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Kawasaki Set to Take on BMW S1000RR With New Ninja ZX-10R

Kawasaki has begun to hype the 2011 ZX-10R through a special web site.  Held back last year (when it would normally have debuted a new model), Kawasaki has to be targeting the performance of the new class leader, the BMW S1000RR. 

The teaser video found on the “Kawasaki-Challenge” web site touts a new engine, new frame and new suspension, together with “innovative technology” from the new Ninja that should debut in the flesh a bit later this year. 

The design sketch pictured is a “world superbike racer image” of the machine.  According to Kawasaki, “the shape, material, rigidity, weight, etc. of all its parts were re-evaluated — essentially making it a completely redesigned superbike.” 

The extraordinary horsepower advantage the new BMW has achieved will likely lead competitors (including Kawasaki) to raise engine redlines in an effort to match the output of the incredible BMW.  It is likely Kawasaki will also employ traction control, selectable engine/ignition maps and, perhaps, some sophisticated form of electronic braking assist, as computer/electronic performance enhancements become more common on production sportbikes.


  1. Seb1000 says:

    Kawasaki has filed patents for true big-bang and a host of other things. Having said that, the teaser vid was most certainly a screamer engine. And what was with the ugly three spoke rims? Kawasaki has long been known for their great engines…even if they didn’t make much more power than a 3rd Gen, with chassis improvements it should be a heck of a bike. Heck the 3rd Gen destroyed pretty much everything, including the 2nd Gen Busa and the 14. 17.21 seconds.

    As for the comments about MotoGP, yeah Kawasaki is out. O-well. If they do what they are saying however, I think that the WSBK bike will be tits.
    I eagerly await this unveil. I own a 1st Gen 10R. (I also own a Honda)


    • ryan says:

      True but can it win??Kawasaki ZX-10 hasnt really done much since it has been in production unlike THE GSX-R 1000..

      • Seb1000 says:

        True. The 2nd Gen got a little done racing-wise…emphasis on little…but I sure hope so. I would be lying if I told you I didn’t care about racing. Kawasaki needs suspension and chassis improvements. Even if the bike only picks up another 5-10 horse, with those chassis improvements it should be a winner. Kawi’s dirt program is top notch, and their new 6R is a great bike. (Lascorz)

        I say 10 more whp, and a curb weight about 30/35 pounds less. (around 170 or so to the ground with a curb weight of about the 1st Gen weight[430], or a little less)

        I have also read somewhere that they will be most definitely getting the suspension upgrade…and if the BPF setup on the 6R is an indication, it will be VERY good. I have heard nothing but praise for the BPF setup on the new 6R. I would also expect more bore and less stroke to up the redline to the S1000RR level…which should certainly help get those extra ponies. I actually prefer the screamer setup as well, so I hope that they do not yet incorporate the Big Bang setup, unless it is just superb. I would hate to see Kawasaki shoot themselves in the foot and go a similar route to the new R1. Yeah the cross-plane sounds sick, but it revs SLOWLY and is a bit of a pooch. In my eyes, the R1 is a great platform for racing, and the 10R is a great platform for the street.

        I would also be surprised if they didn’t incorporate different mapping options, and some form of real traction control, not just the KIMS system that the 3rd Gen has. Fingers crossed!


    • PBSPEED says:

      Agreed, the 3rd gen did destroy everything, including the F41000R 312. I can’t imagine the new bike having less peak power but we’ll have to wait to see how it will be delivered….in the Masterbike competition it was written somewhere that the S1000RR’s power curve was identical to the ZX10’s until 9000 RPM. The mere fact that the ZX10 was mentioned in that part of the article pretty much states that the Kawi was the benchmark for power and that they used it as a basis to one up all the Japanese manufacturers. Everyone I know with a 1st gen ZX10R still raves about it to this day. I’m sure the 2011 model will not dissappoint.

  2. roadshow says:

    In motorcyclist magazine the ZX-10 wasnt even invited to the dance..When was the last time a ZX-10 WON a National Championship last century!!

