Wings fit for a King: Radically restyled Kawasaki ZX-10R looks set to be winner

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Kawasaki has given its world-beating ZX-10R a hot new look for 2021 with an aerodynamics-driven facelift including race-style winglets in a bid to top the superbike pile on road and track.

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The Ninja’s new-look is the bike’s biggest styling overhaul in a decade and is claimed to improve downforce by 17%. Out goes the familiar, super-sharp nose in favour of a more aerodynamically-sculpted front cowling now incorporating the latest ‘must-have’ performance feature – integrated winglets.

There’s also new, more compact, twin LED headlights, a revised ram-air intake and a 40mm taller screen giving better wind protection.

New peg and bar placements give an even more aggressive, track-orientated riding position while the revised seat is higher at the rear and claimed to reduce drag.

2021 Kawasaki ZX-10R side view

There’s also a new race-style, 4.3in TFT dash with Bluetooth connectivity, electronic cruise control plus optional heated grips as Kawasaki bids to beat its well-equipped rivals.

The proven, prodigious, 200bhp 998cc four cylinder motor is largely unchanged but features a more effective oil cooler, all-new exhaust including a longer silencer to help meet Euro5, revised gearing (including shorter first three cogs to improve acceleration) and subtly revised riding modes.

The twin spar chassis is also largely unchanged from the outgoing model, but the swingarm pivot is now 1mm lower to improve suspension action, a 2mm greater fork offset reduces trail to sharpen steering while an 8mm longer swingarm contributes to a 10mm longer wheelbase overall (now 1450mm) to improve stability. The suspension spring rates and settings are also slightly revised.

2021 Kawasaki ZX-10RR

The limited-edition (just 500 units), homologation-special RR version, on which reigning WSB champ Jonathan Rea will attempt to win his seventh crown next year, is more track-focused still. Everything from the single seat to lightweight pistons are aimed at keeping the six-time WSB winner out in front.

2021 Kawasaki model updates so far:

To take advantage of new regulations, its rev limit has been raised from 14,300 to 14,700rpm with new intakes, cams and valve springs while the lighter-still pistons come from specialists Pankl.

The ZX-10R should arrive next May, costing a very competitive £15,799, compared to the stock Honda Fireblade’s £19,999 price tag and the Yamaha R1’s slightly more palatable £16,947. The ZX-10RR costs £24,799, although most of these are expected to be snapped up by race teams.