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2011 Kawasaki ZX-10R Preview


by Marc Cantin ,

Top level Sportbike makers keep shooting for Top Dog, and Kawasaki is sitting pretty with the all-new 2011 ZX-10R, which should push them past the 2010 King of the Hill, BMW’s much admired S 1000 RR.

The 2011 ZX-10R raises the sportbike bar in terms of performance and safety while keeping the price at a reasonable level. It also provides good ergos, especially for more compact and flexible riders. (Photo: Kawasaki)

As with every Kawasaki I have known, the engine is at the heart of this new model, but it also benefits from major advances in on-board software to optimize safety as well as performance.

Let’s look at the powertrain first. The Full Monte version of the 10R claims 197 hp (194 for the S1000RR) on the dyno and a whopping 207 hp at speed when the Ram-Air effect comes into play. The EPA-compliant North American versions are set at 178 hp (185 hp with ram air) at 11,000 rpm, supposedly through an ECU reset and thus presumably curable through some educated bit twiddling.

All this torque and power come from what looks on paper to be a race-spec engine, with up-to-date alloys, combustion and heat management, and ever more powerful electronics to optimize performance for the street and the track. Kawasaki engineers also boosted mass centralization by placing the clutch and input shaft above the output shaft, and thus raising the whole engine closer to the bike’s center of gravity.

Let’s talk about electronics now, the area where the 2011 ZX-10R breaks new ground in the very complex world of on-road safety and performance, a more complex one in fact that pure racing where safety is sacrificed to the Performance God in the hands of expert riders.

The list of these features is impressive:
  • Three rider-selectable ignition-injection modes, to vary torque and response from 50% to Full Storm (With a user-friendly intermediate mode) and adapt it to riding conditions and rider preference.
A nice and rigid front end passes on valid data to the bikes electronic systems, as well as valuable feel to the rider's hands. (Photo: Kawasaki)
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