Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R
If awards were handed out for technical tenacity then Kawasaki Racing Team and the Paul Bird Motorsport squad deserve top slot, as they finally found a Superbike set-up which allowed competitive performances to emanate from the inside of arguably the most conservative and old-fashioned machine in the paddock, the Ninja ZX-10R.
They simply never gave up shooting for podium places.
A final competitive set-up was the result of racing at a British Superbike round at Brands Hatch in the World Superbike summer break, at a track the Kawasaki ZX-10R Ninja teams know well.
Thereafter Sykes was a thorn in the flesh, even taking Superpole at Imola. The previous issue had been a difficulty in turning into corners, a characteristic much-improved near season-end.
A competitive power output of maybe as much as 220bhp on a good day was now working for Kawasaki, as clever brackets helped to alter the chassis stiffness and improve how the Kawasaki ZX-10R Ninja carried some of its widely spread mass. The engine was relatively tall and upright, fed by Magneti Marelli’s ECU.
British made rear swingarms were aesthetically pleasing and made a huge difference to the handling, especially when chasing away chatter. Brembo brakes stopped the ship.
Unlike their main rivals, Kawasaki has stuck with Showa for suspension and in 2010 they saw some benefits of being the sole focus of the Japanese suspension supplier in WSBK. Adjustment of the newest Showa units is remarkably simple, with small screwdriver slots in the top of the forks or rear shock damper bodies.
With a new ZX-10R Ninja Superbike coming, and being tested extensively before the end of the year, Kawasaki could easily have given up on the old bike. But, even though it took a long time, the ZX-10R finally became a modern Superbike in full race trim in 2010.