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2011 Kawasaki ZX-10R

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Well, 2011 as a year is finally over, and for the motorcycling community it was quite a year. As we begin 2012, we here at Asphalt & Rubber are of course not immune to the desire to summarize and highlight the passing of 2011. So we accordingly assembled 11 of the most important events that shaped motorcycling this past year and changed the way the sport, the industry, and the community will grow in the years to come. Picking only eleven moments in a single year is no easy feat, though some of the events in our selection are obvious choices because of their magnitude. Enjoy and a Happy New Year to our loyal A&R readers.

In what we’re sure will re-ignite the ongoing car vs. bike debate, Bridgestone test rider Tim Röthig set out with a 2011 Kawasaki ZX-10R, a set of of Battalax R10 race tires, and a handful of blitzkrieg riding moves to race against the clock on the German course. With an entirely respectable 7min 50sec lap time, Röthig lapped the 12.8 mile track just over half a minute off the carbon-chassised LFA’s time. Though perhaps not the King of the Nordschleife, with that run Röthig still manages to embarrass a number of drool-worthy cars we’d like to have in our fantasy garage.

Kawasaki is recalling 2,480 units of its 2011 Kawasaki ZX-10R motorcycles for a faulty wiring harness. Affecting both the base and ABS versions of the motorcycle, it is possible that the wiring harness can become pinched between the rear subframe and either the rear fender or the bolt holding the seat cover. If the wiring harness does become pinched, it could damage the harness and cause an electrical short in the system, which could stop the engine suddenly.

FTR, the Moto2 chassis manufacturer, has released a Q&A with its Moto Director Steve Bones. In the exchange, Bones talks about FTR’s involvement in making a claim-rule team chassis for the Spanish BQR team, who will use the 2011 Kawasaki ZX-10R motor as the basis for its CRT entry.

FTR’s racing ambitions don’t end there though, as FTR plans to mimic its success in Moto2 by building a Moto3 offering that will likely use the Honda NSF250R four-stroke 250cc motor. Lastly, FTR has been linked to Norton’s MotoGP V4 race bike, with the engineering firm developing the chassis, while Pr1mo handles building the engine for that machine. But some doubt is starting to be generated around that project.

The launch of the 2011 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R has been a rocky one for Team Green. First there was the new that the ZX-10R’s class leading power figures wouldn’t be making it to the American market. Then Kawasaki put a worldwide technical hold on the model, and asked for units already sold in the United States to be returned to the manufacturer. Kawasaki was tight-lipped on the actual reason for the technical hold, but rumors that a piston problem was the cause quickly emerged. Now releasing more information about the technical hold, Kawasaki says that its engine issue was not in the pistons, but instead was due to an intake valve seating issue was the cause of the non-recall.

The British Motorcycle Industry Association is reporting that the 2011 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R was the best selling 651cc-1000cc motorcycle on the island nation for the month of November (with a whopping 17 sales!), despite the fact that the 10R has been put on a technical hold by Kawasaki, and not a single machine has made it to a British customer. Leaving aside the obvious problems of counting your chickens before they’ve hatched, and the validity of the MIA’s statistics just generally, it will be interesting to see how this “technical hold” affects Kawasaki’s sales for the superbike-derived ZX-10R as we get closer to the prime sportbike selling season.

Already under some controversy for coming to the United States sans about 20hp, the technical hold on what many believe is a piston wear issue is another blow to Team Green. While A&R‘s ZX-10R launch invite must have gotten lost in the mail (that’s what you get for being one of the first to break Kawasaki’s lowered RPM news), it would appear from one owner’s video that the 2011 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R is more than capable of ludicrious speed in street form (not that we condone such a thing). Video of a 300+ km/h top speed run after the jump.

Kawasaki Motors Corp., U.S.A. issued a statement this weekend saying that the company was placing a technical hold on all 2011 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R sportbikes because of an undisclosed problem found to exist with the current design. While Kawasaki has been tight-lipped on what exactly is the issue with the new ZX-10R early indications seem to suggest a problem with the engine, which is an equally nebulous reason. As a part of the technical hold, Kawasaki dealers will be returning all unsold ZX-10R sportbikes to Kawasaki’s warehouses, and all sold units to customers will be bought back with a full refund.

We just got off the phone with Kawasaki HQ, and it’s official: the 2011 Kawasaki ZX-10R will inadvertently get a power decrease when it comes to the United States because of the EPA’s regulation of noise pollution, confirming earlier rumors from this week. Because of the EPA’s new methodology for measuring exhaust noise levels, the 2011 Kawasaki ZX-10R passes the Euro III standards, but fails the EPA standards in its unadulterated form. To come into compliance with the EPA’s Noise Control Act, Kawasaki has lowered the rev-limit on the 2011 Kawasaki ZX-10R by 750 rpm in order to meet the new criteria.

Immediately after the launch of the 2011 Kawasaki ZX-10R, which claimed a 207hp figure at the crank with ram-air (197hp sans the air), rumors began to swell that the new ZX-10R’s peak performance figure would be drastically less in the American market. Apparently and supposedly due to federal regulations by the EPA, Kawasaki will be lowering the rev-limiter on the 2011 Kawasaki ZX-10R in order to comply with US government provisions.

Whether those rumors are in regards to the ZX-10R’s emissions or noise levels at that rev range is unclear at this time, but speculation that the power decrease is due to the new 10R’s peak power figure being north of 200hp are completely unfounded (Editor’s note: the United States has no provisions, at both the state and federal level, that cap motorcycle horsepower performance levels from the factory). We’ve reached out to Kawasaki for an official response on the issue, more as we get it.

Finally breaking cover officially, the 2011 Kawasaki ZX-10R made its official debut at Intermot this week. For 2011, Kawasaki has taken a ground-up approach to building its liter-bike offering, and the Japanese company has its eye squarely on racing in World Superbike for 2011. Developing the race bike ahead of the street model, the new ZX-10R should prove to be a monster of a machine with its 197hp at the crank power figure (207hp with ram air) and 436.6lbs curb weight (+12lbs for ABS). However, for the US market the bike will get watered down by 10hp or so for emissions, which Kawasaki is quietly trying to downplay.

As we reported earlier , Kawasaki like many other brands is bringing an optional ABS system to the sportbike genre, but Japanese firm has also brought a very sophisticated traction control system to the party, which will be a standard option. Taking measurements every 5 milliseconds from the front and rear tire pickups, throttle position sensor, engine speed, and other inputs, Kawasaki’s S-KTRC, according to the company, is the most advanced traction control system to-date in the consumer market. With pricing starting at $13,799 MSRP (+$1000 for ABS), we’d certainly hope it’s the most advanced sport bike on the market.

Who has two thumbs, $4.99, and no embargo obligations? These guys [holds up thumbs]! Do you want to know every dirty secret about the 2011 Kawasaki ZX-10R, but don’t want to wait until the big end-of-the-year bike shows? Well don’t worry, we won’t make you wait any longer than these overly-hyperbolized introductory paragraphs. In what can only be described as another “accidental” story leak by Cycle World, this embargoed information could be bought for $4.99 at the right news stand in Hollywood this evening (by the way, it’s a long drive from San Francisco). Since Asphalt & Rubber isn’t under any obligations to keep this information secret, we’ve waded through the non-copyrightable facts and figures on the 2011 Kawasaki ZX-10R and printed them here.

The first thing you need to know about the 2011 Kawasaki ZX-10R is that it comes in the color green.