2008 Kawasaki ZX-10R - First Ride - Enter The Warrior

Packing Almost 180 Horsepower, This Is The Fiercest Ninja Yet

By Aaron Frank, Photography by Kawasaki

The '08 ZX-10R benefits from a bunch of engine changes intended specifically to improve high-rpm performance. Starting from the top: Secondary fuel injectors, activated according to throttle position and engine rpm, are installed above new, oval-shaped throttle bodies that are said to improve air/fuel mixing compared to last year's round bodies. Intake and exhaust ports are both reshaped, the latter housing 1mm-smaller valves (now 24.5mm). Intake and exhaust valves are now made from titanium to reduce reciprocating weight, and operated by new, higher-lift camshafts that add top-end power and also make the engine easier to tune for racing. The combustion chamber has likewise been reshaped (compression is up from 12.7:1 to 13.0:1), and a new crankshaft is 2.2 pounds lighter so the engine spins up more quickly. Last, a flat fuel pump (like the ZX-6R's) makes room for a higher-volume airbox, and a new exhaust system features an underbike prechamber to minimize the weight of the single orthogonal (read: rounded square) muffler that replaces last year's dual underseat canisters.

Back-torque-limiting slipper clutch is standard equipment, and adjustable via the installation of different-thickness plates that are part of the factory race kit. Inside the transmission, the first, fourth and fifth gear ratios have been lowered slightly for quicker acceleration. This, coupled with a one-tooth-larger rear sprocket (final drive is now 17/41, compared to 17/40), makes acceleration even more immediate, especially in the lower gears.

Up front, the fully adjustable 43mm fork legs feature a DLC (Diamond-Like Carbon) coating to reduce friction. They hold stiffer, track-ready springs mounted at the bottom, and completely submerged in oil to reduce frothing for improved damping characteristics. New in the rear are a four-way adjustable (spring preload, rebound, high- and lowspeed compression damping) shock and a new Uni-Trak linkage that allows even greater fine-tuning for improved traction and control.

Each radial-mount, four-piston front Tokico caliper is fitted with two integrated brake pads (as opposed to four individual pads), a change that is said to offer superior initial bite. Larger, 310mm petal discs replace last year's 300mm rotors, allowing disc thickness to be reduced from 6mm to 5.5mm for more efficient heat dissipation and less fade during extended periods of heavy use-at a track day, for instance. Rotor carriers are now aluminum instead of steel, reducing unsprung weight, and feature 10 buttons (compared to seven last year) to better support the rotor and aid heat dissipation.

The Third-Generation Zx-10r Is Sharper-Edged, Both Stylistically And Conceptually.

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