2011 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R: less usable performance, better bench-racing bragging rights

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Great news liter bike fans! Buy a 2011 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R and you’ll
be able to brag about “the highest power of any Ninja to date” without
being burdened by “excess mid-range torque.” That’s right, Kawasaki’s
priority for the next Ninja “was to make it easy to open the throttle.”
Something Tom Sykes clearly appreciates in this video of him testing the
new bike at Autopolis.

It’s not all bad news though. In its gradual release of increasingly disappointing details in order to curry coverage on Hell For Leather, Kawasaki has also revealed that it hasn’t totally screwed up the new bike. Improvements include:

By reducing the weight of individual parts like the frame, BPF, wheels and harness, a significantly lighter bike was possible.

Horizontal Back-link rear suspension offers increased feedback and stability in corners, and contributes to mass centralization.

The Horizontal Back-link rear suspension arrangement is less susceptible to heat, helping to ensure stable damping performance.

Use of a Big Piston Front fork (BPF) offers smooth damping characteristics, and contributes to enhanced composure under braking.

Revised chassis geometry gives the Next Ninja more flickable handling and greater feel from the front.

The Next Ninja uses a completely new frame. Offering ideal torsional rigidity, it enables excellent control and handling.

The new Ram Air intake is closer to the front of the bike (where pressure is higher), contributing to higher filling efficiency.

Bodywork on the Next Ninja uses larger openings to promote heat dissipation. Necessary with high power output.

All that’s good, pointing to a bike that’s “significantly lighter,” uses steeper geometry for quicker turning and some sort of fancy linkage on the rear shock to bring it closer to the center of mass and make its actuation more linear, improving feeedback to the rider. Improved control over a more nimble motorcycle is exactly the direction liter bikes are trying to go in.

So what’s the problem? The power delivery. Over the last few years, bike designers have realized that the general public, even trackday fanatics, are unable to fully exploit the ridiculous performance of 180bhp+ 1000cc engines and have responded with a variety of tricks to improve the rider’s ability to use that power. That’s meant technology like traction control, but also a variety of alterations to the power delivery; witness things like the R1′s crossplane crankshaft  and variable length intakes intended to boost mid-range torque without sacrificing that all important (for on-paper bragging rights) peak horsepower number.

But, according to Kawasaki’s tweets, they haven’t gone in this direction for the 2011 ZX-10R, saying:

On the Next Ninja, all excess mid-range torque was cut. Our priority was to make it easy to open the throttle.

By moving peak torque higher up in the rev range, torque valleys were almost completely eliminated.

When designing the Next Ninja’s engine, the highest power of any Ninja to date was pursued.

That “easy to open the throttle” statement is bizarre. Our interpretation is that “easy” translates to less oomph, but that could just be our cynical nature.

Hooray for BMW S1000RR-rivaling power. Hooray for a smaller, lighter bike. Boo to being unable to exploit that power to actually keep up with the Beemer.

via Kawasaki Challenge

  • CA

    Hooray for Kawasaki! Maybe, just maybe, this will translate to less accidents by the squids who buy these things. Bragging rights = death wish.

  • pdub

    Duh, All the manufacturers have been sharpening these sticks year by year. The problem is they need to make them competitive on the track AND a usable road bike. Those two aims diverged long ago and these days it’s a tough compromise to give it podium DNA in sales floor form. Honda does this pretty well. Their CBR’s are often rated with most usable street manners while being able to take the gloves off in track form.
    The break from reality is thinking an ideal modern sport streetbike and a built trackbike have the same desired throttle hand character. Take an off the floor CBR1k and a WSBK CBR1k and compare throttle response. I’d bet good money the track bike has been tweaked to the point it that it’s street manners are all but gone.
    Late 80′s and 90′s 500GP bikes had near the same weight and peak HP as current production based bikes. Hell, Doohan’s NSR has similar absolute numbers as the stock BMW liter bike but waaaaay different manners to be sure.

  • Eduardo Di Lascio

    The sound…the sound…

    • http://Tonywang.tw TonysWang

      That sounds pretty awesome.. But that’s with a Leo Vince though.. Wonder what the factory will sound like…

  • Rob

    expect a very S1000RR-ish power band and numbers. Easy to open the throttle means torque much higher in the power band and they accomplish this by way of shorter stroke = more revs = more horseypowers generally at the cost of midrange.

  • Johndo

    Holy crap it sounds nice with that pipe!

