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2021 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10RR

A host of updates and refinements give the ZX-10RR a sharper edge

Kawasaki lets the good times roll with a street-legal, budget-friendly version of its WSB Championship bike in the new Ninja ZX-10RR. Easily converted for track use, the “10RR” doubles as an entry-level racebike as an affordable alternative for unsponsored pilots. Titanium components and top-drawer electronics complete the package with even more track-worthy performance and control features.

  • 2021 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10RR
  • Year:
    2021
  • Make:
  • Model:
  • Engine:
    inline-4
  • Displacement:
    998 cc
  • Top Speed:
    186 mph
  • Price:
    28999
  • Price:

Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10RR Design

  • LED lighting
  • Improved ergonomics
  • New aerodynamic styling
  • Displays prestigious Kawasaki River Mark
  • Full-color TFT display
2021 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10RR
- image 1071533
2021 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10RR
- image 1071792
Overall, this is a fairly graceful machine that leaves off much of the usual angular body features usually associated with the brand in favor of subtle hints here and there.

The factory manages to capture the essence of the superbike build while retaining enough Kawasaki-ness to hold this limited-edition Ninja ZX-10RR apart from the pack. A blunt-nose fairing leads the way over a rather small front fender that sports both ventilation and foil-shaped uprights that double as little mini-spoilers for the lower forks. The front fairing houses a pair of LED headlights on either side of the ram-air vent that deliver pressurized air from the front of the bike directly into the intake for a built-in boost to the engine’s volumetric efficiency. A new reverse-cant detail at the leading edge leaves the headlights with a bit of a brow over them to keep them out of the pilot’s direct line of sight and make for an all-new visage.

One feature that carries directly over from last year is the front turn signals that come integrated with the mirrors, no doubt for easy removal of both ahead of track days. A bubblescreen, 40 mm taller this year, rides atop the fairing above a graceful sportbike scoop that hides a foil on each side for extra downforce on the axle to help keep that front hoop planted with a nice fat contact patch. Waste heat is vented from graceful cutouts that leave us with tantalizing glimpses of the beating heart beneath and place the hot-air flow in the slipstream, outboard of the pilot’s legs for comfort.

Also for comfort is the clip-on handlebars moved 10 mm farther forward. That increase in distance between buns and bars makes the control triangle feels less cramped. This comes along with a 5 mm hike in the footpegs that make it easier to push off the saddle for body English. A kicked-up seat completes the triangle by elevating the pilot’s hips to encourage an aggressive, forward-leaning riding posture that’s naturally more aerodynamic than a butt-down posture.

As with most dual-purpose street/track machines, the taillight is merged with the tip of the tail. The rest of the gear in the rear is mounted on a short, subframe-mount fender, so the plate holder, tag light, and turn signals can quickly be subtracted from the equation ahead of race days. Overall, this is a fairly graceful machine that leaves off much of the usual angular body features usually associated with the brand in favor of subtle hints here and there.

Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10RR Chassis

  • WSBK-specced Showa suspension
  • Highly flickable
  • Standard-equipped ABS
  • High-Spec Brembo brakes
2021 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10RR
- image 1071538
2021 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10RR
- image 1071523
The WSBK-specced Showa suspension is optimized for sharp circuit handling, great cornering performance, and highly-flickable.

A cast-aluminum, twin-spar backbone frame on the Ninja ZX-10RR provides the main structure. It hangs the engine as a stressed member, and delivers great torsional rigidity for cornering performance plus its double-wall construction allows it to pull double duty as part of the voluminous, air-intake tract between the ram scoop and 10-liter airbox.

A 10 mm longer and 1 mm lower swingarm couples with a 2 mm increase in the offset at the tripleclamp shifts the balance forward 0.2-percent to improve the 10RR’s overall flickability. Part of the stock equipment includes an Electronic Steering Damper that reads vehicle speed at the rear-wheel sensor, and dynamically tunes the levels of intervention accordingly to take the edge off hard acceleration/deceleration by stiffening up on demand. (No little blue pill required.)

Showa provides the suspension goodies with a Balance Free Fork up front. The “BFF” sports piggyback nitrogen bottles that help moderate internal pressure variations, and I expect the gas acts as an anti-foaming agent as well to prevent fork fade under heavy duty use.

