2016 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R First Look

2016 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R Preview | In the Electronics Game
2016 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R

Liter bikes have gotten so powerful in recent years that horsepower is barely the main focus. Rather, the focus is centered on the electronics that allow a rider to harness such high horsepower.

Read our 2016 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R First Ride Review!

The Europeans were the first to dominate this game of manageable power. When the BMW S1000RR, Ducati Panigale 1199 and Aprilia RSV4 superbikes began nearing 200 horsepower at the crank, the electronic suite grew. These brands worked endlessly to develop the savviest traction control and ABS while the Big Four from Japan – Honda, Kawasaki, Suzuki and Yamaha – lagged behind.

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To remain competitive, the Japanese manufacturers had to step up their respective games. But not only with basic traction control and ABS, but systems that would allow these units to respond under even the most drastic situations such as extreme lean angle or elevation changes when either the front or rear wheel is unloaded.

Yamaha was the first to answer with its revamped 2015 R1, a bike we praised from the very first ride at Sydney Motorsports Park in Australia back in April. Who would be next? Honda and Suzuki have remained quiet, but now Kawasaki is in the game with its revamped 2016 Ninja ZX-10R.

Kawasaki unveiled its 2016 ZX-10R Thursday – just weeks after Jonathan Rea clinched the 2015 World Superbike Championship. Rea’s title was the second for the ZX-10R Ninja, the first arriving in 2013 with Tom Sykes at the controls.

And all of that development from the World Superbike ZX-10R trickled down to the 2016 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R. The new Kawasaki liter bike is available with or without ABS, and in two colors – Kawasaki Racing Team-inspired KRT Edition color scheme combining Lime Green and Ebony paint, or Metallic Matte Carbon Grey.

2016 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R blackKawasaki has upgraded the 998cc four-cylinder engine for additional low- and mid-range power, but has not released any horsepower or torque figures. But it’s the upgraded electronics that truly brings the 2016 Ninja ZX-10R in the competitive sphere of modern liter bikes.

The new Ninja ZX-10R features  KEBC Kawasaki Engine Braking Control, KLCM Kawasaki Launch Control Mode, KIBS Kawasaki Intelligent anti-lock Braking System, Corner Management Function, S-KTRC Sport Kawasaki Traction Control, KQS Kawasaki Quick Shifter, and three power modes – Full, Middle (80%) or Low (60%).

Besides these new-age electronics, Kawasaki also has aupdated the suspension; the 2016 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R features a first for mass-production motorcycles – a Showa Balance Free Fork (BFF) and Balance Free Rear Cushion (BFRC) that arrive from World Superbike racing.

Stopping the 449.8-lbs ZX-10R (454.2 lbs. for ABS model) are new twin 330mm Brembo discs squeezed by Brembo M50 monobloc front calipers. The 2016 ZX-10R ABS uses a Bosch five-axis IMU, bringing the latest in ABS technology to Kawasaki’s flagship liter bike. Kawasaki has also updated the bodywork, which was redesigned based on the World Superbike winning ZX-10R piloted by Rea in 2015 World SBK.

Now the big question – how will the 2016 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R match up to the new YZF-R1, and the Euro liter bikes from BMW, Ducati and Aprilia? Stay clicked to Ultimate MotorCycling for some insight once we are able to ride the revamped green machine.

Following are the official highlights of the 2016 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R.

2016 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R Key Features:

  • World Superbike-derived Kawasaki Racing Team (KRT) technology has produced the most track-focused superbike ever
  • NEW More powerful 998cc in-line four-cylinder 16-valve engine
  • NEW Lighter crankshaft allows quicker revving and increased low-mid-range power
  • NEW Head design, camshaft profiles and air box for better response and power
  • NEW Computer-controlled electronic throttle valve gives precise control
  • NEW Lightweight titanium-alloy exhaust system
  • NEW Close-ratio, cassette-type transmission is ideal for racing and gives strong corner exit acceleration
  • NEW Steering head position, swingarm rigidity and length, longer wheelbase create sharper handling
  • NEW Front cowl improves aerodynamics, improves high-speed handling, reduces rider buffeting
  • NEW Showa Balance Free Fork (BFF) and Balance Free Rear Cushion (BFRC) derived directly from World Superbike racing, used for first time on mass-production motorcycle
  • NEW Brembo M50 monobloc front calipers and 330mm Brembo rotors provide increased braking power, feel and heat dissipation
  • NEW Electronics suite including – KLCM Kawasaki Launch Control Mode, KIBS Kawasaki Intelligent anti-lock Braking System, Cornering Management Function, S-KTRC Sport Kawasaki TRaction Control, Kawasaki Engine Braking Control, KQS Kawasaki Quick Shifter, three-level Power Modes
  • NEW Kawasaki Racing Team-inspired KRT Edition color scheme combining Lime Green and Ebony paint
  • NEW Metallic Matte Carbon Grey finish
  • Power Mode selector allows riders to select power level and power delivery to match riding conditions
  • Slipper-type back-torque limiting clutch helps prevent rear wheel hop under extreme deceleration and improves corner entry handling

