Kawasaki has totally revamped its 2021 Ninja ZX-10R and ZX-10RR superbikes. The motorcycles, built with input from Kawasaki Racing Team (KRT), won the past seven World Superbike Championship titles, received new bodywork, improved suspension, and more powerful engines.Here’s what you need to know about the 2021 Kawasaki ZX-10R, ZX-10R KRT Edition, and ZX-10RR lineup.
1. The largest revision of the ZX-10R arrives in the dramatic styling updates. Gone is the previous front cowl, replaced with a more aerodynamic shape that tucks the LED headlights under the cowl, keeping them out of the rider’s view. The goal of the revised bodywork and the taller windscreen is to reduce drag, increase downforce, and better protect the rider from the wind. Kawasaki says the improvements increase downforce by 17 percent and reduce drag by 7 percent.The upgrades for the 2021 bodywork include:
Integrated winglets to help downforce.
A more compact shape of the Ram intake, which directs air towards the induction system for efficiency.
Aerodynamic riding position.
LED headlights and taillight.
Cowling-mounted mirrors with integrated LED turn signals.
Slots in the new tail cowl design contribute to the bike’s stronger aerodynamic design.
2. The 2021 ZX-10R’s 998cc 16-valve four-cylinder engine was overhauled for stronger performance and cleaner emissions. Kawasaki didn’t release any horsepower numbers, but the refinements from WorldSBK racing efforts should push this over the 2020 model’s claimed 197 horsepower at 13,000 rpm.For 2021, the engine is updated with:
New air-cooled oil cooler similar to what’s found on Jonathan Rea’s World Superbike machine.
New electronic throttle valves and valve train design that enables tuning for a high rev limit and more aggressive cam profiles
New exhaust system that helps maintain power output and improves emissions.
New transmission gear ratio that features shorter ratios for first, second, and third gears, reported to help strong low-mid acceleration for quicker corner exits and better off-the-line acceleration.
3. The 2021 Ninja ZX-10R’s largest update to its electronic suite is the use of pre-determined riding modes. The bike features sport, road, and rain modes and four manual modes that allow riders to tweak performance as needed. For 2021, the riding modes can now be changed on the fly through a button on the left handlebar.4. The ZX-10R now gets electronic cruise control that uses the left controls for operation.5. The bike’s instrumentation was updated with a compact 4.3-inch all-digital TFT Color unit. The unit now features:
Selectable background in either black or white with automatically adjustable brightness
Functions include a digital speedometer, digital bar-style tachometer, gear position indicator, throttle application, odometer, dual trip meters, current and average fuel consumption, volume of fuel consumed, low fuel indicator, average speed, total time, coolant temperature, intake air temperature, clock, battery voltage, Kawasaki service reminder, oil change reminder, call and mail indicators (when connected to Bluetooth), and economical riding indicator.
Two display modes: one for street and one for track.
External race-style shift light.
6. The ZX-10R is now updated with Bluetooth Smartphone Connectivity, allowing riders to use Kawasaki’s RIDEOLOGY THE APP, which displays on the instrumentation vehicle info, riding log (route, distance, time traveled), and tuning (change bike settings through app).7. The ZX-10R returns with the rest of its electronic aids through the use of Bosch IMU:
Kawasaki Quick Shifter for both up and down clutchless shifts (above 2500 rpm)
Five-mode traction control with the ability to shut off
Engine Brake Control for maximum braking action through the engine
Three power modes (Full, Middle, Low)
Ohlins electronic steering damper
Optionally ABS on ZX-10R
8. The ZX-10R’s chassis received some updates to the geometry to move the bike’s balance further forward for increased cornering performance and lighter handling. Kawasaki lowered the swingarm pivot by 1mm, and made the swingarm 8mm longer.9. The ZX-10R returns with the 43mm Showa Balance Free Front Fork (BFF) and Showa Balance Free Rear Cushion (BFRC) rear shock, but with some revisions. The lower triple clamp was revised for rigidity to improve handling and turning, and both arrive with new settings for improved handling over the outgoing model. These improvements include a lower spring rate, firmer compression damping and softer rebound up front. Out back, the rear shock includes a stiffer spring rate, soft compression damping, and softer rebound damping.10. Braking is completed through 330mm Brembo discs squeezed by radial-mount four-piston calipers, and a 220mm disc squeezed by a single-piston caliper out back. New for 2021 are new pads and a repositioned rear brake reservoir for improved foot positionings.11. The 2021 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R arrives with three-spoke design cast wheels that lightweight and rigid. 12. Like the bodywork, the ergonomics were also completely revised for 2021. The improvements include:
A taller windscreen that is set at a steeper angle to reduce wind blasts
A handlebar that’s positioned farther forward and straighter
A revised seat that’s higher in the back to help elevate a rider’s race position (seat height of 32.9 inches)
Footpegs are now positioned 5mm higher to meet the circuit-focused riding position that engineers sought after. The higher position makes it easier to weight the pegs when going through a corner.
13. For those looking for the ultimate track weapon or race bike, the ZX-10RR has all the tasty updates. And for 2021, the Kawasaki ZX-10RR is further revised for more performance.The following upgrades highlight the ZX-10RR:
New more aggressive camshafts
New intake and exhaust valve springs
New lightweight titanium parts by Pankl High-Performance parts, including connecting rods
New lightweight pistons
Elimination of intake funnels for more optimized airflow
New Marchesini forged wheels
Pirelli Diablo Supercorsa SP tires
14. The 2021 Ninja ZX-10R is available in two color schemes: Metallic Spark Black/Metallic Matte Carbon Gray and the KRT Edition in Lime Green/Ebony/Pearl Blizzard White. The Ninja ZX-10RR model is only available in Lime Green.15 – Pricing is as follows:
$16,399 (ZX-10R, no ABS)
$16, 699 (KRT Edition, no ABS)
$17,399 (ZX-10R ABS)
$17,699 (KRT Edition ABS)
2021 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R and ZX-10RR Specs
Bore x Stroke: 76.0 x 55.0mm
Compression ratio: 13.0:1
Fueling: EFI w/ four 47mm Mikuni throttle bodies w/ oval sub-throttles; two injectors per cylinder
Valvetrain: DOHC, 4vpc
Ignition: TCBI with digital advance and Sport-Kawasaki Traction Control (S-KTRC)
Transmission: 6-speed, return shift
Clutch: Wet multiplate w/ slipper function
Final drive: Sealed chain
Electronic Cruise Control
Kawasaki Launch Control Mode (KLCM)
Kawasaki Intelligent anti-lock Brake System (KIBS)
This week, Senior Editor Nic de Sena rides the all new Ducati Monster. Big changes have been made by Ducati–has the company ruined the considerable heritage of the iconic Monster–or are the changes worth it? In the second part of the show, we chat with Nick Ienatsch, Founder and Head Instructor at the Yamaha Champions Riding School. He says: “We aim to change your riding life by introducing you to Champions Habits: The techniques, approaches, skills, and the mindsets of the best riders in the world. These Champions Habits are the foundation of safety and consistency to whatever speed you ride, in any venue on any bike. Street riders, this is just as much for you as track riders. The best way to make safe riders is to make good riders.“ We hope you enjoy this episode!