2011 Kawasaki ZX-10R | Doin' Time

Staffers’ Rides

Photography by Kevin "k-dub" Wing

WRIST: Barry Burke
MSRP (2011): $13,799
MILES: 1493
MPG: 36
MODS: Öhlins steering damper

I’ve always been impressed with Kawasaki’s ZX-10R engine, and with Kawasaki engines in general, all the way back to the GPz1100, KZ1000R and Z1. Kawasaki handling has been somewhat less impressive, however. Until now: The 2011 ZX-10R’s chassis provides excellent feedback, which translates to plenty of rider confidence. Team Green’s engineers made a real breakthrough with this one.

This year’s ZX-10R is 20 lbs. lighter than last year’s, and feels lighter yet in tight canyons or at the racetrack. The new Sport-Kawasaki Traction Control (S-KTRC) electronics package is a giant step forward when it comes to putting down the power. Caught miles from home in a freak thunderstorm? Dial up a little more virtual rear grip and you’ll be fine. Almost: My bike doesn’t have Kawasaki’s Intelligent anti-lock Braking System (KIBS)—a $1000 option.

I could have used more set-up time with the Ninja during our “Class of 2011” testing. It turned well enough, but I wanted it to steer a little quicker without giving up any stability. That meant either shimming the stock shock or bolting on one with adjustable ride-height, and I didn’t have the chance to try either option at the time.

Now that I’ve got a long-term testbike, I’ve got carte blanche. The first thing I did was fix that so-called steering damper. The ZX-10R comes with something that looks the part and may well be idiot-proof, but which doesn’t work all that well. The options: Send it to Race Tech for a re-valve ($100; www.racetech.com) of swap it for a real Öhlins damper (part number SD-021; $370 from www.ohlinsusa.com). Since we’d already reviewed the Race Tech setup (MC, August), I went the Öhlins route. It bolted on easily, and with 16 clicks of actual adjustment solves all the stock part’s problems. It’s the first investment any new ZX-10R owner should make, transforming the bike into the best stock Kawasaki streetbike I’ve ever ridden.

Enjoyed this Post? Subscribe to our RSS Feed, or use your favorite social media to recommend us to friends and colleagues!

*Please enter your username

*Please enter your password

*Please enter your comments
Comments:
Not Registered?Signup Here
(1024 character limit)
Motorcyclist
  • Motorcyclist Online