2011 Kawasaki ZX-10R: more of the same

Dailies -


2011-Kawasaki-ZX-10R-Ninja.jpgThis is a concept sketch for the 2011 Kawasaki ZX-10R, released by Kawasaki in an apparent attempt to assure fans that there is actually a lime green pulse left in the company. After a series of also-ran superbikes since the frighteningly fast 2004 ZX-10R and after a several years without any significant new products at all, Kawasaki knows it needs to do something new, something outrageous, something unique. The problem is, it doesn’t appear that they’re doing any of that.

This sketch and this video are part of a sort of social media/viral
marketing thing intended to create buzz in the run up to the bike’s
official release. At Kawasaki-Challenge.com, the company is saying
things like:

The next Ninja ZX-10R was designed with the primary goal of winning
races. The shape, material, rigidity, weight, etc of all its parts were
reevalutated – essentially making it a completely redesigned superbike.
In addition to the bike’s speed and power, this design is an expression
of its cutting-edge innovation and beauty.

“Loaded with innovative technology.”

But what we see here isn’t innovative and new, it’s an aluminum beam
perimeter frame holding an upright inline-four and a bunch of other
standard parts. Does “cutting-edge innovation” really equate to a pound
or two less and a horsepower or two more? Where’s the Kawasaki-patented
90° engine
? Hell, where’s anything that sets this apart from every other
bike in the liter-bike class? What’s this motorcycle’s unique selling
point? All we’re really seeing here is some folded-paper plastic on top
of a distinctly conventional motorcycle, let’s hope Kawasaki is bringing
a bit more to the superbike game.



    This article explains why I am proud to of owned the fist gen ZX-10r, and why I have zero intrest in getting another one.

  • http://Twitter.com/marshallhaas Marshall Haas

    Kawasaki yawn

  • Wowi-Zowi-Kawi

    For starters, it would be great if Kawasakis weren’t butt ugly. I’m sure if they released a model styled like an MV or Ducati, most people wouldn’t complain as much.

    • Mr. Fister

      Yes, they would. The complaints would be about derivative design and knocking off Ducati or MV.

      Please, this is the internet – if not for bitching and complaining there would be no blogs.

  • http://www.thisblueheaven.com Mark D

    Let the Good Times Roll over last year’s bike.

    • Brian Zooom

      “Let the Good Times Roll over last year’s bike. “

      copy the Buell Blast marketing what?!?!?!

      “Please, this is the internet – if not for bitching and complaining there would be no blogs.

      Mr. Fister replied to comment from Wowi-Zowi-Kawi | June 23, 2010 1:51 PM | Reply “

      and here all the time, I thought the internet was for porn!!!

  • Glenn

    The C14 and Versys aren’t significant?

    • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Wes Siler

      The C14 was released in 2006 and the Versys in 2005, not very recent in my book.

  • Ben

    They got the 2010 Z1000 right. That’s all I needed. I do hope they deliver a similar scale of upgrade to the big Ninja.

  • Liquidogged

    Literbike wars are like this. This is why I’m bored with literbikes. Kawasaki is hitting the same wall all the big OEMs are: they can’t just keep making the damn things faster and expect people to buy the bikes. That’s why there’s such a focus on DTC, switchable-on-the-fly engine mappings, etc etc. For years it was all about more power – now it’s all about more control of the already stupidly high levels of performance these bikes are capable of. I’m sure the control technologies will improve too, but eventually that’ll reach an apex as well.

    Anyways, to suggest that Kawasaki is being afflicted with this, but the other OEMs aren’t, seems more like the effect of a slow news day than the effect of Kawasaki sucking at life. When’s the last time Suzuki did anything that blew your mind? Yamaha? (Crossplane crankshaft? hohum.) Honda? Maybe the latter two are kicking ass in MotoGP but that’s got very little to do with any stunning new technical innovations they’ve brought to their bikes.

    The European marques are making more interesting bikes now for sure, but even the RSV4 and S1000rr aren’t groundbreaking in any way. (Hell, the S1000rr was designed specifically to fit the mold of a dominating literbike.)

