2013 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R Gets Adaptive Electronic Steering Damper – Welcome to 2004 Says Honda

07/10/2012 @ 12:29 am, by Jensen Beeler12 COMMENTS

2013 Kawasaki Ninja ZX 10R Gets Adaptive Electronic Steering Damper   Welcome to 2004 Says Honda 2013 Kawasaki Ninja ZX 10R white black 635x476

For the next model year, Kawasaki is giving a modest update to its flagship model, the 2013 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R. Mostly touching up its work from 2011 with a dollop of new paint, the one intriguing feature of the 2013 Kawasaki ZX-10R is its new electronic steering damper, which adjusts the level of steering damping based on how fast the motorcycle is traveling.

Kawasaki developed the damper with the help of a little Swedish company named Öhlins, and is the first manufacturer to use the new suspension from the famed suspension brand, which is sure to be a standard item on the bikes of other OEMs in the coming years — just like the Honda Electronic Steering Damper (HESD) that Big Red debuted circa 2004.

Bringing the 2013 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R in-line with the 2004 Honda CBR1000RR, Kawasaki’s addition of the latest damper from Öhlins is still an impressive piece of tech, though it may not be as revolutionary as some are making it out to be in the press, as it appears to function in a very similar manner to its Honda counterpart.

Using a dedicated ECU under the fuel tank cover, the Öhlins electronic steering damper calculates the rate of acceleration/deceleration and rear-wheel speed, and then electronically and automatically adjusts the level of the ZX-10R’s steering damping to meet the measured conditions. In practice, this means at slower city speeds, the 2013 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R will get a lighter amount of damping, while at faster velocities, a firmer amount of damping will be applied to the bike’s front-end.

To its credit, Kawasaki’s Öhlins-made electronic steering damper is perhaps one the best applications of electronic suspension tech (though you would be hard-pressed to find a rider demanding a better steering damper), as the steering damper is the one piece of suspension that could actually benefit from being adjusted on-the-fly during a motorcycle’s operation.

Sure, active suspension for the front forks and rear shock sound tantalizingly awesome, but 90% of the time in practice a rider can preset these components for their proscribed uses, i.e. for a track day or for a long highway ride. However, the need for more or less steering damping can vary hundreds of times on even the shortest of rides.

OEMs like Kawasaki were bound at some point to address this issue on sport bikes, and frankly Honda’s HESD is a very clever way of doing just that. Usually a set-it-and-forget-it item on sport bikes (even on those models that offer adjustable damping units), now that there is an Öhlins version of the HESD design, electronic steering dampers are sure to become more commonplace in OEM packages, thus bringing this nearly decade-old technology to the masses. Lovely.

In other news, Kawasaki has two new color schemes for the 2013 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R: Lime Green/Metallic Spark Black and Pearl Flat White/Metallic Spark Black. For 2013, the Kawasaki ZX-10R also gets a price increase of $300, bringing the MSRP of the 2013 Kawasaki ZX-10R to $14,299 ($15,299 for the ABS model).

2013 Kawasaki Ninja ZX 10R Gets Adaptive Electronic Steering Damper   Welcome to 2004 Says Honda 2013 Kawasaki Ninja ZX 10R Green 635x435

Engine: Liquid-cooled 998cc Inline-Four, 16-valves
Bore and Stroke: 76.0 x 55.0mm
Compression Ratio: 13.0:1
Fuel Delivery: Fuel-injection
Clutch: Wet multi-plate slipper clutch; Cable actuation
Transmission: Six-speed
Final Drive: Chain 17F/39R
Frame: Twin-spar aluminum
Front Suspension: 43mm inverted Showa BPF; 3-way adjustable for spring preload, compression and rebound damping; 4.7 in. travel
Rear Suspension: Horizontal back-link Showa gas-charged shock; 4-way adjustable for spring preload, high/low-speed compression and rebound damping; 4.9 in. travel
Front Brakes: 310mm petal discs with radial-mount Tokico four-piston calipers
Rear Brake: 220mm disc with single-piston caliper
Tires: 120/70R17, 190/55R17
Curb Weight: 439 lbs.
Wheelbase: 56.1 in.
Seat Height: 32.0 in.
Fuel Capacity: 4.5 gallon
MSRP: $14,299
Colors: Lime Green/Metallic Spark Black; Pearl Flat White/Metallic Spark Black
Warranty: 12-month, unlimted mileage

Source: Kawasaki

Comment:

  1. theslayer says:

    Erm.. ridiculously silly mistake .. ” OEMs in the coming years — just like the Honda Electronic Suspension Damper (HESD) that Big Red debuted circa 2004″

    Steering Damper :D

    Thanks for the enlightening article, no mention of HESD anywhere else on the web!