Out back, Showa’s Balance Free Rear Cushion “BFRC-Lite” monoshock takes care of business, and like the front end, it rocks the full trinity of adjustments for all-around, ride-quality control. To prevent heat-related shock fade out back, the Horizontal-Link rear suspension is located well away from the exhaust system components.

Forged-aluminum Marchesini wheels round out the rolling chassis in a seven-spoke, 17-inch format that centralizes weight around the hub area to reduce wheel inertia. They come lined with Pirelli Diablo Supercorsa SP hoops in a 120/70 ahead of a 190/55, all with a top-tier “Z” speed rating that’ll take everyday use and track day abuse with equal aplomb.

A pair of four-piston Brembo calipers bite dual 330 mm front discs ahead of a 220 mm disc and single-pot anchor out back with Kawasaki’s Intelligent anti-lock Brake System (KIBS) keeps you from locking ’em up, and it even responds to excessive backtorque, as from downshifts, by reducing ABS intervention levels.

Frame Type: Aluminum perimeter
Front Suspension / Wheel Travel: 43 mm inverted Balance Free Fork, adjustable stepless rebound and compression damping, spring preload adjustability/4.7 in
Rear Suspension / Wheel Travel: Horizontal back-link with Balance Free gas-charged shock, stepless, dual-range (low-/high-speed) compression damping, stepless rebound damping, fully adjustable spring preload/4.5 in
Rake/Trail: 25°/4.1 in
Front Tire: 120/70 ZR17
Rear Tire: 190/55 ZR17
Front Brakes: Intelligent Braking (KIBS), Brembo dual semi-floating 330 mm discs with dual radial mounted monobloc 4-piston calipers
Rear Brakes: KIBS-controlled, single 220 mm disc with aluminum single-piston caliper

Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10RR Drivetrain

  • Liquid=cooled 998 cc inline-4 engine
  • High-performance Pankl engine components
  • Cruise control and corner-sensitive traction control
  • Four integrated ride modes & power modes
2021 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10RR
- image 1071532
2021 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10RR
- image 1071527
From the liquid-cooled 998 cc inline-4 engine, you can expect 201 horsepower at 14,000 rpm with 84.7 pound-feet of torque at 11,700 rpm.

The electronic fandanglery on the ZX-10RR continues into the engine controls. Kawi’s Riding Modes bundles control of the corner-sensitive traction control and trio of preset power-delivery modes. If you fancy yourself a bit of a tuner, there’s a fourth profile that is rider programmable for another layer of performance control.

A Launch Control Mode helps you nail your holeshot while the Kawasaki Corner Management Function relies on input from the inertial measurement unit to modify the responses from the KIBS and traction-control features. An Engine Brake Control and slipper-type clutch team up to manage any excessive backtorque in the system during hard downshifts and/or compression braking.

The engine itself was on the receiving end of a number of upgraded components that improve the 10RR’s race-ability factor quite a bit. Titanium connecting rods and lightweight pistons from Pankl , Kawi’s longtime race-tech partner, reduce the reciprocating mass to allow for another 400 rpm to the redline compared to the somewhat less-noble ZX-10R (note the single “R”). The pistons shed one of their rings, and thus are able to be shorter in height, and come treated with the Diamond-Like Coating that helps reduce wear and power losses due to friction.

Gone are the dual-height intake funnels in favor of short fixed funnels that prioritize high-rpm performance over the mid- and low-range output, which makes this mill more suited to track than tarmac to be sure. The 10RR has separate water- and oil-cooler units for more effective removal of waste heat and extra protection for the engine’s lifeblood.

A 76 mm bore and 55 mm stroke gives the engine its 998 cc displacement and speecy-spicy 13-to-1 compression ratio that’ll demand high-octane pusholine. Dual over-head cams time the four-valve system with lightweight finger-follower actuation, while the valves themselves are made of tough, lightweight titanium, all of which reduces reciprocating mass in the top end. This is something that will surely increase resistance to harmonic valve float at high rpm. Chrome-molybdenum billet is the material of choice for the dual camshafts to complete the package of bulletproof goodies.

As for power, you can expect 201 horsepower at 14,000 rpm with 84.7 pound-feet of torque at 11,700 rpm with a top speed around 186 mph (300 km/h).