    The most exciting thing in motorcycling right now is the motoczyz TT winning bike. Next to that, everything else is starting to look a little quaint. The big 4 and the Europeans need to get on this train or in 15 years they’re going to be forced to explain why they have no E-bikes in their lineup, as ICE bikes get spanked all over the map by the latest and greatest electro-rides.

    • Mitch

      Liquid, I definitely get what you’re saying and agree with a lot of the sentiment, but consider this: sportbike development would produce designs that evolve to ‘work better’ towards a specific goal, in this case, to go faster around a race track. While many different approaches have been tried over the years, time and experience will narrow down the winning combinations and produce examples that start to resemble each other (race specifications also shape this; however they have also reached their current state by the same method of integrating the most workable designs.)

      Then, this is tempered by perceived quality; every year, dozens of magazines and reviewers take the bikes and compare them all to each other. ‘Fun’ is a category that is impossible to adequately define, but ‘fastest’ is not; it is absolute. And so, the perception of quality goes hand in hand with finishes at or near the top.

      Then, because sport motorcycles are essentially toys, value to a particular individual becomes intertwined with the perception of performance; more than one person has picked up an R6 thanks to Yamaha’s podium finishes, despite putting it on street duty, a task that it fails at by design.

      So, the Big 4, because of both a winning lineage and a staring contest with each other, have so much to lose if they change their formula. Things are also complicated by the huge market of the United States, which prefers supersport and superbikes by a large margin versus nakeds and street focused bikes.

      So I would disagree in saying that these products are ‘boring’; flung around a race track, these are some of the most exciting machines to have ever existed. Derivative? Yes. But it all depends on application.

  • Johndo

    I think the sketch looks good. 90% of sports bikes looks alike anyway so people critizing the lack of originality are criticizing all 3 jap companies at the same time.

    At the level at which sports bike are now, to blow people away it takes a ton of innovation…but BMW just did that…will be hard a few months later to push the envelope by that far, again.

  • deckard

    That sketch looks like they are continuing with the ‘massively forward’ style of the new Z1000. But where are the headlights? These design exercises that omit key elements of street legal bikes usually means that a big mistake is on its way. See the Honda headlights on the 1098, and that goofy-ass center light on the RSV4.

  • http://www.amarokconsultants.com michael.uhlarik

    One day 20 years from now, looking back at these times the same people who think its all so boring and rehashed will say “those were the golden years”.

    If this sketch was produced by some obscure European brand that is being brought back to life again (Morini, Mondial, Ossa, MV, etc) then everybody would be coming in their pants. But its made in Japan by a multinational that is solvent, and it contains genuine quality engineering. Another astonishing motorcycle that is properly developed and faster, lighter and cheaper in real terms to last year’s. It will sell in numbers far greater than the Legacy brands could ever dream of, and make a lot more profit too.

  • Kevin White

    Wow, overly harsh criticism.

    Let’s wait until it’s out before we call it crap. Or do you know more than we do?

  • http://www.michael-engle.com s1102879

    I don’t agree or disagree with Wes’ opinion, but just once I would like to see a magazine put out a review like this. That would be an inovation.

  • Max

    Well, the American mags loved the current ZX-10R – it was ranked the top liter-sportbike by MotorCyclist and Sport Rider for 2008 and 2009 – but it has sat on U.S. showroom floors mainly due to its looks. Hell, in the Chicago area you can get a brand new ZX-10R for $7999. Insane. Kawasaki has been putting out such good product over the past few years (Concours 14 considered Europe’s favored sport tourer, ZX-6R the best 600 in Europe and America, Ninja 250 best starter bike, etc.) that I wouldn’t put it past them to knock this one out of the park. Remember the Ninja 900? The ZX-11? And of course the wicked 2004 ZX-10R? They know how to make the most bad-ass bike.