2016 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R naked2016 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R Liquid-cooled DOHC 998cc Inline-four Engine

  • Design is compact, narrow and lightweight
  • Over-square 76 x 55mm bore and stroke
  • NEW Lighter crankshaft allows quicker revving for improved throttle response and acceleration plus increased low-mid-range power
  • NEW Coating on crankshaft connecting rod journals for better performance at high RPM.
  • NEW Crankshaft balancer is lighter and damps vibrations more effectively
  • REVISED Cylinder head intake and exhaust ports are both polished, with straighter cross-section to allow better gas flow, increasing power
  • NEW Larger coolant passageways in cylinder head aid durability
  • NEW Long-reach spark plugs improve ignition efficiency
  • Intake and exhaust valves are titanium to reduce reciprocating weight and stress at high rpm
  • NEW Titanium exhaust valves are 1mm larger in diameter at 25.5mm, increasing high-RPM power
  • NEW Combustion chamber shape improves high-RPM power
  • REVISED Intake and exhaust camshaft profiles have more overlap to increase power at high RPM
  • NEW Camshaft chain tensioner provides accurate valve timing and reduces mechanical noise
  • NEW Cast pistons use a new heat-resistant material that increases durability. Piston skirts are shorter, reducing weight by 5g per piston
  • NEW Increased cylinder wall thickness produces a more rigid engine block for increased durability
  • One-piece upper crankcase and cylinder casting offers maximum rigidity
  • NEW Larger air box volume with new air filter element provides 60% more surface area with less air resistance, improving engine response, corner exit acceleration as well as low-mid-range power
  • NEW Computer-controlled electronic throttle valves previously used on the Kawasaki Ninja H2R. Valves allow precise control of the intake airflow and seamless integration of S-KTRC Sport Kawasaki TRaction Control, KLCM Kawasaki Launch Control Mode and KEBC Kawasaki Engine Braking Control
  • REVISED Intake funnels match throttle valves
  • NEW 32-bit Engine Control Unit uses aluminum housing to provide excellent heat dissipation
  • NEW Titanium-alloy headers use special heat-resistant alloy for improved heat handling capacity, with thin wall thickness for less weight
  • NEW Titanium-alloy exhaust silencer has nearly 50% larger volume for superior noise absorption while reducing overall weight.
  • Exhaust system reduces weight of the bike and contributes to mass centralization
  • Low-friction oil pump reduces parasitic power loss
  • A lightweight radiator with tightly packed cores provides efficient engine cooling
  • NEW the oil cooler’s water coolant pipe layout has been revised to flow through the water radiator instead of back through the water pump to increase cooling efficiency

2016 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R Kawasaki Electronics System

  • A full complement of electronics allow the rider to explore the motorcycle’s performance
  • Kawasaki adaptive/predictive system utilizes Bosch Inertial Measurement Unit five-axis sensor with proprietary Kawasaki software developed in-house from World Superbike experience.

2016 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R gauges cockpit2016 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R S-KTRC Sport Kawasaki TRraction Control

  • NEW Kawasaki TRaction Control system has five modes of intervention
  • Modes one and two are designed for the expert racer on a track
  • Mode three is designed for a dry circuit with grippy tires
  • Mode four is for dry canyon roads or commuting
  • Mode five is programmed to suit wet circuit or street use
  • The sophisticated electronic system is designed to maximize forward acceleration on the track by allowing racers to ride closer to the edge of traction
  • The system uses data including throttle position, wheel speed, engine RPM, wheel slippage and acceleration using speed sensors fitted to both wheels as well as the Bosch IMU
  • Using complex analysis, the system is able to calculate 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 and air flow, which allows extremely quick response to changing conditions
  • A meter on the LCD instrument panel displays how much electronic intervention the system is providing

2016 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R KIBS Kawasaki Intelligent Braking System (ABS models only)

  • Kawasaki Intelligent Braking System is available on models fitted with the optional ABS braking
  • KIBS monitors 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

