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Kawasaki Replacing ZX-10R Engines?

We may never know, officially, why Kawasaki has put a “technical hold” on the sale of 2011 ZX-10Rs, and is even willing to buy back those few units already sold, but Internet chatter may be shedding some light on things.  It appears Kawasaki has agreed to replace the engine in one existing customer’s bike, and some knowledgeable engine builders are speculating that a piston ring design in the new ZX-10R engine could pose some long-term reliability issues, including excessive oil consumption. 

Whatever the problem is, I think we have to give Kawasaki credit for trying to make things right before a large number of ZX-10Rs are in consumers’ garages.

42 Comments

  1. MN246 says:

    Kawasaki has always built the best motors of any of the Japanese manufacturers. I trust their decision to recall the bikes whatever the reason. I’m looking forward to buying a new ZX-10R in Feb. I’ll probably opt for a new 08′ or 09′ for the huge discount I’ll receive. Even the older model is a beast and I can’t wait to get acquainted with what I know will be an awesome Kawasaki motor.

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  2. Jack Shuffstall says:

    It’s to bad Kawa.wouldn’t address the oil consumption problem with the 08 KLR’s.I have one of the 500 mile/quart models.Didn’t want to address it with me.

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  3. K.L. Trout says:

    The Feds fined Toyota to a tune of $30 mil for not responding promptly and being forthcoming with the safety issues with their cars over the past few years. I’d say there is good reason why Kawasaki, along with any other motor-vehicle company, are a little wary of giving the governments any incentives of launching any investigations, warranted or not.

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  4. Alan Lang says:

    They should have recalled the post-’07 KLRs for excessive oil consumption, but I guess that too many have been sold to interest the big “K” in making it right.

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  5. Good biz Kawasaki! says:

    Kawasaki is really impressing me with there rapid and thorough response to this issue!

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  6. Dave Sumner says:

    Good for Kawasaki. Honda should have done this with the early V-4′s.

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    • Ed says:

      Honda knew they were putting out junk at the time. A Honda rep. at Laguna Seca told me “We never should have put those bikes out with bad camshafts”. No S##t! That 750 Interceptor was my LAST HONDA!
      Maybe I’ll buy a Kawa, they at least take care of their customers!

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      • RedDog says:

        That’s too bad. I bought an 86 VFR750 and had 75 000 trouble free kilometers on it before it even need clutch plates. The new owner has well over 150 000 km on it as well. No problems.

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  7. Jeremy Bart says:

    I think it’s irresponsible for Motorcycledaily.com to ‘report’ something like this on such a weak source. Internet chatter is not a credible source. I expect more from “Journalist”.

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    • MikeD says:

      Oh get off Motorcycle Daily’s back… thanks to Internet Chatter is that we know so much about the OEMs DIRTY LAUNDRY that sometimes they try to SHOVE ON US and make us WASH IT for them to then copy the “consumers solution” and claim they have fixed a problem that they said up to the last minute it never ever existed.

      Case in Point: SEA-DOO and their Supercharger “ceramic washers”(not bike related but it made my point)…the buying public replaced it with hardened steel ones and no more problems, then SEAPOO came out with it claiming it their fix…

      Wake up and smell the Manure scented Roses…it ain’t pretty but it’s real.

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  8. Danny says:

    From the mouth of a semi-pro Kawasaki road racer, about twelve, give or take a couple, made it into private hands, and as someone has already posted all but maybe one of these was to a racing team. Perhaps the sites staff can find a way to get the real number if this isn‘t correct.

    And yes as some else posted, this is a disaster for everyone who planed on racing one. My coworker’s friend was not real high on the delivery priority list to begin with and is now planning on racing his ‘09 ZX-10 another season. He is hoping he can get his deposit back so the money is not tied up in a bike he doesn‘t know when he will get and will have to be prepped when he does.

    Even with the delay he is not nearly as upset as some street riders who can’t ride it until April anyway. Customers in warmer climates may have a bigger reason to gripe.

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  9. Greg G. says:

    Wonder if the rings where like the 2008 KLR650 had that caused them to need replacement? My dealer says that the 2011 ZX10 has a January release date. So, who has been able to get one before now? Factory supported teams? Press? Nobody?
    I’d bet that only a few have been release to factory “supported” teams. In which case, they won’t let them have them back because they need them for testing in January and February. If they’d sold many, I doubt the buy back would occur.

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  10. Dave says:

    .I think Kawasaki is doing the right thing. Most companies just deny it when they have a p2oblem as long as they can. Harley Davidson twin cams come to mind

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  11. Your right Tom I don’t want some kid whose only experiance is changing the oil on his XR 100 tearing in to my new bike. You can learn with a proper mechanic watching over you but will they. Not on My bike will you.

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  12. Doc says:

    Like most cell phone conversations, a whole lot of fluff and not much substance. Does it really matter what the problem is if it’s taken care of properly? It could be something that no one has even thought of. Given time, the the true reason will come out. Now you can all go back to cackling like a bunch of chickens.

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  13. Mr. Clean says:

    I really like this website and appreciate the news found here! What I find puzzling is the comments from the readers. It seems some of you would never be happy? Kawasaki is fixing the problem their way and that is their perogative. Perhaps you would like them to consult some of the chuckle heads here, which would most likely end in failure.