    You wrote: “…after a several years without any significant new products at all.” That’s ridiculous. Kawasaki has released more new bikes than any of the big 4 over the past few years. All new Ninja 250, the Ninja 650′s, the ZX-6R, the ZX-10R, ZX-14, Concours 14, Z1000, the Vulcan 1700′s, etc. And they made significant updates to the ZX-14 and Concours 14 just after 2 years in the market. Maybe you’re not a fan of Kawasaki (most people have one of the Big 4 they don’t like much) but they have certainly not been sleeping (like Suzuki has). I like Kawasaki, and I hope they get on top of the literbike heap with this one. But maybe they should hire a designer from Italy or something – the looks of the RSV4 and 1198 sell those bikes as much as the performance.

  • ThePass

    The current 08′-10′ ZX-10 is an excellent litre bike and brutally powerful. As stated by others, it’s stayed on showroom floors because it looks horrid. The 04′ and similar years are gorgeous bikes, but a bit too out dated compared to the current litre bike crop. I’ve been waiting for Kawi to come out with a new ZX-10 that has the styling to less itself because it already has the performance. The sketch looks good, but how close if at all it will be to the actual street version is impossible to say..

  • Astro

    Dear Mr Kawasaki-
    My suggestion for the new 2011 ZX10R
    Please, please dont put the front indicators on the mirror stalks.
    It looks totally and utterly shit.
    Why dont you go back to putting them on the bike or put them in the mirrors.
    I have owned a ZZR600, a ZX6R and currently a ZX9R that I have had for seven years.
    I love Kwakas and will buy a ZX10R as a replacement for my old 9, but not one with the stupid looking indicators.
    Yes I know it is a small detail, but nevertheless, for me important enough to stop me buying the current model.

    Buy the way – I am mates with Chris Vermeulen.
    He got to ride the new bike in Japan earlier this year and said it was the reason he signed with the big K for two years.
    The new 10 should be a move in the right direction for Kawasaki to get back up the front of the SBK grid.
    Good luck to Chris and Kawasaki.
    GO GREEN!!!!

  • Arrow

    I read in Brit bike magazines that the bike will use a horizontally laid outbig-bang motor with an electric motor to even out the pulse at low revs. Pretty innovative, one should think… Electrically adjustable suspension, traction control is also mentioned but Ducati and BMW already did those…

  • Tony

    Until Erik Buell is back on his feet, I think we have to accept that the idea of motorcycle “innovation” is a somewhat limited term.

    Even BMW chose to go with a design that is very recognizable as the accepted standard of what works.

    Racing is tough. The level of performance these bikes have achieved has reached a level that engineers realize rocking the boat too much is as likely to send you to the back of the pack as it is to put you on a podium.

    . . . hopefully Erik Buell will be back on his feet soon.

  • darrmo

    Honestly fellas its a promo video for hardware in early development do you really think they would show you the goodies at this stage. Marketing hype to get you talking about what it is and isnt. I see a valid reason for posting it but making any determinations at this point is just silly.

  • Sven

    Wait and see. Kawasaki WILL be bringing a LOT more to the superbike game. Pressofficers here in Europe can hardly keep their mouths shut (but they have to), because they are themselves SO excited about the new ZX-10R. I believe them.

  • Sven

    Also, for your information, in Europe Kawa’s ER6-series are amongst the best selling bikes around (top 5). The same goes for the Z750 (e.g. best selling bike in Belgium in 2009) and the Versys is one of the most loved bikes. Every motorcyclejournalist bloody adores it.

    Last time I checked, Kawasaki is also the only Japanese brand with stable sales figures in comparison to the other three. Yamaha’s figures are a complete disaster and/as prices are through the roof (yet Kawasaki can make quality bikes at an affordable price, strangely enough). I’m not a fanboy, mind you. I never owned a Kwak and I don’t think I ever will.

    • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Wes Siler

      Dude, we love the Versys too:


      And the Concours 14 is ridiculously awesome:

      Our take here is that Kawasaki’s not done much for a couple years and needs to do a little more than the typical little-more-power-little-less-weight thing with this new bike if its to live up to the hype. We sincerely hope that they do that.

