2012 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R | Preview

2012 Kawasaki Motorcycle

With all the hype directed towards the 2012 redesign of the Hypersport ZX-14R, Kawasaki’s flagship superbike, the Ninja ZX-10R, returns as a carryover model with new color options and optional ABS.

But carryover doesn’t mean stale; the sportbike continues the ride the wave of its major overhaul for 2011, one which created a smaller, lighter and more powerful ZX-10 R ninja (how about 197 horsepower, allegedly after EPA officials forced Kawasaki to reduce the output by 20 horsepower in America).

The 2012 Ninja ZX10R features the newest in technology, most notably the Sport-Kawasaki Traction Control (S-KTRC) and the Advanced Kawasaki Intelligent Anti-lock Braking System on ABS models.

The S-KTRC is unique to Kawasaki, and different from other traction control units; the S-KTRC continuously monitors the ZX-10R’s wheel speed, throttle position, engine RPM and othe data to "help ensure the optimal amount of traction."

And this system is far advanced for quick response to these changing conditions, the S-KTRC confirming conditions 200 times per second before governing them with the ignition. The ZX-10R’s KTRC is available in three different modes based on the rider’s needs.

As for the Advanced Kawasaki Intelligent Anti-lock Braking System, it "monitors a wide range of data, and allows optimum wheelspin while enhancing rider control."

The 2012 Kawasaki ZX-10 R also has an optimal chassis design, which features an aluminum-alloy frame that is only cast in seven places, and a Big Piston Fork up front and horizontal back-link rear suspension.

As for the engine, it’s is more compact due to the stacked transmission, and it features innovative technology such as a slipper clutch that limits back torque to assist in corner entry.

The Kawasaki ZX-10R offers the ultimate in superbike power, handling and technology, placing it in the front-running pack of 2012 liter bikes.

And with this performance arrives stylish color options, including the all new for 2012 Passion Red/Metallic Spark Black and re-stylized Lime Green/Metallic Spark Black

Following are the highlights, specs, color options and MSRP for the 2012 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R.

2012 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R (ABS) Highlights:


  • Design is compact, narrow and lightweight
  • Camshafts, crankshaft and pistons designed to complement the engine’s prodigious power production
  • Large intake valves, camshaft profiles and port shapes help maximize power production and smooth power delivery
  • Chromoly camshafts enhance durability
  • Single-shaft secondary balancer helps reduce vibration; its use allows several vibration-damping parts to be simplified and lightened
  • Strong connecting rods suit the power potential of this engine
  • ECU is small enough to be tucked away in a slot in the airbox assembly
  • One-piece upper crankcase and cylinder casting offers maximum rigidity
  • Low-friction oil pump reduces parasitic power loss
  • A lightweight radiator with tightly packed cores provides efficient engine cooling
  • A liquid-cooled aluminum oil cooler promotes high-efficiency heat dissipation
  • Intake and exhaust valves are titanium to reduce reciprocating weight and stress at high rpm
  • Large 47mm throttle bodies help with throttle control
  • Secondary fuel injectors enhance power output and power characteristics at high rpm; the lower injectors are always on, while upper injectors come on as needed according to degree of throttle opening and engine rpm
  • Oval-shaped throttle bodies allow precise throttle control and instant response
  • An Idle Speed Control (ISC) valve on the throttle body unit automatically adjusts idle speed, contributing to easier starts and off-idle throttle response

Ram Air Intake:

  • A highly efficient and forward-positioned ram air intake is designed for low intake noise and good intake efficiency
  • 9-liter airbox enhances breathing and power
  • Oval-section intake funnels promote non-turbulent flow at all rpm


  • Titanium-header exhaust system with hydroformed header pipes and small, lightweight muffler assembly uses a pre-chamber that houses two catalyzers for emissions and sound
  • Headers have nearly identical specs to their roadracing counterparts, which makes it easier for riders to increase track performance with the simple addition of a less-restrictive muffler; now there’s no need to replace the lightweight and race-spec header assembly
  • Dual catalyzers help the ZX-10R meet strict U.S. and Euro III exhaust emissions standards


  • Race-style cassette transmission allows simple trackside gearing changes to suit individual circuits
  • The "cassette" is located high enough that it can be accessed without having to drain engine oil
  • Primary and final reduction ratios minimize rear end movement (squat/lift) during acceleration and deceleration
  • Close-ratio 4th, 5th and 6th gears complement the ZX-10R’s circuit performance
  • Overall gear ratios suit the power characteristics for ideal power delivery in all rpm ranges
  • An adjustable back-torque limiting clutch facilitates smooth downshifts, a main contributor to stability under heavy braking


  • Aluminum-alloy frame offers optimal flex and rigidity characteristics for balanced handling on street or track
  • Chassis geometry allows sharp steering characteristics and crisp handling with no corresponding tradeoff in chassis stability at speed
  • Frame is an all-cast construction of only seven pieces, with ideal wall thicknesses that provide adequate strength and optimized rigidity
  • Front end weight aids aggressive, on-the-gas corner exits
  • Modifying or removing the exhaust pre-chamber (for racetrack applications only) enables two chain links to be removed, which offers riders the opportunity to alter chassis geometry by shortening the wheelbase by up to 16mm to suit different track layouts
  • Like the frame, the alloy swingarm is an all-cast design, with just three pieces
  • Narrow subframe layout contributes to the compact and slim tail section


