Best of the Best 2011: Motorcycles: Sportbike: Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R

    Six years passed between the debut of the Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R, in 2004, and the super sport’s first comprehensive update. But the improvements were worth the wait. The $13,800 ZX-?10R, which underwent less drastic changes in 2006 and 2008, has new bodywork, a new drivetrain, and a new chassis with a lightweight Showa Big Piston Fork. The bike also is equipped with an Öhlins steering damper to stabilize the front end and a horizontally positioned rear monoshock. While adding these components the ZX-10R has shed nearly 22 pounds, dropping its weight to 437 pounds.

    The bike’s’s 998 cc powerplant features a host of upgrades that enable freer-revving power; in European form, the engine churns a breathtaking 197 hp, giving this two-wheeled dynamo a power-to-weight ratio that is superior to that of the BMW S 1000 RR, a fellow liter-class sportbike that was a Robb Report 2010 Best of the Best selection. The U.S. version of the engine, which has to conform to this country’s stricter emissions regulations, is not quite so powerful.

    More significant than the bike’s beastly force is the manner in which that power is delivered to the rear wheel; Kawasaki offers a novel means of keeping hair-raising incidents to a minimum. The ZX-10R is equipped with Sport-Kawasaki Traction Con­trol, a system that monitors throttle position, wheel speed, engine rpm, wheel slippage, and acceleration at .005-second intervals to determine how much electronic intervention is necessary—and to deliver it on time. Suffice it to say, the system is advanced enough to mitigate throttle input that might otherwise send a rider tumbling across the tarmac.

    The optional $1,000 ABS adds only six pounds to the bike, and unlike conventional antilock systems, it can stabilize rear-wheel hop by reducing front-brake pressure.

    The new and improved Ninja ZX-10R has plenty of brawn, but riders will be pleased to discover that it also has a big brain.

     

    Kawasaki, www.kawasaki.com

    Photo by Jim Fets
    The successful trip puts Audi on track to release its first autonomous car in 2017…
    Jaguar’s design director discloses that the F-Pace is the production version of the C-X17 concept…
    This year’s show saw debuts from Ferrari, Lamborghini, Aston Martin, and other top carmakers…
    The racecar set off a Ford winning streak at Le Mans that lasted four years…
    Photo by Mercedes-Benz
    Armored versions of the limousine-like vehicle will also be available…
    Photo by Mark Bramley
    The new sedan features numerous stylistic references to the world’s great metropolises…
    Photo by Drew Phillips
    The original car became famous in the 1968 Steve McQueen film Bullitt…
    The new Turbo S completed a lap on the famous Nürburgring circuit in under 8 minutes…
    Photo by Mercedes-Benz
    The autonomous concept takes a look into the future of driving…
    With just 24 examples available worldwide, only an elite few will ever experience the Vulcan’s...