The fresh new face of Kawasaki’s ZX-10 models has been revealed, and the six-time World Superbike King has come out swinging.
Set to be offered in two forms, the standard ZX-10R and the ZX-10RR which will be limited to 500 bikes worldwide, the 2021 ZX-10 brings in a host of real-world changes for the coming model year.
Most obvious is, of course, the new aerodynamic update which sees integrated winglets and the new front cowl which seems to have taken inspiration from Kawasaki’s manic H2.
As you’d expect from Kawasaki, the aero changes aren’t just for looks (can we agree it looks aggressive like a superbike should?) but also offers significantly improved drag resistance (down approximately 7%), a roughly 17% increase in downforce thanks to the aerodynamically sculpted front cowl with its integrated winglets.
The windscreen has also been revised, with the angle of attack now steeper while the screen itself is 40mm taller than that of the 2019 model.
Behind the screen is a new 4.3” all-digital TFT colour instrumentation that gives the cockpit a high-tech, high-grade appearance. The new meter also offers built-in Bluetooth connectivity to allow riders to connect to Kawasaki’s proprietary app Rideology which offers extra functionality.
Much like we saw when Yamaha gave their YZF-R1 a MotoGP inspired new look, Kawasaki has given the ZX-10R recessed LED headlights on either side of the ram air intake. They look good, but according to Kawasaki part of their design was to give the rider the image of piloting a pure race machine due to the lights not being visible from the cockpit in any way.
Behind the shiny new bodywork, Kawasaki has subtly massaged the chassis and engine package to new levels.
Finger-follower valve actuation and other features based on feedback from Kawasaki’s WSB factory team contribute to a peak power of 203hp, which can further be pushed higher care of a full race exhaust. Updates for 2021 include increased cooling performance and emissions that meet Euro5 requirements while maintaining the engine’s performance.
The limited-run ZX-10RR gets all the goodies, including a high rev-limit to take advantage of new World Superbike rules, now 14,700rpm up from 14,300rpm and lightweight Marchesini wheels.
Included in the RR package is a dedicated camshaft and valve springs while the lightweight pistons come from specialists Pankl.
Ergonomically Kawasaki has moved the peg and bar placements to give an even more aggressive, track-orientated riding position while the seat is higher at the rear and claimed to help aid in reducing drag, while the RR loses the rear seat entirely.
The 2021 model’s twin-spar chassis sees changes at the swingarm pivot which is now 1mm lower to improve suspension action, a 2mm greater fork offset to reduce trail and sharpen steering while an 8mm longer swingarm contributes to a 10mm longer wheelbase overall to improve stability. The suspension spring rates and settings are also slightly revised.
That suspension itself comes in the form of 43mm Showa Balance Free Front Fork up front while at the rear is Showa’s BFRC lite rear shock which is a lighter, more compact version of their earlier BFRC shock.
Braking, of course, comes from Brembo with the firm’s brilliant M50 calipers clamping down on dual 330mm discs up front while the rear is a 220mm disc gripped by a single-piston caliper.
Kawasaki NZ has the ZX-10R on the way exclusively in the KRT colour scheme, while the Metallic Spark Black option and the Ninja ZX-10RR (limited to 500 units worldwide) will be available on an indent-order basis.