Kawasaki’s next-generation Ninjas look set to feature this radical new engine design after plans for a ‘flattened’ motor were refined and re-patented for a third time in eighteen months.
The dramatically re-imagined inline four is the work of the man behind the firm’s MotoGP-contending 800cc ZX-RR, Yoshimoto Matsuda, and promises to solve a number of problems at a stroke.
Its stacked gearbox is a Kawasaki first and makes room for a much longer swingarm, a change the wheelie-prone ZX-10R will most benefit from.
Canting the cylinder block forward to an almost horizontal position makes room for a bigger airbox and straighter inlet tract to boost power.
But perhaps most importantly it gives the firm scope to move the motor higher in the frame – raising the bike’s centre of gravity, and bringing the rotating mass of the crank – closer to it.
Those facts should it more flickable and corner-hungry. With the gearbox under the crank the motor still isn’t overly long.
“Kawasaki just need to get the engine into the right place - they've had four stabs so far and got it wrong every time. Maybe this will do it” says MotoGP tech guru Neil Spalding.