Engine: 4-stroke, In-Line Four, DOHC, 16-valve, liquid-cooled
Displacement: 998 cc
Bore x Stroke: 76.0 mm x 55.0 mm
Compression Ratio: 13.0:1
Fuel System: DFI® w/47mm Mikuni throttle bodies (4) with oval sub-throttles, two injectors per cylinder
Ignition: TCBI with digital advance and Sport-Kawasaki Traction Control (S-KTRC)
Transmission: 6-speed, return shift
Final Drive: Sealed chain

Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10RR Price

2021 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10RR
- image 1071528
2021 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10RR
- image 1071518
You can roll a nearly race-ready machine right off the showroom floor for less than $30k, so this is definitely a candidate for someone's first proper race bike.

This bike has a bunch of individual things going for it, including a limited-edition status, but it all gels at the checkout counter with a shockingly-low sticker at $28,999 MSRP. That’s right sports fans. You can roll a nearly race-ready machine right off the showroom floor for less than $30k, so this is definitely a candidate for someone’s first proper race bike.

Special Features: Pankl Pistons & Titanium Connecting Rods, Aerodynamic Downforce Generating Devices, Rideology the App Smartphone Connectivity, TFT Instrumentation
Electronic Rider Aids: Electronic Cruise Control, Kawasaki Launch Control Mode (KLCM), Kawasaki Intelligent anti-lock Brake System (KIBS), Kawasaki Sport Traction Control (S-KTRC), Kawasaki Engine Braking Control, Kawasaki Quick Shifter (KQS) (upshift & downshift), Kawasaki Corner Management Function (KCMF)
Engine Management Technology: Economical Riding Indicator, Electronic Throttle Valves, Kawasaki Engine Brake Control, KLCM (Kawasaki Launch Control Mode), KCMF (Kawasaki Cornering Management Function), Power Modes, S-KTRC (Sport-Kawasaki Traction Control), KQS (Kawasaki Quick Shifter)
Chassis Management Technology: ABS (Anti-lock Brake System), Horizontal Back-link Rear Suspension, IMU-Enhanced Chassis Orientation Awareness, KIBS (Kawasaki Intelligent anti-lock Brake System)
Warranty: 12 Month Limited Warranty (optional Kawasaki Protection Plus™ 12, 24, 36 or 48 months
Color: Lime Green
Price: $28,999

Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10RR Competitors

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- image 1071789
2021 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10RR
- image 1071517

Limited-edition racebikes may be rare, but they ain’t all that rare. Ducati steps right up to the plate with its own LE race machine in the Superleggera V4.

Ducati Superleggera V4

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- image 1071788
While Kawi prices its Ninja ZX-10RR to be accessible to the everyrider, the price tag on the Superleggera V4 places it in the hands of very few.

Both sets of bodywork here are fairly equal in design and testing, but the Duc comes off looking more the part as it carries its carbon-fiber forward airfoils on the outside, and that visibility lends it an extra aggressive mien. Bubblescreens abound, as do near-complete body coverings, but the Italians are alone in their affinity for the carbon-fiber yummygoodness. Frame, fairings, wheels, swingarm, and fenders add to the biplane wings in the fiber-and-resin department to further set the Superleggera apart.

As its name suggests, it runs a V4 engine that rocks a 998 cc displacement and benefits from Ducati’s signature Desmodromic valve timing that utterly eliminates harmonic valve float. Compression is even higher on the Duc at an even 14-to-1 ratio, but that’s not surprising, especially in light of the performance boost the Superleggera brings to the table in the way of 224 horsepower and 85.6 pound-feet of torque, or 234/87.7 with the racing kit installed.

Like Kawi, Duc brought its best electronics to bear to meet point for point with no clear advantage going to either. All that changes at the till. While Kawi prices its Ninja ZX-10RR to be accessible to the everyrider, the $100,000 price tag places the Superleggera V4 in the hands of the few.

Read our full review of the Ducati Superleggera V4.

He Said

“Daddy like. That’s right, this bike has a lot going for it across the board to make it officially qualify as a whole lotta’ bike for the buck. Of course, you’ll never do it justice on the streets, so street-legal it may be, but you’ll spend a lot of time holding her back. That said, this is an excellent machine for would-be racers looking to upgrade to something that’ll let them compete as well as dominate the streets.”

