2010 Kawasaki Motorcycles

By Aaron Frank
Photography by Kawasaki An all-new Z1000, and traction control for the Concours 14!

Kawasaki's first Z1000, released in 2003, nailed the mega-musclebike look from the start, even if its performance didn't quite live up to that look. Even after a power-spreading overhaul in '07, the ZX9-R derived inline four still felt soft and squishy to the post-Ninja rider this model was marketed towards. Now Kawasaki is ready to right that wrong. The Z1000 streetfighter has been redesigned from the ground-up for 2010, with an all-new aluminum chassis, fresh bodywork and more muscle in the form of a 1043cc powerplant adapted from the current king of Kawasaki's sportbike mountain, the Ninja ZX-10R.

The new motor isn't the only news. The old Z's steel backbone frame is gone, replaced with an all-aluminum rack like that of the latest Ninja, with an underseat fuel tank and a monocoque main spar stretching up-and-over the cylinder head to make the bike feel narrower between the knees. The seat height is lower than before, and a new "horizontal" rear suspension design and more aggressive front-end geometry make the new model more agile than before. Sharper, more futuristic styling gives the bike an "apex predator" appearance, Kawi says, and a cold-air intake should create an acceleration howl fitting for the new look.

Kawasaki's Concours 14 supersport-tourer also benefits from significant updates in 2010, further advancing the state of the sport touring art. The biggest news is KTRC, Kawasaki's first attempt at traction control. Details on how exactly the traction control acts to arrest wheelspin were unavailable at press time; in-depth technical details were also thin regarding the new K-ACT II "selectable, sport-oriented coactive anti-lock brakes," said in the teaser PR to "complement the rider's brake inputs with supplementary force enhancements for improved braking performance." We're looking forward to more info-and our first ride-on this updated version of our choice for 2009 Touring Bike of the Year. Bodywork has also been redesigned to improve wind protection and heat management, the latter of which was especially an issue on the previous generation C14.

The ZX-10R, Kawasaki's alpha-Ninja, receives only minor updates in 2010. Highlights include a redesigned transmission for smoother, more precise shifting, and improved twin-tube Ohlins steering damper and revised bodywork with smaller, single-piece front fairing and sharper sidepanels that make the bike look smaller. Pity this model didn't get the same KRTC traction control system debuting on the Concours 14.