  3. Punch says:

    Really get annoyed with the “why dont they build a bike for me” people. If this is not your cup of tea , dont buy it. There are bikes of every shape, make and discription. If its not EXACTLY what you want – personalise. Everyone said back in the ’90’s if they brought out a ‘new’ Z900 (Z1) that they would sell millions of they. When the Zephyr (ZR1100) was introduced back then,no one bought them. Same will happen to the CB1100. Just buy a bike and BE HAPPY!

    • Vitamin D says:

      True with today’s aftermarket scene you can make a bike anything you want it to be if you have deep enough pockets and some time. People turn sportbikes into sport tourer bikes all the time with little effort.

  4. dan says:

    Based on these comments, reasonably priced mid-sized standards like the FZ6 or Versys should fill the roads. Yet they don’t. Out here in CA it’s still sport bikes and cruisers everywhere. So that’s what we’re going to continue to get.

  5. CLB III says:

    When will we(the U.S. market)start seeing standard/general purpose[UJM?]motorcycles again; every year it’s the same “cruisers”and squid bikes.Please YAMAHA import the new FZ8 a.s.a.p.!!!!!!!!!!!

  6. dave says:

    Most people think that these bikes only get ridden in the city. I am out in the mountians of New Mexico, I have redlined in 6th gear on my 09 ZX-10 many many times (I lost count and stopped caring about counting). I can use this power on a daily basis out here, there is no one around and straight or curved roads for it. If the 2011 turns out to be good, which there is a good chance of it, I will have one when it is avaliable for purchase and will have topped it out within the week, and will continue to until I get a new bike.

  7. Donnie says:

    This should be interesting. I’m looking forward to seeing what Kawasaki cooks up with the ZX-10R. They did well with the reformulation of the Z1000, the ZX-6R, the KLR650 (minus the still-weak cam tensioner spring) and looks like the ZX-10 will be a success.

    Kawasaki still needs to bring us the DAEG. 😀

  8. Tom says:

    The only reason Kawasaki can stay in business is because:
    a) they make high-end, high-performance, high-winning, racing bikes
    b) they round that out with basic, inexpensive KLRs and 250 Ninjas.

    A bike company needs to do both to survive. If you don’t do that, then you need an unusual monopoly such Harley Davidson has, or settle for a tiny niche that doesn’t grow, such as the Royal Enfield.

    • les says:

      “a) they make high-end, high-performance, high-winning, racing bikes”

      What series are you watching?

      All kidding aside, you are right. Honda sells a lot more 50s then they do 1000s. Though they require the 1000s for the flagship showroom bikes and magazine article shootout BS. Now and then they even sell a few to squids and track day guys. Personally i don’t see the fun of riding around all day in 1st gear. I’ll stick to my 600. That said i think kawi is beating a dead horse here to come in 4th of the japanese clones. Do any of them have any imagination at all?

      • Brian says:

        I guess you have never ridden a liter bike? 1st gear all day? Hopefully that is tongue-in-cheek. I ride a 2002 R1, it weighs 383# and makes 150hp. That’s less weight than your 600 and more HP. The only time a 600 ever feels powerful is full throttle in 1st gear….the rest of time it’s a big yawnfest, and don’t say it handles better, because that is based on rider ability. Magazine racing is for squids, and those that can’t handle more than 100hp!

    • Mike says:

      Wrong…Kawasaki makes their money in heavy industry. MUCH more than they could ever hope to make in Motorcycle sales. Robots, and massive ship engines come to mind…

      • roadshow says:

        Honda XR650 $4999.00!!CBR1000RR $7999.00 VFR 800$6999.00 Who would buy a a 650r over a VFR for the same change? Kawasakis ZX-10 didnt even make it to the last Liter BIKE Motorcycle Magazine test.Honda made 5,000,000 MOTORCYCLES WORLDWIDE thats the most and Yamaha was 2nd!All 3 bikes you mentioned are boring and so is the XR650R.So junk no the VFR800 is the top 5 motorcycles ever built and its not expensive and look at the technology.Boring come on a Ninja 250 plzzzzzzz Wake me up zzzzzzzz a Singer sewing machine sounds better than that Sissy bike..

