flex characteristics for ideal rider feedback, cornering performance and lighter weight.” The swingarm is new as well, also an all-cast aluminum design, with its segmented openings much different than the solid design of the ’10 bike. While specific weight reduction for the frame is not listed, the claimed total curb weight is 436.6 pounds. That is an impressive 22 pounds lighter than its predecessor!

If the claimed curb weight holds true, it enjoys a marked advantage in the Superbike class as the lightest by more than 10 pounds compared to its Japanese rivals and the BMW. Even with the seven-pound ABS fitted, the Kawasaki is lighter than all but the Ducati and KTM Twins.

Kawi tweaks the Ninja steering geometry with a half-degree steeper rake angle at 25 degrees, which shaves trail down by 3mm to 107mm. The Japanese marque hails the more aggressive front end as necessary to match the more controllable engine power and changed center of gravity, as well as the new flex of the frame and swingarm. Wheelbase is stretched almost a half inch to 56.1 inches.
Theres big suspension news in back  too. Replacing the vertical Uni-Trak® system of the 2010 ZX-10R is a Horizontal Back-link suspension design that positions the shock and linkage above the swingarm. Benefits include better mass centralization  improved road holding  compliance and stability  smoother action in the mid-stroke  even with firmer settings   better overall feedback and cooler running - 2011 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R
Highlighting the suspension changes is a new rear linkage system, with the Horizontal Back-Link suspension replacing the Uni-Trak design (top). The 2011 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R features adjustable rear set foot pegs.
The adjustable footpegs are placed lower and slightly forward on the 2011 Ninja.

SUSPENSION
The Big Piston Fork, much heralded when it debuted on Kawasaki’s 2010 ZX-6R Supersport, makes its debut on the Superbike. The 43mm fork is beefier than the standard sticks up front, but promises improved performance. The biggest potential game changer for the Kawasaki, however, may be what’s happening out back.

The rear shock features a new linkage, with the predecessor’s Uni-Trak system replaced by a Horizontal Back-Link suspension, which places the shock and linkage above the swingarm. The new rear suspension set-up promises “better mass centralization, improved road holding, compliance and stability, smoother action in the mid-stroke (even with firmer settings), better overall feedback and cooler running.” The shock itself will be fully adjustable for rebound and both low- and high-speed compression.

BRAKES
No changes in the braking department, as radial-mount Tokico calipers resume braking duties, with four-piston units up front clamping down on 310mm rotors. A single 220mm disc returns with a single-piston caliper in the rear. (The Kawi’s brakes were rated some of the best in its class in our 2010 Superbike Smackdown – Track.) Lighter wheels adorn the new Kwakker as well (though no specific weights are revealed), with the minimalist look of the three-spoke design quite striking.

BODYWORK
Kawasaki describes this Ninja’s bodywork styling as “more curved than edged this year, and the contrasting colored and black parts create a sharp, aggressive image.” Fenders are definitely less pronounced this time around, particularly the rear. The new windscreen features a dramatic shape, sweeping up and widening for a much broader reach at the top. The profile of the bike reveals a less aggressive tail section, which is now almost even with the top of the tank, unlike the previous version, which shot up much higher.

The lowered appearance of the ’11 bike conforms with altered rider ergos, as the seat height drops from 32.7 to 32 inches. Also lower are the adjustable footpegs, which move forward as well. The clip-ons are less aggressive, with the angle repositioned slightly upwards.
The 2011 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R World Superbike race bike that the PBR Racing Team will campaign next year  was unvieled this weekend at Nurburgring.
Racing fans got a taste of the new Ninja's looks when the Paul Bird World Superbike squad revealed its 2011 racebike at the Nurburgring round.

PRICE
Available in Kawasaki’s Lime Green or Ebony, the new ZX-10R will retail for $13,799. The ABS version will cost $14,799. The new price represents an $800 increase over the 2010 base model. Other manufacturers are yet to reveal 2011 Superbike MSRP, but the new ZX-10R would make it the most expensive of the Japanese offerings and dead even with the 2010 MSRP for the base-model BMW S1000RR.

