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Kawasaki ZX-10R

2005-11-23 14:21

Brett Hamilton

I'm ducking behind the screen of their ZX-10R superbike and smiling from ear to ear.

In 2003 they launched a serious campaign on the motorcycle industry: a revamped 600, the VN2000 cruiser and the seminal Z750.

A year before, the Z1000 changed the way we think about streetfighters.

Still, how many unsuccessful racing campaigns can one company manage? This didn't stop them from introducing one of the most exciting models ever to come from the green factory.

The ZX-10R is the motorcycle that every Kawasaki fan has been waiting for.

Since the 1994 introduction of the Ninja ZX-9R, all Kawasaki fans have been yearning for a bike that could at least keep up with the 600s.

Even the big corporate managers in Japan knew that Kawasaki offered sub-standard machines. They needed a change.

The ZX-10R has been the answer to their prayers.

Based on the usual Kawasaki package, the ZX-10R is "the definitive expression of Kawasaki's supersport racing DNA."

The 10R does not look half bad. As is the case with the ZX-6, the true beauty of the motorcycle only becomes evident when crouched next to it and standing over it.

These motorcycles are truly special. They look like real GP machines. Available in green, blue and black, the 10R definitely mimics its motoGP-racing compatriot.

Sharp lines incorporating flowing curves with black frame, swingarm and other "usually-shiny" components makes the 10R a neatly finished package.

A huge air-scoop with double headlamps gives the 10R a distinct Kawasaki feel without directly copying the ZX-6R of 2003.

It has to be said that any bike that can pull off a green colour-scheme deserves extraordinary praise.

On the engineering side the ZX-10R is very impressive.

Automotive-type fine-atomising injectors improve performance, fuel economy and emissions. Fuel spray from conventional injectors has a droplet size of 120 microns. The fine atomising injectors have a droplet size of approximately 70 microns (don't know what that means, but it sounds good).

The forged pistons are lightweight and very tough, for low reciprocating weight and high heat resistance.

Their flat tops enable a compact combustion chamber with improved combustion efficiency, boasting a compression ratio of 12.5:1.

A one-piece cylinder/crankcase design, rear-mounted generator, compact cylinder head and "stacked" tri-axis transmission/crankshaft layout allows an amazingly compact and lightweight engine - allowing the bike's centre of gravity to be lowered.

The engine is short enough to fit below the twin beams of the frame. This allows the bike to be as compact as the 600.

The Ninja ZX-10R is the first supersport bike to feature petal brake discs. This unique disc shape improves cooling, reduces weight, and helps prevent disc warp. It looks superb.

Front discs are 300mm, radial 4-pot opposed piston callipers. It delivers impressive stopping performance with excellent feel at the lever.

The 220mm rear petal disc is operated by a single-piston calliper.

Our test unit experienced massive fade with real effort needed to exert impressive action.

Highly rigid 43mm inverted forks are fully adjustable and feature settings that are biased towards track riding.

Both front and rear suspension units are fitted with top-out springs for stable suspension performance.

Because the top-out springs regulate suspension elongation, the rider will also experience less nose-dive under heavy braking or with hard acceleration. This makes the ZX a lovely bike to ride fast and hard. Unlike the Honda RR, the Kawasaki is massively entertaining offering good feedback and loads of character.

It is a crazy motorcycle that requires a dedicated rider.

The ZX-10R will set you back R115 000. The new one is on its way, though.


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