Although Kawasaki initially had plans to launch an entirely new Ninja ZX-10R for 2010, their final decision was to stick to what they already had and slightly improve their open class sportbike in an almost unnoticeable manner. The move doesn’t turn the 2010-spec Ninja ZX-10R into a threat for the competition, but this would still have to deal with a more aggressive look and small technical tweaks now characterizing the Green racing motorcycle with headlights.
A Ninja will always stand out through agility, sleekness and a fair amount of aces in its sleeve and the new ZX-10R fits this description, just like it did as a 2009 model year, but doesn’t raise the
200-hp fuel injected inline-four engine
stake much higher. The engine is the same 998cc, liquid-cooled, inline-four, DOHC with four valves per cylinder and it puts down an impressive 200bhp (with ram air intake). You can now see more of the consecrated powerplant thanks to the redesigned fairing (more on that later) and the redesigned blacked-out exhaust might look like the final touch at the end of a serious revision, but the fact is that there is no fund behind shape.
The six-speed transmission’s shift mechanism is claimed to be tweaked as well, but if there’s one technical upgrade that Kawasaki can brag about, this is the 18-position Ohlins steering damper. Both suspension and brakes are set for the track, which is where such bikes perform most beautifully.
All the 2010 Japanese liter class bikes have been announced and the big battle is still between the Honda CBR1000RR C-ABS and the Yamaha R1 as Suzuki has announced the introduction of the technically unchanged GSX-R1000 supersport model among their other two ones.
Also considering the entrance in the class of European motorcycles such as the 2010 BMW S1000RR and the Aprilia RSV4 R , we simply cannot be that optimistic about the Ninja’s evolution this year. But the fact is that a completely refreshed bike in these market conditions wouldn’t have been that much of a success anyway.
At least the 2010 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R looks new and it is all due to the now more svelte bodywork, which you’ll most likely notice that it perfectly resembles that of the bike’s smaller sibling, the ZX-6R. Claiming that the middleweight supersport’s bodywork improves aerodynamics significantly, Kawasaki has fitted it on the 10R and so got rid of the looks factor that pressed so much on their shoulders.
As we earlier mentioned, the new look is completed by the blacked-out exhaust. Speaking of colors, the 2010 model year is available in Metallic Spark Black, Lime Green/Pearl Stardust White.
"Low-end and mid-range power delivery is so smooth and linear it almost felt soft, at first. As the day wore on, however, and comparing notes with other journalists, power in this area felt more than competitive." – motorcycledaily
“The improved handling characteristics are apparent from the first time the bike is tipped into a turn. It is very easy to go fast on the ZX-10R, exactly the opposite of what it used to be. Lap after lap as the speeds picked up, the times went down.” – motorcycle-usa
“The new Ninja proved to be amazingly cooperative around the Losail circuit for a literbike with such a kicked-out, 25.5-degree rake angle and generous 110mm of trail.” – motorcycle
“A more relevant question now is how such an explicitly track-focused machine will satisfy us in the less-ideal environs of the street.” – motorcyclistonline
“Its qualities were matched by its failings, as far as the masses were concerned. I, for one, loved the raw motor with its class-leading low-down grunt and raucous air intake roar.” – visordown
“…that ZX-10R is thirsty with the fuel. Or is it me? I’ve been used to riding a 600 for too long, enjoying the 120 miles to the tank I used to get. And now I’m on the stupid-fast 10R, I’ve noticed that it really does slurp down the petrol.” – superbike
“Power continues building well past 12,000 rpm before tailing off just a bit before the rev limiter cuts the party right at the 13,000-rpm redline.” – sportrider
As reflected by the new 2010 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R, the Japanese company’s strategy was to maintain building costs at a minimum and so be able to price the thing at $13K, which is the main factor you’ve probably started reading this article in the first place.
With subtle technical tweaks and a refreshed look, Kawasaki calls their Ninja ZX-10R a 2010 model year and we’re left with waiting until next year to start talking about this model turning into the truly strong liter class competitor we were expecting this year.
Engine and Transmission
- Engine: Four-stroke, liquid-cooled, DOHC, four valves per cylinder, inline-four
- Displacement: 998cc
- Bore x Stroke: 76.0 x 55.0mm
- 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: 25.5 degrees / 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 (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: 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.
