A QUICK LOOK AT KAWASAKI’S NEW 2008 NINJA® ZX™-10R.
Factory Superbike Talent in a Street Savvy Performer.
For the 2008 NINJA ZX-10R, Kawasaki engineers aimed for an ideal superbike with engine and chassis performance capable of satisfying professional racers, combined with top-notch streetbike qualities for mainstream riders. It’s a delicate balance, but these aren’t your average engineers. They’ve been directly involved in the development of every 600 and 1000cc supersport machine since the 2003 Ninja ZX-6R, plus Kawasaki’s factory Superbike racing efforts, so they have the know-how to deliver the goods.
The result is an exceptionally communicative machine that provides the clean two-way rider and machine dialog demanded by professional racers. Placing the ZX-10R in the racing crucible and applying lessons from that unforgiving environment resulted in an ideal balance to satisfy the most demanding of riders.
Japanese Superbike racer Akira Yanagawa was the man pushing the engine and frame components to the limits of their performance in actual competition. Parts that met with Yanagawa’s approval were then tried on the production test bike, tweaked, retested on the racer and adjusted again. This process was repeated throughout the development cycle for the all-new 2008 Ninja ZX-10R.
At the heart of this capable package is a new engine tuned for even greater high-rpm performance, without sacrificing the stellar mid-range performance of its predecessor. Refinements include installing secondary fuel injectors, changing to oval throttle bodies and reshaping the intake ports. Intake flow was further enhanced with reshaped ram air ducts and a larger airbox that feeds into the new oval shaped velocity stacks. Exhaust efficiency was boosted with a new system that not only flows better but generates less noise and emissions. And to suit the enhanced power delivery, the transmission features new gear ratios for 1st, 4th and 5th gears along with an extra tooth on the rear sprocket. These changes make it essentially a race-ready engine with performance similar to Kawasaki’s factory Superbikes.
Professional riders know it’s useless to have the most power if you can’t get it to the ground. The 2008 Ninja ZX-10R features a new ignition system that assists with torque management by monitoring throttle opening, gear position and rate of RPM change, then retarding ignition timing to reduce torque when sudden unwanted RPM spikes are detected. This system doesn’t interfere with normal operation and still allows the engine to rev freely under typical riding conditions.
A superb engine deserves a superb chassis, and this is where the new ZX-10R really shines. To achieve the best-possible handling, Kawasaki used the lessons learned at the track to build a list of refinements including: changing the length of the steering tube and moving it 10mm forward, alleviating stress concentrations through subtle changes to the frame stampings (switching concave parts to convex pieces), increasing the wall thickness around the relocated swingarm pivot, adding ribbing on the interior of the pivot plate, and mounting a narrower, two-piece sub-frame to the main frame’s upper cross member.
With a fully-adjustable 43mm inverted fork and a new swingarm that uses pressed instead of cast beams, the ZX-10R’s track orientated suspension endows the chassis with better feedback. Refinements include adding a Diamond Like Carbon (DLC) coating to the fork tubes for less stiction and enhanced feedback, relocating the springs to the bottom of the fork for reduced oil frothing, and new settings that are better-suited for racetrack use. Rear suspension changes include dual (low and high-speed) compression damping on the fully-adjustable rear shock for better fine-tuning, a new mounting spot for the Uni-TrakÂ® linkage and a re-shaped swingarm with a top-mounted brace.
No part was left untouched on the ZX-10R, even the wheels are new. Produced using a squeeze-casting process instead of the earlier gravity casting method, the new wheels are lighter, stiffer and more precise, to perfectly match the new chassis. The lower unsprung weight of the wheels helps improve suspension action and their reduced rotational inertia provides quicker steering and acceleration.
Braking duties are handled by radial mounted Tokico brake calipers squeezing new 310mm petal discs which are 10mm larger for 2008, and feature reduced thickness from 6 to 5.5mm for better heat dispersion. The rear is a 220mm petal disc squeezed by a single-piston caliper.
