Kawasaki doesn’t redesign the 2009 ZX-10R although there have been question marks related to its doubtful approach on the most recent model years. Still, the Ninja is a high-performing sports motorcycle (no mechanical changes either) which lets no room for error in the liter class so it requires its fair share of additions consisting in nicer green and white, bronze and black color schemes.
The new colors diminish its ugly nose and make a Kawi fan “miss” the design drawbacks, especially if it lives in Europe and can go for the all-white model now available on the old continent.
Ok, so the bike may not be new (in fact, we’re eagerly expecting the 2010 model year which is supposed to be a big hit), but there’s plenty to it in order to keep on backing up the Ninja name. Kawasaki’s goal, like every other Japanese manufacturer’s, was to deliver the ultimate superbike, a machine combining power with finesse, sharp handling with accuracy as well as attractive looks with no killer riding position. And, as far as we can recall, the Green team has their Ninja ZX-10R powered by a carefully tuned 998cc, four-stroke, liquid-cooled, DOHC inline-four engine with four valves per cylinder. This delivers a strong mid-range rush mostly thanks to the fuel injection system with 43mm Keihin throttle bodies that is there also to provide an impressive maximum torque - 83.2 lb-ft at 8,700 rpm – and maximum output - 200 hp at 12,500 rpm – which is more than we’ve ever expected for a street legal motorcycle.
The top speed in excess of 180 mph is also due to the six-speed gearbox ensuring a constant power rush. All engine capabilities are properly valued so it’s just a matter of refining the incredible power delivery and that engine finesse that we’ve been talking about. Kawasaki’s system taking care of that is the Ignition Management System. This was created precisely to deal with brusque acceleration in order to ensure that smooth power delivery at all times, especially during races. It works by monitoring parameters such as the engine speed, throttle position, the bike’s speed as well as the gear position and different engine components temperatures in order to intervene only when necessary. Smart and effective!
2009 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R
From what concerns the chassis, we’re expecting proper front-rear balance while the race-ready suspensions and performance brakes indicate how the 2009 Ninja ZX-10R is destined to be ridden on the track. The twin-spar frame achieves a recommended balance between rigidity and resistance while the pressed beam swingarm featuring a top-mounted brace significantly contributes both at maintaining stability at fast speeds and rear end accuracy during sharp cornering.
Ninja’s fully-adjustable 43mm inverted fork features 4.7 inches of travel and stand out thanks to the DLC coating while the fully adjustable Uni-Trak rear suspension provides 4.9 inches of travel. At both ends, the wheels measure 17 inches in diameter, but the additional disc brakes diameters differ. So up front, we’ll be working with a pair of 310mm petal discs with dual four-piston radial-mount calipers and at the rear with a single 220mm petal disc with an aluminum single piston caliper because independently of a bike’s capabilities to go fast it will eventually have to stop and that’s as scary as high speed sometimes (hmm…for the passenger, of course).
Also, knowing that the weight needing to be stopped is as low as possible (so easy on the burgers you all) has the same advantage as when powerfully accelerating. In this case, curb weight is 458.6 lbs which is not bad for a bike that hasn’t been revamped as a 2009 model year.
Kawasaki first introduced the Ninja ZX-10 as a 2004 model year. The totally new addition to their supersport lineup had come to replace the ZX-9R which by that time had little statements left to make in the corresponsive class.
The all-new addition had been built and designed with a single purpose in mind: an ideal power-to-weight ratio. So the brand new 998cc inline four-cylinder engine crank axis, input shaft and output shaft were positioned in a triangular layout to reduce engine length, the high-speed generator was placed behind the cylinder bank to reduce engine width and the one-piece cylinder and crankcase assembly not only reduced weight, but increased rigidity as well. So Kawasaki started with the basics and achieved the maximum. Being fuel injected from the very first year, the Ninja ZX-10R developed 175 hp at 11,500 rpm and came with a dry weight of only 374. 8 lbs.
While 2006 saw the addition of the new DFI with Mikuni 44mm throttle bodies fuel injection system, 2008 marks the latest evolutionary step yet as the bike’s fuel injection system was again updated (now DFI 43mm Keihin throttle bodies with oval sub-throttles, two injectors per cylinder) and the TCBI ignition with digital advance and Kawasaki Ignition Management System (KIMS) was added and made all the difference compared to previous model years.
The strange part regarding ZX-10R’s evolution is that while performances were getting better and better, the looks went from excellent to not impressive. We expect for the bike’s design to be renewed next year and truly reflect the powerplant’s capabilities.
The Greens may not have upgraded their liter class in what concerns the 2009 model year, but the competition isn’t waiting anyone. As a result, we’ve witnessed the introduction of the most evolved Yamaha YZF-R1 ever made (crossplane crankshaft are the keywords you’ll be searching by in this case), the 2009 Honda CBR1000RR got smart ABS brakes while Suzuki achieves a better power-to-weight ratio for their 2009 GSX-R1000 model.