  9. Skipper says:

    Companies spend a lot of money on sport bikes. I would think money spent on a real good sport touring bike like the BMW R1200RT would be wise. Too much time and money is spent on the heavy v-twin cruisers. The United States used to lead the world in everything. Now all we can come up with in motorcycles are the outdated overpriced and overweight Harley’s. What an embarrassment. I think Kawi should improve the KLR650 and the smaller Ninja 250/600.

  10. twisty says:

    Actually, the number one selling Kawasaki is the 250 Ninja. The bikes with the biggest rebates? The ZX6R and ZX10. When will the manufacturers wake up and realize that dollar cost averaging the millions they spend in r&d with the simpler cruisers is a bad formula, sure it makes the supersport high performance hottest newest machines affordable, but it also puts bikes like the VN900 priced much higher than it should be. Stop producing top of the line “affordable” supersports for the minority and build a truely affordable, decent performing reliable, cool looking mid size bike and you won’t be able to build enough of them. Don’t believe me? Ask any dealer how many 250 ninja’s they had just sitting around on the floor in 2008.

  11. scooter_scum says:

    If you talk to many Kawi dealers, their number one bike model sold is the KLR650. If they only put 1/10th the effort to improve that engine. The bike was release back in 1987. The new / redesigned KLR has Less HP in 2009 than 1987. Why can’t they do a killer thumper like KTM 690? Give us a 70 HP fuel injected dual sport with a big tank, 8+” suspension, quality brakes and solid frame!!

    • Old Timer says:

      I heartily argee. I so wanted to like the updated KLR…but then rode one. They can nearly double the power of multi-cylinder literbikes during the past 23 years, but with the thumper they go BACKWORDS? Go figure.

  12. GP says:

    *Yawn* How about some small, exciting, simple bikes that perform well in the real world? How about a Ninja 250 or 500 motor in a street legal dirt bike chassis? How about built in “drop protection”?

  13. Pete says:

    I own a S1000RR. All I can say is good luck Kawasaki. No real world application? I ride mine almost every day, and enjoy the hell out of it. How is that not a real-world application?

  14. Denny says:

    Prestige motorcycles are useles – that is for riders, not for makers of course. Riders need good affordable roundabouts, 6 to 9 hundred cc twins, road and track, day and night. Somebody resurect TDM, please!

  15. PBSPEED says:

    It’s awesome to see that Kawasaki for one is not going to take the BMW craze for too long without some type of retaliation. I understand everyone one up here who talks about, “how much power do we need,” and it’s true. The streets especially are becoming less and less safe, and less and less fun to ride on with our crowded roads. My last bike was a Ninja 12R and before that, an ’05 Ninja 636. I’ve always been impressed with Kawasaki’s power, no matter which bike, and the have generally always made the most power in the liter bike arena. From what I’ve gathered, BMW really used the ZX 10 mill as a model to create their S1000RR. I have ridden the S1000RR and it is a very nice machine for sure, and the only word I can use to describe it’s acceleration is…..well, STUPID. With that, I grew up in a town where there is a Kawasaki dealer, and I still live only 1.5 miles from it, I’m a Kawi guy, and if there’s anyone I want to see out first to battle it up with BMW, it’s TEAM GREEN. I anxiously await the new ZX10R!

    • roadshow says:

      Wake me up when Kawasaki wins a championship..They have been failing for years now..Ask Mat Mladin

      • PBSPEED says:

        Typical response. Last I knew, we were talking about production bikes for the street so your comment has no relavance whatsoever.

        Mat who?

        • ryan says:

          Thats Mat Mladin google it he is the Kawasaki destoyer..Why isnt Kawasaki ZX-10 in the last liter bike shoot out??When was the last time the ZX-10 was motorcycle of the Year??

          • PBSPEED says:

            First, I know who Mladin is. I forgot the internet lacks the ability to showcase things like sarcasm. That’s why I spelled it out for you. And now, he’s retired so I care even less. Spies smacked him around on his own bike. You obviously are a “Gixxer” 1000 rider, how cliche’. At least Kawasaki has 2010 models in their showrooms.