  • http://www.coloradoeuro.com Brad Hendry

    I think I am a little confused reading this article. You do appear to have a cynicle and misinterpreted view here. I believe when Kawasaki say that they are making it easier to open the throttle by cutting excess midrange they are actually addressing a big problem with powerful liter bikes. Wes, think back to Aprilias of the past (like the Moto GP Cube thing…). That motorcycle was insanely difficult to ride because it had excess midrange power. This excess power is particularly annoying when leaned over with a small contact patch. By changing the power delivery the rider is able to open the throttle smoothly as he exits a corner to get into the higher power part when the lean angle goes away.

    Again, as I read the article it made perfect sense because any liter bike without technical restraints or different power delivery options will abuse a rider and a tire when ridden hard in a race track setting. Smoother power delivery on a bike that makes more power at 8000 rpm than factory superbikes made at peak 10 years ago is a good thing.

    Also, these are race replica machines. Changes are made for better lap times and thus better finishes in production racing classes and championships around the world. I think once you look at it less like a street bike where you need roll on mid range torque on the highway and more like a race machine where dialing in power at the edges of grip levels, it all makes much more sense.

    • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Wes Siler

      Sorry, I don’t understand what you’re trying to say. Less power = better? Why not ride a 600 then?

      • Sean

        Brad and Kawasaki have a point: Smoothing power power delivery by way of removing peaks and valleys in the torque curve is a good thing. In theory, you go just as fast, just with less stress on the tire and less high-sidey sky-ground-sky-ground shenanigans. In theory…

        • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Wes Siler

          Oh, I understand the benefit of removing peaks and troughs in order to smooth the delivery, but the issue here is that they’ve basically said they’ve reduced the mid-range in favor of top end. I struggle to understand how that’s good.

      • Brad Hendry

        No Wes, that’s not what I am trying to say, but it does help answer the question why some tracks have laptimes very close for 600s and 1000s. Basically, when you are leaned over at maximum lean angle, there is such a thing as too much mid-range HP. I believe Kawasaki have tamed it down to make it go faster.

        Racers often talk about smoother being faster, and this is what is being addressed. The Kawasaki was too violent when the throttle was applied, which made it hard to reach max HP as fast as a bike that did it smoother.

        For more illustration on what I am saying compare the power delivery of a two-stroke. With the right expansion chamber you could make a a 2-stroke deliver almost all its power in the “mid-range” but you would have riders high siding all over the place, because it is simply too much power.

        Further, in motocross for example, when the 500 two stroke were being raced the factory race bikes were actually “de-tuning” the bikes so the racers could finish a moto. Flywheel weights are added to off-road race bikes to make the power hit less aggresively.

        Traction control thoertically does this as well as it “de-tunes” a machine to lower power levels when traction is taken away. But it is only one piece of the pie that factories use to adjust power delivery to favor smoothness with cam profiles, timing, fueling etc.

      • pete

        a 600 is more than adequate for anyone with any skill on the street

  • RSVDan

    Hmmm. So, midrange power is a bad thing and makes bikes hard to ride. I guess both Ducati and Aprilia don’t know this and should redesign their motors to supply peaky top end power. They’d probabaly win more races that way.

    Oh, wait….

    • Brad Hendry

      Hey Dan,

      I raced a 1098 R last year, and I can promise you that we smoothed out the mid-range delivery with rich fuel and ignition timing because the big Ducati makes such massive torque.

  • Mitch

    It’s pretty cut and dry in my eyes – race machines, bike or car or whatever, are tuned in a specific way to be ridden smoothly at the top end of their power. This means less torque down low and more horsepower up high. This is completely backwards from a satisfying street riding experience, where you’d want much more torque down low and a lower rev limit overall.

    Any engine has a range at which it can present it’s power like this; you kind of get a choice, if you had access to cam lift and duration, injector flow, throttle body operation etc, you could turn it like a knob between peak horsepower and broader torque. That is a gross simplification of course and I am not an engineer, but years of treading around the internet and studying race machines seems to divulge this kind of info.

    So this all boils down to how they want to present the bike; magazine shootouts and image are so very important to sales, and guys are absolutely obsessed with numbers even though they mean nothing regarding the feel of the bike unless you really are racing. So the temptation to keep sharpening the stick is always there, even if it hampers rideability anywhere except a race track.

