2011 Kawasaki ZX-10R Full details and pictures
2011 Kawasaki ZX-10R. – In-depth look at Kawasaki’s new 200 horsepower supersport rocket.
2011 Kawasaki ZX-10R – Lean Mean and Green
After years of being also-rans in World Superbike, Kawasaki stated their intentions with the new 2011 ZX-10R. They wanted a bike that could return them to the glory days of the nineties, and place them back at the top of the winners list and the performance charts. Something that could answer the horsepower challenge from BMW and the razor sharp handling of the Aprilia RSV4 that has caught the Japanese factories napping. MotoGP star Chris Vermeulen was signed on with the lure of riding this new machine.
The 2011 Kawasaki ZX-10R has been one of the most hyped and speculated pre-launch models unveiled this year. Starting with a teaser website, and then gradually releasing information about the 2011 race bike which will hopefully restore Kawasaki’s racetrack success, little in the way of hard information was released. Rumours of a cross plane crank, a hybrid electric motor in the cases, and a 200 plus horsepower output began to circulate.
Kawasaki have unveiled the 2011 ZX-10R at the recent Cologne motorcycle show, and with it, full details and specs of the road bike. The first thing is, yes, they are quoting 200 horsepower. 207 horsepower actually, but that is a “with ram air” figure at presumably a very high speed. The standard power output quoted is 147.1kw, or 197hp. And no, there is no electric motor, or “big bang” style engine in the 2011 ZX-10R. What there is, is more of everything, and a host of electronic enhancements. Let’s take a look at what’s new in the 2011 ZX-10R.
- 10 kgs lighter – 198kg.
- 200 plus horsepower.
- Conventional crank inline-4
- New compact engine with cassette style gearbox.
- Bigger cams, valves, ports, throttle bodies.
- Race style titanium headers.
- Predictive Traction Control.
- Big piston forks, horizontal rear shock.
- ABS optional, linked to ECU.
- Race style dash.
The 2011 ZX-10 motor retains the normal inline-4 crank and firing order with bore and stroke even remaining the same at 76mm x 55mm. The BMW S1000R uses a more radical short stroke 80mm x 49.7mm configuration to get big revs, and good cylinder head flow. It was expected Kawasaki may have gone a similar route, however the motor has had an extensive work over, and the specs read more like a race motor than ever before.
The actual physical dimensions and layout of the engine have changed for weight distribution purposes, not engine performance. The crankshaft sits higher, as does the gearbox input shaft. A big change is to a “cassette” style transmission, which means the entire gear-set can be removed, in fact without even dropping the oil. This hopefully, is not a feature the average road user will need to take advantage of, but would make changing race track gearbox sets quicker.
The top case and cylinder are one piece, as before, but this year the bores are moved forward 2mm relative to the crank, Kawasaki say this lowers piston load, and enables the use of lighter slugs. Utilising the old race engine builders trick of torque boring and honing enables less ring tension to be used, which lessens drag. This is a process where a dummy “head” is bolted to the block, which results in some slight distortion, and then bored that way, finishing up with a more “round” bore than the normal method.
Continuing in the” hot rod” engine build, Kawasaki have upped the valve sizes by 1mm, and the cam lift by over half a mm as well. The ports are “wider” and are polished. The exhaust port has been completely redesigned. Bigger cams need bigger tappets, these are 2.5mm bigger. Cams are no longer cast iron, but lighter and harder chrome moly. Moving down the engine, the pistons now look pretty much like ashtrays, the skirts are now only a tiny 16.5mm high, down by 3.5mm from last year. Rings have been narrowed at 1.2mm compared to 2009’s 1.5mm.
The press release doesn’t fully explain all the mods, but con rods are now “stronger” and the crankshaft is “harder” according to the Big K. All this wouldn’t be any good if you can’t get the air in and the gas out, so a complete redesign was in order here. The ram air mouth is bigger and more central, to cram more air in. The airbox is now bigger, and the fuel injection features big 47mm throttle bodies. BMW’s 1000 by comparison has the biggest of the 1000s at 48mm.
The new titanium exhaust headers are hydro formed for smoothness and shape, and Kawasaki are stating the header length and diameter is the same as their race system. A muffler and link pipe replacement should be all most performance modifiers will need. Gear ratios, both primary drive (crank to clutch) , gearbox and final drive (sprockets) are changed as well.
All of these things are certainly going to add up to more power over the current model, exactly how much remains to be seen, Kawasaki say 200 horses at 13,000 revs, with another 7 if you add the ram air effect at high speed. The specs do read like a concerted effort to bring the motor up to race bike level, certainly as current technology allows. But it is no radical redesign or breakthrough of engine configuration as some were hoping. The dynos, both workshop, and bitumen, will tell the real story when the bike debuts.
