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.