  2. 2013 ZX-10R gets adaptive electronic steering damper. Welcome to 2004, says Honda http://t.co/DF368g5e via @Asphalt_Rubber

  3. Welcome to 2004, says who? Please! Honda the sleeping gaint!

  4. jamesy says:

    “…..one the best applications of electronic suspension tech (though you would be hard-pressed to find a rider demanding a better steering damper)”
    You might find one after riding a 180hp bike with a twitchy front end- like so many Ninjas of the past. I always thought if Suzuki could just make THAT motor or Kawi make it handle like the GSXR, then you’d have a bike that could… uhhh, match the Aprilia or BMW?

  5. Bob says:

    “Sure, active suspension for the front forks and rear shock sound tantalizingly awesome, but 90% of the time in practice a rider can preset these components for their proscribed uses, i.e. for a track day or for a long highway ride. However, the need for more or less steering damping can vary hundreds of times on even the shortest of rides.”

    The only time I’ve ever needed a steering damper on one of my motorcycles has been when I raced club level and at Bonneville for LSR ….because the rules stated I must use one.

    I have topped out every single road bike I’ve owned in 23 years on all kinds of road surfaces up to 180 mph without a steering damper and have not had any headshake. Why? Because when suspension is properly adjusted, headshake doesn’t happen.

    Properly tuned suspension will not only dampen reactant forces to provide a good ride and traction but will also prevent resonance or hysteresis which is what makes the suspension act out of control and exhibit headshake.

    With that in mind, electronic suspension that can be adjusted on the fly or transparently self adjusting as you ride is infinitely more valuable than a steering damper as it will prevent headshake in all cisrcumstances.

    Even in electronic form, a steering damper is still a band-aid for an underlying problem… poor suspension setup.

  6. SPEKTRE76 says:

    More electronic pussification of riders and more weight!

    Oh well, I really love the black and white paint!

  7. “Because when suspension is properly adjusted, headshake doesn’t happen.”

    Headshake is a fact of life on a single-track vehicle that will encounter sudden lateral forces on one or both wheels, e.g., clipping the edge of a pothole at speed, possibly while at some degree of lean. Steering dampers are generally unnecessary on smooth surfaces where well-tuned suspensions are easily able to dampen out oscillations. Sudden lateral loads, however, can easily overwhelm a single-track vehicle’s frame and suspension. As of yet, there’s no such thing as a suspension that will work optimally at all speeds over all conditions on all surfaces. Adaptive technology is being developed for good reason, and steering dampers are part of this equation.

  8. Bob says:

    “Headshake is a fact of life on a single-track vehicle that will encounter sudden lateral forces on one or both wheels, e.g., clipping the edge of a pothole at speed, possibly while at some degree of lean.”

    That would be called a deflection. It’s a sudden movement that happens once due to an outside force. That movent would have to resonate over and over (due to poor suspension damping) at a given frequency to become headshake. Headshake and steering deflection are absolutely not the same thing. Headshake is a problem from an internal source. Deflection is a problem from an external source.

    Sure, a steering damper can help damp that deflection, but guess what happens. It’s opposite reaction is to try to react on the rear. It helps to some degree. Lots of cross country/enduro riders use the damper for this reason (I don’t), to keep the bars from being ripped out of their hands on a cross rut or tree root.

  9. JD says:

    It shows its best on a light weight 250 2stroke on hard gas at slight lean. I know I’ve had 5 them bastards and they like to slap on gear changes up. Basically super light wheels means… no damp..no good

  10. @Bob,

    I’m not sure I see the point of your apparent correction. You stated exactly the same relationship between the cause (lateral load/deflection) and the headshake (uncontrolled oscillation of the vehicle’s steering mechanism). We likely agree that modern suspension systems that are well set up are unlikely to exhibit this behaviour over 99.99% of all conditions and roads that average riders are likely to experience. So, that leaves us with the 100% situation where the bike is being operated at insane lean angles at equally insane speeds over possibly less than ideal surfaces.

    I’m holding to the idea that adaptive dampening is a good idea under such situations.

  11. Pete says:

    Öhlins did already this summer launch a rear shock absorber to the current kawasaki ZX 10 R that use this electronic system, and it appears now that they can interact on the coming 2013 bike. MCN wrote about this system a few months ago.

  12. Nhan Trung says:

    i want to buy this bike. Please send to my email about the details information like price, tax, and can you ship this bike to Vietnam ? If you can ship to Vietnam, how about the tax and how much i will pay to own it in Vietnam. Please reply me as soon as you can.

    Best regard !
    Mr.Nhan