Rejoice Ninja fundamentalists, for this is the heavily revised 2016 Kawasaki ZX-10R in all its glory and the latest participant in the onslaught of next season’s fresh metal. Launched in Barcelona – the home of the Kawasaki Racing Team (KRT) – this weapon is responsible for ensuring the reigning World Superbike Champions reclaim their title. And boss the roads once again.
If the aging mantra of winning on Sunday and selling on Monday still applies, Kawasaki has blitzed the opposition in 2015. The Big K claims the development was a shared enterprise, with KRT and the factory in Japan splitting developmental duties on this deceptively enhanced 2016 model.
On initial inspection, it’s a new paint and bolt-on job, although Kawasaki’s graft goes far deeper with an impressive spec’. As well as the obvious aesthetical tweakage and sleeker, sometimes slimmer lines, there’s a host of significant performance updates and chassis highlights include Brembo M50 Monoblocs (plus a proper master cylinder) and gas-charged Showa forks that look like they’d break lap records by themselves. The ‘new’ frame itself features a new headstock position and partners a new swingarm.
For 2016, Kawasaki has joined the 200bhp club – well, 207bhp to be precise. Hardly lacking in race trim, the Superstock riders’ choice of steeds in 2015 (and the past four years) has managed to fend off far more powerful machinery on the track. But in road-legal format, the ZX-10R has lacked midrange in abundance.
As well as a feast of internal changes (cams, pistons, valves and porting), a 20% reduction in crank inertia should see the revised 10R inherit a livelier, free-revving, more modern motor. Somehow, despite Euro-4 emission compliance, the new titanium exhaust’s outlet is smaller than previously.
Power is nothing without control, and this is the first Kawasaki to feature Bosch’s Inertial Measurement Unit that allows for a far more advanced electronics package. Traction control, launch control, ‘high precision’ engine-braking control and control control join ABS in keeping you faster/safer. Rumours of cylinder cut technology – as featured on the WSB racers during corner exit – are yet to be confirmed, though would make us sell our kids to fund a purchase.
“As a collaboration between the Kawasaki Racing Team and KHI, this is a machine to be proud of”, commented project leader for Kawasaki, Yoshimoto Matsuda. “The 2016 Ninja proves that a fast race bike can create a responsive road bike that is easy to ride. Already we have a double championship winning design, now we’ve refined it further still to reflect Kawasaki’s enduring Ninja spirit.”
Bravo, Kawasaki, although the three-spoke wheels are so 1990’s. However, stand-up wheelies and elbow-down cornering are included with the 2016 Zee-Ex Ten, as seen in the video…