Almost three weeks ahead of its official debut, Australian authorities have published photos of the new Kawasaki ZX-10R, along with some details on the engine. Now, they’re all over the Internet.
It’s no surprise that we’re getting a new Kawasaki superbike, as the 2020 model didn’t carry over to 2021, and Kawasaki’s teaser campaign certainly hinted at the new machine.
It is slightly surprising that the engine more-or-less seems unchanged for next season. The 998cc inline four is rated at 200 horsepower in Australia, which is about what the current engine makes. Expect some fine-tuning for Euro5 standards, and some talk about “more torque at lower revs,” because that’s what all the manufacturers love to say these days. Maybe we’ll see variable valve timing, although there’s been no gossip about that yet.
Likewise, there’s no word on the bike’s electronics package, but you can expect the ZX-10R to have similar equipment to its litrebike counterparts: leaning-sensitive traction control and ABS, launch control, variable engine braking, a selection of at least three riding modes (street, rain, track), and so on. Likely, an up/down quickshifter is standard.
So, what’s the big generational leap here, then? Did Kawi pull the same move Honda did, with its previous-gen CBR1000 (the one before the current model)? That machine was basically a repackaging of existing tech, and it seems this ZX-10R has basically the same engine and suspension as before.
The fairing is definitely updated for 2021, though, with H2-style lines. And hey—check out the tailsection of the green bike, in the photo above. Note that there’s a hole in the bodywork. This is a bit of guesswork, but it’s highly possible that’s part of some aerodynamics system.
While some people would be excited to see the ZX-10R get forced induction, it’s hard to imagine Kawasaki would run a supercharger intake out the back of the bike. Instead, that hole in the bodywork looks a lot like an exhaust for some sort of aerodynamics system, aimed at adding control to the superbike, providing downforce at speed. Aerodynamics are the way of the future for sport bikes, after all, with World Superbike having to continually update the rulebook to deal with emerging tech.
We’ll know the whole story on November 23, although don’t be surprised if we get a better sneak peak the week before, as Kawasaki wraps up the season with the first World Superbike winter test. That’s the logical place to show off next year’s bike, after all …