What does this new ZX-10R mean for Kawasaki? It’s no secret Team Green has been kicked around in the professional road racing ranks of late. A woeful ’10 campaign in World Superbike was just the latest in sub-par results for that series, and the Kawasaki has dropped off the competitive pace in Superbike racing worldwide. The previous Ninja redesign, which debuted in 2008, was supposed to right the ship. With the development cycles now spaced three years apart, the 2011 bike is charged with correcting Kawi’s fortunes on the racetrack. Whether that comes to be remains to be seen, but a little birdie tells us the ’11 bike circles Kawasaki’s Autopolis test track a full two seconds faster than its predecessor.

Is it enough to change the Superbike pecking order? We can’t wait to find out.
2011 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R Photos
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2011 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R Specs
An all-new aluminum twin-spar frame was designed  an all-cast assemblage of just seven pieces that features optimized flex characteristics for ideal rider feedback  cornering performance and lighter weight than last years cage. Fewer pieces mean fewer welds  which contributes to a cleaner  more aesthetically pleasing look. Like the frame  the new alloy swingarm is an all-cast assembly  with idealized rigidity matching that of the frame itself - 2011 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R
Engine: Four-stroke, liquid-cooled, DOHC, four valves per cylinder, inline-four
Displacement: 998cc
Bore x stroke: 76.0 x 55.0mm
Compression ratio: 13.0:1
Fuel system: DFI with four 47mm Keihin throttle bodies with oval sub-throttles, two injectors per cylinder
Ignition: TCBI with digital advance and Sport-Kawasaki Traction Control (S-KTRC)
Transmission: Six-speed
Final drive: Chain
Rake / trail: 25.0 degrees / 4.33 in.
Front tire: 120/70 ZR17
Rear tire: 190/55 ZR17
Wheelbase: 56.1 in.
Front suspension: 43mm inverted Big Piston Fork (BPF) with DLC coating, adjustable rebound and compression damping, spring preload adjustability / 4.7 in.
Rear suspension: Horizontal Back-link with gas-charged shock and top-out spring, stepless, dual-range (low-/high-speed) compression damping, stepless rebound damping, fully adjustable spring preload / 4.9 in.
Front brakes: Dual semi-floating 310mm petal discs with dual four-piston radial-mount calipers
Rear brakes: Single 220mm petal disc with aluminum single-piston caliper
Overall length: 81.7 in.
Overall width: 28.2 in.
Overall height: 43.9 in.
Seat height: 32.0 in.
Curb weight: 436.6 lbs.
Fuel capacity: 4.5 gal.
Color choices: Lime Green / Ebony, Ebony / Flat Ebony
MSRP: $13,799 / ABS $14,799
Warranty: 12 Months

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Comments
Zozovi -Light weight = more performance  October 16, 2010 10:29 PM
Kawi has been known for building very fast and torquy engines despite the shady fairing they always have. If they manage to have the new 2011 ZX10R 22 pound lighter than its predecessor, then this is going to be a beast. BMW is well known for producting really heavy bikes. I think the new ZX10R will have more torque at the rear tire than the S1000RR. Like JOE said << Bottom line if the bike kicks butt people will buy it.>>
Likable -New ninja = Win  October 14, 2010 01:02 AM
I know the road bike has its cons lookwise - but the cosmetic stuff doesn't fuss me too much as most can be tidied up with aftermarket stuff.

Nathan is right though racing regs are that you need a belly pan with the ability to catch the entire oil capacity, but cutting it out of the road bike for the sake of saving some production coin has detracted from its look - but the CBR and R1 are in the same book.

