Kawasaki has recently unveiled their top of the line Superbike, 2009 ZX-10R. Heart of this impressive package is a fearsome 998cc, four-cylinder engine that offers a strong mid-range punch followed by an eye-watering high-rpm crescendo. Part of the motor’s success is its efficient respiratory system – the bank of four 43mm Keihin throttle bodies with oval sub-throttles. Controlled by Kawasaki’s digital fuel injection (DFI®) system and featuring two injectors per cylinder, the throttle bodies utilize the airbox’s efficient design to maximize flow for improved cylinder filling and maximum power output. On par with the impressive intake side, the equally efficient exhaust system lets the engine exhale with ease, while generating less noise and minimizing emissions.
To match the increased power of 2009 ZX-10R’s engine, Kawasaki engineers have optimized gearing to match the engine output, the transmission and engine are essentially a race-ready team with performance similar to Kawasaki’s factory Superbikes. More racing heritage is found in its adjustable slipper clutch, which allows riders to dole out quick downshifts without upsetting the fine-tuned chassis.
2009 ZX-10R also has the Kawasaki Ignition Management System (KIMS) to enhance the precision with which the engine reacts to throttle changes. The KIMS works to prevent engine and catalyzer damage from sudden spikes in engine speed, providing a smooth and controlled throttle response to the rider. The system works by monitoring the standard DFI system’s input data (engine speed, throttle position, vehicle speed, gear position and feedback from intake air temperature, intake air pressure, engine temperature and O2 sensors), and checking every 0.02 seconds for any sudden changes in RPM. It doesn’t interfere with normal operation and still allows the engine to rev freely under typical riding conditions.
A superb engine deserves an equally superb chassis, and this is where the ZX-10R really shines. Applying lessons learned in the unforgiving racing environment, Kawasaki has created an exceptionally communicative machine. It provides two-way rider/machine feedback with the precision professional racers demand and everyday riders crave.
The track oriented and fully-adjustable 43mm inverted fork and advanced rear suspension design supplement the ZX-10R’s chassis feedback capabilities. The fork tubes have Diamond Like Carbon (DLC) coating for less stiction and enhanced feedback, while locating the springs at the bottom of the fork legs helps reduce oil frothing for more consistent damping performance. The fully-adjustable rear shock includes low and high-speed compression damping for better fine-tuning capabilities and connects to the aluminum swingarm via the latest Uni-Trak® linkage design.
Light, stiff and precise squeeze-cast wheels keep unsprung weight down and improve suspension action. Their reduced rotational inertia further enhances the 10R’s quick steering and acceleration.
The 2009 ZX-10R is capable of slowing down every bit as fast as it can sprint ahead. Braking duties are handled by radial mounted Tokico brake calipers squeezing 310mm petal discs, while the rear 220mm petal disc is stopped by a single-piston caliper.
Shrink wrapping all of this Kawasaki wizardry is a sleek aerodynamic shape that flows from an aggressive front cowling to a sharp, minimalist tail cowl. The rear frame, tank and seat shape offer glove-like ergonomics and near form-fitted rider/bike contact spots. The result of these efforts is a clean, lithe and wiry package highlighted by superb fit and finish exuding the presence befitting its Ninja name.
Though as far as looks are concerned, they are highly subjective and differ from person to person, especially when it comes to the special edition Lime Green/Metallic Diablo Black color combination.
2009 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R Specifications:
Engine: Four-stroke, liquid-cooled, DOHC, four valves per cylinder, inline-four
Bore x stroke: 76.0 x 55.0mm
Maximum torque: 83.2 lb-ft @ 8,700 rpm
Compression ratio: 12.9:1
Fuel system: DFI with four 43mm Keihin throttle bodies with oval sub-throttles, two injectors per cylinder
Ignition: TCBI with digital advance and Kawasaki Ignition Management System (KIMS)
Transmission: Six speed
Final drive: Chain
Rake / trail: 25.5deg / 4.3 in.
Front tire: 120/70 ZR17
Rear tire: 190/55 ZR17
Wheelbase: 55.7 in.
Front suspension/wheel travel: 43mm inverted fork with DLC coating, adjustable rebound and compression damping, spring preload adjustability and top-out springs / 4.7 in.
Rear suspension/wheel travel: Uni-Trak® with top-out spring, stepless, dual-range (high/low-speed) compression damping, stepless rebound damping, fully adjustable spring preload / 4.9 in.
Front brakes: Dual semi-floating 310mm petal discs with dual four-piston radial-mount calipers
Rear brakes: Single 220mm petal disc with aluminum single piston caliper
Overall length: 83.1 in.
Overall width: 28.0 in.
Overall height: 44.7 in.
Seat height: 32.7 in.
Curb weight: 458.6 lbs.
Fuel capacity: 4.5 gal.
Color choices: Ebony, Candy Burnt Orange / Flat Super Black, Special Edition Lime Green / Metallic Diablo Black