Malaysian Media Test – 2016 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R
The best thing about my job is to get invited to a Media Test, this time is the 2016 ZX10-R in Sepang International Circuit (SiC). Same time last was was the H2R/H2 Media Test. Developed jointly between the Kawasaki Racing Team and KHI, the 2016 Ninja ZX-10R was given to the local media to test on the newly resurface SiC track.
We got there as early as 8.15am to test the Kawasaki’s most advanced electronic rider aid package plus new World SBK derived innovations We join former legend racer Oh Kar Beng (Foreman Oh) and 10 other media and journalist and former Moto2 rider Azlan Shah & Muzakkir Mohamed (Team Kawasaki Bike Art) for a whole memorial day at the our world famous track.
This ZX-10R Media Test was the most eagerly awaited test for us and finally it happen on the 17th of May 2016. The closes handling to a WSBK superbike and will not burn a big hole in your pocket in term of value when you get the new Ninja package. The 2016 ZX-10R indeed need to be tested on the track, because that’s the ZX-10R is almost close to the bikes that is use in the World SBK Team Kawasaki. On the 18th May the Ninja Shop Dealers and potential buyers get to track test the Ninja.
At first glance this ZX10R doesn’t looks like much changes from the previous model but in fact, almost the all parts has changed from predecessor model. New engine, new suspension, new electronics, new tweaked chassis, longer swing arm and more which has been developed with valuable feedback from Kawasaki’s two world superbike champion rider, Jonathan Rea and Tom Sykes.
The package for the 2016 ZX-10R can offer is a close to a World SBK Superstock bike is value just under approx. RM108k on the road is considered a very value priced 1000cc Superbike. And a Kawasaki Racing kitted on the Kawasaki ZX-10R package (Dato Jeffrey Lim quoted as RM5-6k) is indeed very super interesting, trackday junkies can have great fun with the new ZX-10R superb Showa front and rear suspension and a smooth and controllable but also powerful engine, which Kawasaki claimed is 210 hp in torque in the 2016 ZX-10R which comes with 3 modes, full, middle (80 percent), and low (60 percent). Sounds simple and effective!
This ZX-10R Media Test was the most eagerly awaited test for us and finally it happen on the 17th of May 2016. The closes handling to a WSBK superbike and will not burn a big hole in your pocket in term of value when you get the new Ninja package. The 2016 ZX-10R indeed need to be tested on the track, because that’s the ZX-10R is almost close to the bikes that is use in the World SBK Team Kawasaki. On the 18th May the Ninja Shop Dealers and potential buyers get to track test The Electronics
Oh boy!, I’m impress with what the Kawasaki boys did on the host of electronics they’ve thrown on this ZX-10R. All are built around Bosch’s incredible Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU), which measures five axis of movement and calculates a 6th. This is the same little magic box that made it impossible to low side a Ducati Multistrada in the rain.
The system is able to measure acceleration and braking, lateral forces while cornering, vertical acceleration (like cresting a hill at speed), lean angle, and during a “wheelie” or “stoppie” and then uses those to calculate a powerslide.
It takes those measurements, as well as ones on wheel speed, brake pressure, throttle position, engine rpm, and throttle opening. Kawasaki even go so far as to claim the system’s level of chassis awareness is so high, it can adapt to changes in tire performance and road camber.
The difference, for better or worse, in this system is that it uses software developed in house by Kawasaki using the experience of their WSBK team rather than an off-the-shelf Bosch system – so its application will be unique to any that have come before it. And it really works!
All of those fancy measurements give Kawasaki the data they need to implement what they’re claiming are some of the most accurate and appropriately intervening electronic aides. The 2016 Kawasaki ZX-10R has traction control (S-KTRC), ABS (KIBS), launch control (KLCM), brake control, corner management, and 3 step power modes.
Corner management works similar to the system on the Ducatis, and distributes brake pressure based on the motorcycle’s lean/pitch angle. While this doesn’t sound sexy, it was maybe the most important thing I experienced on the Multistrada, because it keeps the bike from standing up and running wide in a turn when the brakes are applied. Holding your line while you slow is a game changer.
Brake management was something Kawasaki implemented on the H2 and is allows the engine braking characteristics to be customized, which can be massively helpful in setting up a bike for different tracks.
Kawasaki worked closely with their World SBK Team to develop the new Showa Balanced Free Fork (BFF). Each leg is independently adjustable, with each getting its own compressed nitrogen canister at the bottom of the fork. This allows the entire surface of the main piston to push oil towards the valves, which keeps pressure more constant. Kawasaki claim the new BFF offers improved feel, braking stability, and ride comfort.