But for me, it mostly looks right - and if it sets the jap-biek benchmark then I think I know what to jump to from my ZX636 =)
bobo -omg  October 12, 2010 05:09 PM
is it me or does that head look like an R6....wtf I rather get the 10 zx10
Mr. Panky -mmm good  October 9, 2010 12:46 AM
Maybe this is just because I am slated to purchase one of these bad jessies in about April/June and I'm being overly optimistic, but it really feels like Kawasaki pulled out the stops for this one. It's easily one of the best looking motorbikes Kawasaki has made. In any case it will be a nice upgrade from an '86 Goldwing.
Jacob -really?  October 7, 2010 12:17 AM
this bike is pulling 208hp with ram air, which is MUCH more powerful than the BMW, and i believe its even a bit lighter too? Jump on BMW forums and see just how many people are complaining about the problems with their bike, but there are no japanese litre bikes which have been notoriously unreliable. zx10r will dominate.
Richard -@ Tom  October 6, 2010 10:29 AM
Sorry I touched a nerve; calling you an 'idiot' I was referring to your comment "Judging by some of the comments, I wonder if some of you should even be allowed to ride a motorcycle"; who is going to make that decision as to who can ride and who cannot? A person like you who thinks they know everything and who are the most ignorant of all. BTW, "smarties guy in the room syndrome", are you 12?
fwut -TG - re: Beemer  October 6, 2010 09:03 AM
S1000RRs are leaving showrooms for under $15k (sans tx). These are fully optioned models, albeit 2010 models.
superbikewill -i hear...  October 6, 2010 08:03 AM
EBOZ may be racing one in AMA next year!...yay...
Tom -@ Richard  October 6, 2010 06:32 AM
Just because you are an engineer it does not make you right. I work with engineers (very little common sense). People will buy the ugliest bike if is the fastest or best performing. (see Hyabusa, ZX14, S1000R). And my point is NO ONE likes a new model because they are not used to it, in a few years when they are used to it they will. Sorry you suffer from smartes guy in the room syndrome to which there is no cure.
Jaybond -The bike to change Kawa's WSBK fortune  October 5, 2010 09:17 PM
Expect this bike to be a regular podium contender in 2011 WSBK!!
ippo -RSV 1000 clone?  October 5, 2010 08:12 PM
i think zx's front head look like rs125 or Aprilia RSV 1000 Mille
TG -Beemer Comparisons  October 5, 2010 04:48 PM
I understand the S1k is the benchmark, but where are you guys coming up with this stuff? Almost all the production S1000RR's have been equipped with ABS, DTC, and GSA, and retail for $16225 with destination. They have a really good incentive for active military members right now, but otherwise most dealers are sticking pretty close to list (they have to, BMW has less margin in a $20k bike than the Japanese mfgr's put in a $14k bike). To get the zx10 with abs for essentially $1500 less, as a year newer model, and a Japanese (less expensive to maintain, generally as reliable as they come, etc.) I think is a great deal. No, it doesn't have a speed shifter, Kawi missed that; but, it does have adjustable peg positioning. You can buy anything used for less, even the BMW everyone compares the ZX10 to.
Mark -It's Too Expensive!  October 5, 2010 04:12 PM
Bike buyer's beware, not enough "new" features justify this bikes price. As it stands right-now, the BMW S1000RR is a better buy! It's quality is proven and you get many "premium" features this bike does not possess. I love Kawasaki and own two but my interest in this bike now is null. And it is really too-bad because I was a loyalist to the mark. Or as others have said, wait till early to mid 2012 and pick-up one cheap as they languish on showroom floors, then red tags come-out!
superbikewill -Looks..  October 5, 2010 01:41 PM
...looks good to thsese eyes..been hoping for years they would builkd a prpoer racer and it looks like they have...and it will likely beat the BMW stock for stock AND racing..
Inkmonster71 -buy used...  October 5, 2010 01:18 PM
I,ll wait till it,s a year old and buy it for thousands cheaper.The only bike i would buy new would be the BMW1000RR.I doesnt make sence to buy a brand new bike these days when you can find a bike with a couple of thousand of miles and dam near half price.People need to cheak out creigslist and ebay before thay buy new.Plus you can wait and get a bran new one for two thousand less .Buy some of these comments i can tell theresalot of wanta be riders on here.Ones who havent evan been on a 250 ninja yet.
GhostRider -What really matters?  October 5, 2010 12:28 PM
The 2011 ZX-10R doesn't look 'sexy' but I hope Kawasaki followed Aprilia's example and built a bike capable of outperforming the rest of the brands! Make a championship race-bike into a selling production street-bike! Isn't that why we watch WSB racing in the first place? Put the best riders in the world on the best production bikes the world has to offer and see where things end up! The BMW s1000rr isn't the prettiest bike out there but it's kicking butt in most stock series... more power to BMW and Kawasaki for raising the bar on sportbikes! Being a CBR1000rr buyer, I hope Honda does the same for the Firblade without ruining the near-perfect model out now! I think the '04-'05 Blade looks better than the '08-'11 Blade but after I purchased a white '09 CBR1000rr... the bikes performance makes the bike more visually appealing to me! So to each their own, right!?
Richard -B  October 5, 2010 12:22 PM
Steve's comment - "And whoever thought up the idea for a half sized lower fairing should burn in hell. It's really ugly and cheap looking. Almost everyone is doing it now. Then when you look at their WSBK bikes it's a full fairing. I would rather pay a few bucks more to have nice wheels and a full lower fairing. Or am I the only person thinking this way?" response - As a Engineer I thought I would give you the reason for the half fairing as it is a practical one. The EPA has increased its noise/emissions standards; all the sport-bikes now have to have a catalytic converter in the exhaust as a result and it is located just aft where the fairing ends. The reason the fairing does not cover it is that it runs so hot that it would just basically melt the ABS plastic the fairing is made of. The WSB racing bike does not have the catalytic converter and the fairing is probably carbon fiber anyway. I do agree with you on the absolute ugliness of it! Tom's comments - "Judging by some of the comments, I wonder if some of you should even be allowed to ride a motorcycle. If all you want is looks, build your own bike the way you want it. In 3 years all the same people whining about how it looks will be saying "I wish it looked like the 2011 still". Happens every time a car or motorcycle changes a design." All the liter bikes are so close in performance, the difference to selling more bikes is either brand loyalty or the styling, I am going to guess that you are an idiot Tom by your comments?
TG -Concerns  October 5, 2010 11:24 AM
I agree with Tom, the concerns are funny. I am not a fan of the three spoke wheels, but they are supposedly lighter than the previous six spoke design (though I thought that was the original intent of the six spokers, and why I have yet to see an aftermarket three spoke wheel). However, the biggest concern I have is the rear suspension geometry. Kawi has never been known for having excellent geometry, and turning the shock on its side doesn't seem to be the fix (to me). My reservations stem from the lack of use in racing. Everyone seems to love it on the Z1000, but no GP bikes appear to be utilizing it - which one is the ZX10 directed at? As far as the fairings go, they didn't have to do much to better the 3rd gen in looks, but I still like the first gen looks better. Unfortunately, as appealing to the eye as the earlier literbikes are, they are much worse in the aero dept - where it matters.

