Kawasaki reveals heavily updated ZX10R

Kawasaki reveals heavily updated ZX10R

Kawasaki ZX-10R 2016
The 2016 Kawasaki ZX-10R

Kawasaki ZX-10R 2016
The styling changes are subtle.

Kawasaki ZX-10R 2016
What a front end – Brembo M50s and Showa gas forks.

Kawasaki ZX-10R 2016
Looking good.

Kawasaki ZX-10R 2016 gas forks
The new ZX-10 is the first mass produced bike to get Showa’s Balance Free fork.

Kawasaki ZX-10R 2016
The swingarm is new, along with the exhaust system.

Kawasaki ZX-10R 2016
Hanging off with your elbow down won’t make you faster, but it will make you more attractive to women. Probably.

KAWASAKI has just unveiled its heavily updated 2016 ZX-10R.

Kawasaki released teaser images a month ago, saying that for 2016 the ZX-10R would be getting some updates, but the 2016 incarnation has been comprehensively reworked and now includes:

  • A heavily revised engine featuring a revised cylinder head, t**anium exhaust system, electronic throttle valves and lighter internals
  • New electronics including an inertial measurement unit, traction control, launch control, ABS, engine braking control and a quick shifter
  • A revised frame and swingarm
  • Brand new Showa gas forks
  • Ohlins electronic steering damper
  • Brembo brakes

With 200hp, it makes the same power as the current bike although that figure climbs to 207hp with ram air. Torque is slightly up at 113.5Nm at 11,500rpm. Kawasaki says its kerb mass is 206kg, which is 5kg more than the current model.

Kawasaki says that thanks to input from its World Superbike team, the 2016 ZX-10R is the closest thing its ever offered to a highly advanced factory superbike – it’s been given a ton of technology and a huge amount of revisions. Here’s a more detailed account of what’s new:


The engine has undergone a major reworking. The cylinder head intake ports have been machined at an angle to create a straighter path for air entering the combustion chamber, which has been reshaped to improve efficiency. The exhaust ports are now polished and have been made straighter and wider, while the t**anium exhaust valves have widened by 1.1mm to 25.5mm. The intake valves are also made from t**anium and the cam profiles have been changed to provide increased power at high revs.

The combustion chamber has been revised, which Kawasaki says contributes to improved intake and exhaust efficiency. The pistons have been made shorter, down from 39.2mm to 37.7mm, and they’re a claimed 5kg lighter too, with revised crowns.

Kawasaki claims the ZX-10’s new electronic throttle valves result in ideal fuelling and engine output, as well as helping to keep down emissions from the Euro4 compliant engine. Kawasaki also says the system allows more precise control of the traction control and is what allows implementation of bike’s new launch and engine braking control systems. 

The crank has a claimed 20% lower moment of inertia – meaning it requires less energy to spin up and down. Kawasaki says the revised crank is one of the most significant changes and has been brought about with feedback from its World Superbike team. It’s claimed to benefit the bike’s claimed improved acceleration and deceleration along with its cornering ability.

Other changes to the engine include thicker cylinder walls, a revised cooling system, the intake funnels have been reshaped and at 10 litres, the airbox has grown by 2 litres.

The exhaust system has received Kawasaki’s attention too – the systems gets hydroformed header collectors, t**anium header pipes and a larger but claimed lighter t**anium alloy silencer, which thanks to its shape, manages to look slightly less bulbous than the silencer on the current bike.

The gearbox has been given closer ratios for second to sixth gears, which Kawasaki says it also worked on to give the 2016 ZX-10 improved mid-low range acceleration, along with improved stability when downshifting. Certain gears have been given a dry film lubricant coating to reduce friction and improved shifting performance. The new bike also has a race-style cassette transmission located high enough that if owners want to change ratios to suit different tracks or conditions, they can access the cassette without having to drain the oil.


