News of the world of motorcycling > 2006 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R

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Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R (ZX1000-C1)

No compromises: The Kawasaki ZX-10R

Story by Lance Oliver

by Brian J. Nelson

Folks, the Kawasaki ZX-10R is a dog.

right, a dog.

Like a greyhound with afterburners. cornering skills like a border collie nipping at sheep. And brakes that like a pit bull.

The five-millimeter

How much is five millimeters? than the height of a stack of pennies. Less than a of an inch.

So when the sportbike talk about changes as 4mm longer swingarm or moving the head 15mm, as Kawasaki did the 2006 ZX-10R, it’s to ask: Can such small make a difference?

The answer is and sometimes, no.

If you’re accelerating at throttle up to 65 mph to merge into on the freeway, you’re not going to a 5mm change in rear ride But as Kawasaki pointed out with no ands or buts, the ZX-10R was to go fast around a racetrack. And the growing popularity of track more riders find accelerating at full throttle, down straights at 150 mph, and near the limit at lean that should never be on the street.

That’s when 5mm makes a

When we change something that’s a huge difference, AMA Superbike pilot Tommy You wouldn’t think so, but it is.

Even you’re not as fast as Hayden, 5mm Just ask Kawasaki’s Jeff who had the task of scrubbing in tires and suspensions on the bikes we rode at Speedway. Kawasaki had us ride the with the stock Dunlop tires in the morning, and Dunlop GP DOT-legal race tires in the

Herzog set up the bikes with the 190/55-17 rear tire, switched to the 190/60-17 rear GPs – and that the suspension settings all wrong, because of the GPs’ aspect ratio.

Even though it only the rear axle 4.5mm, said, it totally changed the of the bike.

In the end, Herzog at a compromise setting. Still, the from the morning session to was pronounced. The grippier tires the bike both faster and for most riders.

So what’s the in all this? Think about all the riders who shoehorn wider rubber onto their bolt on aftermarket shocks, or fork legs up in the triple None of it will probably much on their commutes to

But when you take your to a track day, to experience all capable of doing, and you scream the first turn at redline in gear – you’d better you either knew what you doing or had good advice someone who did. Because a little change – even 5mm – a difference.

Let’s face it, with technology trickling down to the 600 in mouth-watering quantity, and with literbikes turning lap times to race-only Superbikes of not many ago, it’s a great to be shopping in the sporting goods of your local motorcycle Which brings us back to the

The Ninja Ten is the latest evidence of a new at Kawasaki toward sportbikes. No Mr. Nice Guy, no more streetbikes with comfy Remember Kawasakis like the ZX9R?

They were you could ride all day without But Kawasaki got tired of watching rush past their sportbikes to buy harder-edged products Yamaha’s R1.

No more.

We’re no in the business of building sportbikes make good street flatly stated Karl sportbike product manager for Motors Corp. USA. the one and only goal of the 2006 is to get around a race track as as possible.

Period, end of mission statement.

means that the ZX-10R, in 2004, is all-new for 2006. two-year development cycle Kawasaki on par with the most schedules of any of its competitors.

The old (can a be old?) bike won more its share of awards, but Kawasaki set out to it by systematically addressing the few areas owners and the motorcycle press had about.

Tommy and Roger Lee who rode the previous ZX-10R in the AMA Lubricants Superstock Series year, wanted quicker transitions. Many ordinary wanted slicker shifting and a damper to tame headshake. emphasized that all those were addressed with the model.

Some of these were accomplished with that may seem counterintuitive to of us without engineering degrees. For you want a low center of mass for handling, forward weight for front-end feel and to resist and bigger valves for more power, right?

Not necessarily, it seems.

For example, the new layout on the 2006 ZX-10R the crankshaft 20mm, giving the a higher center of mass to with those transitions the were talking about. also bolted on a new swingarm 4mm longer and moved the steering 15mm forward, which the weight bias toward the Along with a taller 190mm rear tire (up a 190/50ZR17), the engineers say the changes the rider to get on the gas sooner and stay on the longer.

With handling Kawasaki massaged the powerband.

of horsepower has never been an with this bike, Edmondson, so the focus was on creating a linear powerband. The intake were reduced 1mm to 30mm, and the pistons, cylinder head and are all new. Peak power the same, according to Kawasaki, but the curve is smoother.

Changes to the transmission allowed shifting, and, to address the common complaint of all about the model, the company fitted an Ohlins steering damper.

Kawasaki’s focus on racetrack led them to rent California to introduce the new ZX-10R to the stateside so we didn’t have to try to probe the abilities on public streets — an with today’s literbikes. motorcycles reach speeds can get your bike confiscated in states — while still in gear.

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