When the embargo finally ended and we were able to bring you analysis of the 2011 Kawasaki ZX-10R without pissing off Kawasaki we told you the bike was significant not because of its unprecedentedly powerful engine — 197bhp — but because it brought a MotoGP-derived traction control system to the road. That's a good thing since North American market ZX-10Rs will be 20bhp down. This video explains how Sport-Kawasaki TRaction Control, or S-KTRC, works.
S-KTRC constantly monitors the separate speeds of the front and rear wheels, engine RPM, throttle position, acceleration and other factors, using those parameters to determine the best course of action. Where previous systems were slow to react — thereby allowing too much rear tire slippage — and harsh to respond — thereby slowing the bike down — S-KTRC recognizes that a small amount of slip delivers the best possible acceleration. Because it can react every five milliseconds, altering engine ignition to suit, the system can start working as slippage approached the optimal degree, then hold it precisely there as the bike continues to accelerate to the maximum potential of available grip.
The system is even designed to allow power wheelies while the bike continues to accelerate, but can cut in to handle abrupt, dangerous and slow wheelies that could cause you to lose speed or crash.
One thing S-KTRC doesn't have is a lean sensor, a la the BMW S1000RR. We'll have to wait and see if that's a significant performance deficit for traction control systems or not.
It operates in three, rider-controlled modes designed to work everywhere from wet streets to dry tracks. A three-level power switch complements S-KTRC, allowing riders to alter power delivery to be appropriate for conditions.
S-KTRC is standard on the $13,800 2011 ZX-10R, but the whizz-bang “Kawasaki Intelligent anti-lock Brake System” is going to be a $1,000 option.