2011 Kawasaki ZX-10R | Doin' Time

Staffers' Rides

WRIST: Barry Burke
MSRP (2011): $13,799
MILES: 5693
MPG: 33
MODS: Bridgestone tires, Kawasaki countershaft sprocket, Race Tech fork kit

My long-term Kawasaki ZX-10R continues to deliver flawless performance mile after mile. The more experience I get with the S-KTRC (Sport-Kawasaki Traction Control), the more impressed I am with it. I live at the base of Southern California’s legendary Ortega Highway, and the weather can be different “up on the mountain.” Being able to adjust the traction control and engine behavior to suit the conditions is really nice.

While some people might try to squeeze more power out of the Ninja, I was satisfied with the addition of a smaller, 16-tooth countershaft sprocket ($42.51; www.kawasaki.com). This corrects the too-tall stock gearing to let the bike accelerate harder, which is just like having more power! Many racers and track-day riders switch to lighter #520 chain and sprockets, but I figured I'd go the cheap route since I was planning a more expensive purchase.

By that I mean a 25mm cartridge fork kit from Race Tech ($1999; www.racetech.com). The Ninja's Showa Big Piston Fork offers a wide range of adjustments, but upgrading to the Race Tech kit makes those adjustments much more effective and precise. This setup greatly improved front-end feedback, which is the key to cornering confidence, paying dividends on the street and track. After dialing-in our 2012 ZX-10R testbike during our "Class of 2012" superbike comparison ("Shogun Showdown," MC, July), I applied the same changes to my long-termer. That involved shimming the shock to raise the rear end 8mm and sliding the forks down so they're flush with the top triple clamp, raising the front end 4mm.

By the 5000-mile mark, the stock Bridgestone BT-016 tires were shagged , so I replaced them with another set from the Japanese company, this time R10 DOT race tires ($161 front, $241 rear; www.bridgestonemotorcycletires.com). The added traction from the stickier rubber was immediately evident when hammering on the throttle, and the steeper profile improved turn-in speed dramatically compared to the squared-off stock buns.

Now, back to the racetrack!