"Our efforts were focused on increasing torque, especially in the mid-rpm range," said project leader Yasuhisa Okabe. A dyno-graph comparison showed that the depression in the middle of the '07-'08 model's torque curve had been smoothed over, and the power curve rose higher and tapered off less impetuously. Our posteriors corroborate Kawasaki's claims. Having just spent a day aboard an '08 Ninja at a Track Club (www.thetrackclub.com) track day at Buttonwillow Raceway, I had the old bike's power delivery characteristics fresh in my mind. The new engine maintains the same stratospheric 16,500-rpm redline and over-rev capabilities, but power comes on earlier and builds longer, putting a claimed 124.4 horses to the ground at 13,500 rpm as opposed to the previous model's 117.9 bhp at 12,500 rpm. The engine's happy zone has grown by about 3000 revs, indicated by a band of green that extends from 8000 rpm upward on the white-faced tach. Throttle response is crisp and the engine pulls cleanly from idle, with noticeably more grunt in the middle. Combine the engine's extra meat with a buttery six-speed gearbox and a smooth-acting slipper clutch, and you have a bike that's easier to ride-and easier to ride fast.