Kawasaki is gearing up to launch a new ZX-10R featuring new suspension, cutting-edge electronics, more power and a sharp new look as the firm bids to catch up with its more advanced superbike rivals.
The re-worked model will be one of only two new Japanese superbikes making their arrival in 2016, going head-to-head against an all-new
Suzuki GSX-R1000, as revealed by MCN four months ago (see below).
This is an important bike for
Kawasaki, and has been developed with two aims; to be a stronger road bike that can match the class-leading Yamaha YZF-R1, BMW S1000RR and Ducati 1299 Panigale, and to ensure it remains a competitive race bike in the World Superbike series.
The current model ZX-10R was launched in 2011, and apart from cosmetic and colour changes, it has remained almost untouched and is now lagging behind the class leaders. MCN’s most recent group test ranked the
Kawasaki as fourth in the class and while it was one of the fastest around the Jerez circuit in Spain, it was left trailing when it came to road riding.
MCN sources in Japan have revealed the new bike will get far more than a tweak for next year, with a revised engine and a lighter crank, improved airbox, and shorter gear ratios to iron out the lack of mid-range grunt that holds the current bike back against rivals because it revs higher.
MCN also understands the bike will get the latest Showa Big Piston Fork, new brakes with the latest cornering ABS system, some fairly extensive cosmetic changes that some are suggesting might have a nod towards the bonkers H2 and H2R models, and all of the latest electronics seen on the Yamaha R1 and others.
MCN’s Japanese sources say the cosmetic changes are not as radical as some news outlets are suggesting, with some computer-generated images morphing the complete H2R front-end onto the ZX-10R chassis.
Many of the changes to the bike are inspired by attempting to not just keep the bike competitive against road-going rivals but also to ensure it remains a good race bike in WSB, which has adopted stricter rules aimed at making the racing closer and reducing costs. What it means for manufacturers is that they are trying to get standard road bikes up to a level where the components that can no longer be changed in racing trim are already up to a level of specification where they work on the racetrack.
There’s no official word about the changes to the bike for 2016 but MCN sources are unequivocal that the new bike will be unveiled in a matter of weeks; although it seems more likely that its unveiling will take place at the Milan motorcycle show in November.