2013 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R (ABS) | Preview

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2013 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R

Since its major overhaul for the 2011 model year, the Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R has pleased the crowds with its nimble chassis and powerful 998cc inline four, offering much competition for Yamaha’s YZ-R1, Honda’s CBR1000RR and Suzuki’s GSX-R1000.

How powerful? How about 197 base horsepower after EPA officials allegedly forced Kawasaki to reduce the output by 20 horsepower in America.

Nothing changed for the 2012 year except for some color schemes, Kawasaki offering its Ninja liter bike as a carryover. But for 2013 the ZX-10R receives some upgrades, including a new electronic steering damper developed b Kawasaki and Ohlins, and a new color scheme – Pearl Flat White/Metallic Spark Black.

And like it has since its overhaul in 2011, the ZX-10R arrives with Sport-Kawasaki Traction Control (S-KTRC) and the optional Advanced Kawasaki Intelligent Anti-lock Braking System, the ABS adding $1000 to the standard MSRP of $14,299.

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 other 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 new-for-2013 Kawasaki/Ohlins-designed steering damper features much advanced technology, the damper controlled by an ECU under the gas-tank cover. Kawasaki says
the “damper reacts to the rate of acceleration or deceleration, as well as rear wheel speed, to help provide the ideal level of damping force across a wide range of riding scenarios.

“The variable damping provides optimum rider feedback by enabling the use of lower damping forces during normal operation, without sacrificing the firm damping needed for high-speed stability.

“The result is a light and nimble steering feel at low speed, as well as superior damping at higher speeds or during extreme acceleration/deceleration. The anodized damper unit incorporates Öhlins’ patented twin-tube design to help ensure stable damping performance and superior kickback absorption. It is mounted horizontally at the front of the fuel tank and requires very few additional components and ads almost no weight compared to last year’s steering damper.”

Regarding the chassis, the Ninja has an optimal design, which features an aluminum-alloy frame that is only cast in seven places. Up front, the 2013 ZX-10R features a 43mm Big Piston Fork that features a piston design nearly twice the size of a conventional cartridge fork, offering “smooth action, less stiction, light weight and enhanced damping performance on the compression and rebound circuits.”

Out back, the Ninja features a Horizontal Back-Link design that positions the shock and linkage above the swingarm. Kawasaki says “benefits include mass centralization, good road holding, compliance and stability, smooth action in the mid-stroke and good overall feedback. The fully adjustable shock features a piggyback reservoir and dual-range (low- and high-speed) compression damping.”

As for the ZX-10R’s 16-valve, DOHC liquid-cooled inline four, 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 998cc engine is tuned to optimize power delivery, center of gravity and actual engine placement within the chassis. Torque peaks at an rpm range that helps eliminate power peaks and valleys that make it difficult for racers and track-day riders to open the throttle with confidence.

And with this performance arrives stylish color options, including the all new for 2013 Pearl Flat White/Metallic Spark Black, and re-stylized Lime Green/Metallic Spark Black

Following are the highlights, specs, color options and MSRP for the 2013 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R.

2013 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R (ABS) Highlights:

New for 2013: Ohlins-Kawasaki Electronic Steering Damper

  • Specially tuned for the 2013 ZX-10R, this new electronic damper helps provide the ideal amount of damping force across a wide range of riding scenarios
  • Maintains a high level of rider feedback by allowing lower damping forces under less taxing conditions, but quickly adapts to increase damping and enhance high-speed stability when required
  • Reacts to current speed as well as rate of acceleration or deceleration to help provide light steering feel at low speed, as well as superior damping at higher speeds or during extreme acceleration/deceleration
  • Uses Öhlins’ patented twin-tube design to help ensure stable damping performance and superior kickback absorption

Liquid-cooled DOHC 998cc Inline-four Engine

  • 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

Dual-injector Digital Fuel Injection

  • 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

Sport-Kawasaki Traction Control – S-KTRC

  • A highly sophisticated electronic system based on actual Kawasaki racing experience that’s designed to maximize forward motion by allowing racers to ride closer to the edge of traction
  • The system crunches a wide range of data, including throttle position, wheel speed, engine rpm, wheel slippage and acceleration, with help from a speed sensor fitted to each wheel
  • The quickest acceleration requires a certain amount of wheel slippage, so to optimize traction, S-KTRC actually allows for optimum wheelspin
  • Using complex analysis, the system is able to predict when traction conditions are about to become unfavorable. By acting before slippage exceeds the range for optimal traction, the system can quickly and smoothly reduce power slightly so the wheel regains traction
  • S-KTRC confirms conditions 200 times per second and governs ignition, which allows extremely quick response to changing conditions
  • Riders can choose between three operational modes, depending on skill level and conditions
  • A level meter on the LCD instrument panel displays how much electronic intervention the system is providing, in real time
  • S-KTRC confirms conditions 200 times per second and governs ignition, which allows extremely quick reaction
  • Riders can choose between three operational modes, depending on skill level and conditions
  • A level meter on the LCD instrument panel lets the rider know when the system is operating

Kawasaki Intelligent Anti-lock Braking System (KIBS)

  • Advanced track-ready anti-lock braking system
  • Utilizes a Bosch-built ABS unit that’s half the size of a standard unit and considerably lighter
  • KIBS monitors a wide range of data, including front and rear wheel speed, throttle position, gear selection, engine rpm, caliper pressure, clutch actuation and more to help prevent wheel locking
  • High-precision brake pressure control offers a number of sport riding benefits, including rear-end lift suppression, minimal kickback during operation and consistent lever feel
  • ABS unit is located close to the bike’s center of mass, behind the left engine cylinder, which minimizes the effects of the added weight
  • System uses wheel speed sensors already fitted to the non-ABS ZX-10R (used for S-KTRC traction control system)
  • A radial-pump front master cylinder provides the ultimate in front brake feel and feedback
  • Tokico radial-mount brake calipers use dual pads and offer a superb initial bite, progressive feel and a high degree of feedback to the rider
  • A pair of 5.5mm thick, 310mm petal discs provides the heat dissipation needed to maintain brake feel and responsiveness during extended heavy use
  • A 220mm rear petal disc gripped by a single-piston caliper provides excellent feel and feedback

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 Exhaust System

  • 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

Six-speed Transmission

  • 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

Chassis / Frame

  • 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

Horizontal Back-link Rear Suspension

  • 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

Big Piston Fork (BPF)

  • 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 helping to ensure 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

Three-spoke Cast Aluminum Wheels

  • 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

Advanced Aerodynamic Bodywork

  • 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

Advanced Electronic Instrumentation

  • 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

2013 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R (ABS) Specs:

  • Engine: Four-stroke, liquid-cooled, DOHC, four valves per cylinder, inline-four
  • Displacement: 998cc
  • Bore x stroke: 76.0 x 55.0mm
  • 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: 25.0 degrees / 4.2 in.
  • Front tire: 120/70 ZR17
  • Rear tire: 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: Kawasaki Intelligent anti-lock Braking (KIBS), dual semi-floating 310mm petal discs with dual four-piston radial-mount calipers
  • Rear brakes: KIBS-controlled, single 220mm petal disc with aluminum single-piston caliper
  • Overall length: 81.7 in.
  • Overall width: 28.1 in.
  • Overall height: 43.9 in.
  • Seat height: 32.0 in.
  • Curb weight: 443.2 lbs.
  • Fuel capacity: 4.5 gal.

2013 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R Color Options/MSRP:

  • Lime Green/Metallic Spark Black / $14,299 ($15,299 ABS)
  • Pearl Flat White/Metallic Spark Black / $14,299 ($15,299 ABS)