The ZX-10R’s electronics have been brought in to line with the kind of technology on the Yamaha R1, Ducati 1299 Panigale S and Aprilia RSV4 RF. As well as a new 32-bit ECU, the 2016 ZX-10R has been given a Bosch inertial measurement unit (IMU) that carries some of Kawasaki’s own software to measure across 6 axes of movement. The IMU talks to the other electronic systems in the bike, so the 10R’s traction control system is given more information about the bike’s behaviour and feeds back to the IMU

Kawasaki say the new IMU interacts with the ABS, but it’s not clear whether it’s got a full-on cornering ABS system or something more like the Unified Brake System on the R1

The traction control system, (called S-KTRC – Sport-Kawasaki TRaction Control) has five modes instead of the three on the current bike. Kawasaki says the traction control system can distinguish between torque wheelies, which are smooth, and which it’ll allow, and sudden wheelies, which will trigger system intervention depending on what mode it’s in.

It’s got three-mode launch control too, along with Kawasaki’s KIBS ABS systems which owners will be able to deactivate with a dongle from Kawasaki. Engine braking can be controlled with the engine braking control system, and is designed to offer riders the amount of engine braking they prefer.

The new ZX-10 will come with a quick shifter as standard, which will allow clutchless downshifts with a race kit ECU.

Finally, the bike gets an Ohlins electronic steering damper, which Kawasaki says has been optimized for the racetrack and winding roads, to match the characteristic bike.

Chassis, suspension and brakes

There have been no radical frame chances – it still uses an aluminium twin spar frame, but the head tube has been moved 7.5mm closer to the rider to put more weight over the front wheel. The swingarm is also new and it’s grown in length by 15.8mm. Kawasaki says it used computer modelling to increase torsional and lateral rigidity, which it claims contributes to the bike’s improved handling without adding too much weight.

Kawasaki’s race kit parts also give the chassis some adjustability and a set of reversible offset collars will allows the steering stem to be adjusted by +/- 4mm from the standard position. Another set of reversible collars will allow the swingarm pivot position to be adjusted by +/- 2mm up or down from centre.

The Showa Balance Free front suspension is brand new and Kawasaki says it was developed with Showa in World Superbikes. This new gas fork makes its mass production debut on 2016 ZX-10R. It uses a Damping Force Chamber to generate damping force outside of the main fork tubes, has an external compression chamber filled with pressurized nitrogen gas to manage pressure increases in the damping force chamber and compression and rebound damping are generated and adjusted independently from one another. Kawasaki claims the improved damping force responsiveness offered by the new Showa fork results in superb traction and absortion performance.

There’s a Showa shock in the rear too – the BFRC lite, which is a more compact version of the firm’s earlier BFRC unit. Like the forks, it has an external damping force chamber.

For 2016, the ZX-10 gets a Brembo brake system that, so says Kawasaki, is very similar to the one on the Ninja H2R. At the front are a pair of 330mm semi-floating discs, gripped by Brembo M50 4-pot monobloc calipers. Kawasaki says the front master cylinder and reservoir ‘received extra attention before being shipped to Kawasaki’ – with each part being examined and adjusted to remove ineffective stroke.

At the rear, there’s a 220mm disc and single piston caliper and both front and rear brakes get braided steel lines.

Styling and instrumentation

The bodywork has been given some attention too, although it’s not a radical departure from the ZX-10s current styling. The main change being is a restyled, fuller front fairing. The seat unit is also wider and ‘more voluptuous’ and the tail light design has been changed to make the rear end look sharper.

The backlit LED dash has been updated to include all the necessary settings and data from the electronics, and will display engine braking information, IMU information, launch control settings, what power mode the bike is in. It even has an economical riding indicator, though how many owners will be interested in this is anyone’s guess. The dash will automatically adjust its brightness according to how light/dark it is.



998cc liquid cooled 4-stroke inline-four DOHC 16-valve


Twin-spar aluminium


Twin Brembo M50 4-piston monobloc calipers, 330mm discs (f), Nissin singe piston caliper, 220mm disc


Showa Balance Free fork, Showa BFRC Lite shock


Inertial Measurement Unit, S-KTRC (Sport-Kawasaki TRaction control), KLCM (Kawasaki Launch Control Mode), KIBS (Kawasaki Intelligent anti-lock Brake System), engine braking control, quick shifter, Ohlins electronic steering damper, five power modes.


200hp, 207hp with ram air, 113.5Nm torque at 11,500rpm


Length: 2,090mm

Width: 740mm

Height: 1,145mm

Wheelbase: 1,440mm

Ground clearance: 145mm

Seat height: 835mm

Kerb weight: 206kg

Fuel tank capacity: 17 litres

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Source: Kawasaki reveals heavily updated ZX10R