Features & Benefits
New for 2010
- Aggressive new styling of the upper, side and center fairings and cockpit inner covers enhances aerodynamic efficiency and appearance
- Refinements to the shift ratchet assembly, shifting arm, return spring and collar result in reduced friction and less movement at the shift shaft pivot, for improved shifting feel and more positive gear changes
- A new, embossed metallic gray coating on the muffler complements the new bodywork
- A new, 18-position Ohlins steering damper uses additional spring and oil pistons for improved action; titanium color and a laser-etched logo enhance the bike’s appearance
- Slightly longer throttle cables inside a plastic throttle housing provide improved throttle action for even greater control
Four-Cylinder, DOHC 998cc Engine
- Very compact, narrow and lightweight design makes it possible to position the engine perfectly within the chassis for optimal weight distribution
- One-piece upper crankcase and cylinder casting saves weight and offers maximum rigidity
- Oil is routed through channels milled into the cases on various parts of the engine, eliminating external oil lines and reducing weight
- Stacked, triangular layout of crank axis, input shaft and output shaft reduces engine length and aids mass centralization for quick handling
- Lightweight crankshaft maintains the same inertial moment as a heavier design but saves about two pounds compared to a conventional crank
- Low friction oil pump reduction ratio reduces parasitic power loss
- Water pump uses the same type impeller as the ZX-14, with pump rpm optimized for reduced friction
- A lightweight Denso radiator with tightly packed cores provides the most efficient engine cooling possible
- Specially designed internal fins on the liquid-cooled, aluminum oil cooler promote high-efficiency heat dissipation
- Intake ports, exhaust ports and matched combustion chambers are designed for optimum flow efficiency and high top-end power
- Exhaust ports that are narrower at the midpoint and larger at the opening promote high exhaust velocity and efficient scavenging
- Intake and exhaust valves are titanium for reduced reciprocating weight and higher rpm capabilities
- High-lift camshafts 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 at high rpm. Lower injectors are always on, upper injectors come on as needed according to degree of throttle opening and engine rpm
- Oval cross-sectioned throttle bodies allow very precise throttle control and instant response
- A highly efficient, center-located Ram Air intake duct is shaped for lower intake noise and higher intake efficiency
- Use of a compact, flat-type fuel pump that takes up less fuel tank space leaves room for a large, efficient airbox
- Oval-section intake funnels promote non-turbulent flow at all rpm
- Kawasaki Ignition Management System (KIMS) helps curtail sudden spikes in engine speed, enhancing the rider’s control of power delivery
- In addition to standard fuel injection system inputs (engine speed, throttle position, vehicle speed, gear position, intake air temperature, intake air pressure, engine temperature and O2 sensors), KIMS monitors the rate of rpm change every 0.02 seconds
- Designed not to interfere with the rider’s intentions, the complex ECU program assumes all rider inputs are intentional. However, when a change in engine speed exceeds the predicted response for given parameters, KIMS will slow the ignition timing to reduce power
- Adjustment of KIMS parameters is possible with an accessory racing (circuit-use only) kit installed
- An exhaust pre-chamber under the engine reduces exhaust noise, minimizes silencer volume and enhances mass centralization for maximum flickability
- A palladium catalyzer helps the ZX-10R meet strict Euro-III exhaust emissions standards
- A single orthogonal, titanium silencer with a new, black finish keeps the center of gravity low and improves exhaust efficiency
- Modifications to the shift mechanism further enhance quick, positive gear changes
- Gear ratios suit the power characteristics for ideal power delivery in all rpm ranges
- Final reduction ratio of 17/41 intensifies the ZX-10R’s already awe-inspiring acceleration
- An adjustable back-torque limiting clutch facilitates smooth downshifts, a main contributor to stability under heavy braking
- Unique twin-spar aluminum frame features an optimized stiffness balance through a mixture of materials, shapes and thicknesses for superior handling and bump absorption
- Ribbing on the interior of the pivot plate where it joins the frame’s upper cross member slightly slows down the frame’s feedback for highly accurate steering 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 tail section
- A pressed-beam swingarm delivers a level of feel and feedback unobtainable with a cast unit
- A top-mounted swingarm brace contributes to the superb high-speed stability of the chassis
- DLC (Diamond-like Carbon) fork tube coating on the fully adjustable 43mm inverted fork sliders improves fork action by providing reduced friction, smoother action and better road holding
- Bottom-mounted springs are completely submerged in oil for reduced frothing, improved damping performance, superior fork action and road-following ability
- A four-way adjustable rear shock features dual (low- and high-speed) compression damping as well as rebound damping and spring preload adjustment allowing the fine tuning required for racing
- Kawasaki Genuine Accessory shims are available for quick rear ride height changes at the track
Race-quality Steering Damper
- A new 18-position adjustable Ohlins steering damper is fitted as standard equipment to help ensure stable front end feedback even under racing conditions
- Tokico radial-mount brake calipers use dual pads for superb initial bite, increased control and progressive feel
- A radial-pump front master cylinder provides the ultimate in front brake feel and feedback
- A pair of 5.5mm thick, 310mm petal discs provides the heat dissipation needed to maintain brake feel and responsiveness during extended heavy use
- A 220mm rear petal disc gripped by a single-piston caliper provides excellent feel and feedback
- Squeeze-cast wheels offer precise dimensions with less wall thickness and weight, yet are stiffer than gravity-cast units
- The ZX-10R’s 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
- A flared fuel tank top makes it easier for riders to rest the inside of their arm on the tank when leaning into a turn for increased comfort and enhanced feedback
- 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 chassis feedback
- A rib on the end of throttle tube, under the grip, improves grip and feel
- Slimmer than ever in new aerodynamic bodywork, the ZX-10R is designed to slice through the atmosphere cleanly at high speed with minimal turbulence
- The front fender aids cooling efficiency by directing air toward the radiator
- A recess on the top of the fuel tank accommodates the helmet’s chin, so it’s easier to tuck-in behind the windscreen at speed
- High mounting position of mirrors, with integrated turn signals, provides excellent rearward visibility and helps to minimize damage if the bike falls over
- The flush surface of the tail’s underside reduces turbulence at the rear of the bike and ensures laminar airflow around the seat
- A large, 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
- Mirrors, license plate holder and rear turn signals are easily removable for track day prep
- An LED tail light makes the bike more visible to drivers and provides the final styling flourish to the evocative Ninja design
Advanced Electronic Instrumentation
- The easy-to-read instrument cluster uses UV-blocking glass, for maximum visibility
- Multifunction odometer, tripmeter, clock and lap timer/stopwatch are all intuitively easy to use
- The ZX-10R’s big tachometer green zone makes keeping the engine in the meatiest part of its massive powerband even easier