The economy is still suffering from its post-apocalypse hangover and bike sales numbers are depressingly low, but you wouldn’t know it from the wave of new models 2010 has in store. Kawasaki Heavy Industries announced four new or heavily revised street models-the Concours 14, Z1000, ZX-10R and Versys-and some new off-road offerings in a new KLX110 and KLX110L.
The biggest news is the Z1000, which is really all new, not just a heavy upgrade like the 2007 Z1000. We don’t have a lot of details, but it does have an aluminum frame, an “all-new” 1043cc engine that at least in a superficial visual comparison between the old Z1000, the new Z1000 and the ZX-10R really does look different. It also has a “horizontal rear suspension”-specifics withheld-radial-mount. four-piston front brake calipers, inverted fork, and very abbreviated bodywork that wouldn’t look out of place on Ducati’s new Streetfighter. The photo also shows an aluminum swingarm with eccentric chain adjusters and cool polished rims. Overall, the bike looks very compact, and if the motor only offers a 10-percent bump in power over the 2009 model, you can expect somewhere around 120 hp coming out of that fat back tire, and it could lose as much as 40 pounds thanks to the lighter frame and new mill. Kawasaki also mentions a cold-air intake: ram air? That could mean even more power, which could put it in the same ballpark as Ducati’s Streetfighter. If Aprilia releases a V-Four-powered Tuono, 2010 could be a good year for streetfightering, especially if the Z1000’s price tag stays near the 2009 model’s $8899 MSRP.
Fans of the 1000cc Ninja will be happy to know that even though the 2010 ZX-10R is much the same as last year, it gets some significant upgrades. An improved transmission-similar to the smooth-shifting unit we liked in the ZX-6R-for easier, more-precise shifting. It also gets an upgraded Ohlins steering damper and “sharper” bodywork. Not that there was anything wrong with the old bodywork, mind you. There are other cosmetic touches, including a new muffler and inner fairing panels.
For fast and comfortable, the super-sport-tourer Concours 14 is also revamped for oh-10. The big change is new electronics, with an upgraded KACT-II “selectable” anti-lock braking system that “complements the rider’s brake inputs with supplementary force enhancements for improved braking performance on a wide variety of riding surfaces.” Sounds reminiscent of BMW’s servo-assisted system, but it’s also supplemented by Kawasaki Traction Control (KTRC). Also reminiscent of BMW is a new package of amenities including heated grips and a multi-function trip computer. Unlike BMW, the package comes standard with the bike. That’s right, standard. After all, why wouldn’t you want that stuff?
In addition, there is new bodywork, tank-bag hooks (great idea!), new Bridgestone BT-021 tires, revised suspension settings, and something called “fuel economy assistance mode” that we assume doesn’t involve a pair of comfortable shoes and an Amtrak pass. We loved the 2008 Concours 14: this should sweeten the pot.
For lower-budget travelling, the Versys gets some changes to make it more practical and fun to ride. There’s new bodywork that makes the Versys look more…um…well, nobody buys the Versys for its looks, right? More importantly, it gets a revised, adjustable windscreen, new rubber engine mounts and footpegs aimed at reducing vibration, new passenger grabrails and seat, and new tie-down hooks for luggage.
Finally, there’s something for your Mini-Me. Kawasaki’s KLX110 mini-moto gets some heavy revisions, including a more powerful engine, electric start and new four-speed gearbox (the old bike was a three-speed). It’s supplemented by the new KLX110L, with a higher seat, longer-travel suspension and a manual clutch instead of the KLX110’s centrifugal model. We’ll post more info about all the new Kawis as it comes in.
MD Readers Respond:
- Just when I thought the old Z1000 couldn’t get any uglier! Wow. The
new 2010 front sides look like a KLR. What is it that the Japanese
just totally miss when it comes to building a bike with flowing, eye
pleasing lines? I don’t get it. I did have a 2002 green ZRX at one
time – an exception in my opinion. But what do I know, I now ride a
XB12R Buell. Joe