Kawasaki’s ZX-10 is getting an electronic steering damper for 2013.
This isn’t exactly revolutionary technology – Kawasaki worked with Ohlins to build the system for the ZX-10, but Honda’s had a proprietary electronic steering damper available for years, the HESD (Honda Electronic Steering Damper). But, the ZX-10 tweak is an interesting display of the future of motorcycling.
Until recently, gadgets like electronic steering dampers were theoretically possible, but highly expensive. But now that bikes are already coming from the factory loaded with high-tech wizardry such as traction control, all engineers have to do is re-route some of that stability and traction information to another computer, and they’ve got their data input for devices such as electronic steering dampers.
Whether you’re accelerating, decelerating, or just spinning your rear wheel, the system’s ECU under the gas tank is constantly evaluating your bike’s movement, then comparing that with your throttle position, rpms and other data. The rider can select one of three damping profiles – Level 1 for max-grip track use, Level 2 for intermediate use, and Level 3 for slippery conditions – and should be able to push his bike even closer to the edge of traction.
Will electronic steering damping become another standard piece of the ride-by-wire package in the future? Since Ohlins is involved, we’d say yes, since the Swedish company is involved with a wide range of other manufacturers. Perhaps the technology will even be available as an aftermarket upgrade to other superbikes in the future.
And of course, technology comes at a price – literally. The ZX-10’s MSRP is going up $300 in the U.S. next summer; we assume we’ll see a similar price hike in Canada.