In the world of sports bikes, you really would be hard-pressed to find a bike that is more capable inside and out than the Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R ABS. Not only does it come with Kawasaki’s world-renowned craftsmanship, but it also carries some of the latest in sports bike technology, most of which have been derived from MotoGP.
Don’t be confused by the anti-lock braking on the ZX-10R ABS; the system was designed and developed specifically for the purpose of providing maximum on-track performance for the bike. And when you consider the many safety- and control-oriented benefits provided by the amazing electronic and hardware technology available today, it begins to make a lot of sense.
Think of it: You’re charging into a hairpin during a track day. It’s late in the afternoon, you’re tired, and your front tire is shagged from a day of hard-core knee-dragging. But instead of tucking as you squeeze the front brake lever, your front tire chirps briefly and the KIBS system intervenes until traction returns – allowing you to arc gracefully into the corner, a little wiser and a lot more intact physically than if you were riding a non-ABS motorcycle. On the street, anti-lock’s benefits are even easier to realize.
Hit the jump for more information on the 2011 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R ABS.
The Ninja ZX-10R ABS is much more than just a technological overload on the senses; it looks pretty sharp too. The bodywork is as advanced and stylish as anything on this side of a MotoGP grid. The curved shapes go well with the contrasting colors, creating a profile that’s as sharp and aggressive as any true sports bike we’ve seen in recent time. The ZX-10R ABS also comes with line-beam headlights with LED turn signals that are integrated into the mirror assemblies. Convenient turn-signal couplers allow easy mirror removal for track-day use, while the rear fender assembly holding the rear signal stalks and license plate frame is also easily removable for track days.
Then there’s the bike’s instrumentation, which is also completely new. The unit is highlighted by an LED-backlit bar-graph tachometer that’s set above a multi-featured LCD info screen with numerous sections and data panels. A wide range of information is presented, including odometer, dual trip meters, vehicle speed, fuel consumption, Power Mode and S-KTRC level indicators, low fuel, water temperature and much more. For track use, the LCD display can be set to “race” mode which moves the gear display to the center of the screen.
All the talk about the Ninja ZX-10R ABS’ powertrain begins and ends with its 998cc, 6-valve, DOHC, liquid-cooled inline-four engine that produces unbelievable power and excellent engine manageability throughout the entire power band. The engine’s peak torque was moved to a higher rpm range, helping to smooth the power peaks and valleys that can make it difficult for racers and track day riders to open the throttle with confidence. The sportsbike also carries a revamped crankshaft/transmission shaft layout that contributes to a higher center of mass by locating the crankshaft approximately 10 degrees higher relative to the output shaft.
The engine is mated to a race-style cassette transmission that allows simple trackside ratio changes and offers a host of improvements for 2011. These improvements include closer spacing for 4th, 5th, and 6th gears and the improvement of the primary and final reduction ratios for less squat/lift during acceleration and deceleration, allowing more precise suspension tuning in back. An adjustable back-torque limiting clutch assembly is fitted, helping to reduce driveline shock during downshifts and offering an even higher level of corner-entry calmness.
Rounding out the engine specs of the Ninja ZX-10R ABS is its all-new race-spec exhaust system that features a titanium header assembly, hydroformed collectors, a large-volume pre-chamber containing two catalyzers, and a highly compact silencer. Due to the header’s race-spec design, riders and racers looking for more closed-course performance need only replace the muffler assembly.
Chassis and Suspension
Chassis and suspension set-ups of the Ninja ZX-10R ABS likewise speaks of the tremendous technological effort put into the design of the bike. An all-new aluminum twin-spar frame was designed, as well as an all-cast assemblage of just seven pieces that features optimized flex characteristics for ideal rider feedback, cornering performance, and lighter weight than last year’s cage. Just like the frame, the new alloy swingarm of the bike is an all-cast assembly, with idealized rigidity matching that of the frame itself.
Chassis geometry of the bike was also juggled to offer the best possible stability and handling quickness. At 25 degrees, the rake is a half-degree steeper compared to the 2010 model, while trail has been reduced from 110mm to 107mm. Aiding in the car’s overall set-up is a highly advanced suspension set-up that features a 43mm open-class version of the Big Piston Fork (BPF) found on last year’s compare-dominating Ninja ZX-6R on the front and a new Horizontal Back-link suspension that replaces the vertical Uni-Trak system of the 2010 ZX-10R model. The new rear suspension produces better mass centralization, improved road holding, compliance and stability, smoother action in the mid-stroke, better overall feedback, and an overall cooler running.
Kawasaki calls its all-new anti-lock system KIBS – or Kawasaki Intelligent anti-lock Brake System. The use of “intelligent” is apropos, too, considering just how smart the new KIBS is. It all starts with the smallest and lightest ABS unit ever built for a motorcycle, one Bosch designed specifically with sport bikes in mind. It’s nearly 50 percent smaller than current motorcycle ABS units, and 800 grams lighter, adding only about seven pounds of weight compared to the non-ABS machine, a pound of which is accounted for by the larger battery.
KIBS is a multi-sensing system, one that collects and monitors a wide range of information taken from wheel sensors (the same ones collecting data on the standard ZX-10R for its S-KTRC traction control system) and the bike’s ECU, including wheel speed, caliper pressure, engine rpm, throttle position, clutch actuation, and gear position. The KIBS’s ECU actually communicates with the bike’s engine ECU and crunches the numbers, and when it notes a potential lock-up situation, it tells the Bosch unit to release caliper pressure, allowing the wheel to once again regain traction.
Aside from this system’s ultra-fast response time, it offers a number of additional sport-riding and race track benefits, including rear-end lift suppression during hard braking, minimal kickback during ABS intervention, and increased rear brake control during downshifts. The high-precision pressure control enables the system to avoid reduced brake performance (sometimes seen on less advanced systems), maintain proper lever feel, and help ensure the ABS pulses are minimized.
Four-stroke, liquid-cooled, DOHC, four valves per cylinder, inline-four
Bore x stroke
76.0 x 55.0mm
DFI with four 47mm Keihin throttle bodies with oval sub-throttles, two injectors per cylinder
TCBI with digital advance and Sport-Kawasaki Traction Control (S-KTRC)
Rake / trail
25.0 degrees / 4.33 in
Front suspension / wheel travel
43mm inverted Big Piston Fork (BPF) with DLC coating, adjustable rebound and compression damping, spring preload adjustability / 4.7 in.
Rear suspension / wheel travel
Horizontal Back-link with gas-charged shock and top-out spring, stepless, dual-range (low-/high-speed) compression damping, stepless rebound damping, fully adjustable spring preload / 4.9 in.