            The ZX10 was in Road Racing world’s shootout, Cycle World’s Master Bike comparo, and Sport Rider’s Superbike Showdown where “we decided to exclude the Suzuki GSX-R1000 because of no existing ’10 model.” Hmmmmmm….that’s lame. Motor Cyclist’s latest comparo was all Euro, and Cycle Worlds’s latest “Ultimate Power!” comparo was not a comparison of all liter bikes, it was that of six bikes that CYCLE WORLD magazine deems to have “peculiar engineering qualities.”

            So all you got is that Kawi has no championships in recent years. Wow. It totally affects me when I’m riding. If I owned the Yamaa R1 special edition, I would totally be able to ride as Rossi does, but on the street no less.

            I’ve wasted enough time here with Gixxerboy….

          • ryan says:

            Thats why Suzuki had 50 plus superbike wins in a row..Where was Kawasaki??Losing again.I’m not a Gixxer rider i have a CBR 900rr turbo.I dont care if Suzuki has product or not.Spies is the man and the future and he wont be on a ZX-10 THEY QUIT AND FAILED in the GP WORLD.Fact is Kawasaki has been failng in racing recently and the ZX-10 wont help sales since they have to much product as it is already.

  16. sj says:

    Wow you dweebs who think we have enuff hp now really should stick to scooters. If you want to fart around smelling the roses they make vespas just for you. Leave the 200 hp monsters to those of us who love em but dont tell us we dont need em.

    • Scott in the UK says:

      200hp- what kind of weak bike is that? My superchardged nitrous RCV212 will kill it….;-)

      Sure you NEED it. 😉 However its a free world, capitalist society and the market dictates. If people will buy them why not make them?

  17. Paul says:

    I want to break 200mph on a stock bike before I get too old to care any more! This could be the one! I know, I’m a bloody heathen who is totally irresponsible! America is a huge place and you can ride for hours and see nothing but the horizon and a few of gods creatures. I am not partial to any one motorcycle. I own five. No Kawasaki’s at the moment. Please God …. Just one more thrilling machine and I will settle down and be normal! Just one more ….

  18. mugwump says:

    I think Jason covered it…

  19. mistermike says:

    Other than bragging rights which may or may not correlate to increased sales, what’s the point??? Any of the modern one liter high HP bikes in the hands of a novice is dangerous. Even a seasoned rider can get into serious trouble on public roads.

    Do we really need more HP???

    • Vitamin D says:

      Apparently BMW thought we needed more hp and all the magazines are raving about that bike. Sure it has the electronic gizmos as well but the motor is essentially what every mag brags about. The electronics are what will make all of these liter bikes “noob friendly”. After all you can’t high side if the computer won’t let you.

      • Jim says:

        BMW needed to up the HP arms race in order to be taken seriously in the liter bike class. If they had released a bike that had similar power to the existing models from the HYKS, the bike press and many observers would have written BMW off as posers.

        • Tim C says:

          Yep, German engineers have always been ENGINEers first, really. Major point of pride and BMW has admittedly always been pretty good in this area, other than when they decided not to (e.g. insipid eta-series car motors, I think they were called).

  20. Jason says:

    Wee, more overpriced, expensive motorcycles with no real world application. Meanwhile the field of 500cc bikes is nothing short of comedy.

    Couldn’t. Care. Less.

    • Vitamin D says:

      Until people start buying substantial amounts of the gladius, kawasaki 250, 500 and 650 and fazers, the manufactures won’t bother with it. Just the way it’s going to be until more interest is shown in those markets. They will build what sells and only what sells.

  21. Stinky says:

    More power, more rigidity, more computers. How about, more weight, more complexity,more price? I’ve ridden them, they’re okay but unless you live next door to a racetrack with a 2 mile long straight it’s pretty frustrating only being able to cane it in 1st or 2nd gear and get whiplash looking for cops and cellphoners. I can keep most in sight with a hundred horses until the straights come. I’ll concede the straights.

  22. Farid says:

    Go 4 it, Kawasaki!

  23. Satoru says:

    Well we haven’t seen “direct fuel injection” in bikes yet. Already available in cars. How about small displacement direct injection engine with turbo? Maybe some of us are waiting for that technology to trickle down to bikes as well. Will Kawasaki go with the monocoque frame like ZX-12R and ZX-14?