    • pdub

      Mitch,
      Exactly what I was trying to say but doing a better job of it. Isn’t this all a bit like Spinal Tap? “This one goes to 11.” “Why don’t you just make it so 10 is louder?” “But this one goes to 11?”
      I’ll buy it!

  • Mitch

    Speaking of… magazines are funny. The US ones anyway are kind of dying on the vine unless they have some kind of niche or real identity, but even then they succumb to the same sort of ‘shiny thing’ mentality that makes comparions so bizarre. Super Streetbike throws 7 un-related sportbikes together in a comparo, they remark that the CBR1KRR was ‘the king’ in 2008 but they trash it now… the bike hasn’t changed, but there are different shiny toys now, so I guess that means the bike that was a blast two years ago sucks now. Just kind of weird and childish, then again I’d say anything my advertisers told me to say if it meant I could have a full time job screwing around on motorcycles.

  • Mike

    Here’s an idea- how about wait for some sort of quantifiable piece of data before bashing the bike.

    I understand that cutting excess torque sounds like a bad thing, but they claim to be doing it in an effort to make the bike easier to ride. You guys have completely inverted Kawasaki’s statement to say that the bike is less usable. Couldn’t you at least wait for a dyno chart before telling us how bad the bike is?

    • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Wes Siler

      We’re only providing analysis of the material Kawasaki’s providing. That material is currently saying some worrying things.

  • Isaac

    Curious….are Akrapovic and Kawasaki on the outs? I have always associated them with that exhaust brand. You know like the Duc’s and Termi’s. I just want to see the bike in it’s street clothes. I’m not buying one, just curious.

  • geonerd

    excess midrange? seriously? i’ve gotta say i’ve read a lot of sportbike reviews and that is one complaint i’ve never, ever heard.

    • yzedf

      you’ve never hit a bump at full lean in 2nd gear at 7,000rpm on a liter bike have you?

      • geonerd

        I dunno. Maybe not. I really don’t see what you’re getting at.

        My point was that the term “excessive midrange” sounds like excessive marketing ignorance. If they’re trying to say that it is more driveable, or that the torque curve is flatter then they should just say that. The way it’s worded makes it sound like having midrange is bad, which is ridiculous.

  • Max

    I SAY GREAT NEWS! As an owner of two literbikes, I have found myself wanting crazy power and mild, controllable power at different times. When the conditions are right, I couldnot have enough top-end power. But for other situations, I have wished for smooth, decent power application, without the great fear of upsetting the chassis with too much power when I didn’t need it. I think Kawi’s approach just may work, IF they give it smooth EFI mapping and a progressive, proper (as not NOT KTM-style) throttle connection.

    Hey, look at the S1000RR. Right at (or below) the other literbikes from idle to 9,000 rpm, then shooting off the map like a rocket. Seems to have done well for BMW’s sales….

  • John Magnum

    im sorry, all of a sudden torque is somewhat negligible in the midrange? which won thumbs up worldwide for the CBR.
    i want big midrange torque on the street. Why cant they develop a switchable map or something. TRACK / STREET for those concerned about usable power on a minimal contact patch.
    current zx10 does what there saying anyway it doesnt have the midrange of the CBR or the Duc.
    So all they are doing essentially is upping the power and they waved a magical wand over the handling persona and parts bin.
    Boo boring and bla!!!
    stay tuned for 2011 Kwaka crap graphics / paint.

  • Shinigami

    C’mon people, you expect the guys who glorify a pack of homicidal NYC high-speed one-armed slack-jawed idiot squids to look at usable, tractable power as a good thing if it can be spun as “less”?

    Sounds like what they really want is a circa 94 500 Motogp 2 stroke, complete with light-switch power delivery.

    Wow.

    • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Grant Ray

      Shinigami, you can be bitchy about us all you want, but from my experience, a peaky engine with that kind of power isn’t good for the street unless it’s accompanied by traction control, like the BMW S1000RR. Based strictly off what Kawasaki has stated so far, that 1994 Grand Prix racer you reference is similar to what the new ZX10R is promising. Low bottom end, soft midrange, then a spike in top end power, which is the classic two-stroke delivery, as well as the tamer, early I-4 four-stroke racers. Fun and engaging for the track of course, not so fun for the street when the power is over 170HP. Last I heard, the ZX10R will be sold with lights and registration.

