Nerd’s Eye View: 2016 Kawasaki ZX-10R

by Khiem Dinh


In the last decade and a half, the sport bike you buy from your local dealer has become the closest thing to a racetrack ready vehicle of any kind that a normal person could get their hands on. As the sport bike manufacturers battled for fastest bike bragging rights, they threw in titanium connecting rods and valves- parts you would only see on purebred race vehicles in the car world. The engine internals have low-friction coatings applied. The intake and exhaust ports have been polished. The bikes were outfitted with racing brake hardware like stainless lines. Steering dampers were added. All of these typical race vehicle parts are now available straight off the showroom floor. You can feasibly take off the lights, mirrors and license plate to go racing after adding some safety wire to the fasteners. The Kawasaki ZX-10R World Superbike kicks ass, so it’s no surprise the street bike you can buy does too.  


This is the cockpit of the ZX-10R. The windscreen is narrow and small for minimal drag. If you’re on track, you’re going to be in a full tuck anyway, so no f*cks are given to highway cruising comfort.
Yeah, redline of this liter displacement engine is 14k rpm and the engine puts out around 200hp. Back in the day, liter bikes had redlines in the 12k range. 600cc bikes only spin around 15.5-16k, so the liter bikes are really pushing the limits to make maximum power. The modern sport bike has all sorts of electronics to customize the controls such as engine braking control, launch control, intelligent ABS, traction control, corner management control, and quick shifters. All these settings can be adjusted to rider preference and track conditions. Of course, there’s a built-in lap timer too.
We really like these clear cylindrical brake fluid reservoirs which make it easy to see the level of the fluid. The two screws make sure the cap will never come loose on track. To make sure the light plastic reservoir doesn’t crack over time due to vibrations, a rubber isolator is used at the attachment point of the reservoir to the metal bracket.  Notice the hole stamped out of the bracket; grams are saved everywhere possible.
No cheap steering damper here. An adjustable Ohlins is standard.


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Dan DeRosia
Dan DeRosialink
Monday, May 01, 2017 4:11 AM
I was geeking a bit over the shape of the fork end - and doing research it looks like the Showa fork is basically the same concept as the Ohlins ubertrick FGR forks, albeit implemented a little differently and, of all things, productionized. That's wild.
Monday, May 01, 2017 8:37 AM
Yup, the new fork technology is really cool. It's the biggest innovation in motorcycle suspension in a while. The whole bike is just a beast!
Monday, May 01, 2017 4:22 PM
other than remote reservoir, what sets this fork apart from other sport bike forks?
Thursday, May 04, 2017 12:05 AM
Feel so sad for that rad. Are puncture in bike rads common?
Thursday, May 04, 2017 8:13 PM
Mmm.... not really. I've seen some race bikes with a mesh screen over the radiator, but that's a rarity. I don't think I've known anyone who has punctured a radiator and I've been riding 15 years. Flat tires, clutch and shift levers coming off, leaking oil cooler hose, yes to all those but not a punctured radiator.
Tuesday, May 09, 2017 3:14 PM
The only radiator I've punctured (beside crashing) was on my Buell 1125cr. And that had side radiators.
The "rock" that holed it was strangely pointed though. But that was the only one in 18-ish years of riding.
I routinely ride my rsv4 Tuono on gravel roads, and the front tire barley gets rocks up high enough to make contact with the radiator.
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