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Kawa's reborn hooligan

2006-07-19 08:54
Kawasaki has finally managed to beat off all critics - their new ZX-10R is without any doubt one of their best ever racing machines.

Possibly, it is the best litre bike of the year.

Kawasaki took their current ZX, shifted the engine and chassis around a bit and made the frame stiffer. And then, they tweaked the engine to give it more power at the top and an increased midrange.

The results of these adjustments are astounding.

Lean it in and the new ZX gets down just as fast as the 2005 model, but more importantly, get on the throttle and the rear grips - something the old machine could never do.

Those revisions have managed to make the newcomer smoother through the corners and manageable - despite the higher top end and beefier midrange.

Yes, there is the standard Ohlins steering damper to contend with, but that does not explain the fact that the rear is more stable - it seems the boys in green have managed to turn their flagship machine into the big GSX-R killer that it was always supposed to be.

The footpegs have been raised 10mm (but they still touch down too early) and the bars have been moved closer to the rider by the same distance.

Strangely, the riding position feels almost exactly the same.

As mentioned, you get great response from the machine. Sorry if I keep going on about this, but it is just such a major change over the outgoing machine that the 2006 bike feels more like a completely new machine than the 'revised' bike as claimed by Kawasaki.

But, enough of that. Almost any bike can be good on a track. What is this reborn hooligan like on the open road?

This is where the previous machine came up short. That unpredictable edge always meant that the other litre bikes would pull bike-lengths on the ZX on your local mountain pass.

It is more predictable than the older machine, but still not as predictable as the Honda CBR and, ultimately, it is more exciting.

The new bike is obviously better. How much better is the real question.

The answer is easy: the new ZX-10R is without any doubt the king of the litre bikes for 2006.

And, I suspect that only the all-new 2007 R1 will be able to topple it off its thrown.

The new bike is smoother, but still just as quick and fast as the old model. It handles brilliantly and is the cheapest litre-bike by far.

Specifications:

Engine: 998cc, in-line four

Transmission: 6-speed

Power: 129kW, 11 000r/min

Torque: 115 Nm

Top speed: 299 km/h

Front brakes: Dual 300mm petal discs with radial mounted 4-pot callipers

Rear brakes: 220mm petal disc, single pot-sliding calliper

Front suspension: 43mm USD forks adjustable for rebound, compression and preload

Rear suspension: Rising-rate monoshock adjustable for preload, rebound and compression

Price: R99 995

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