Kawasaki get ultra sporty, ultra cruiser and ultra classic with three new models that stretch the gamut of riding styles.
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.
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.
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.
VULCAN 1700 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.
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.
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 …