The new ZX-10R isn't all about the traction control, though. The 2011 model is a clean-sheet design, and about the only specification it has in common with the old version is that the engine's bore and stroke are the same as the previous unit - and that's about it. "Forget everything you remember about the old ZX-10Rs of the past; the 2011 ZX-10R Ninja is all-new from the ground up," said Karl Edmondson, Kawasaki Motor Corp. U.S.A. product manager.
The design brief for the engine interestingly was for more power overall, but without any "more midrange torque than is necessary" in order to provide a smooth, linear powerband that would provide more usable and controllable power. Instead of forcing the rider to deal with a midrange hit that could possibly upset traction, the new engine's smoother power would encourage earlier and higher throttle application for more time spent at full throttle.
Top-end modifications include much more aggressive cams (higher lift, more duration and timing overlap) fashioned from stronger and lighter (and more expensive) chromoly steel that actuate 1mm-larger intake valves and redesigned tappets. The cylinder head itself sports completely revamped (and hand-finished!) intake and exhaust porting, with all-new 0.14-ounce-lighter pistons utilizing thinner, lower-tension rings and pushing a slightly higher 13.0:1 compression ratio (from the previous 12.9:1) running through a 2mm-offset cylinder axis for less mechanical friction. The lower-tension rings are made possible because of the cylinder bore accuracy; the cylinders are bored with a dummy cylinder head torqued onto the cases, and the cylinders use a new nickel ceramic composite lining. The crankshaft and connecting rods are fashioned from stronger steel plus a revised nitriding treatment that reduces distortion. That crank also drives a new secondary balancer shaft that reduces the need for sound-damping parts to deal with resonance as well as allowing smaller handlebar weights.
The crankshaft is positioned slightly higher in relation to the main output shaft for better mass centralization, with the new cassette transmission allowing gear ratio changes (seven additional gearsets will be available as racing accessories) without draining the engine oil. Primary plus fourth, fifth, and sixth gear ratios have been juggled to take advantage of the new engine's power characteristics and racetrack intent.
Up top, the ram-air intake duct is positioned closer to the highest point of pressure on the fairing, leading to a larger airbox with redesigned internals and an air filter with 48 percent more surface area for better breathing. Revamped velocity stacks lead into a new Keihin TTK47 fuel injection setup sporting larger 47mm throttle bodies (versus the old 43mm units). New Mitsubishi injectors are lighter and offer a finer and wider spray pattern for improved combustion, and a smaller and lighter fuel pump cuts additional precious ounces. Down below, exhaust gases are cleaned up courtesy of a 2.6-pound-lighter system that uses hydro-formed titanium header pipes to replicate race exhaust dimensions leading into a larger stainless steel under-engine chamber equipped with dual 300-cell catalyzers.
The new twin-spar frame increases...
The new twin-spar frame increases torsional rigidity by 7.8 percent, while the horizontally mounted shock has a reverse linkage to keep it away from exhaust heat. Larger 47mm throttle bodies with oval sub-throttle plates in the new Keihin EFI feed a completely redesigned engine.
The all-new aluminum twin-spar frame shifts weight bias forward slightly with a 0.5-degree-steeper rake (but longer trail) combined with a 20mm-longer swingarm; the frame's straighter design increases torsional rigidity by 7.8 percent. The new three-piece cast aluminum swingarm is 18.5 percent stronger torsionally in addition to dropping 9.2 ounces in weight. The swingarm also features an increased amount of adjustment range for the rear axle block to allow more options for track use (an aftermarket exhaust that deletes the under-engine chamber is required for rear tire clearance if you shorten the wheelbase enough to lose one chain link).
Footpeg brackets are two-way...
Footpeg brackets are two-way adjustable as before (one option 15mm lower), but the standard position is 5mm lower and 2mm further forward.
Ergonomics were slightly modified, with the clip-on bars angled downward a bit more and the standard position for the adjustable footpegs (the two-position adjustment for the footpeg bracket returns, with the secondary adjustment 15mm lower overall) located 5mm lower and 2mm further forward than the previous ZX-10R. The seat height has dropped by 10mm as well.
By mounting the rear shock...
By mounting the rear shock horizontally through a reverse linkage atop the swingarm, the shock is not only kept away from exhaust heat, but the spring preload is much more accessible as well.
Showa's BPF (Big Piston Fork) makes its way to the ZX-10R after debuting on the ZX-6R in '09, with the rear shock mounted in a horizontal fashion above the swingarm with a reverse linkage. New three-spoke wheels are lighter, with the front cutting 11.2 ounces and the rear scaling in 11.3 ounces less than the previous unit. Front brake calipers are slightly changed, with all four pistons measuring 30mm (instead of the previous staggered 32/30mm setup).
All told, the new ZX-10R has a claimed wet weight of 437 pounds, which would put it right in the ballpark with the Honda CBR1000RR, current flyweight of the class. The ZX-10R ABS model scales in at 443 pounds wet.