2016 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R Cornering Management Function (ABS models only)

  • NEW Using the five-axis Bosch IMU and Kawasaki chassis attitude software, the new Cornering Management Function helps to ensures the optimum hydraulic pressure is distributed to the calipers, based on the motorcycle’s lean/pitch angle. On the track it suppresses the motorcycle’s tendency to stand up when the brakes are applied in a turn, resulting in quicker lap times

2016 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R KLCM Kawasaki Launch Control Mode

  • NEW Kawasaki Launch Control has three modes with varying levels of intrusion via the ignition and intake air (throttle valves)
  • The system works in conjunction with the S-KTRC and enhances the motorcycle’s acceleration times for best possible race starts on the track
  • Three different modes are designed to suit different rider abilities
  • Mode one offers less intrusion from the system but requires the rider to operate the clutch and throttle with greater sensitivity
  • Mode three allows the electronics to do more of the work while the rider simply drops the clutch and pins the throttle wide open
  • Mode two gives a setting between Mode one and three

2016 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R suspension2016 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R Kawasaki Engine Braking Control

  • NEW Kawasaki Engine Braking Control enables the amount of engine braking to be managed when the rider snaps the throttle shut
  • It is intended for circuit use only and contributes to smoother braking and corner entry when in operation

2016 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R Engine Power Modes

  • NEW Power Modes allow the rider to select the power delivery to suit conditions
  • Three levels are available: Full, Middle (80%) or Low (60%), selected via the rocker switch on the left handlebar

2016 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R 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
  • NEW Close-ratio, short-gearing is designed to suit racetracks, while delivering strong corner exit acceleration from low-mid RPM corners
  • NEW slipper clutch is 130g lighter thanks to a thinner primary gear. Its back-torque limiting ability allows smooth downshifts, contributing to stability under heavy braking
  • NEW Kawasaki Quick Shifter (KQS) is standard equipment and works on upshifts only, it helps to ensure seamless acceleration thanks to rapid upshifts for circuit riding
  • NEW Dry-film lubricant coating on certain gears reduces friction, improving shifting speed

2016 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R Chassis / Frame

  • Aluminum-alloy frame offers optimal flex and rigidity characteristics for balanced handling on street or track
  • NEW Steering head pipe has moved 7.5mm closer to the rider, placing more weight on the front-end, resulting in improved front-end feel, rider confidence, corner entry and in transitions
  • NEW Frame has been internally profiled at the front to reduce induction noise, using an internal resonator chamber. This allowed the exhaust to be liberated, freeing significant horsepower while still meeting US noise regulations
  • NEW Swingarm has been lengthened 15.8mm, resulting in a 12mm longer wheelbase
  • NEW Swingarm is torsionally more rigid thanks to additional bracing, contributing to the motorcycle’s nimble handling and excellent behavior in corner entry as well as transitions

2016 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R Showa Balance Free Fork (BFF)

  • NEW Showa Balance Free Fork (BFF) has its first mass-production application following joint development between Kawasaki and Showa in Word Superbike racing
  • Showa BFF hydraulic design eliminates pressure balance fluctuations typical in conventional forks because the damping valves are located outside the fork legs in the damping force chamber. This means the entire fork piston is pushing hydraulic fluid toward the valves
  • Damping is adjusted for compression and rebound in the damping force chamber, resulting in a more focused design that greatly improves responsiveness
  • System advantages includes better traction, improved low-speed comfort and high-speed performance
  • There is a spring preload adjuster on the top of each fork leg

2016 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R Showa Balance Free Rear Cushion (BFRC)

  • NEW Showa Balance Free Rear Cushion (BFRC) rear shock is again the result of joint development in World Superbike competition
  • Like the forks, the rear shock has a separate damping force chamber that house the compression and rebound damping adjusters
  • There is external spring preload adjustment on the shock body
  • REVISED Rear suspension linkage ratios allow a wider range of adjustment, making it easier for the rider to feel the changes. This is targeted more to circuit use than ever before

2016 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R Green2016 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R Öhlins-Kawasaki Electronic Steering Damper

  • REVISED Öhlins Electronic Steering Damper settings help 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 increases the damping effect to 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
  • Uses patented Öhlins twin-tube design to help ensure stable damping performance and superior kickback absorption

