Ridden: Kawasaki ZX10R 2011

Upon unloading the new 200hp ZX10R in the drive and slipping into some leathers, I decided I will put on some music and go for a ride through the leafy suburbs to get a feel for the new Ninja. However the first song that started to play on my iPod was ‘take me to the hospital’ by Prodigy. Hmmmm surely this wasn’t a sign of things to come. Anyway after cycling through some tracks to find an appropriate tune to accompany me on the new ZX10R I set off down the road.
First impressions are excellent. The new Ninja accelerates smoothly with excellent power delivery and bags of power and torque. Twist the throttle and the black monster shoots up the road in a blur of dust and excitement. The 2011 Ninja has been one of the most highly anticipated bikes of the year due to its monstrous power output. (between 185 and 200hp). However that being said the power is manageable but one does sense that this much power is just too much for the road and huge levels of concentration are required when taking a ride to the shops.
However with the monstrous power output the Ninja can be tamed. There are 3 power map settings that can be changed and although not much of a difference is noticed low down the RPM range, when the revs climb higher the power delivery differences become VERY apparent. In addition to this the new Ninja comes equipped with race derived traction control (S-KTRC) and ABS. The traction control has 4 different settings with level 1 being designed for track use on racing tires. When accelerating hard off the line one can hear the traction control kicking in. In laymen’s terms it works by retarding the ignition until both front and rear wheel speeds are matched.
Indeed it is awesome to have such a powerful bike matched up to traction control which allows us mere mortal riders to get close to the limit without flying headfirst into a tree. For all its power and aggression the new Ninja definitely feels smooth and safe…ish. The traction control system though does not interfere with your riding style and does not nanny your behavior. It acts merely as an assistant which is awesome because at the end of the day you are still the rider and in control.
The engine has basically remained the same from the previous model, however some of the internals have been remodeled slightly. The inline four has an astronomical redline at 14000rpm and produces 114Nm’s of torque. In addition to this the new Ninja has lost a considerable amount of weight compared to the previous model and the handling characteristics have changed allowing for more feedback to the rider and improved road holding. Confidence is significantly improved when riding the new Ninja thanks to the awesome traction control and power delivery. The six speed gearbox is also a dream to shift thtrough and the movements are short and sharp. Ergonimic changes include:
– A lower seat (by 17mm), adjustable footpegs moved slightly lower (by 5mm) and forward (by 2mm)
– Lower seat makes it easier to reach the ground
– Newly shaped fuel tank offers an even better ergonomic fit with the rider’s forearms and inner thighs when riding
– Adjustable foot pegs can be lowered an additional 15mm when street riding or touring.
Indeed Kawasaki has gone the full distance to produce an awesome bike. From the streamlined looks to the ergonomics and mechanics, the 2011 Ninja takes some beating. It is also offered at a competitive price and you receive a lot of bike for your money. (R160 000 estimated). Without a doubt my choice for 2011.
Pros:
Ease of use
Traction control
Power
Chassis
Cons:
Orange rev display takes some getting used to
The amount of fuel you’ll burn on a breakfast run
Engine Liquid cooled, four stroke, transverse four cylinder, DOHC, 4 valves per cylinder.
Capacity 998
Bore x Stroke 76 x 55 mm
Compression Ratio 13.0:1
Induction DFI® with four 47mm Keihin throttle bodies with oval sub-throttles, two injectors per cylinder
Ignition  /  Starting TCBI with digital advance and Sport-Kawasaki Traction Control (S-KTRC)  /  electric
Max Power 185 -200 estimated
Max Torque 114.3 Nm @ 1150 rpm
Transmission  /  Drive 6 Speed  /  chain
Rake / Trail 25.0 degrees / 109.9mm
Front Suspension 43mm Big Piston Fork (BPF), rebound, compression and spring preload adjustability 4.7in wheel travel
Rear Suspension Horizontal Back-link. High/low-speed compression, rebound and preload adjustable. 4.9in wheel travel
Front Brakes 2x 310 mm petal discs, radial-mount  4-piston calliper
Rear Brakes Single Single 220mm petal disc
Front Tyre 120/70 ZR17
Rear Tyre 190/55 ZR17
Seat Height 812 mm  /  32 in
Weight 198 kg
Fuel Capacity 17 Litres  /  4.5 gal

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