Another early salvo in the 2013 new-model wars—Kawasaki announced the return of its ZX-10R. It’s already a formidable opponent of other manufacturer’s open-class sportbikes, with colossal horsepower driving under 440 pounds of (claimed wet) mass, so don’t expect a major update. Instead, it gets a new steering damper. Maybe not the most exciting update, but it is a very interesting steering damper you should read about.
Developed in conjunction with Öhlins, this damper isn’t the simple set-and-forget kind of thing you might expect as OEM equipment. It’s controlled by a dedicated ECU under the plastic tank cover, where it reads acceleration, deceleration and even rear wheel-spin data to calculate the ideal amount of damping force. That means light damping at low speeds, and stronger forces when you really need it, aided by Öhlins’ distinctive twin-tube design for optimum performance. Combined with the optional ABS and standard S-KTRC traction-control and on-the-fly mapping adjustability, it should add another level of safety and performance for Kawasaki open-class sportbike fans. For 2013, the price gets a $300 bump, to $14,299 ($15,299 for ABS), and two color choices will be available, including Lime Green/Metallic Spark Black and Pearl Flat White/Metallic Spark Black (both pictured).
So how about something for those of us who believe a middlewight sportbike is the best way to get around a racetrack? Kawasaki’s press material included word that the KLR650, KLX250S and Ninja 650 (and 650 ABS) are returning for 2013 unchanged, but what about the ZX-6R? I may or may not have heard a little fly on the wall buzzing about a revamped ZX-6R for 2013, and to expect something remarkable and noteworthy. That’s good news—we found Kawi’s ZX-6R to be the best of the last crop of middleweight sportbikes and are eager to see how it’s improved.