  • Shock and linkage are positioned above the swingarm
  • The design offers excellent road-holding, smooth suspension action, and stability and feedback when cornering
  • The design positions the shock’s upper link to spread out the load and contribute to enhanced overall frame rigidity and chassis balance
  • The fully adjustable shock features a piggyback reservoir and dual (high
  • and low-speed) compression damping, which enables fine tuning for racing or track-day use
  • The Big Piston Fork (BPF) and Back-link suspension system contribute to rider control and faster lap times
  • The Big Piston Fork’s (BPF) 43mm inner tubes is one of the contributing factors to the bike’s composure under braking
  • Compared to a cartridge-type fork of the same size, the BPF features a 39.6mm main piston
  • Oil inside the BPF acts on a surface area almost four times the size of a conventional fork’s. The larger surface area allows damping pressure to be reduced while ensuring that damping force remains the same
  • Reducing damping pressure allows the inner fork tube to move more smoothly, which is especially noticeable at the initial part of the stroke. The result is greater control as the fork compresses and very calm attitude change as vehicle weight shifts forward under braking, and contributing to greater chassis stability on corner entry
  • Because the BPF eliminates many of the internal components of a traditional cartridge fork, construction is simplified and overall fork weight is reduced
  • Compression and rebound damping adjustments are located at the top of each fork tube, while preload is now at the bottom
  • An adjustable twin-tube Öhlins steering damper is standard. The second tube acts like a reservoir, allowing the internals to help ensure stable damping and excellent feedback even under racing conditions


  • Gravity-cast alloy wheels feature a three-spoke design
  • Light wheels mean low unsprung weight, which allows the suspension system to work more efficiently


  • 32-inch seat height makes it easy to reach the ground
  • Fuel tank shape offers a comfortable ergonomic fit with the rider’s forearms and inner thighs when riding
  • Adjustable foot pegs can be lowered an additional 15mm when street riding or touring


  • Compact, curved shape
  • Large ducting aids engine heat dissipation
  • Line-beam headlights and short fairing contributes to the aggressive styling
  • LED three-bulb position lamp at the top of the ram air duct offers enhanced visibility to drivers and pedestrians
  • Fairing-mounted mirrors feature integrated, LED-type turn signals
  • Turn signals are electrically connected via couplers, which allows easy mirror removal for track day riding
  • Compact tail section includes an elegant, nine-bulb taillight
  • Taillight and turn signal stalks are mounted on a rear fender assembly that’s easily removable for track day riding


  • Instruments feature a high-visibility bar-graph LED tachometer positioned above a multi-window LCD info panel that offers riders a massive quantity of information
  • The tachometer also functions as a shift indicator: LEDs flash when the pre-set rpm is reached, and riders can set shift rpm according to preference
  • The multi-function LCD features two display modes: Standard and Race. Switching to Race Mode alters the Speed display by changing it to Gear Position, and by changing the Clock display to Speed
  • Additional functions include odometer, dual trip meters, average fuel consumption, instant fuel consumption, Power Mode (x3), S-KTRC (x4), S-KTRC level indicator, low fuel indicator, Economical Riding indicator (shows most favorable fuel consumption), water temperature and a host of indicator lamps

2012 Kawasaki ZX-10R Ninja Specs:

  • Engine: Four-stroke, liquid-cooled, DOHC, four valves per cylinder, inline-four
  • Displacement: 998cc
  • Bore x Stroke: 76.0 x 55.0 mm
  • Compression Ratio: 13.0:1
  • Fuel System: DFI with four 47mm Keihin throttle bodies with oval sub-throttles, two injectors per cylinder
  • Ignition: TCBI with digital advance and Sport-Kawasaki Traction Control (S-KTRC)
  • Transmission: Six-speed
  • Final Drive: Chain
  • Rake/Trail: 25 Deg / 4.2 in.
  • Front Tire Size: 120/70 ZR17
  • Rear Tire Size: 190/55 ZR17
  • Wheelbase: 56.1 in.
  • Front Suspension / wheel travel: 43mm inverted Big Piston Fork (BPF), adjustable rebound and compression damping, spring preload adjustability / 4.7 in.
  • Rear Suspension / wheel travel: Horizontal back-link with gas-charged shock, stepless, dual-range (low-/high-speed) compression damping, stepless rebound damping, fully adjustable spring preload / 5.5 in.
  • Front Brakes: Dual semi-floating 310mm petal discs with dual four-piston radial-mount calipers
  • Rear Brakes: Single 220mm petal disc with aluminum single-piston caliper
  • Fuel Capacity: 4.5 gal.
  • Seat Height: 32.0 in.
  • Curb Weight: 436.6 lbs.
  • Overall length: 81.7 in.
  • Overall width: 28.2 in.
  • Overall height: 43.9 in.
  • Warranty: 12 Months
  • Good Times Protection Plan: 12, 24, 36, 48 months

2012 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R Color Options/MSRP:

  • Lime Green/Metallic Spark Black / $13,999, $14,999(ABS)
  • Passion Red/Metallic Spark Black / $13,999, $14,999(ABS)
  • Metallic Flat Premium Gray/Metallic Spark Black / $13,999, $14,999(ABS)