New 2011 Kawasakis

kawasaki-ninja-zx10r-abs_rhs.jpgZX10R gets a total redesign as well as ABS and traction control.

Kawasaki get ultra sporty, ultra cruiser and ultra classic with three new models that stretch the gamut of riding styles.



You gotta have it in green.

Kawasaki has upped BMW’s much praised S1000RR in power output with their new 2011 ZX-10R.

Entirely redesigned, the new 10R claims 197 hp (four more than the S1000RR) but if you factor in ram-air effect, the number jumps to 207 hp.

However, in order to comply with sound emission standards, the North American version is limited to 178 hp (185 hp with ram air) which comes in at 11,000 rpm, though this is all by the switchable ECU. Max torque is a claimed 72.5 lb-ft at a very high 11,000 rpm (although that does seem to be a little too high).

It’s also had its internals reshuffled with the crankshaft located 28 mm higher and the transmission shaft 107 mm higher to raise the bike’s centre of gravity for improved turning transitions.

The bike’s EFI now uses 47 mm throttle bodies, up from 43 mm on the previous model, and secondary injectors kick in at high rpm for an extra kick up top.


Ram air intake between the lights boosts power.

S-KTRC, or Sport-Kawasaki TRaction Control, is a new full traction control system that measure wheel speed, engine rpm, acceleration rate and other parameters to keep the rear wheel under control, but the press kit does not mention if the system uses a bank-angle sensor to adjust for lean angle like the S1000RR system does.

However, the system can sense between toque wheelies, which are gradual, and sudden wheelies, which are quick. It will allow torque wheelies but will intervene when the front wheel shoots skyward, threatening to flip the machine or, if you’re in BC or Ontario, get your new ZX10 confiscated by the police.

Three traction control modes are available with varying intervention for dry conditions with race tires, dry conditions with street tires and wet conditions.

A new chassis uses a fully adjustable 43 mm big piston fork, and at the rear is a new suspension setup with the linkage located above the swingarm and the shock mounted almost horizontally, which is said to increase grip, especially in the final third of the rear wheel travel. It also has smoother action through to mid-stroke, increases stability and feedback, and contributes to centralizing mass.


ABS is intelligent and optional.

Another race-inspired chassis feature is that when the exhaust pre-chamber is removed (for racing only, of course) the rear wheel can be moved forward, shortening the wheelbase by up to 16 mm for different handing characteristics.

Optional on the ZX-10R is the Kawasaki Intelligent anti-lock Brake System (KIBS). This system differs from other race systems already in use, in that aside from using wheel speed and front caliper pressure to modulate braking force, it also communicates with the ECU to monitor throttle position, rpm, clutch actuation and gear position to allow further modulation of the braking force.

It, too, has three modes for varying levels of intervention and adds 3 kilos to the bike’s weight, but it still undercuts the BMW S1000RR by 5.5 kg. The non-ABS ZX-10R weighs in at a claimed 198 kg wet (437 lb), 10 kg less than last year’s model.

Pricing is $16,499 for the non ABS version, or $17,299 for the ABS and they should be available shortly.



The Vulcan goes Vaquero.

Kawasaki expands its mega-cruiser line with the new 1700 Vaquero bagger.

Its motivation comes via a 1,700 cc liquid-cooled 52-degree V-twin introduced in the 2010 Vulcan 1700 Voyager. The single-crankpin engine produces a 108 lb-ft of torque, which peaks at a lowly 2,750 rpm.

With so much torque, one wonders why the bike has six speeds, the top two being overdrive cogs. Final drive is by a carbon-fibre-reinforced belt.

The bike uses a ride-by-wire throttle and includes cruise control, which can be activated from third gear up. Also convenient is an on-board diagnostics feature that displays trouble codes in the instrument panel.


Shorty windscreen adds to meanness, but we’re not sure about the louvres.

The frame-mounted fairing is inspired by the 1700 Voyager’s fairing, but
is cut down and uses a shorty windscreen for a meaner, more aggressive
stance. Fairing lowers provide added weather protection.

Louvered covers flanking the headlight can be replaced with auxiliary lights for improved night visibility. Blackout treatment throughout the machine enhances the bad-boy look.

Long-haul comfort is enhanced by a rear suspension that is air-adjustable and includes rebound damping adjustability. Touring amenities include 38-litre capacity (each) saddlebags, a 20-litre fuel tank and a sound system that is iPod, XM radio and CB compatible.

At 379 kg (836 lb), the 1700 Vaquero is no featherweight, but it’s massive torque output and low, 730 mm (28.7 in) seat height should make it more manageable. No confirmation yet on pricing but they will be coming to Canada soon.


kawasaki_w800_rsr.jpgW800 is more Brit than the Triumph Bonnie T100

Fans of the defunct Kawasaki W650 rejoice! The Japanese motorcycle maker is reintroducing the classic Brit-styled parallel twin but with a new, bigger 773 cc motor and revised ergonomics.

Modelled after the original W1 that was first introduced in 1966, the W800 is a full-on classically styled retro bike, powered by a 360-degree parallel twin (thankfully with a counterbalancer) with bevel-drive (yes, that’s pretty cool) four-valve heads. Fuelling is via EFI (as opposed to carbs on the old 650) with secondary-valve throttle bodies.

Classic styling touches include rubber knee inserts and chromed emblems on the fuel tank, a traditional double cradle steel tube frame, drum rear brake, wire wheels using aluminum rims in 19-inch front and 18-inch rear sizes, and Dunlop TT100GP tires. Even the front master cylinder uses a round reservoir for the full retro effect.


Sadly the W800 will not be coming to Canada or the States (as they don’t think they’d sell enough). Bugger.

Oh, and in case you want to see just how cool you’d be decked out in full retro gear riding through the streets of London, here’s a handy video … 




  1. A real shame that the W800 isn’t coming to Canada … it’d be nice to be able to have the choice of Bikes like the Honda GB500TT, the W650 and the W800 … hell, even the SR400’s still sold in Japan would be nice! Bring on the Classic UJM Standards … please!!!

  2. I bought one of those W650s. Girlfriend just detsted anything new. Good thing I’m not new. The bike’s small, looks great, the engine’s ok, but what a miserable handling solo ride. Admittedly, it’s a bit better two-up. Do we really need a cheap rendition of a 1974 Yamaha XS650? Can we not have modern performing suspension and brakes, plus retro styling? Not, it appears, if Kawasaki have anything to do with it.

  3. Yeah, you guys are all the same ones who didn’t buy the W650 when it was here. When I worked at a shop, we had two on the floor for a year and a half; finally sold them to a husband and wife. Better Bonneville repro than Triumph’s, at the time.

  4. I also really like the W800 but to be honest even if it came to Canada I would probably buy a used Bonnie as I’m sure the price would probably be in the $9,000-10,000 range plus pdi and tax. Our motorcycle market is to small 🙁

  5. Damn you ‘arris! I was getting all jazzed up about that W800 (thinking that it would be the perfect next bike for me) and you saved the “it won’t be coming to North America” stuff til the last paragraph. Bugger, bugger, bugger!

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