The 2011 Kawasaki ZX-10R should be able to take on the best that Europe has to offer in the litre-class superbike segment. It'll give the S1000RR and RSV4, something to think about next year!
As would be evident from a lot of posts here on Faster and Faster, we quite love Kawasaki – especially some of their older machines. Of the more recent lot, we loved the 2004 ZX-10R, which was raw and raucous and hugely exciting. But from 2006 onwards, the big Ninja seemed to have lost the plot.
After four straight years of getting thrashed in the litre-class superbike segment, Kawasaki have finally decided to do something about it. Enter the 2011 Ninja ZX-10R, which isn’t afraid of machines like the BMW S1000RR or the Aprilia RSV4 Factory. With ram-air assistance, the new ZX-10R’s heavily revised inline-four produces a mighty 207 horsepower (and a still respectable 197bhp without ram-air...!), and since the bike weighs in at 198kg those numbers make a very impressive power-to-weight ratio.
Apart from the 207bhp engine, the 2011 ZX-10R gets an all-new aluminium beam chassis, Showa Big Piston USD forks, horizontally mounted rear shock, Ohlins steering damper, slipper clutch, radial-mount calipers for the front brakes, adjustable foot pegs and wild, manga comic book styling.
The new Ninja also gets what Kawasaki claim is a MotoGP-derived traction control system (S-KTRC), which monitors front and rear wheel speeds, gear selection, engine rpm, throttle position and banking angle to determine when and by how much to reduce the power that’s being fed to the rear wheel. This tri-mode system is widely expected to be at least as good – and perhaps better – than the traction control system on any other production sportsbike, including the S1000RR.
The 2011 ZX-10R has one more trick up its sleeve – KIBS. That is the ‘Kawasaki Intelligent Anti-Lock Braking’ system, which also monitors various factors and operates in a manner that’s more subtle than earlier motorcycle ABS setups. Developed by Bosch, this just might be the best performing ABS rig on any production motorcycle in 2011.
This year, we wouldn’t bet against Kawasaki walking away with top-spot honours in the litre-class superbike shootouts that are sure to follow in the next few months...