  • Mark

    Uh, apples and oranges here. It seems to me Kawasaki all along has been talking about the race bike and not the street-version. I seriously doubt that the street-version will have a whole lot in common with the bike we have been shown. Does any WSBK bike really have that distinction in common with it’s civilian brother other than looking similar? When I see the street bike and get some “real world” specs then something worth reading will be written to make a judgement by. I have ridden the Kawasaki, BMW, Ducati, Suzuki, Yamaha, Aprilia and the Honda sportbikes. They have all made compromises and have their own distinct personalities. Mid-range horse-power and torque on the street is bunk! Tell me what gear you select with one of these machines from 5000 to 9000 RPM that will work well on a street, still be legal without dogging all these thoroughbreds to death? People buy these for the thrill and styling they prefer. Some buy for prestige in a name brand. One thing in common? Yes, they all are more than most can handle and why insurance prices are insane for all. Many a widow all of these brands have made, I applaud making “useable and linear” power available in deference to unpredictable power curves.

  • Kaipo Rahe

    Smooth, Linear power is very enticing. I don’t see why Wes downplays all things Literbike, yet parades around the Electric bikes for a majority of his Blogging.

    • Shinigami

      Well, I had included a similar comment about the pro-electric bike spin here, but decided it was too inflammatory. Besides, as far as I am aware, and having spent a brief time at the wheel of a Tesla, I have the opinion that nothing spins up quite as fast as a properly built electric vehicle. Someday we’ll have electric bikes that outperform gas ones. Rue the day.

  • http://www.macattorney.com/ts.html Randy Singer

    On another note, if you watch the video in slow motion, and freeze frame in the right spots, some interesting things can be noted.

    First, judging by the shot where we can look between the frame spars and see the top of the engine, it’s clear that Kawasaki isn’t using an upside down engine as has been speculated all over. If they were using an upside down engine the head wouldn’t be sticking straight up.

    From the same shot, it looks like Kawasaki is using direct into the cylinder fuel injection. They are also using stick coils (coils on top of the spark plugs.)

    Judging by the (huge and colorful) buttons on the handlebars, I’d guess that the bike has switchable engine maps and/or switchable traction control.

    It’s possible that the reference to eliminating excess midrange torque refers to the use of one of several available engine maps and/or levels of traction control to smooth power delivery on the track. This especially seems likely if you factor in that the news from Kawasaki may have been poorly translated from Japanese.

    There are a couple of interesting things about Kawasaki. The first is that even though they are a small motorcycle manufacturer, Kawasaki in general is a huge conglomerate, with the resources to do anything that they put their mind to.

    Second, I’ve been following racing for about 45 years. In all that time, its hard to remember when Kawasaki was ever a force to be reckoned with. Especially on the international level. The early Z-1 was a good base for production-based racebikes, especially in the ’70′s. And Kawasaki had some nice 250cc two-stroke racers a bunch of years ago. But when else has Kawasaki had a roadrace bike that was a serious contender? Have they ever won in the premier international roadrace class?

    One has to wonder, based on the last half of a century, if Kawasaki could ever be a contender in Superbike or MotoGP.

    • Mark

      Randy,
      What you have mistaken for the valve cover is actually the plastic air-box with the secondary- injectors directly inline with the throttle bodies on top. Further inspection shows the split-in the fuel lines to each bank with traditional injectors (primary) near said throttle-bodies. Stick coils on plugs have been around for about 7-8 years on FI aspirated bikes. I still look forward to seeing the machine in the flesh in a version for real world use. BMW or Aprilia have not used any earth-shaking or really new technologies that have not been around awhile. They are just refining and executing the existing technologies better at this point.

    • Mitch

      The ZXR750 was a force in production-based classes for years, and the current ZX-6R is right at the pointy end of the World Supersport championship in Juan Lascorz’s hands.

  • aaron

    I’ve always found it easiest to open the throttle when the cable is detached. Second easiest is without the return spring mounted. I fail to see how much better these modifications will make my bike, though…

    I’ll let everyone know how it works out, right after I’m done track testing “Armor-All” on my tires.

  • aaron

    Seriously, while reducing midrange output can help tame tire spin on corner exit, I’m man enough to admit that on my road going sportbike I’d rather have a reasonable amount of thrust at lower rpm. you can count on the aftermarket offerings offering a similar effect, and the type of folks that buy a bike based on the numbers alone usually get the pipe and power commander within the first month anyway. In the real world, if I’m grabbing a fistful of throttle at 7000rpm, I’ll be more or less upright 99% of the time anyways.