After giving the motor a complete update, the chassis has also copped a total redesign. Starting with a new frame and swing-arm, Kawasaki reduced the rake and trail and moved the heavy items closer to the centre of gravity. Keeping all the weight centralised makes for easier changes of direction (all directions) – generally speaking. Rake and trail have been reduced, in combination with a shorter swing-arm as well, so on paper the 2011 will be one sharp weapon indeed. Let’s hope it’s not too sharp for the road.
Forks are now Showa “big piston” units, and the rear shock is relocated to a horizontal position above the front of the swing-arm. All usual adjustments are available. The biggest feature handling wise must be the quoted 10kg weight drop (on the non ABS model) with a curb 198kg quoted. Kawasaki go to great length to explain all the various effects the new lighter forks, better damping, rigidity, mid suspension stroke control and so on will produce, but let’s summarise. This new model will handle better. Certainly on the racetrack it will, which is where Kawi say they aimed the bike at. How it comes together on our sometimes rough Australian roads remains to be seen. Luckily an Ohlins steering damper is now standard.
Ergo-wise, the seat height is 17mm lower, pegs 5mm lower and forward, and less angle on the bars. The foot-pegs are adjustable, and can be lowered a further 15mm, which will be handy if you don’t have pocket knives for legs. It goes, it handles, obviously it needs to stop. 310mm discs, with ally carriers, and Tokico radial mount calipers are activated with a radial pump master cylinder.
Interestingly, the press release mentions the back torque limiter is “easily adjustable”, although how isn’t mentioned. In case you aren’t right up to speed on all things mechanical, the clutch mechanism helps by lessening the engine braking effect when hard on the brakes and down-shifting. A high compression engine can easily induce rear wheel chatter without such a device. Rear wheel has a 220mm disc and a weeny single piston caliper.
Electrikery: ZX-10R Electronics.
Increasingly a part of modern performance bikes, the 2011 Kawasaki ZX-10R has a feast of electronic goodness. For 2011 the big Ninja will have predictive traction control, (optional) anti lock braking system, and the now standard multiple power modes governed by the ECU.
Kawasaki say this is the first production bike to feature communication between the ABS and the ECU. The brake system looks at things like throttle position, engine speed, clutch actuation and gear position as well as wheel speed. Power modes are simple. Full – self explanatory – Low, which is about 60% of full – and Middle – which is halfway between those 2, but dependent on how much throttle is open. Pretty easy really. Less easy to explain quickly, is the S-KTRC (Sport-Kawasaki TRaction Control), Kawasaki’s predictive race-type traction control.
There isn’t room here to go right into the full technical details of how this works, but a simplification would be the ECU looks at a number of parameters like front and rear wheel speed (slippage), rpm, throttle position and acceleration and makes predictions about what might be about to happen. That way an over-reaction doesn’t occur that might otherwise with reactive systems.
The system is also able to distinguish between torque wheelies -which are smooth -and sudden wheelies. Torque wheelies are allowed as long as acceptable acceleration is maintained. Sudden wheelies trigger system intervention. Activation of the system is shown on the dash as it occurs.
The new dash is a flash looking piece that features a bar graph type tacho which sweeps left to right as revs rise, and flash when the shift rpm is reached.
The speedo can be switched to a gear position indicator only when put in “Race” mode. The display also features a modern day version of granddads “economy” vacuum gauge, an “Economical Riding Indicator” which helps you “ride in a gentle manner”: according to Kawasaki “less than 6,000 rpm, less than 30% throttle, under 160 km/h”. That’ll come in handy, being reminded not to ride constantly over 160km/h. A light sensor automatically adjusts the display brightness.
The bodywork is all new for 2011, after the previous model divided opinions. The fairing is shorter, with a sharper appearance, and a wider set pair of headlights. The reshaped fuel tank holds 17 litres. Other small niceties are the easily removable rear guard extension, twin bulb LED flashers in the mirrors and a smaller lighter muffler.
Kawasaki appear to have done what they set out to do. More “race bike” than “street bike” the 2011 ZX-10R has been thoroughly gone over, everything is either lighter, or better. As an added bounus, this is one good looking sportsbike. There is nothing really ground-breaking in the engine and chassis, but it is a substantial move forward in specification. It’s much closer to a race bike than a street bike as a total package.
2011 will be an interesting year in World Superbike racing. Kawasaki will be hoping this is the bike that can let the good times roll again. Chris Vermeulen will hoping so as well, along with Kawasaki fans the world over.
We will find out sometime in the first quarter of 2011, when the 2011 ZX-10R is released in Australia, with prices and specifications to be confirmed at that time. Scroll down for a Kawasaki video of the ZX-10R, and a link to a full image gallery.
Kawasaki Promo Video – Beware the Beast
Click image below to see a image gallery of larger size pictures of the 2011 ZX-10R
2011 Kawasaki ZX10R Specifications