      • pamberjack

        Sorry Wes, but I think yr wrong.

        The media I’ve been reading over that past few days is all saying that the 2011 ZX-10R will have a big-bang-type firing order, variable valve timing, switchable engine maps, ABS, and traction control.

        “I’ve been on track while they’ve been around, testing in Japan, and the bike looks pretty trick. It’s COMPLETELY DIFFERENT and looks pretty special” – Chris Vermeulen.

        Care to comment?

    • Trojanhorse

      Sven, you’re on-the-spot. Pretty funny that people are saying they sit in the showrooms, when Kawasaki sold >30% MORE sportbikes in the US than any other manufacturer last year. Everything’s sitting in showrooms to some extent, but Kawasakis are doing so much less than the rest of the Big 4. I don’t particularly like them myself, but there’s no denying that they’ve been doing pretty well.

  • Isaac

    They should look at the new MotoCzysz E1, take note and try to follow. That bike looks like it’s from 2025. Change you company colors too. Yamaha did it three times or more, LOL. Ninja’s are supposed to be stealthy anyway so make it an eSBK.

  • Mark


    Let’s get real! BMW came out with the most powerful and advanced electronics on a conventional inline four design. And guess what, they can’t make enough to keep-up with demand! If the 2011 ZX-10R comes close and the price is right, it too will sell like hotcakes. Maybe you guys who worry about looks of a bike do not read performance evaluations, but in a lot of them the 2010 ZX-10R came in second only to the BMW S1000R. I have a 03′ ZX-12R and a 05′ ZX-10R and I do have loyalty to the Kawasaki brand. Both are screaming machines and I have dusted many newer liter bikes on my 05′. Why don’t you check-out motorreports.com, play the Kawasaki teaser then look at the other listed videos at the bottom. Someone posted a photo of an undisclosed magazine cover showing what I consider the ACTUAL 2011 ZX-10R!!! The video and the sound are pretty-bad, but what you see is a ZX-10R that in closest comparison looks like a Ducati 999 of years past. Then lets hear some comments!

  • Mark

    The video is the second one shown on the Kawasaki teaser after it plays here at the bottom!!! Take a look, I think that THIS IS what the bike will look-like, 2011 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R! Lets here some discussion.

    • Mark

      Ok motorcycle enthusiasts,
      By the info I gather from the You Tube photo of the 2011 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R, I see some tech innovation. First, vertical ram-air induction intakes on both sides of the centrally-mounted, stacked projector-beam headlamps. External ram-air ducting above a fuel tank/airbox cover for a smaller design with direct air-path to the intake funnels that I believe to be variable “ala” Yamaha/BMW/Aprilia/MV. Fuel-tank probably extends under-seat “ala” ZX-12R/ZX-14. Lower right- fairing “flush” exhaust exit. “Gull” type swing-arm almost a carbon copy of BMW. Front-fork to me looks like a SHOWA unit, probably the “big-piston” variety. Plus, if you study the photo this bike has all the “Kawasaki” design leanings with and parts like the paint scheme, front caliper design and brake lines, brake masters and reservoir design, controls location. The much maligned mirror stalk turn-signals are gone with mirror mounted units. It looks to me Kawi is trying to address the aesthetic issues they suffered from. Well, it seems to me that this is what the new “10″ will look very-much like. Of course, I could be wrong and this could be a prototype, but when-it plays-out I’m betting the bike will look almost identical. Anyone care to comment?

      • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Wes Siler

        The problem is you just listed utterly conventional parts for 2010.

        • Pamberjack

          Wes – Ignore “mark”; just spamming for his website/YouTube page…

          But you gotta admit, if it does have variable timing, traction control and a big-bang engine it does go against what you said in your original post.