    My take on this is that we’re getting a “look on the bright side” analysis of the powerband. I think we all knew Kawasaki was going to try and catch up with BMW on paper, and if the Kawasaki does have enough power to beat the S1000RR on a dyno, we probably wouldn’t be hearing any whimpering about how less midrange is a good thing. Remember the last years of the flat plane R1? All I can remember about the reviews at the time was that they would not let go of the reduced midrange vs the other liter bikes, and how much this affected the bike in a negative way…

  • Mark

    Well;on the racing front of WSBK, what manufacturer has the most championships? Is that team or bike anywhere near the top of the points this year? In racing it is bringing the right machine, riders, mechanics, support, etc. together to win. If Kawasaki does that they have a chance to win races. Oh, if anyone from Kawasaki Corporate reads this blog, please just show us the street-version already! Hype is for youngsters and in these times they won’t be able to afford your product anyway. So, will you fuel speculation to the point of disappointment or just show the machine so we the folks who buy them can judge the product?

  • Brian

    Sounds to me like ur hatein’ on the Next Ninja. I bet it will be pretty good. I happen to be a competitive road racer and coach and usable power / being able to get the throttle open earlier is paramount to a fast lap time. Just have a look at Yamaha’s R1. It’s the heaviest, least powerful bike BUT the connection between the rear tire and the throttle is the best I have seen. It makes the BMW’s throttle response look like just what it is, a first effort. Where the bimmer is twitchy the R1 is buttery smooth and so is the tranny for that matter.

    Anyway, I digress. The new Ninja I hope will be REALLY good, otherwise what’s the point?

    • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Wes Siler

      Brian, that’s exactly what we’re “hatin’” on, the sacrifice of usable power in the pursuit of a relatively meaningless top end. Read between the lines of Kawasaki’s tweets and you’ll see that’s what they’re saying. Less midrange, more top end.

      Maybe my riding’s totally different from everyone else’s, but I like being lazy on a liter bike and using the midrange to get the bike stood up and out of the corner, then the top end’s coming in nice and strong by the time I’m more or less upright and flying down the straight. Sacrificing this flexibility is exactly what Kawasaki says it’s doing.

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

    While the phrase, “got rid of excess mid-range torque” reeks of publicity whitewashing, its a smart move on Kawi’s part. If it helps keep pace with the BMW in the HP wars, it will sell bikes, period. Will it be better on the street? I certainly can’t see how it will. Will it be better on the track? Possibly.

    Given that the new Z1000 is such an adept liter-sized street bike, maybe Kawi figures it can chance making the ZX10r more race-focused?

    • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Wes Siler

      Hooray for reading comprehension!

  • Brian

    Wes > The ONLY reason these guys sell superbikes is to get more brand recognition and race. 1000CC Race Replica bikes are by their very nature useless for the street, for that matter almost all ‘crotch rocket’ type bikes are useless for the street. I personally applaud Kawasaki for building a race bike with lights b/c I know if I buy one I’ll ride it on the street for about 600-1000 miles while I break it in and then it will spend the rest of its life on the race track, where it belongs.

    Remember how kick-ass the 2004 ZX-10R was? It was ground-breaking and wicked fast but Superbikes have been dumbed-down since then only getting slightly more powerful yet gaining weight all the time. Only Ducati and Honda have bucked that trend. It’s time for a change! Embrace it or buy something more streetable (slower). I like race bikes and I wish more manufacturers built them I bet a few other people feel this way too….

    • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Wes Siler

      I’ve always been able to use liter bikes on the street, just try harder. Mid range has nothing to do with how “race like” a bike is, just how exploitable its performance is.

      • Mark

        Wes,
        No manufacturer will make a perfect performance package and be attractive, 190+ horsepower, perfect midrange and great-handling. Can you give us all what you expect the Kawasaki to be? What bike now comes closest to what you seem to demand in a literbike? What is your riding style and how does that correlate to anyone else’s style. Everything is subjective to that particular person who has ridden a literbike, made his choices and buy’s what they like. I have yet to find a “gold standard” to compare all literbikes merits and characteristics. I do admit I do not like Kawasaki’s marketing strategy for 2011 and this particular bike. I think three-years of development with no public photos of the street- version and try to tease potential customers with small, nonsensical phrases with videos of the race-bike tedious at best and approaching “turning me-off” to this bike. Nobody will be buying the bike we have seen so far, why copy the BMW strategy of product release from a couple years ago when they were new to this class? If anything, Kawasaki needs a new marketing department. The new bike will perform well and “on par” with any other makes offering for the class and street-use. I am just beginning to wonder how “not” seeing the product will sell-it? You really should not tease potential customers of an expensive commodity, a very-strange concept! I don’t see the europeans doing that now, they just show you the product!