The rear gets the Showa Balance Free Rear Cushion (BFRC) shock, which also gets a separate damping force chamber that contains the compression and rebound damping adjusters.
The headstock is now mounted 7.5 mm closer to the rider and the swingarm has been lengthened by 15.8 mm, both of which places a little more weight over the front tire to help with stability and improve turn in, while also giving this beast of an engine a little more traction to work with.
The front callipers are now Brembo’s top of the line M50 aluminium monobloc. The Brembo rotors have been increased from 310 mm to 330 mm and have been cross drilled and given a groove around the circumference to help increase surface area to dissipate heat.
The rear keeps a 220 mm disc and two-piston Nissin calliper, but ditches the wavy type rotor to match the round front. Both front and back get steel-braided brake lines.
The 4-stroke, 4 cylinder, DOHC, 4-valve, Liquid-cooled, 998cc , ZX-10R’s engine and now its rod now weights 25% less as it gained a new coating, which reduces friction and Titanium valves is to reduce the overall weight of the engine. From the list above it’s…… rather impossible to not continue to be interested in all-round package offer form the new 2016 ZX-10R. Ninja ZX-10R produces 210hp, a high figure, and some may think 210hp may potential harm a new rider, but the using the right power mode, I think this ZX-10R would make a beginner rider, ride like a pro and an experience rider like Tom and John……as the new ZX-10R comes with a rider aids that works very, very well.
Gearbox type of cassette is placed high in the engine compartment. It can be replaced without removing the engine oil. This alone would make it easier for a lot of trivial work to change the gearing ratio and cylinder head and crankshaft reduce weight by 25%! In return, ZX10r engine is very responsive.
The Core of the Electronics
Inertia Measuring Unit (IMU) comes from Bosch. This unit measures the inertia of this machine during use, and it measures 6 axis. 5 axis of the sensors in all this machinery, and the axis of the 6th calculated through system software Bosch.
Data collected by the inertia of the system used by the electronic unit other assistance that Kawasaki Traction Control (TRC), Kawasaki Launch Control (KTC) and Kawasaki Engine Braking Control (KEBC)
ZX-10R comes standard with ABS which cannot be turned off. The system Kawasaki Intelligent Braking System (IBS) is the most advanced to be installed in a production superbike. It measures the strength of the lever, moto speed, gear position, the speed of the front and rear tires, and self-regulate the pressure exerted on Brembo Monobloc callipers to prevent the tires from locked.
This is also complete ZX-10R cornering management, which helps the rider to stick to the racing line, with help through coordination traction control and IBS.
I myself have think that this ZX-10R’s advance rider aid absorb from all the rest of the superbike racing technology in to one production machine!
Geometry is changed and put the weight including the rider to the front wheels, improving stability and corner entry.
The balance was very good, and the ZX-10R makes you feel the lightweight immediately. One feature that is very clear from Showa front suspension with external gas canister, which was first used for the production of street bikes. This Showa suspension its was developed with feedback, experience and needs of its own specifications defined by Kawasaki World Superbike and proprietary to Kawasaki said Dato Jeffery during the morning product briefing of the ZX-10R, and confirmed that it is something very special superbike with these Showa suspensions.
Console brief meter with LED display is quite clear even under the hot sun. Shift light combined with tacho meter. Just wish it was full LCD like the Panigales and the R1M. But who cares anyway about the console.
When RPM reaches to the number that can be determined by us, it will blink. It is very easy, no need to remove the eye to the meter to determine when to change gears.
Left handlebar has a button to change the settings of this Kawasaki complex.
S-KTRC is traction control, has 5 levels. 1 means most assists and at least 5 assists. Expert riders can off the traction control.
3 levels of power mode, high, mid, and low settings. Low setting ZX10r reduce power to 60% only. Mid mode will retain power at 60%, but if throttle over half, power will be increased to 100%. High setting will provide full 100% of the 210horsepowered machine.
The new fairing and tail looks slicker, better protection from wind and improved aerodynamics. Changing the position of the body while flicking the ZX-10R when corner is now easier than the previous model.
This Media Test was not the 1st time we rode the new ZX-10R so when know what to expect as we had road tested the ZX-10R courtesy of Rafael from Johor who rode up to KL just to let us test his ZX-10R few weeks before the Media Test.
The Morning Session
All the media had a short product presentation and a safety briefing. The morning session all the ZX-10R were set on low mode for all the test rider to get use to the ZX-10R and sense the differences of the modes. 60% of 210hp, the 120hp. Still a high figure. Traction control is set at 5.