          • Mark

            Let’s hear anything “new” from any manufacturer 2010 or beyond? Traction-control, anti-lock brakes, multi-map ECU’s, quick-shifters, v-twin, v-four,in-line four, perimeter-frame, welded-trellis, all have been around for year’s. Wow, a “big-bang” motor that would have all the appeal of a radial four-cylinder aircraft motor from the 1930′s. Same sound and low-rpm torque. That sounds usable by the average joe. The things that sell a bike now:
            1. Affordability/Insurance Costs
            The market has dried-up for liter-class machines. In fact, just about all classes of motorcycles. As some have said, they are now expensive toys in bad economic times. Euro-bikes are more-interesting, more-expensive and fewer in number. It will remain that way. I wouldn’t plan on seeing major innovation in a product that has to sell in mass for the company to sustain its production. Besides, there isn’t much more that can change for this class of bikes, they are almost beyond “street” useability already. I doubt Kawasaki is going to “start-anew” with 2008 to 2010 bikes selling as low as $7500 new in the showroom with incentives, do you think? Most buyers will pick actually having a bike rather than having the most innovative or wins more races and is much more-expensive. Buy a $7500 bike, buy after-market parts to suit your tastes and have fun with what you can afford. That is what is going to happen in my opinion.
            Besides, I do not have a “blog” or You Tube page. But I do know companies are going to build what sells, and the benchmark is the BMW S1000R, a “totally-conventional” with electronic-aides, a bike that is in short-supply. Maybe that can be filled-by a 2011 ZX-10R with the same power, format,improved-styling, electronics that will be easily duplicated and priced-less. Kawasaki will not read my writings, yours or anyone else’s and follow our advise! They will build what they consider a viable product for the economic times. PLAIN AND SIMPLE AS THAT! Probably limited-production to fit the current market. Don’t claim to be an expert, but do like to get the “dander-up” of those who think they are. I live in the “real-world”!

            • Trojanhorse

              Mark, the website you referenced is useless crap that has nothing to do with the topic (motorreports.com), which is probably why PJ thought you were just trying to drive traffic to it.

              Let’s look at what you said – the things that sell a bike. And let’s evaluate the bike that you admitted is selling like gangbusters, the BMW, against your criteria.

              1. Affordability/Insurance Costs – FAIL. It’s an expensive bike, not in a sense relative to other exotics, but to the whole motorcycle market.

              2. Styling – FAIL. It’s got a face like Thom Yorke.

              3. Comfort/Ergos – FAIL. Again, compared to all other bikes, it’s not comfortable.

              4. Innovation – FAIL. Didn’t you just point out that it was “totally conventional?”

              I doubt anyone’s dander is up, dude. Better luck next time.

      • Grant Ray

        Mark, I’m really glad you’re excited about a new Kawasaki, but that “photo” is a joke of a photoshopped concept rendering and is nowhere near the actual bike. 1993 ZX-7R over-the-tank ram-air flex tubes fooled you? Seriously? I can just see this dude at his desk right now.

        “Oh, pulling the MotoGP underseat flushmount header plus a bitchin’ underseat exhaust ain’t nearly enough, so I’ma drop a tweeked KTM RC8 headlamp with side-slit air intakes… Oh, wait. The air intakes are actually supposed to be those other slits, that is represented right here by my black oval tool I used in Photoshop to put just under the mirrors, see? Eh, ain’t nobody gonna notice. And for forks, I’ma go crazy and do sumkinda Showa/Ohlins hybrid, YEAH!”

        I hate to tell you, but I can’t imagine Kawasaki having anything to do with that sketch. Until someone nabs a spy shot or Kawasaki lets out some official PR, there’s nothing to say this 2011 ZX-10R will be any different than when Suzuki put out their “all-new, super-amazing” GSX-R1000 last year.

        Pardon me as I hope for the best while preparing for more of the same.

