The 2021 model year sees another refresh coming to the Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R, as Team Green has given its WorldSBK-winning superbike a facelift and some updates to keep things at the pointy end.
As we predicted a few weeks ago, this is an update to the current Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R, not an all new machine, with the most obvious changes coming to the bike’s bodywork, which features an integrated winglet design…and a face only a mother could love.
Despite some engine modifications, power takes a minor hit, with 200hp (149.3 kW) being quoted by Kawasaki’s European site.
That’s the same power figures quoted from the previous model year, but it now comes with a Euro5 homologation. Peak torque also remains at 85 lbs•ft (114.9 Nm).
Changes to the 998cc inline-four engine include a new oil cooler, electronic throttle valves, exhaust system, and transmission gear ratios.
The 16-valve motor continues its use of a finger-follower valvetrain, with titanium intake and exhaust valves being used.
The gearbox now sees its first, second, and third ratios shorter for better acceleration, while fourth, fifth, and sixth remain the same. The final gear ratio has been revised, however.
Perhaps not the sexiest update, but Kawasaki has done something interesting with the ZX-10R’s oil cooler, which now uses an independent air-cooled oil cooler arrangement – a design that is taken straight from the Kawasaki WorldSBK Racing Team.
This design allows oil to be routed from the left lower crankcase to the oil cooler, where it’s cooled, then returned on the right side. Kawasaki says that the increased cooling boosts engine performance increases throughout the entire rpm range.
On the electronics front, there are now three integrated riding modes (Sport, Road, & Rain), and four manual rider modes. Electronic cruise control has also been added to the 2021 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R, and the IMU-powered traction control now includes five levels of intervention.
And finally heeding the calls for some modernity, a TFT dash replaces the Casio watch that has been such a stalwart on the previous model year machines. This new wonder also includes smartphone connectivity features.
Other rider aids include launch control, cornering ABS, and engine brake control, but it does not appear that Kawasaki has added slide control and wheelie control functions that are independent of the traction control setting.
On the chassis side the frame goes largely unchanged, but there is a new lower swingarm pivot (1mm), and greater fork offset (which means shorter trail).
The swingarm is also longer, and all of this combined means a longer wheelbase and changes to the front-rear balance.
Showa Balance Free Front Forks (BFF) do the suspension duties at the front, while a Showa Balance Free Rear Cushion )BFRC) shock does the work at the back. These come with new settings, however, and are mated to a lower triple clamp.
Numerous subtle ergonomic changes abound, including a taller windscreen, revised handlebar and seat position, as well as taller footpegs. However, it is the bodywork changes that are most apparent.
Kawasaki says that improved aerodynamic efficiency with the new bodywork, which now includes an integrated winglet design that produces “significant” downforce on the front wheel, though the Japanese brans is not talking numbers in that regard.
Lastly, the lighting is all new and uses LED bulbs.
Pricing for the 2021 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R starts at $16,399 MSRP for the base model (without ABS), $17,699 for the ABS KRT model, and yes there will be a more powerful Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10RR that will serve as the homologation bike for WorldSBK. It will cost $28,999 MSRP.
Source: Kawasaki USA