2009 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R
Ok, so we’ve mentioned how the bike kept on getting uglier and uglier during the years and such an affirmation needs to be sustained with facts. My recommendation is to take a close look at the Ninja ZX-10R and you’ll agree with us, but words shouldn’t be left unspoken so it’s worth mentioning the reason for the visual downturn affecting the Ninja ZX-10R.
Back in 2004 when first introduced, the bike looked impeccable and in need of no design changes or refinements whatsoever. Soon after, it became THE supersports bike to ride so Kawasaki designers found themselves in need of dealing with a great responsibility, the one of leading the class tendencies and because the bike looked so good, the only thing that they could possible do is make it less and less attractive from the visual point of view.
2009 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R
Now a 2009 model year, the Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R features a badly sculpted nose if it is to put it in nicer terms. The headlights look out of place while the signal light mounted on the mirror arms definitely have to go. The windscreen does look good, but the air scoop ruins everything raising some question marks related to Kawasaki’s abilities to show the best of them with a single sketch, not to mention the final product.
Apart from the bad front end, there isn’t much to complain about as the side fairing gets aggressive lines and all body elements blend perfectly in one with the other (see the gas tank and frame, exhaust, seats, everything). Also, the 2009 color schemes (Ebony, Candy Burnt Orange / Flat Super Black, Special Edition Lime Green / Metallic Diablo Black and White, but only for Europe) enhance the compact look and at least these make sure that the thing is distinguished as being new.
After being not that satisfied by the way the ZX-10R looks like, we figured that at least the way it rides should compensate and we sure weren’t wrong. Kawasaki’s top supersport model is extremely powerful and dependable, handles easily and responsively and the riding position is good despite the given category.
First things first, the engine provides loads of torque from the bottom of the powerband so the bike goes really fast from the start although the mid-range is where the inline four-cylinder engine feels best simply because it needs just a good twist of the throttle so that it would unveil the best of those almost 200 horses. We couldn’t worry about any jerks that might intervene in that process because of Kawi’s Ignition Management System which prevents both the rear wheel from spinning dangerously only when the situation requires it. Yet, we can’t call this a traction control system because there is no sensor in the rear tire. This system is of much help especially when going out of corners and when accelerating aggressively from a standstill.
Despite being a 1000cc supersport model, the bike actually feels confidence inspiring mostly because of the reassuring feel you get by knowing that technology is there to correct your mistakes. Now, we did role that throttle pretty hard and didn’t notice anything special…but we’re still alive so that’s the proof of the system’s good operating.
2009 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R
Compact and light, the rest of the bike is meant to properly value the engine’s enormous capabilities and it feels before, in and out of any corners. The brakes are highly effective and, with the right biker on the bike’s seat, make sure that all corners are approached with the ideal speed, but the ZX-10R is capable of going much faster around bends that we’d even dare trying. Still, the suit’s pads ended up pretty wear out so we can’t say we didn’t do our best yet.
The suspensions have much to do with the bike’s talent to handle sharply and yet remain stable around the corners so we’re pretty pleased with that. Just how it remains stable when rolling on the throttle, the rear end doesn’t go out of control when hitting the brakes either. This, we dedicate to the swingarm which features a top-mounted brace and to excellent mass centralization.
It’s really hard not to fall for the 2009 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R despite the stiff competition simply because the bike delivers just as much, sometimes even more, as those bikes do without even being upgraded. After riding the Ninja we like to say that in 2009 the competition has come up strong from behind and not that the green arrow has been neglected in any way. Just wait for the 2010 model year to come up.
Kawasaki sells their models for a fair buck and what bike’s best to reflect that than the 2009 Ninja ZX-10R? This model starts at $11,799 in the case of those simple color schemes while the special edition one’s MSRP begins at $11,999.
2009 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R
Although not a landmark as a 2009 model year, the Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R has had an impressive career so far and it promises more. After all, being the first manufacturer to get as much as 200 horsepower out of a 1000cc four-cylinder inline engine means a lot and people expect just as much. The only condition is not to do with the engine as they did with the bike’s nose and everything will be just fine.
Engine: Four-stroke, liquid-cooled, DOHC, four valves per cylinder, inline-four
Bore x stroke: 76.0 x 55.0mm
Maximum torque: 83.2 lb-ft @ 8,700 rpm
Compression ratio: 12.9:1
Fuel system: DFI with four 43mm Keihin throttle bodies with oval sub-throttles, two injectors per cylinder
Ignition: TCBI with digital advance and Kawasaki Ignition Management System (KIMS)
Transmission: Six speed
Final drive: Chain
Chassis and Dimensions
Rake / trail: 25.5deg / 4.3 in.