2016 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R Brembo Front Brakes

  • NEW Brembo M50 aluminum monobloc four-piston front calipers with 30mm opposed pistons
  • NEW 330mm Brembo front rotors, cross-drilled with a circumferential groove in the outer edge to aid heat dissipation
  • NEW Brembo radial master cylinder and brake fluid reservoir
  • Brembo components are used for their power, precision and premium quality. They also offer strong initial bite for circuit use and great feel through the lever. To ensure there is minimal play in the brake lever, every part is inspected and adjusted prior to leaving the Brembo factory
  • NEW race-quality stainless steel braided lines front and rear to help ensure direct feel when the brakes are applied
  • NEW 220mm round rear rotor with two-piston Nissin caliper
  • NEW Owners who purchase the 2016 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R ABS will also experience the KIBS Kawasaki Intelligent anti-lock Braking System and new Corner Management Function

2016 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R Wheels & Tires

  • REVISED The gravity-cast three-spoke aluminum wheels remain unchanged from the 2015 model year, but the brake rotor mounting areas have been revised to increase the rotor stability. Angled air valves make tire maintenance easier with the very large brake rotors fitted
  • NEW Bridgestone Battlax RS10 tires are fitted. These are a very sticky street-legal compound in sizes 120/70 ZR17 front, 190/55 ZR17 rear

2016 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R Advanced Aerodynamic Bodywork

  • NEW World Superbike developed front cowl has a larger area to protect the rider from air flow. The windshield is fully supported to reduce vibration. Improved aerodynamic efficiency means reducing drag coefficient and improved high-speed stability on the track
  • NEW Two small air intakes on either side of the windshield help prevent negative pressure forming in the cockpit, reducing helmet buffeting and increasing comfort on longer journeys
  • NEW Headlight lenses are more compact to match the new front cowl design. The mirrors are mounted lower to integrate with the new cowl design
  • NEW Front fender has a stepped design, helping to direct airflow to the radiator
  • NEW Rear cowl is wider than before to create a visual balance with the front styling. It has a new passenger seat and LED tail light with separate turn signals as well as a new license plate holder

2016 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R review2016 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R 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 preset 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
  • NEW The LCD screen includes an IMU indicator, as well as Launch Control, Quick Shift and Engine Braking indicators
  • Additional functions include odometer, dual trip meters, average fuel consumption, instant fuel consumption, Power Mode (x3), S-KTRC (x5), S-KTRC level indicator, low fuel indicator, Economical Riding indicator (shows most favorable fuel consumption), water temperature and a host of indicator lamps

2016 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R Rider Interface

  • NEW The rider is able to scroll through and select the electronic functions with a rocker switch mounted on the left handlebar. It also incorporates a “select” button to make quick, precise adjustments
  • NEW Handlebar end weights have a detailed design

2016 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R Specs:

Engine 4-stroke, 4 cylinder, DOHC, 4-valve, Liquid-cooled
Displacement 998cc
Bore x Stroke 76 x 55mm
Compression Ratio 13:1
Fuel System DFI with four 47mm Keihin throttle bodies, two injectors per cylinder
Ignition TCBI with digital advance and Sport-Kawasaki Traction Control (S-KTRC)
Transmission 6-speed
Final Drive Chain
Electronic Rider Aids Kawasaki Launch Control Mode (KLCM), Sport Kawasaki TRaction Control (S-KTRC), Kawasaki Engine Braking Control, Electronic Throttle Valve (ETV) and Kawasaki Quick Shifter (KQS)
Front Suspension/Wheel Travel 43mm inverted Showa Balance Free Fork, adjustable stepless rebound and compression damping, spring preload adjustability / 4.7”
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 / 4.5”
Front Tire 120/70 ZR17
Rear Tire 190/55 ZR17
Front Brakes Kawasaki Intelligent Braking (KIBS), dual semi-floating 330mm discs with dual 4-piston radial-mounted calipers
Rear Brakes KIBS-controlled, single 220mm disc with aluminum single-piston caliper
Frame Type Aluminum perimeter
Rake/Trail 25°/4.2”
Overall Length 82.3”
Overall Width 29.1”
Overall Height 45.1”
Ground Clearance 5.7”
Seat Height 32.9”
Curb Weight* 454.2 lb / 449.8 lbs Non-ABS
Fuel Capacity 4.5 gallons
Wheelbase 56.7”
Color Choices Metallic Matte Carbon Gray, Lime Green / Ebony (KRT Edition)
MSRP: $15,999 / $16,299 (KRT Edition)

Non-ABS $14,999 / $15,299 (KRT Edition)

Warranty: 12 Months
Kawasaki Protection Plan (optional): 12, 24, 36, and 48 month plans are available

2016 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R Preview – Photo Gallery