We shall see. Kawi is commiting itself to the WSBK effort, but that's also what we (the consumers) were told in the fall of 2007. The third gen did up the zx10's ante on brakes and suspension, but not enough to make waves like they intended. I hope the fourth gen does.
fwut -muted?  October 5, 2010 10:29 AM
"Kawasaki reps are keen to point out its production bikes follow the letter of law in emissions regs. This is verifiable in our past exposures with the ZX-10R, which is routinely one of the quietest Superbikes in stock trim. As such, an unmodified Kawi will not challenge the class-leading muscle stats of the nearly 200-horsepower BMW S1000RR. Some aftermarket ECU mapping, however, could uncork the green meanie so that it sniffs around that coveted 200 mark"

At $14.8k MSRP, it's going to have to leave the floor for a bit less to get my dollars when I can get a full-boat S1000RR out-the-door for that right now.
Tom -?????  October 5, 2010 09:50 AM
Judging by some of the comments, I wonder if some of you should even be allowed to ride a motorcycle. If all you want is looks, build your own bike the way you want it. In 3 years all the same people whining about how it looks will be saying "I wish it looked like the 2011 still". Happens every time a car or motorcycle changes a design.
Joe -2011 kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R  October 5, 2010 09:20 AM
Bottom line if the bike kicks butt people will buy it.
Gads -wow  October 5, 2010 08:47 AM
That is ugly as hell. It looks like one of those jokes where people take parts from other bikes and compile them together.
nathan -full fairing  October 5, 2010 08:20 AM
The full fairing is required in racing as an oil catch.
nathan -@ steave  October 5, 2010 08:16 AM
All I heard you say was "waagghhh" =(........
3-spoke wheels? I'm not gonna buy it now, no matter how good it is. Dumb.
steve -?  October 5, 2010 07:40 AM
And whoever thought up the idea for a half sized lower fairing should burn in hell. It's really ugly and cheap looking. Almost everyone is doing it now. Then when you look at their WSBK bikes it's a full fairing. I would rather pay a few bucks more to have nice wheels and a full lower fairing. Or am I the only person thinking this way?
Maxx -styling  October 5, 2010 07:22 AM
Now I know what happen to all the old leftover Suzuki and Honda parts. I hope the engine and suspension makes up the difference.
steve -are you kidding me?  October 5, 2010 06:54 AM
What's with the wheels? That's one of the high lights of the Kawasaki line. They didn't use the cheap looking three spoke wheels like everyone else. Guess they do now. Never mind I don't want one anymore.