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Exclusive: New Ninja ZX-10R gets more power

Published: 02 September 2018

Updated Kawasaki superbike family targets increased track aggression.

Kawasaki have updated the ZX-10R for 2019 with even more power in a bid to retain the World Superbike title, equipping it with a valvetrain that will allow it to rev harder, for longer.

But while this might be good for serious track riders and racers, don’t expect it to transform the bike’s on-road performance.

The key change for 2019 is the adoption of finger-follower valve actuation, replacing tappet-style valves.

The ZX-10R Finger Follower

First appearing on a superbike in BMW’s 2010 S1000RR, and most recently Suzuki’s GSX-R1000, finger-follower valve actuation is lighter, reducing the mass of the system by 20%.

This allows the motor to spin-up faster and sustain high rpm more reliably. The design also means the valves within a larger range of movement, enabling the use of more aggressive cams, have contributed to a 3bhp power gain for 2019.

The new Ninja ZX-10R engine

The new valve train is common to all three models, while the 500-bike limited edition ZX-10RR gets new con-rods to aid high-rpm performance. The Pankl titanium rods save more than 400g compared to the standard bike’s, decrease the crankshaft moment of inertia by 5% and increase the rev limit by 600rpm.

The range-topping SE retains its semi-active suspension, boasts the updated engine from the base model, and Kawasaki’s new anti-scratch Highly Durable Paint.

The bi-directional quickshifter that was previously on the RR and the SE is now on all three bikes, and ‘Performance’ variants will be available of all three versions.

No prices or availability dates have been confirmed.

ZX-10R

Base model gets engine upgrades that take power to 200bhp thanks to reduced inertia and more aggressive high-lift cams. It also gets the KQS bi-directional quickshifter and a new Lime Green / Ebony / Metallic Graphite Grey paintjob.

ZX-10RR

Track-focused single-seat model is limited to 500 bikes, gets titanium connecting rods, track-tuned suspension settings, a 600rpm higher rev limit, and a 1bhp advantage over the R, and lighter forged Marchesini wheels. Available in Lime Green only.

ZX-10R SE

Based on the R model, the SE benefits from Kawasaki’s advanced electronic suspension (KECS), and forged Marchesini wheels, while areas susceptible to scuffing and high-wear are treated to a paint finish that self-heals (Metallic Carbon Grey / Neutron Silver / Lime Green).

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