Most superbikes are close enough to race-ready when they get ridden out showroom floors. That’s just the nature of this category of machines. The 2016 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R takes that principle to heart, though, churning out a 1000cc motorcycle that’s as close to race-equipped as possible, all while keeping it completely legal on the road.
Developed with close input from World Superbike Champion Jonathan Rea and former series champ Tom Sykes, the motorcycle actually looks nearly identical to the previous-generation model – a direct result of Kawasaki’s vow to not develop any new cosmetic features for the bike, choosing to focus their attention on improving lap times instead. Beneath the familiar fairings, though, lie an entirely new ride that steps it up in the performance department.
Housing a redesigned 998cc engine, the 2016 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R’s powerplant packs new pistons, cylinder head, camshafts, and primary gear, along with a lighter crankshaft, reworked porting with electronic throttle valves, thicker engine sidewalls, and a larger airbox. Output is relatively the same as the previous model at 210 horsepower and 83.7 pound-feet of torque, but with lower overall bike inertia, the motorcycle is able to perform considerably better at straight-line acceleration, braking, corner entry, and change of direction. It also gets a new frame geometry that puts the rider closer to the steering head, with both the headstock angle and the swingarm pivot adjustable to suit the rider’s preferred style. Other features include a WSB-developed front fork that delivers superb damping response, a sophisticated electronics package with a six-axis sensor and all the acronyms your brain can handle (KTRC, KLCM, KECB and all that), and a Cornering Management system that automatically coordinates the traction control and the braking system.
Available now, pricing for the 2016 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R starts at $15,999.