For our track day at Buttonwillow we mounted a set of Pirelli’s latest Diablo Supercorsa DOT race tires to each bike. New for 2011 is a 200/55 rear tire in an SC1 compound that is said to provide more feedback and work better at a higher and wider track temperature range. The SC2 compound has also been changed, offering more grip and longer life, while the SC3 and SC4 compounds have been dropped from the range. The 200-sized DOT race tire is offered alongside a 180/60 DOT race tire and 200/60 slick, and all three tires feature new carcass materials and sizing, with increased diameters to improve turn-in and stiffer carcasses to increase feedback and stability.
We used the 200/55 rear tire in SC1 compound for our literbikes, and were impressed with the new tire’s performance. All three bikes took to the new sizing well, requiring little in the way of setup changes to account for the tire’s increased diameter and profile. And even with the softer SC1 compound on a sunny day with a high of 70 degrees, we were able to log more than 50 laps on the bikes with only slight degradation at the end of the day.
Visit www.us.pirelli.com for more information about the new tires, or contact your local trackside vendor. We had Corey Neuer at CT Racing (www.ctracetires.com) hook us up with some of the first 200s in the country and provide trackside service for us at Buttonwillow.
Kawasaki ZX-10R ABS — The KIBS Alternative
The 2011 ZX-10R marks the first supersport machine from Kawasaki that is offered with ABS as an option. The KIBS (Kawasaki Intelligent Braking System) adds another $1000 to the $13,799 sticker price of the liter-size Ninja. Claimed to be nearly 50 percent smaller and 800 grams lighter than current motorcycle ABS units, the Bosch-designed system is certainly very small, with the main unit tucked in below the left frame spar. Kawasaki claims that the total weight of the system adds only seven pounds to the standard ZX-10R, which we confirmed on our scales, with the ABS model coming in at 447 pounds wet.
Unlike a standard ABS that only monitors wheel speed, the KIBS has its own ECU that monitors a wide range of data points, including (besides front and rear wheel speeds) caliper pressure, throttle position, engine rpm, clutch actuation, and gear position. By monitoring all these parameters, Kawasaki says the KIBS is able to better sense when a potential wheel lockup situation will occur, and react with much greater precision and speed.
We found the KIBS to work very well, with a fairly high intervention point in the braking envelope as long as you didn’t do a panic grab on the lever. There’s plenty of feedback and modulation available, with no mushiness or numb feeling at the lever when the system kicks in, and only a slightly perceptible pulsing can be felt. Grab the brakes in a full-blown panic stop however, and you can definitely feel the system reduce brake pressure and pulsate as it struggles to balance grip with stopping power. This is more readily apparent at slower speeds and/or over wet or rough pavement where the tire is more likely to lose traction in a severe manner.
Is it worth the extra $1000? That depends on your skill level and how you plan on riding, because unfortunately you cannot turn off the KIBS. Thus, if you’re an expert rider (be honest with yourself) planning on doing any track days, we’d recommend sticking with the standard ZX-10R. Everyone else will more than benefit from the added safety net provided by the KIBS.
What About The Others?
Over the last few years, the literbike class has grown almost exponentially to include big-bore twins and resurgent Euro-spec models that are closer than ever in terms of both price and performance. To properly test the full lineup of 2011 “literbikes” would be a huge undertaking, with nine models now falling into the category. Along with the three bikes in the main part of this story, the Aprilia RSV4R, Honda CBR1000RR, KTM RC8, MV Agusta F4, Suzuki GSX-R1000 and Yamaha YZF-R1 are all current models. Toss the variant models into the mix, such as the KTM RC8R, Aprilia RSV4 Factory and APRC SE models, and a comparison test soon becomes a logistical and practical nightmare.
The models listed above return unchanged for the 2011 model year with very few exceptions, and we are well familiar with their respective — and respected — performance levels. Limited space would allow us to only touch on each bike’s capabilities in a single comparison test, and rather than do that, or split the class into two parts as we did last year, we chose to concentrate on just the new models — the Ducati and Kawasaki — and see how they stack up against the class benchmark, the BMW. To read more about the other literbikes, and see how they fared in our previous comparison tests, visit www.sportrider.com/magazine/1107. Additionally, stay tuned for future installments in our “Literbike Mods” series that will be featuring some of the models not tested here.