The designers didn’t rest when it came to styling either. Given great freedom with the 2008 ZX-10R, their efforts are illustrated in the clean design with superb fit and finish. While shaping the rear frame, tank and seat to offer improved ergonomics and increase the rider’s contact with the bike, they also refined its aerodynamics from a new front cowling to the sharp, minimalist tail cowl. The result of these efforts is a slim and compact package with the presence befitting its Ninja name.
Kawasaki Motors Corp., U.S.A. (KMC) markets and distributes Kawasaki motorcycles, ATVs, personal watercraft and utility vehicles through a network of more than 1,500 independent retailers, with an additional 7,700 retailers specializing in power products and general purpose engines. KMC and its affiliates employ nearly 2,400 people in the United States, with 400 of them located at the Irvine, California headquarters.
Kawasaki’s tagline, “Let the good times roll.”, is recognized worldwide and the brand has become synonymous with powerful, stylish motorcycles for over four decades.
Four-Cylinder, DOHC Engine
- Very compact, narrow and lightweight design
- One-piece upper crankcase and cylinder casting saves more than two pounds and offers increased rigidity
- Channels in the case route oil to various parts of the engine, eliminating oil lines and saving weight
- Stacked triangular layout of crank axis, input shaft and output shaft reduces engine length and lowers the center of gravity
- About two pounds cut from the engine with a lighter crankshaft that maintains the same inertial moment
- Oil pump reduction ratio refined for lower friction
- Water pump uses the same type impeller as the ZX-14 with pump rpm optimized for less friction
- Lightweight Denso radiator with tightly packed cores
- Specially designed internal fins on the liquid-cooled, aluminum oil cooler for high-efficiency heat dissipation
- Reshaped intake ports, exhaust ports and combustion chambers improve flow efficiency and top-end power
- Exhaust ports are narrower at the midpoint and larger at the opening
- Exhaust valves reduced in diameter from 25.5 to 24.5mm
- Cam profiles feature higher lift to deliver more power at high rpm and make it easier to tune the engine for racing
- New secondary fuel injectors improve top-end power output and power characteristics
- Oval cross-sectioned throttle bodies replace the earlier round units, improve throttle response and allow more precise throttle control
- Compact flat-type fuel pump from the ’07 ZX-6R takes up less fuel tank space and permits the same tank volume despite the additional space required for the secondary injectors
- Ram air intake duct was reshaped to reduce intake noise and further improve intake efficiency
- New larger airbox with improved accessibility and ease of maintenance
- The new oval shaped velocity stacks deliver improved flow efficiency
- Advanced ignition management system helps curtail sudden spikes in engine speed, enhancing the rider’s control of torque delivery
- Sophisticated ECU logic based on extensive rider testing
- Monitors throttle position, gear position and rate of RPM change, then adjusts ignition advance to help regulate torque production
- New exhaust system features a pre-chamber under the engine to reduce exhaust noise, and minimize silencer volume
- Palladium catalyzer ensures the ZX-10R meets Euro-III exhaust emissions standards
- Single orthogonal, titanium silencer, along with the pre-chamber, lowers the bike’s center of gravity and improves exhaust efficiency
- Lower 1st, 4th and 5th gear ratios to suit the new power characteristics, giving improved power feel in the low and high-rpm ranges
- Harder acceleration with an one tooth larger rear sprocket - final reduction ratio of 17/41
- Optimized stiffness balance of the unique twin-spar frame achieved by reshaping the frame’s pressed parts, replacing concave pieces with convex pieces to alleviate stress concentrations
- Wall thickness around the swingarm pivot was changed to increase rigidity
- Ribbing added on the interior of the pivot plate where it joins the frame’s upper cross member to slightly slow down the frame feedback for a more accurate feel
- Steering tube moved 10mm forward and length changed
- Relocated swingarm pivot for a slight front-rear weight balance change
- Two-piece, aluminum die-casting with lightweight construction
- New narrow sub-frame layout contributes to the compact and slim rear of the bike
- Mounted to the frame’s upper cross member, so rear suspension feedback is transmitted more directly to the rider