Front tire: 120/70 ZR17
Rear tire: 190/55 ZR17
Wheelbase: 55.7 in.
Front suspension / wheel travel: 43mm inverted fork with DLC coating, adjustable rebound and compression damping, spring preload adjustability and top-out springs / 4.7 in.
Rear suspension / wheel travel: Uni-Trak® with top-out spring, stepless, dual-range (high/low-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: 83.1 in.
Overall width: 28.0 in.
Overall height: 44.7 in.
Seat height: 32.7 in.
Curb weight: 458.6 lbs.
Fuel capacity: 4.5 gal.
One-piece upper crankcase and cylinder casting saves weight and offers increased rigidity
Oil is routed through channels milled into the cases on 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
Lightweight crankshaft maintains the same inertial moment as heavier design but saves about two pounds
Low friction oil pump reduction ratio
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
Intake ports, exhaust ports and combustion chambers designed for optimum flow efficiency and top-end power
Exhaust ports are narrower at the midpoint and larger at the opening to promote higher exhaust velocity
24.5mm diameter exhaust valves
Lift profiles of the cam lobes are designed to deliver more power at high rpm and make it easier to tune the engine for racing
Secondary fuel injectors improve top-end power output and power characteristics
Oval cross-sectioned throttle bodies allow more precise throttle control and response
Compact flat-type fuel pump takes up less fuel tank space
Ram air intake duct shaped for lower intake noise and higher intake efficiency
Larger airbox offers accessibility and ease of maintenance
Kawasaki Ignition Management System (KIMS) helps curtail sudden spikes in engine speed, enhancing the rider’s control of power delivery
Designed not to interfere with the rider’s inputs, the complex ECU program remains passive, unless the change in engine speed exceeds the predicted response for the given parameters, the KIMS will not engage
Monitors engine speed, throttle position, vehicle speed, gear position, FI input data (feedback from intake air temperature, intake air pressure, engine temperature and O2 sensors), and rate of RPM change, then adjusts ignition timing to help regulate power delivery
Only possible to adjust the parameters with an accessory racing (circuit-use only) kit installed
Features a pre-chamber under the engine to reduce exhaust noise, and minimize silencer volume
Palladium catalyzer helps the ZX-10R to meet strict 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
Gear ratios suit the power characteristics for ideal power delivery in the low and high-rpm ranges
Final reduction ratio of 17/41 intensifies the acceleration
Features an adjustable back-torque limiting clutch
Unique twin-spar frame features an optimized stiffness balance through a mixture of materials, shapes and thicknesses, which alleviate critical stress concentrations
Ribbing on the interior of the pivot plate where it joins the frame’s upper cross member slightly slows down the frame feedback for a more accurate feel
Swingarm pivot located to aid with the front-rear weight balance
Lightweight, two-piece, aluminum die-cast sub-frame is mounted to the frame’s upper cross member, so rear suspension feedback is transmitted more directly to the rider
Narrow sub-frame layout contributes to the compact and slim rear of the bike
Pressed beam swingarm delivers a level of feel and feedback unobtainable with a cast swingarm
Swingarm features a top-mounted brace that contributes to the superb high-speed stability of the 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 for reduced frothing and improved damping performance, fork action and road-following ability
Fully adjustable shock features dual (low- and high-speed) compression damping, providing the fine-tuning needed for racing
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
Tokico radial mount brake calipers fitted with dual pads for superb initial bite, increased control and a progressive feel
5.5mm thick 310mm petal discs provide the heat dispersion needed to maintain brake feel and responsiveness during extended periods of heavy use
220mm rear petal disc is gripped by a single-piston caliper
Squeeze-cast wheels offer more precise dimensions with less wall thickness and weight yet are stiffer than the gravity-cast units
Rear frame, tank and seat offer high levels of contact with the bike and provide the rider very accurate feedback regarding chassis performance and road surface
Flared fuel tank top makes it easier for riders to rest the inside of their arm on the tank when leaning into a turn
Narrow in the front and shorter, front to back, for a slimmer riding position, the seat offers a shorter reach to the pavement and excellent feedback from the chassis
A special rib on the end of throttle tube, under the rubber, improves grip and feel
Top of the front cowl has a slight step at the front to reduce wind blast on the rider’s shoulders and generate a laminar flow around the rider’s helmet for less turbulence at higher speeds
Front fender aids cooling efficiency by directing air toward the radiator
Recess on the top of the fuel tank accommodates the helmet’s chin, so it’s easier to tuck in behind the windscreen
High mounting position of mirrors, with integrated turn signals, 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 mirrors, license plate holder and rear turn signals are easily removable for track day prep
LED tail light makes the bike more visible to drivers and provides the final styling flourish to the evocative Ninja design
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