She Said

My wife and fellow motorcycle writer, Allyn Hinton, says, “The ZX-10RR – as well as its sibling, the ZX-10R – were already high-performance machines, but the 2021 update made them even moreso. A host of updates and refinements gave the ZX-10RR an edge. Updates such a high-performance Pankl engine components and lightweight pistons allowed a higher red line. Dimensional changes to the chassis improved handling performance, especially performance into and out of the curves. With better “go,” you also want better “stop” and the ZX-10RR has steel braided brake lines improve brake performance.”

Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10RR Specifications

Engine & Drivetrain:
Engine: 4-stroke, In-Line Four, DOHC, 16-valve, liquid-cooled
Displacement: 998 cc
Bore x Stroke: 76.0 mm x 55.0 mm
Compression Ratio: 13.0:1
Fuel System: DFI® w/47 mm Mikuni throttle bodies (4) with oval sub-throttles, two injectors per cylinder
Ignition: TCBI with digital advance and Sport-Kawasaki Traction Control (S-KTRC)
Transmission: 6-speed, return shift
Final Drive: Sealed chain
Chassis:
Frame Type: Aluminum perimeter
Front Suspension / Wheel Travel: 43 mm inverted Balance Free Fork, adjustable stepless rebound and compression damping, spring preload adjustability/4.7 in
Rear Suspension / Wheel Travel: Horizontal back-link with Balance Free gas-charged shock, stepless, dual-range (low-/high-speed) compression damping, stepless rebound damping, fully adjustable spring preload/4.5 in
Rake/Trail: 25°/4.1 in
Front Tire: 120/70 ZR17
Rear Tire: 190/55 ZR17
Front Brakes: Intelligent Braking (KIBS), Brembo dual semi-floating 330mm discs with dual radial mounted monobloc 4-piston calipers
Rear Brakes: KIBS-controlled, single 220mm disc with aluminum single-piston caliper
Dimensions & Capacities:
Overall Length: 82.1 in
Overall Width: 29.5 in
Overall Height: 46.7 in
Ground Clearance: 5.3 in
Seat Height: 32.9 in
Curb Weight: 456.4 lb
Fuel Capacity: 4.5 gal
Wheelbase: 57.1 in
Details:
Special Features: Pankl Pistons & Titanium Connecting Rods, Aerodynamic Downforce Generating Devices, Rideology the App Smartphone Connectivity, TFT Instrumentation
Electronic Rider Aids: Electronic Cruise Control, Kawasaki Launch Control Mode (KLCM), Kawasaki Intelligent anti-lock Brake System (KIBS), Kawasaki Sport Traction Control (S-KTRC), Kawasaki Engine Braking Control, Kawasaki Quick Shifter (KQS) (upshift & downshift), Kawasaki Corner Management Function (KCMF)
Engine Management Technology: Economical Riding Indicator, Electronic Throttle Valves, Kawasaki Engine Brake Control, KLCM (Kawasaki Launch Control Mode), KCMF (Kawasaki Cornering Management Function), Power Modes, S-KTRC (Sport-Kawasaki Traction Control), KQS (Kawasaki Quick Shifter)
Chassis Management Technology: ABS (Anti-lock Brake System), Horizontal Back-link Rear Suspension, IMU-Enhanced Chassis Orientation Awareness, KIBS (Kawasaki Intelligent anti-lock Brake System)
Warranty: 12 Month Limited Warranty (optional Kawasaki Protection Plus™ 12, 24, 36 or 48 months
Color: Lime Green
Price: $28,999

Further Reading

Kawasaki

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- image 795478

Read more Kawasaki news.

Source: New 2021 Ninja ZX-10R and Ninja ZX-10RR Product Walk Around

TJ Hinton
TJ Hinton
T.J got an early start from his father and other family members who owned and rode motorcycles, and by helping with various mechanical repairs throughout childhood. That planted a seed that grew into a well-rounded appreciation of all things mechanical, and eventually, into a formal education of same. Though primarily a Harley rider, he has an appreciation for all sorts of bikes and doesn't discriminate against any particular brand or region of origin. He currently holds an Associate's degree in applied mechanical science from his time at the M.M.I.  Read full bio
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