    Go team Green

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  14. Jeremy in TX says:

    I am certainly interested to know what the problem is just out of curiosity. A recall of this magnitude would indicate that either a) rider safety is compromised, or b) the problem is grave enough to reliability/durability that the Kawasaki brand would be diminished or compromised significantly and forecasted warranty/recall repairs were considerable.

    Regardless, props to Kawasaki for going to such lengths to make it right. Many manufacturers are content to take their chances and do bare-minimum damage control after tens of thousands of customers have been subjected to an issue. I think the move speaks to the integrity of Kawasaki as a company contrary to what some others have suggested here.

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  15. Bob says:

    Brad if you’re right, that is a huge fix requiring new forgings and castings or machine work for the crank, conrods and pistons. It might even be to weak of a pump which would need a new design or different ratio drive gears. But it could also be as simple as replacing too weak of a pressure relief valve. Could be anything really.

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  16. Norm G. says:

    again, welcome to the ever fragile and niche business that is motorcycling.

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  17. Brad says:

    The problem is bigger than some bad piston rings. Kawasaki has enough faith in their dealer network to have something like that taken care of at the dealer level. What I understand is the problem comes from lack of proper lubrication at extream lean angles causing failure of the piston rings. This has been a result of more motor testing in the lab than on the track is my guess. The motors will need extensive reworking and or possible machine work/replacement to correct this problem, this is why they are not fixing this problem at the dealer level. Kawasaki does not know what will be the final fix for this problem, until they do they are not talking.

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    • Old town hick says:

      “Internet chatter” at its finest.

      Got any sources you wish to name for this…information?

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      • Tim says:

        In defence of “internet chatter”:
        for every engineer and motorcycle lover at Kawasaki there are ten bottom line-driven execs, who will screw you behind your back and tell you the recall was to replace the blinker fluids. It is the “chatter” that puts the fear of lawsuits into the big corporations and forces them to take quick care of their faulty products.

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    • Matt says:

      do you ride motorcycles??
      when leaned over the oil is getting drawn toward the bottom of the engine by centrifugal force. if there is any lack of lube it would be under a long period of heavy breaking/stoppies or long wheelies.

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  18. Paso100 says:

    I do not give Kawasaki credit for being secretive about the reason for such a widespread recall. The only thing this is doing is promoting speculation. How confident are prospective buyers going to be when they don’t even know WHY their bike is being recalled? What a disappointment for fans, considering the rave reviews of the new Ninja. Maybe it should be renamed the “Non-ja” for now.

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    • jimbo says:

      just being devil’s advocate for KZ: let’s suppose they have some info that makes them suspect a serious problem, but the issue is not yet exactly known or defined. So really, they might only be cautious at this point and be unable to report more fully.

      But I sympathize and fully understand your sentiment. Absolutely not disagreeing just for the sake of disagreeing.

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    • Tom Shields says:

      The same rumor was going around about ZX-12Rs when they were introduced in 2000. Except it was wheelies causing the problem. That was BS, too.

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  19. PBSPEED says:

    Once anything that was assembled in Japan gets touched by American hands, it’s usually down hill from there…..

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  20. Mondo Endo says:

    Shades of Aprilla RSV4

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  21. Old town hick says:

    Internet chatter may be shedding some light??

    This is a bit like reporting that “my cousin’s brother-in-law heard a rumor…”.

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  22. Tomm says:

    I think I’d wait a year on the ZX-10R and I’d have to agree with the other Tom. I wouldn’t have a dealer mechanic touch my bike.

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  23. Harry 'O says:

    Cheers to Kawasaki for stepping up to the plate and doing the right thing; no matter what the issue may be.

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  24. Joey Wilson says:

    Kawi has gone on to recall unsold bikes at dealerships back to KMC warehouses, AND to buy back all previously sold 10′s, to be replaced with a brand new one to each of those customers as the campaign finishes. What I’m wondering: IF you bought one with a loan from Kawi’s finance arm or had other financing, are they paying off your loan contract as well, or are you making payments anyway until your replacement comes home?

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  25. Honker says:

    Steve, please feel free to never visit this site again. It is obviously intellectually beneath you, as you’re superior knowledge of the motorcycle world suggest.

    On the story, Kawasaki seems to be doing its best to get ahead of whatever the problem is, and it must be a pretty big one. I do not remember a bike company every taking the bike back from owners for a full refund, for a recall.
    Patch, repair and cover up are the first three rules of vehicle recalls, so (again) this must be a big one.

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  26. Steve says:

    If there was a problem with the piston rings, each dealer would be able to perform the replacement. Kawasaki is moving all the bikes back to the distributors for whatever repair is needed. This is pretty lame that a “news” site would report (i.e. repeat) some internet forum gossip.

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    • MGNorge says:

      No harm in speculating is there? People want to know even if initial talk proves incorrect. But if not excessive oil consumption, then what? Frames cracking, transmissions locking up? It doesn’t much matter and it would appear that Kawasaki feels it’s serious enough to handle it the way they are. They may want to keep it out of the dealer’s hands in order to keep the ripple as low as they can? Thanks MC Daily.

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    • Tom Shields says:

      You’d have DEALER MECHANICS replace the rings on brand-new engines??

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  27. John A. Kuzmenko says:

    Kawasaki lets the good times roll.

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