  24. old timer says:

    For more than 20 years we’ve been hearing comments like “How much further can they go with superbike power?” Four or five years ago it seemed to me that manufacturers had reached the summit of power levels because any more was simply unusable. Yet technology marches on, and Dynamic Traction Control, Race ABS, etc have re-started the race for more horsepower….and it will never stop as long as there are customers willing to purchase these “latest and greatest” machines.

  25. Max says:

    Well, the American mags loved the current ZX-10R – it was ranked the top liter-sportbike by MotorCyclist and Sport Rider – but it has sat on U.S. showroom floors. Hell, in the Chicago area you can get a brand new ZX-10R for $7999. Insane. Kawasaki has been putting out such good product over the past few years (Concours 14 considered Europe’s favored sport tourer, ZX-6R the best 600, Ninja 250 best starter bike, etc.) that I wouldn’t put it past them to knock this one out of the park.

  26. Jaybond says:

    The chassis side has to be re-designed & upgraded.The radical flat in-line 4 engine patent could make it into production. Although I’m not sure about the complex big bang engine mechanisms, especially the electric motor needs to do some heavy duty job. How reliable is it for street bike? Plus the challenge of getting the big bang engine to the same output as a screamer engine, with the BMW S1000RR now in its sights.It will be a blast if Kawasaki could achieved those.

  27. austinZZR 1200 says:

    Yes, this competition is a good thing, I just hope these designs trickle down and create a market for smaller-displacement (ie more-affordable, sub-supersport bikes. Really, how big is the the superbike market? What can you do w/ 200hp? With the average supersport costing 9k+, and liter bikes that need fuel mapping settings just to remain ridable… Show me a 400cc bike that makes 80-90 hp and I’ll buy it.

    • Justin says:

      How did we come to accept that this is a pipe dream? Because it sounds like a great idea to me.

      I see so many people on goofy sporty-scooters and klunky 250 Ninjas; I bet they’d rather have a real motorcycle. I think we’re ready for small-bore bikes again in America.

      But if they give American buyers a great 400cc sportbike then they’ll realize that 600cc is overkill, and 1000cc is just for crazy people.

    • kpaul says:

      Great idea! austin. The recently redesigned Ninja 250 has been a great success, especially with new riders and women, why not?

  28. Fraga says:

    The sound the engine is putting out makes it sound like it has a regular firing order.
    A big-bang engine would sound different, no?

    Would be great, though.

  29. pef684 says:

    Looks like they are giving it a little bit of the fairing back. I for one like full fairing bikes and lately, all of the sport bikes have been losing bits and pieces of fairings. The front end reminds me a gsxr though! lol

  30. laubinero says:

    rtue yamaha never said it was a big bang motor..not do they employ one in moto gp..kawi has no moto gp program anymore….big bang engines were a 2 stroke era product…itd be sweet if kawi put a 2 stoke in it!…itll never happen though…well get another high hp bike with electronic controls to make it safe

  31. agent55 says:

    reading about some recent patents Kawi filled, a lot of speculation for the new bike points towards a possible big-bang firing order with a compact electric motor pulling double duty as an alternator and aid to turning the crankshaft, allowing the bike to idle at low rpm. the reason there haven’t been big-bang streetbikes (Yam’s R1 isn’t a true big-bang design) previously, is that the long duration between combustion requires relatively high rpm’s just to stay running. exciting if it’s true! Kawi needs a winner, and not having to worry about motoGP will hopefully have them finding success in wsbk over the next few years… they need it, bad

  32. kpaul says:

    From an engineer’s point of view, I love to see the technology advancement that intense competition produces. However, as a weekend-warrior sport bike rider, I wonder how much power is enough. Having just received a speeding ticket on my “little” ZX-6R for 75 mph in a 40 mph zone with recommended speed of only 25 mph (curve), I just can imagine what kind of trouble a bike like the ZX-10 could get get you into. “Sir can you step off the bike and put your hands behind your back for the handcuffs”. (trooper voice). 🙂