Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R 2021: track test, price and technical data sheet of the Akashi superbike

Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R 2021: track test, price and technical data sheet of the Akashi superbike
Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R 2021: track test, price and technical data sheet of the Akashi superbike

Akashi’s verdona changes its look and updates in the name of performance: the 203 hp engine is now supported by more refined electronics and the chassis is more intuitive and effective. The price starts from 19,890 euros fc

Luca Frigerio

October 13
– Cremona (CR)

The Kawasaki Ninja is the queen of the Superbike world championship: tamed by the English champion Jonathan Rea, it won the world title for six consecutive years and, with a crown of laurels around his neck, the Akashi technicians decided to refresh the project. Many aesthetic and technical innovations, carefully studied with a single goal: to improve the quality of the super sports car and make it more performing in the race and also (and above all) in the road version. On the occasion of Dunlop Day on the Cremona circuit, we had the opportunity to squeeze the new ZX-10R to find out how much and how the verdona par excellence has grown.


Over the course of its 10 years of activity on the market, Kawasaki’s latest generation of superbike has evolved with minor updates to keep it competitive at all times. For 2021, the Japanese brand has decided to work deeper and create a faster Ninja on every front. The most important change concerns the look: the new ZX-10R has been redesigned to optimize the aerodynamic impact and, even without the use of external fins, the downforce has been increased by 17%. This result is due to the particular shape of the front fairing: protrusions have been created under the full LED headlights which, together with the rest of the superstructures, improve the load on the front at high speeds. In addition, the position of the rider has also been redesigned, raising the footpegs by 5 mm and the highest point of the plexiglass by 40 mm. This update keeps the riding setting well loaded on already quite open handlebars and, in addition, taller riders can benefit from a great deal of air shelter at high speeds (rare feature on production bikes).


The driver assistance systems are supported by a six-axis inertial platform, which makes the intervention of the electronics with the bike more precise. In addition to the three preconfigured riding modes, the rider can play with four other customizable maps, adjusting the traction control on five levels (or completely excluding it) and the throttle response. In addition to the Launch Control and the electronic shifting in engagement and downshifting offered as standard, cruise control and heated grips can also be added, very comfortable accessories for those who love to use the superbike on all occasions. The most awaited novelty, however, concerns the instrumentation: the Ninja ZX-10R abandons the old Ldc and now mounts a modern 4.3 ”TFT color panel, which allows systems to be managed more easily. The interface is quite clear and all information is clearly legible while running, both in road and track configuration: when in the fairing, the top of the rev counter and the gear engaged are clearly visible and, as on real motorcycles race, a flash of shifting has been inserted to perfectly fit the grafts without having to look down.


The 998 cc in-line four-cylinder continues its history: it now complies with Euro5 homologation and maximum power is reconfirmed at 203 hp at 13,200 rpm. In addition, the technicians have introduced a new oil cooler derived from that of the Sbk to keep the temperature lower even on the hottest days. Attention has been focused more on the aluminum perimeter frame: the anchor point of the swingarm pivot has been lowered by 1 mm, the swingarm has been extended by 8 mm and the offset of the plates reduced by 2 mm. Small movements on paper, which, however, made it possible to improve stability at high speeds and traction when exiting corners.


As already mentioned, the driving position is quite loaded on the handlebars but manages to put even the tallest riders at ease who, with a leather suit on, could feel even more limited in their movements. On the new Ninja you immediately feel at home and the hull wraps without having to forcibly spread against the tank. A very important update, especially among the curbs, where it is essential to be at ease to push to the maximum. With the throttle wide open the engine stretches to the red zone without losing thrust and the high-pitched roar of the four-cylinder thrills even with the original exhaust. The shift lever is smooth in shifts and the quick shift cuts quickly to gain speed as quickly as possible. At the end of the straight, when you take the brakes in your hand, you can count on an electronic gearshift that is equally fluid even for downshifting and on a radial system signed by Brembo with two 330 mm discs at the front bitten by M50 monobloc calipers. The modulation is excellent and the great stability of the set-up makes you want to squeeze the lever harder and harder, although unfortunately in this situation the Abs tends to intervene which, with hardly perceptible cuts, limits the rear lift. On the track it is better to deactivate it.


In insertion the Ninja has improved a lot and, as in the past, the front end transmits great solidity, with the advantage that it is now much quicker to take the rope with the brake in hand. Lap after lap you want to get in faster and faster and touching your elbow in the bend seems like child’s play: while traveling it remains composed and turning it around in the variations is a pleasure. The excellent balance and the prompt and never invasive intervention of the traction control allow you to take the accelerator in your hand early to exit the curve as quickly as possible and make the most of the four-cylinder reach, which in the upper part of the tachometer gives the maximum. The more you drive the more you realize how fast this ZX-10R is, but also how accessible it is. In fact, even those who are not a professional rider can enjoy an intuitive and not very tiring bike, which does not scare the reactions and always transmits a lot of confidence. In the hands of an expert, however, it brings out its full potential (very high) and turns into a track weapon ready to demolish the circuit record.


The Akashi house has managed to improve a six-time world champion, enhancing the qualities that have always characterized it and eliminating many of the defects related to the age of the project. The basic version is already very complete and the great performances on the track have confirmed this aspect. Fast in all situations, agile in changes of direction and stable under braking. All combined with a friendly dynamics despite the over 200 hp and superbike skills. The price of this novelty is 19,890 euros fc and is already in the dealership. Only one color available, inspired by the graphics of the official bike with which Rea races the 2021 world championship. In addition, the RR version is already on the list, powered by a more powerful engine (204 Hp) and equipped with forged wheels to reduce the weight. Lime Green coloring for the top of the range, sold in only 500 units.


Like it: comfortable driving position even for taller riders; solid and quick to insert; fluid and precise electronic shifting both in engagement and in downshifting.
Do not like: Abs too invasive on the track, the only alternative is to completely exclude it; complete electronics but still a bit limited compared to the competition.


Motor: four cylinders in line; 998 of the Italian Civil Code; 4 times; liquid cooling; 16 valve Dohc distribution; bore x stroke 76 x 55 mm; maximum power 203 hp at 13,200 rpm; maximum torque 114.9 Nm at 11,400 rpm; Euro 5 homologation.
Change: six-speed with bi-directional quick shift.
Chassis: double beam in die-cast aluminum.
Suspensions: 43 mm inverted Balance Free front fork with external compression chamber, adjustable in rebound, compression and preload (120 mm travel); Horizontal Back-link rear with gas Bfrc shock absorber with separate reservoir, adjustable in rebound, compression and preload (wheel travel 115 mm).
Brakes: front double semi-floating Brembo 330 mm disc with Brembo M50 monobloc radial caliper with four opposing pistons; rear single 220 mm disc, single piston caliper.
Wheels: anteriore 120/70 ZR17 M/C (58W); posteriore 190/55 ZR 17 M/C (75W).
Dimensions: length 2,085 mm; width 750 mm; height 1,185 mm; wheelbase 1,450 mm; saddle height 835 mm; steering head angle 25 °; trail 105 mm; tank capacity 17 liters.
Weight: 206 kg (in running order).
Price: from 19,890 euros fc


Helmet: Suomy SR-GP.
Total: Dainese Laguna Seca 5.
Gloves: Clover RS-9.
Boots: Dainese Axial D1.
Tester: height 1.80 m; weight 72 kg.

October 13 – 11:45 am


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