  • Mark

    If it is anything but “conventional” it probably won’t sell. It may satisfy moto-journalists, professional-racers, club-racers and bored rich-punks but the guy on the street Kawasaki’s traditional market will not buy-it. If it is equal-too or more-expensive than a base S1000R, Kawasaki has wasted-its time. Again, the market for liter-bikes has dried-up. The list that sells a liter bike now that I posted is correct, price/insurance first, innovation is dead-last. No amount of journalistic-praise or won races in these times will help. I will be buying in 2011 and if what is said here is true, I will be ordering a BMW S1000R with all the electronics aboard! Ridden-it and it suits me just-fine. My local BMW dealer is already well into his allotment for next-year so I guess I will get started. Or wait till the end of 2011 and pick-up a 2010 ZX-10R at a bargain-basement price in a overall platform I like, not a gimmicky experiment. I can modify-it to suit me as I have done before. And it does not matter to me, conjecture is a boor as many people who peddle-it. Bikes are fun toys to be enjoyed and not much of a earth-shattering subject anyway. I know I will get what I want, not having to worry about prices and never said I have to being of an age and finances that allows decadence if I so choose (Eisenhower was President when I was born). Just hate to see a company I like do a very-dumb move, lose its shirt and look-bad. You youngsters kibitz all you want, I’m done here.

  • Mark

    I did not mean to silence discussion here. I only checked-back to today see if anyone was still speculating. Kawasaki Heavy Industries board is filled with pragmatic men who understand the economic times in our country and the world. We have over 10% unemployment (actually much-higher)and I am a pragmatic businessman too. All countries have had their economies diminished. This means for motorcyles fewer made and higher prices with less innovation in the market.
    I am not trying also to make a political statement either, but our own government WE elected is also part of the economic problem. At present, we have no plans to actually grow the economy as announced by our President at the G-8 conference quote: The world can no longer count on the United States to be the the economic engine of the world! With that statement, our government diminished us-all and our ability to influence global markets. Money talks and if you have a planned decline (no money to purchase)companies like Kawasaki make adjustments to planned production which in the case of the 2011 Ninja ZX-10R will be like the 2010 model, very-limited production run. Go ask your Kawasaki dealer if you do not believe me. They do not even know if Kawasaki will have a “dealer” show to introduce new models pre-public release! I as a businessman have made these plans too! To survive our governments and to be truthful, many other governments truly-unskilled handling of their respective economies. We must understand this and move-on from here. It is a ten-year formula if we have the foresight to elect a government to handle the economy in a skilled-manor! Now I am truly-done here!

  • http://www.motorcycle.com/manufacturer/kawasaki/2011-kawasaki-zx10r-preview-89749.html Duckboy

    This talk about big-bang, 90-degree engines looks to be the product of somebody’s imagination, at least according to this article at motorcycle.com

  • Ridicule35

    Hello folks,

    I’ve enjoyed reading the comments above. I think the 2011 Kawasaki needs to be released and tested by the usual motorcycle guru’s to have a technical analysis worth debating.

    Having owned a 1992 500 GPZ and a 1988 ZX10 Tomcat, I am currently looking at the ZX10R to bring myself into the new millenium as far as choice of bike is concerned. The 2010 model appeals to me following it’s gear change and steering damper refinement over the 2009 model. At the same time it still does not have the BPF’s of the 2010 ZX6R. All things considered, the current ZX10R is a pretty decent bike for the price you pay.

    In the end, it comes down to what your capacity is as a rider. Are you a rider or a ‘pilot’? Can you exploit the bike enough to know that you need the extra features (safety aids like traction control for example?) or is it just a mental comfort to know you have it if needed? If you just a daily rider, weekend rider or occasional track day rider I doubt you’d need anymore than what’s already on the market.

    New innovative technology costs and that has to be repaid. If the innovations aren’t of benefit or immediately apparent to a daily rider, it is not a selling point and so it represents a loss. Big bang engine? I live in Brittany. That means 30,50,70,90,110 and 130km/h on public road or track days if I want use more than 30% of the bike’s capacity. Sometimes too much technology is like wearing a tuxedo to do an oil change…who needs that? keep it simple…keep it affordable…keep it reliable…thats be Jap bike concept for me. For the people that want more, there are the usual brands that do what you want but charge you the price tag too. Pay with a smile.

    Oops, I seem to have rambled on….sorry.