2021 Motorcycle Previews 2021 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R and ZX-10RR: All-New (15 Fast Facts)

2021 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R and ZX-10RR: All-New (15 Fast Facts)

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.

2021 ZX-10R compared to 2016

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.

2021 ZX-10R revised cowling

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.

2021 ZX-10R

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.

2021 ZX-10R bright dash

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
  • Launch control
  • 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.

2021 ZX-10R chassis

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. 

2021 ZX-10R upper profile

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.

2021 ZX-10RR

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)
  • $28,999 (ZX-10RR)

2021 ZX-10R LED headlights

2021 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R and ZX-10RR Specs

ENGINE

  • Type: Inline-4
  • Displacement: 998cc
  • 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

ELECTRONICS

  • Electronic Cruise Control
  • Kawasaki Launch Control Mode (KLCM)
  • Kawasaki Intelligent anti-lock Brake System (KIBS)
  • Kawasaki Sport Traction Control (S-KTRC)
  • Kawasaki Engine Braking Control
  • Kawasaki Quick Shifter (KQS) (upshift & downshift)
  • Kawasaki Corner Management Function (KCMF)

CHASSIS

  • Front suspension; travel: Fully adjustable Showa BFF inverted 43mm fork/4.7 inches
  • Rear suspension; travel: Linkage-assisted fully adjustable Showa Balance Free piggyback reservoir shock; 4.5 inches
  • Tires: Pirelli Diablo Supercorsa SP
  • Front tire: 120/70  x 17
  • Rear tire: 190/55 x 17
  • Front brakes: 330mm semi-floating discs w/ Brembo monoblock 4-piston calipers
  • Rear brake: 220mm disc w/ aluminum single-piston caliper
  • ABS: Optional

DIMENSIONS and CAPACITIES

  • Wheelbase: 57.1 inches
  • Rake: 25.0 degrees
  • Trail: 4.2 inches
  • Seat height: 32.9 inches
  • Ground clearance: 5.3 inches
  • Fuel capacity: 4.5 gallons
  • Curb weight: 456 pounds

ZX-10R COLORS

  • Metallic Spark Black/Metallic Matte Carbon Gray
  • KRT Edition: Lime Green/Ebony/Pearl Blizzard White

ZX-10RR COLOR 

  • Lime Green

2021 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R and ZX-10RR Prices

  • $16,399 (ZX-10R, no ABS)
  • $16,699 (KRT Edition, no ABS)
  • $17,399 (ZX-10R ABS)
  • $17,699 (KRT Edition ABS)
  • $28,999 (ZX-10RR)

2021 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R Photo Gallery

2021 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10RR Photo Gallery

Ron Lieback
Ron Lieback
One of the few moto journalists based on the East Coast, Ron Lieback joined the motorcycle industry as a freelancer in 2007, and is currently Online Editor at Ultimate Motorcycling. He is also the author of "365 to Vision: Modern Writer's Guide (How to Produce More Quality Writing in Less Time).

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