  • Brian

    Wes > I don’t really ride on the street anymore – I find it pointless and dangerous. That being said, if I did I would ride something like a Brutale. Somehow I doubt it’s ME that needs to ‘try harder’ as you say. Have you ever raced competitively? If you want a sport bike for the street with mid-range try a Ducati, don’t beat up on those who don’t intend you to ride their bikes on the street – Kawi is building a race bike! Be happy there is variety.

  • Mark

    Low and midrange power, buy a v-twin or v-four and maybe a R1 that mimics them. By design and my preference, inline-fours peak in power near max-revs. Is it not why the design was created? Unless Kawasaki drops the midrange to 600 class levels (who thinks that?) it will work just-fine on the street. I have yet to find myself unable to pass-traffic or maneuver out of harms way with a 600 or a 1000. The 600 will just be a few millseconds behind the 1000 and one should think much farther ahead than that if you street any bike. What is the “hubbub” here?

    • pdub

      Don’t think it’s too much hubub. Think the post was more of a sarcastic editorial about peak HP marketing hype. As you and others pointed out a modern 600 is more than adequate peak power on the street and most tracks. The only sensible arguments I’ve heard from fans of liter bikes on the street is that they are more enjoyable because they actually have some torque right where you’ll like it. If you had liter bike torque and supersport 100-115 like peak power in a streetbike I don’t think many would complain about not having an extra 40+ ponies in the nosebleed revs. Hence the appeal of Vtwin sports machines.

      • Mark

        pdub,
        I own several of both 600 and 1000 class-bikes. Yes, v-twins have a nice torque-curve at lower revs but all of the competitive makes are expensive to buy, insure and maintain along with the v-fours. I agree with all here about the marketing of 2011 ZX-10R, insulting as some of the politicians statments I have heard lately. Plus, YOU PICK what you like in any bike when you purchased-it. As many have said, each has it’s own amount of compromise to get-it to market. And your own personal preferences and riding styles which is different for each bike comes into play. All bikes have differing personalities as do people and riding styles. Can anyone dispute this? If that rider can exploit the positives of the bike he or she is on, they will have a positive experience and enjoy-it to no end. If the bike is too quirky with a lot of negatives to overcome, they will probably sell the thing. As far as I know, the only real information on the bike is possessed by Kawasaki test-riders and race team members. I always reserve judgement on any bike to my testing on the bike and not reading between the lines of marketing ploys or speculation.

  • Brett L.

    It’s not clear to me where HFL stands on the issue of peak power vs street usable power. Maybe there’s been a change in philosophy.

    A few months ago there was a review of a new bike which was being put down for having lower peak numbers than the previous model year. I remember thinking that it could actually be a better bike for the real world.

    More recently though HFL posted that the CBR600 was a great general purpose road bike, if not the best. I interpreted that as being more sympathetic to the usable power argument.

    Whatever the case, HFL puts up all the specs, giving the readers a chance to interpret the numbers for themselves. I had never considered the possibility of excess midrange torque, but I have little experience with liter superbikes. Interesting.

    • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Wes Siler

      There’s no argument there to have a stance on. Different bikes compete in different markets with different factors influencing their sales. A liter bike will sell better with bigger numbers. Traditionally, that bigger number hasn’t necessarily come at the expense of usable mid-range however. By doing that Kawasaki’s deliberately playing a cynical marketing game at the expense of a quality product. At least that’s what they say they’re doing.

      • BL

        Quality?
        i’m pretty sure that’s not being questioned here.
        it’s a matter of personal preference…why is that so hard to understand? Maybe because it is not to your preference.
        I like two strokes and 600′s because of their peaky torque curve, its fun as shit to hit 12k and have your arms nearly ripped off. it’s fun as hell to rail a CR500 and feel the raw untamed ridiculous power that hasn’t been controlled by traction aiding computer systems and overactive litigation.

        are you going to tell me i’m wrong? sorry, you cant. it’s my preference, there is no right and wrong.

        When i read kawi’s statements above, i read, about a bike that isn’t dumbed down for pussies.

        Cheers to you kawi.

