Cape Town - At first glance the 2016 Kawasaki ZX-10R doesn’t look very much different from its predecessor, but a closer look reveals a huge number of detail changes, many of them forced on Kawasaki by circumstances beyond its control.
For 2016 and beyond, the FIM has radically tightened the rules for the production-based World Superbike series. The machines must now be raced with standard production cylinder heads, valves, piston and crankshafts, and their electronic ABS and traction control systems have to be the same as the street-bikes.
The idea (a laudable one, it must be said) was to make World Superbike racing less astronomically costly - but it has had exactly the opposite effect.
The 2016 production ZX-10R now comes with CNC-machined racing pistons, polished ports, titanium valves, a cassette gearbox that can be replaced without draining the oil, adjustments on both steering head and swing-arm pivot – and an updated version of the electronics package that Jonathan Rea and Tom Sykes used to score a dominant 1-2 in the 2015 World Superbike Championship.
Its six-axis Bosch inertia measurement unit has two gyros and three accelerometers to measure orientation, direction and speed, as well as their rate of change - and then uses Kawasaki’s own race-bike software to calculate the sixth variable - yaw - from pitch and roll data.
Then there’s intelligent braking - the first on a street-bike, according to Kawasaki - which monitors front and rear wheel speed, throttle and gear position, and front calliper pressure to give you the ideal front brake hydraulic pressure. Finally, the cornering management function helps you hold your line through a corner by automatically co-ordinating traction control and braking control to keep the bike going in the direction the front wheel is pointed.
It also has a fly-by-wire throttle with traction control and three drive modes. Full gives you exactly what it says on the tin – 154.5kW and 115.5Nm - while Low is restricted to about 60 percent of maximum power, with suitably gentle responses for riding in tricky conditions. Middle, however, gives you the same output as Low until you hit half throttle, then rapidly ramps up to Full Tilt Boogie. Sounds like a recipe for a Fresh Underwear Moment.
All of which has pushed the price of the 2016 ZX-10R up by more than R100 000 to an eye-watering R290 000 – but what you are getting is the closest thing to a World Superbike racer yet offered by Kawasaki to the public, which also justifies the title for the promo video below – “Get Closer”.
The ZX-10R in the pictures was the first 2016 model to reach the Western Cape, but no test rides were possible because it was already sold by the time it got here.
Engine: 998cc liquid-cooled four.
Bore x stroke: 76 x 55mm.
Compression ratio: 13.0:1.
Valvegear: DOHC with four titanium head valves per cylinder.
Power: 154.4kW at 13 000rpm.
Torque: 113.5Nm at 11 500rpm.
Induction: Digital electronic fuel-injection with four 47mm Keihin throttle bodies.
Ignition: Electronic with digital advance and traction control.
Clutch: Cable-operated multiplate wet clutch.
Transmission: Six-speed constant-mesh cassette gearbox with final drive by chain.
Front Suspension: 43mm Showa inverted Balance Free cartridge forks with stepless adjustment for preload, compression and rebound damping.
Rear Suspension: Horizontal back-link with gas-charged monoshock and stepless adjustment for preload, high and low-speed compression and rebound damping.
Front brakes: Dual 330mm semi-floating discs with Brembo M50 four-piston radial-mount monobloc callipers and ABS.
Rear brake: 220mm disc with single-piston floating calliper and ABS.
Front tyre: 120/70 - 17 tubeless.
Rear tyre: 190/55 - 17 tubeless.
Seat height: 835mm.
Kerb weight: 206kg.
Fuel tank: 17 litres.
Price: R290 000.
Bike at: Kawasaki South, Cape Town.