Ridden: Kawasaki Ninja 2010

It’s the beginning of January now, the beginning of a new year with restored hopes and dreams for a successful year ahead. The festive season has come and gone and the once crowded beaches and countryside have become deserted again. Most of us return to the city to resume our ridiculous routine. We long for the holidays to feel relaxed and have a good time. However don’t feel bad because although work has just started, I have found the most fun you can possible have with your pants on. It comes in the form of a lime green, four cylinder angular piece of machinery with a split personality disorder.
Formerly known as the widow maker, the ZX10R of a few years ago become renowned for high siding. In essence whilst cornering you apply the throttle on exit but the power delivery was so violent that it would spin up the rear tyre, and once you’ve realized this and tapped off, the bike gives you a tank slapper and sends you skyward.
Understandably there are a few bikers who don’t trust the ZX10R because of this personality trait however over the past few years, a variety of small changes have been introduced onto the new Ninja, making it more refined and controllable. The 2010 ZX10R has had a variety of changes right through from the bodywork to the chassis and engine. What you end up with is a fantastically smooth bike to ride. The gearbox of the old Ninja was an area of concern, however with the 2009-2010 model the gearbox is fantastically smooth. In fact this is probably the best gearbox out of the 2010 range. Changes are short, sharp, smooth and fluid. No more missing second and smashing the rev limiter in neutral while you go flying over the handle bars. Excellent.
From a looks point of view, the ninja possesses a very aggressive face. In fact it looks like that creature from the movie transformers with those angry headlights. The fairings resemble the ZX6R and make the bike appear narrow whilst also helping with aerodynamics. The tail section of the Ninja is large when compared to other manufacturers but with a tail tidy your Ninja can be transformed into a track weapon with a very limited array of tools. The Lime green is a Kawasaki trait and I love the fact that Kawasaki has blacked out everything else. This gives a menacing appearance and lets everyone know exactly what bike you are on.
Rip of the indicators and the tail piece and you are ready for a couple track days. But before this you may want to pop a few brave pills and have a whiskey or two. The reason for this is because of the Ninja’s split personality disorder. You see, whilst you are below 6000rpm, the bike seems sedate and tame, However anything past 6000rpm and the Ninja erupts into Jackie Chan on Dianabol.  As you let the RPM climb up to 12000, the front becomes light and lifts into the air if you are not over the gas tank. Slip up into second and glance at the speedo and read 180km/h. Huh? One second the super fluid Ninja is in a trance and within a blink of the eye Jackie Chang has you in a choke hold. Squeeze the black brake lever and you now go from having a choke hold to receiving a right hook from Tyson in the back of the skull. The Tokico front brakes eliminate the KM/h in a few seconds while the wavy discs help keep the rotors and calipers cool and efficient. Bang down a few gears and let the slipper clutch take over. In fact don’t be too abrupt with the clutch lever because the rear tyre on the Ninja can be lively. You also receive an Öhlins steering damper atop the upper triple clamp which looks fantastic and enhances the Ninja’s ride for the experienced rider. Getting a quick start on the Ninja can be a bit tricky at times though,  aim to be above 6000RPM for a fast start otherwise the bike tends to bog down.
The explosive power can rarely be exploited on the road and to take full advantage of this Lime green thousand you would have to be at the track. The Ninja is basically a race bike with headlights but you can ride it in a dignified manner. There is good grip for your knees on the frame, and the ergonomics are good with excellent feedback through the standard suspension set up. The ride is informative but there is a level of comfort. Taller riders will find it difficult to ride the Ninja for prolonged periods due to the leg positioning, but you adapt to the bike over a couple days. Keep the RPM below 6000 and experience a quiet and somewhat fuel efficient bike. In essence the Ninja welcomes you in and prepares you a warm cupper. Once you have settled, you realize that there was arsine inside that welcoming cup of Earl Grey and you’re now dead. The Ninja teaches you to roll on the power and to take in as much sensory information as possible as you may require it. In essence the Ninja teaches his student to be a better rider and I love a machine that is built for the talented because you will never get bored of it.
The Ninja is a very entertaining bike with plenty power, a wonderful appearance and excellent build quality. The competition is tough but if you are looking for a racer with an edge that is not blunt then this is your bike. Here are some figures:
Year 2010
Engine Liquid cooled, four stroke, transverse four cylinder, DOHC, 4 valves per cylinder.
Capacity 998
Bore x Stroke 76 x 55 mm
Compression Ratio 12.7:1
Induction DFI with 43mm Keihin throttle bodies with oval sub-throttles, two injectors per cylinder
Ignition  /  Starting TCBI with digital advance and Kawasaki Ignition Management System (KIMS)  /  electric
Max Power 138.3 kW 188 hp @ 12500 rpm  /  with RAM Air 147.1 kW 200 hp @ 12500 rpm
Max Torque 113 Nm 11.5 kgf-m @ 8700 rpm
Transmission  /  Drive 6 Speed  /  chain
Rake / Trail 25.5 degrees / 4.3 in.
Front Suspension 43mm inverted fork with DLC coating, adjustable rebound and compression damping, spring preload adjustability and top-out springs
Rear Suspension Bottom-Link Uni-Trak® with top-out spring, stepless, dual-range (high/low-speed) compression damping, stepless rebound damping, fully adjustable spring preload
Front Brakes 2x 310mm discs 4 piston calipers
Rear Brakes Single 220 mm disc 1 piston caliper
Front Tyre 120/70 ZR17
Rear Tyre 190/55 ZR17
Seat Height 880 mm  /  32.7 in.
Dry-Weight 179 kg
Fuel Capacity 17 Litres  /  4.5 gal
Standing ¼ Mile 10.5 sec
Top Speed 292.0 km/h
Pros:
aggressive
ergonomics
looks
cons:
tough competition

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