While this setting is the ‘soft’, it still gives this ZX-10R fast feel on the track. It is interestingly very quickly. It is still possible to elbowdown in turn 5 if you dare! Safer to learn the ZX-10R, handling as in the next 2 session will be in full mode. In mid corner, we can open throttle early, and brake much later with full confidence while in a full lean because the tire will not be locked, or break traction. I especially love the KEBS even dropping to 1st gear is not a problem and won’t even feel the rear tyre tweak!
For those new to the Superbike arena, do not be shy to use this setting. It will make you look great, without compromising safety. We are fully aware how many accidents involving bikes pertaining to new riders.
I try, going full throttle in the middle of the corner. The traction control traction feels very natural, not choppy even when I trail brake while holding on the throttle getting out of the corners.
In the straights of Sepang, it still attracts front lift off as we exit out in full mode and we must hold on to the handlebars firmly. The slipper clutch gearbox is excellent while couple with a near race gearing ratio. When you do a hard braking in T9 can easy drop from 6th to 1st leave the admiration I have for the slipper clutch that Kawasaki is offering on the ZX-10R, coupled with Kawasaki Engine Braking Control. Engine does not roar when downshifting hard to get into faster in corners. Getting out of corners we love to short shift the KQS. I feel I have full control on this ZX10R. Showa suspension was indeed excellen. Hard braking and rapid acceleration feels very stable, without the feeling that suspension feels too soft or hard. Even with the newly resurface SIC is very smooth. No bump on the track, just front lift off a bit when exiting corners.
2-3 Sessions in High Mode Setting
The afternoon session after lunch, all ZX-10R tested were set on the High mode. Full power, 210 hp…… yes!!!!!!!.
As I ride out from the pittance ZX-10R the mode can be immediately noticed. Traction control set on the setting at 1.
1st thing noticeable at Turn 3 Sepang is the slight downhill feeling is gone with the feel is flatter and can power out earlier and the short straight to Turn 4 seems very briefly. Kneesliders slides the tarmac till I need to get another pair after this test Hard braking at Turn 4, then full throttle to turn 7 with the ability to elbow down at Turn 5 to Turn 6 flick it at highspeed from left to right, with ease.
Quick to T9, this time harder gear lowered from 6 to 1. Again slipper clutch works very brilliant avoid rear tire slide and after Turn 9, the northern fast part of Sepang Circuit is ridden with awesome speeds with this ZX-10R right up to Turn 14, then once again full throttle to hit speeds of 280km/h where now exiting the new Turn 15 where you can lift off your front wheels and start all over again. We could do 6-7 laps in this High mode.
Turn 15, is now is negative camber corner, traction control is very helpful here. The ride straight to the start and finishing line, and continue push the adrenalin again to 280-290km/h, before braking hard for T1 and repeating all over again.
Conclusion 2016 ZX-10R
In short, the new ZX-10R electronics and rider aid enables rider to ride fast ZX-10R in a safe manner but doesn’t make the rider feel too much electronically assisted, I still feel full control of the ZX-10R, and the new electronics takes my 20++ years of riding experience to another level. So YES! You are still in charge, and only need to pay attention to open up the throttle as soon as possible to be faster. I become more confident because I know I can throttle out much faster while exiting out of corners and brake much deeper on this new Kawasaki ZX-10R. I began to feel increasingly faster and faster as more laps I take. We had only three 20minutes session crash course track test of the new World SBK derived Ninja ZX-10R to as many laps as we can, just like the H2/H2R last year.
For media test ride like this, we are all reminded to ride at the test riders ability and pace.
This is a superbike you should consider buying, if you are in the market to get a 1000cc Superbike, and I’m pretty sure you will love it as we did. Being GREEN poisoned again is the 2016 ZX10R, a superbike developed based on WSBK racers feedback for us to use on the open roads and trackdays. Well if you buy and don’t like it, I will gladly offer to buy the 2016 ZX-10R off you! RM108k on the road would be considered value in terms of the electronic and suspension package you get comparing to other similar superbikes in this category.
Thanks once again Kawasaki Motors Malaysia for inviting i-Moto to the 2016 ZX-10R Malaysia Media Test!
Photo Credits: Ramu Moorthy & Kawasaki Malaysia’s photographer Abang Shukor & his teammates!
Gears provided by:
Helmet: SR Sport “Gamble Design” by Suomy Helmet distributed by MKA Motorparts (M) Sdn Bhd
Racing Suit: IXON Pulsar distributed by MKA Motorparts (M) Sdn Bhd
Next, we will get the new ZX-10R for official i-Moto Road Test. Stay tune to us.