Already featuring one of the best motors in the open class, the 2009 Kawasaki ZX-10R is about to be replaced by a 2010 model that will likely employ the new “big piston” fork found on the 2009 ZX-6R, along with a substantial weight reduction.
When we tested the all-new 2008 ZX-10R in Qatar, we were extremely impressed. The bike (essentially unchanged for 2009) is a hard act to follow, and is still a contender for open class shootout wins. Although Kawasaki implemented a form of “traction control” that they did not want journalists to refer to as “traction control”, expect the new bike to have a refined, and more effective traction control system. Kawasaki could also apply an adjustable (three stages, for instance) ECU similar to what has been found on production Suzukis.
MD Readers Respond:
- I thought I’d weigh in on the new rumors about Team Green’s new open class superbike platform.
I agree with comments posted by Claudio, and my fascination with K is very deep and emotional. I’ve owned many Ninja’s (’85 900R, ’85 600R, ’88 ZX-10, ’90 ZX-7,’93 ZX-11D and ’00 ZX-12R) and a couple of other green streetbikes and I’m a huge Kawasaki fan. Since the new 10Rs have been around I’ve been waiting for a maximum Ninja that also looked decent; so far none has materialized. First a really wild ride with twitchy manners and power; then a slightly neutered revision that was better mannered but missing a little engine excitement. Then, horror of horrors, the newest 10R which is an excellent bike from the saddle point of view, but horribly disfigured – essentially borrowing from the funky, slab-nosed lines of a KTM Superbike; a machine that carves its niche and following due to top-shelf componentry, but certainly not looks. I believe I read about the latest 10R incarnation that Kawasaki had turned a former Subaru automotive designer loose on the 10R project. Doubtless, this man could be successfully tasked with effecting a much-needed facelift of a B9 Tribeca SUV, but ought to be hastily relieved of any further drafting duties which have so adversely altered the looks of Kawasaki’s frontline sportbikes. Worse yet, the formerly very handsome ZX-6R followed the same terrible transformation formula, leaving the lightweight Ninja 250R their only really nice looking bike. Kudos are in order for bringing the Ninja 650R, Versys and Er6N to the market, though those bikes stand their ground owing to excellent value and all-round performance – not what I’m talking about here.
I’ve taken time to write Kawasaki on several occasions over the last decade. I really want a sharp-handling, high-end, beautiful open-classer, but can’t stomach their current trend. Out of brand loyalty, I have refrained from buying the better looking GSX-R1000, R-1 or CBR1000RR (the latter gets my vote for best looking Japanese sportbike and I actually like the looks of the stock GP-style exhaust; the 6R and 10R counterparts are ghastly). As I keep saving my dough for the next winsome K bike I am getting close to a Ducati 1198 purchase – now there’s a looker. The car market has gone through a renaissance where several revered designs from the past have been reborn (VW Beetle; Nissan 350Z, Dodge Challenger, Ford Mustang and Chevy Camaro), On two wheels, Triumph has done a decent job with its retro, aircooled twins. I challenge Kawasaki to borrow heavily from its past and be the first manufacturer to do a modern sportbike with retro looks, a la H2R racer and the like.
I may be hopelessly mired in the past, but I shriek in horror when I have to leaf past a 40-page insert in my favorite glossy mag, featuring moto-gear designed for (and by?) hip-hoppers. Baggy, lowrider jeans with armored inserts for motorcycle crash protection, clunky commando-inspired boots with chrome metal studs??? Along those lines, where did brand K get the idea that a rider, wielding around $13k in cash, would get all excited by purchasing the esthetically marginal ZX-14 if only it were draped in a tribal art swirl paintjob??? Their marketing research may show them that it is where the money is, but certainly not mine.
Seriously, Kawasaki: Stevie Wonder is a musical genius, not a painter. You need to get those white stick brandishing designers off to the team that will be tasked with the new dolphin nose for your bullet trains. We want to see some real motorcycles, please!
And……….., make mine lime green. Bo
- You forgot to mention that it is one of the ugliest bikes ever. It’s difficult to appreciate the engine and ohlins while wrapped up in that bodywork. To make matters worse, they gave the 600 the same treatment. I’m not sure about sales figures, but compared to its competition it is the model I see the least on the street. Claudio