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Ninja ZX-10RR

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Take a good look at it – this is the Suzuka 8-Hours race winning endurance bike that Jonathan Rea and Leon Haslam took to victory this year.

As with any endurance-spec race bike, this Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10RR is a very special animal, and one can pore over the photos here looking at all the interesting modifications that go into a Suzuka-winning machine.

For us, our eyes always go towards the quick-change wheels and brakes, but there are interesting items on every corner of the motorcycle.

A month ago, we told you about Kawasaki thinking about its response to the Ducati Panigale V4 R, which is dominating in the World Superbike Championship right now.

In short, to counter the Italians’ creation, the Japanese brand was thinking of brining its own homologation special superbike to market, which like the Panigale V4 R, would be a race bike with lights, built only with the idea of winning the WorldSBK title.

Today, we seem to get further proof that Team Green will release a new Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10RR for the 2020 model year, thanks to the company’s filings with the California Air Resources Board (CARB).

Team Green could bring a new superbike for the 2020 model year, or at least that is what the scuttlebutt from Europe is saying.

The news of a new Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10RR comes from comments made by KRT Senior Engineer Ichiro Yoda while talking to Germany’s Speedweek website.

In responding to the dominant force laid bare by the Ducati Panigale V4 R and Alvaro Bautista, Yoda-san signals Kawasaki’s response to the Italian manufacturer – namely that a new bike could debut for next year.

The Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R is getting an engine upgrade for the 2019 model year. As such, the 2019 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R as well as the Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R SE will make an even 200hp at the crank, while the 2019 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10RR will make 201hp.

Across all three models, the updated Ninja ZX-10R gets a revised cylinder head, which includes a finger-follower valve train that has 20% less mass than the previous tappet-style valves. This has allowed Kawasaki to use a more aggressive cam profile, accounting for much of the power gained, to the tune of 200hp at the crank.

On the 2019 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10RR, things go a step further. The homologation special gets titanium connecting rods from Pankl, which drop nearly a pound (400 grams) from the inline-four engine’s internals. As a result of this weight reduction, the ZX-10RR sees its rev limit increase by 600 rpm over the previous model.

Episode 78 of the Paddock Pass Podcast is out, and in it we see Steve English and Jensen Beeler on the mics, as they discuss both this year’s Suzuka 8-Hours endurance race.

Perhaps the most important race to the Japanese manufacturers, the Suzuka 8-Hours is seeing a return to its former glory, with several manufacturers putting together truly factory teams.

The show covers this new dawn for the Suzuka 8-Hours race, as well as the action on the track, of which there was plenty. It may have been eight-hours long, but this was a proper sprint race, with only 30 seconds separating first and second place.

On the show we are also joined by Jonathan Rea and Michael Laverty, who shed a ton of insight into what it’s like riding the Suzuka Specials, the differences in tires at the Japanese track, and what it takes to win this iconic race. You won’t want to miss those conversations.

All in all, we think you will enjoy the show. It is packed with behind-the-scenes info, and insights from teams and riders in the Suzuka paddock.

As always, be sure to follow the Paddock Pass Podcast on FacebookTwitter and subscribe to the show on iTunes and SoundCloud – we even have an RSS feed for you. If you like the show, we would really appreciate you giving it a review on iTunes. Thanks for listening!

The race-winner that could have been. Kawasaki Team Green was the Suzuka 8-Hours favorite coming out of Saturday’s Top 10 qualifying session, and the factory-backed Kawasaki team traded corners with Yamaha during the opening laps of Sunday’s endurance race.

What looked like an upset in the making, turned out to be a fizzle, largely because of a poor fueling and pit stop strategy, which saw Jonathan Rea first run out of gas, and then stay out on slicks during a rain storm.

As he tumbled down the asphalt, you have to wonder if the World Superbike champion saw his Suzuka fortunes tumbling with him.

The 2018 Suzuka 8-Hours endurance race was the biggest effort that we have seen from Kawasaki, which enlisted the help of its future WorldSBK team (Jonathan Rea, Leon Haslam, and part of the KRT pit box), to join the Japanese engineers and All Japan Superbike rider Kazuma Watanabe.

Part of the effort involved honing the specially prepared Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10RR race bike for the Suzuka 8-Hours, and this included a considerable amount of pre-event testing, with WorldSBK crew chief Pere Ribe overseeing the bike’s development.

Attention owners of the Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R and Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10RR motorcycles from the 2016 thru 2018 model yeas, as news has come from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration that roughly 4,000 of these machines might have issues with their gearboxes.

According to the recall, a high impact force can cause the transmission gears to break during shifting – specifically the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th gears in the gearbox.

First discovered in the Thai market, Kawasaki found upon further investigation that the strength of these gears was not sufficient, and could break under excessive force. As such, two warranty claims in the US have already been made for this issue.

The Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10RR is a homologation special, through and through, with only 1,000 units (upgraded from the 500 announced in Germany) set to go into production worldwide. And now today, we learn that this special snowflake will come to the US market, as a 2017 model.

For those that don’t remember the bike’s INTERMOT release, the ZX-10RR comes with a bevy of engine upgrades, as well as a special “Winter Test” livery, up-and-down quick-shifts, forged aluminum Marchesini wheels, and single-seat riding accommodations.

The 2017 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10RR won’t be cheap though, with US pricing set at $18,899 MSRP. After the jump, we have some lovely high-resolution photos of the Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10RR going around my home track, of Portland International Raceway.

Recapping the recent INTERMOT show, Episode 36 of the Two Enthusiasts Podcast covers the three big themes that emerged from Cologne: homologation specials, vintage motorcycles, and rider aids.

With these themes in mind, we have a good conversation about the three homologation specials we saw from the Japanese manufacturers at INTERMOT: the Honda CBR1000RR SP2, the Suzuki GSX-R1000R, and the Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10RR.

The conversation then turns to the neo-vintage models we saw in Germany, and how brands like Triumph and BMW are investing heavily in this trendy niche.

We finish up the show talking about motorcycle electronics, inertial measurement units (IMUs) to be specific. This game-changing technology continues to permeate through the motorcycle industry, along with other rider aids, so we have a good conversation about the rise of the IMU.

As always, you can listen to the show via the embedded SoundCloud player, after the jump, or you can find the show on iTunes (please leave a review) or this RSS feed. Be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter as well. Enjoy the show!

Before INTERMOT this year, Kawasaki USA sent out a cautionary email that Kawasaki bikes debuting at trade show in Germany would be for the European market only, and that those bikes coming to the USA would debut later next month.

So, we can’t say for certain for our North American readers that the 2017 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10RR will be crossing the pond, but for our European compatriots, here is a new superbike that should get your motor really running.

A byproduct of the World Superbike rules, the 2017 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10RR is a homologation special, of which only 500 units will be made for public consumption.

To get that extra “R” on its name, the folks at Kawasaki have taken their already stout ZX-10R superbike, and massaged in some pretty choice engine, chassis, and electronic upgrades.