- Pressed beam swingarm delivers a level of feel and feedback unobtainable with a cast swingarm
- New swingarm features a top-mounted stabilizer that contributes to the superb high-speed stability of the new chassis
- DLC (Diamond Like Carbon) fork tube coating on the fully adjustable 43mm inverted fork improves fork action with less friction, smoother action and better road holding
- Bottom mounted springs completely submerged in oil, offer reduced frothing and improving damping performance, fork action and road-following ability
- New mounting location for the Uni-Trak® rear suspension linkage
- Fully adjustable shock now features dual (low- and high-speed) compression damping, providing the fine-tuning needed for racing
- New Tokico radial mount brake calipers fitted with dual pads for superb initial bite, increased control and a progressive feel
- New 310mm petal discs with a 5.5mm disc thickness provide better heat dispersion so the brake feel remains constant and responsive during extended periods of heavy use
- 220mm rear petal disc is gripped by a single-piston caliper
- New lighter yet stiffer squeeze-cast wheels feature more precise dimensions with less wall thickness than the previous gravity-cast units
- Redesigned rear frame, tank and seat offer increased contact with the bike and provide the rider very accurate feedback regarding chassis performance and road surface
- More flared around its top, the new tank makes it easier for the rider to rest the inside of their arm on the tank when leaning into a turn
- New seat is narrower in the front and shorter, front to back, for a slimmer riding position, a shorter reach to the pavement and excellent feedback from the chassis
- Special rib on the end of new throttle under the grip rubber improves grip and feel
- Top of the front cowl is shorter but has a slight step at the front to reduce wind blast on the rider’s shoulders and generates a laminar flow around the rider’s helmet for less turbulence at higher speeds
- New front fender increases cooling efficiency by directing air toward the radiator
- Recess added to the top of the fuel tank to accommodate the helmet’s chin so it’s easier to tuck in behind the new, flatter windscreen
- Smaller fairing sides reduce the influence of side winds on the bike
- Redesigned mirrors with integrated turn signals and Talbot-type reflecting surfaces are easily removable, for easy track riding prep
- High mounting position of mirrors provides excellent rearward visibility and helps to minimize damage if the bike falls over
- Flush-surface of the tail’s underside reduces turbulence at the rear of the bike and ensures laminar airflow around the seat
- Larger rear inner fender keeps the bike cleaner and allows the mud flap to be smaller and less obtrusive, further improving aerodynamic qualities around the rear of the machine
- The license plate holder and rear turn signals are also quickly detachable for racing
- New LED tail light makes the bike more visible to drivers and provides the final styling flourish to the evocative Ninja design
Race-quality steering damper
- Adjustable Öhlins steering damper with relief valve and twin-tube design, developed specifically for the Ninja ZX-10R is fitted as standard equipment to ensure stable damping performance even under racing conditions
Advanced Electronic Instrumentation
- Instrument cluster uses UV-blocking glass, so the LED displays are brighter and easier to read
- Multifunction odometer, tripmeter, clock and lap timer/stopwatch
2008 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R Specifications
Engine: Four-stroke, liquid-cooled, DOHC, four valves per cylinder, inline-four
Bore x stroke: 76.0 x 55.0mm
Maximum torque: TBD
Compression ratio: 12.7:1
Fuel injection: DFI with 43mm Keihin throttle bodies with oval sub-throttles, two injectors per cylinder
Final drive: TBD
Rake / trail: TBD
Front tire: 120/70 ZR17
Rear tire: 190/55 ZR17
Front suspension / wheel travel: 43mm inverted fork with DLC coating, adjustable rebound and compression damping, spring preload adjustability and top-out springs / TBD
Rear suspension / wheel travel: Bottom-Link Uni-Trak® with top-out spring, stepless, dual-range (high/low-speed) compression damping, stepless rebound damping, fully adjustable spring preload / TBD
Front brakes: Dual semi-floating 310 mm petal discs with dual four-piston radial-mount calipers
Rear brakes: Single 220mm petal disc with single-piston aluminum caliper
Overall length: TBD
Overall width: TBD
Overall height: TBD
Seat height: TBD
Dry weight: TBD
Fuel capacity: TBD
Color choices: TBD
MSRP standard / Special Edition: TBD / TBD
*Specifications are subject to change.