        • pdub

          Sure. You can scream through corners or grunt through corners and achieve the same results. Pick your poison. On the street however spending a good portion of the time with the clutch in some degree of engagement when doing anything other than stringing unobstructed corners together makes you think how the experience might be bettered. This is coming from someone who used to ride an NSR250 on the street.

          • BL

            i agree.
            but
            there are different “street riding scenarios”
            for inner city commuting any litre bike is a little rough, for street riding out in the canyons, it’s pretty fun.
            it’s all about compromises with any bike…and it comes down to where you prefer your bike to excel

  • Zeke

    if you want to race you should own 2 bikes. a weekend racer with a power band as wide as the rpm drop between gears and a reasonable bike that you can ride on the streets. if you try to make this into one bike you end up getting to work with a cramp in your back, sweating from how hard it was to ride. or a race bike that can not race. ussually both.
    smooth power bands are nice for daily riders but a sport bike max acceleration you can get who cares if it is smooth in the mid range. you should be reving to the moon when you race.
    i know i occasionally ride a race bike on the street. it kills your body.
    as for bragging rights i say we need lap time wars not hp and numbers wars if any thing.
    also i hate kids who jump on a bike they just bought and brag about how fast it is bone stock. i feel you at least have to add speed to stock before you can brag about speed your bike can go.

    • Grant Ray

      Whoa there, Zeke. That sensible old-timer talk has no place here.

    • pdub

      dub | August 30, 2010 4:35 PM | Reply

      +1 Zeke,
      Isn’t it curious that when interviewed about riding on the street most GP and WSBK stars drop jaws with their choices of street machinery? If they ride at all on the street it’s interesting most don’t pick sportbikes and go for nakeds, standards, touring bikes, and lots and lots of off road MX. Can’t remember at the moment but read a BIKE mag article and profiles on the current crop of British riders in WSBK. Shakey Byrne (IIRC) rides a Harley and Cal Crutchlow doesn’t ride on the street.

      To be on point if this news is just race bike development trivia, no big deal. If it’s PR to sell “the fastest” streetbike I don’t think I can roll my eyes wide enough.

      Grant- We like sensible old-timers? Need to balance perspective against those here who’s critical thinking abilities stopped due to a bag of glue in 8th grade, bought a litebike at 21 and think they invented the word fast.

      • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Wes Siler

        Don’t worry, grant’s just being sarcastic. Zeke is spot on.

        • pdub

          No worries. Just being smart assed myself.

  • Ben

    DISCLAIMER**I have no bike experience, I just enjoy staying informed and followed Wes from Jalopnik to this site**

    What is the machine they use to start the bikes up by rotating the back wheel? I understand HOW it works, just not necessarily WHY or WHAT it’s called. Enlighten me.

    • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Wes Siler

      There’s no need for a race bike to suffer the weight penalty of carrying a starter motor, so they kick them over with external starters. It’s just a little generator that spins the rear wheel, which is in gear and when spun, turns the engine over.

      The bike in the video and photos is a prototype race machine that’ll result in a production bike, hence the starter.

      Thanks for following :)

  • pdub

    +1 Zeke,
    Isn’t it curious that when interviewed about riding on the street most GP and WSBK stars drop jaws with their choices of street machinery? If they ride at all on the street it’s interesting most don’t pick sportbikes and go for nakeds, standards, touring bikes, and lots and lots of off road MX. Can’t remember at the moment but read a BIKE mag article and profiles on the current crop of British riders in WSBK. Shakey Byrne (IIRC) rides a Harley and Cal Crutchlow doesn’t ride on the street.

    To be on point if this news is just race bike development trivia, no big deal. If it’s PR to sell “the fastest” streetbike I don’t think I can roll my eyes wide enough.

    Grant- We like sensible old-timers? Need to balance perspective against those here who’s critical thinking abilities stopped due to a bag of glue in 8th grade, bought a litebike at 21 and think they invented the word fast.

    • pdub

      disregard the above post. I should put my glue bag down and pay attention to the new blog format.

  • Mark L.

    Two bikes is a good-idea for most supersport riders because by design they do not make good “street transport”. If you like the appeal, buy a Hayabusa, ZX-14 or YZ-1. The first two will give you all the “mid-range” you could want and weigh about half of the average Harley. Better street-riding position especially on the ZX or YZ. And they are about the same price of a liter-bike, although about 100#’s heavier. But I think-it makes them a more stable “street” platform ride.