New Kawasaki ZX-10R ABS Gets Power Boost, Chassis Refinements And More Electronics For 2016

New Kawasaki ZX-10R ABS Gets Power Boost, Chassis Refinements And More Electronics For 2016

© 2015, Roadracing World Publishing, Inc.


The all-new Ninja ZX-10R motorcycle brings race-winning performance and World Superbike-derived technology

With two World Superbike Championship titles under its belt, the Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R ABS is already the most respected sportbike in the racing paddock, and now an all-new version builds on that reputation. The 2016 model is designed to deliver race-winning performance by utilizing the proven technology that propelled the Kawasaki Racing Team (KRT) to worldwide dominance. This new bike is the best platform for riders looking to set records on the track, as well as attaining the highest level of sportbike enjoyment on the road.

The new Ninja ZX-10R ABS motorcycle takes state-of-the-art mechanical design with the very latest rider electronics suite. The result is the ultimate superbike with the mind-bending performance of a more powerful 998cc four-cylinder engine on the track, as well as legendary Kawasaki reliability both on and off the track.

The 2016 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R ABS is the highest performing, most track-focused sportbike available today for homologated racing use. It boasts World superbike-derived Showa suspension and a user-friendly electronics package that is exclusive to Kawasaki and only available to Ninja ZX-10R ABS riders. The electronics package is developed from Kawasaki’s World Superbike experience and includes KEBC Kawasaki Engine Braking Control, KLCM Kawasaki Launch Control Mode, KIBS Kawasaki Intelligent anti-lock Braking System, Corner Management Function, S-KTRC Sport Kawasaki TRaction Control and KQS Kawasaki Quick Shifter.


•World Superbike-derived Kawasaki Racing Team technology has produced the most track-focused sportbike ever

•NEW More powerful 998cc in-line four-cylinder 16-valve engine

•NEW Lighter crankshaft allows quicker revving and increased low-mid-range power

•NEW Pistons, head design, camshaft profiles and air box for better response and power

•NEW Computer-controlled electronic throttle valve delivers precise control

•NEW Lightweight titanium exhaust system

•NEW Close-ratio, cassette-type transmission is ideally suited to racing and gives strong corner exit acceleration

•NEW Chassis with new steering head position, swingarm rigidity and length, longer wheelbase creates balanced handling

•NEW Front cowl provides better aerodynamics, improves high-speed handling, reduces rider buffeting

•NEW Showa Balance Free Fork (BFF) and Balance Free Rear Cushion (BFRC) derived directly from World Superbike racing, first-time used on a mass-production motorcycle

•NEW Brembo M50 monobloc front calipers, 330mm Brembo rotors and master cylinder provide increased braking power, feel and heat dissipation

•NEW Electronics suite utilizes a Bosch five-axis IMU for KEBC Kawasaki Engine Braking Control, KLCM Kawasaki Launch Control Mode, KIBS Kawasaki Intelligent anti-lock Braking System, Corner Management Function, S-KTRC Sport Kawasaki TRaction Control and KQS Kawasaki Quick Shifter

•NEW Kawasaki Racing Team-inspired KRT Edition color scheme combining Lime Green and Ebony paint

•NEW Metallic Matte Carbon Grey finish


The Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R ABS motorcycle has dominated the World Superbike Championship for many years – finishing second in 2012, first in 2013, second in 2014, and recently clinching first place in both the 2015 Riders’ Championship, as well as the 2015 Manufacturers’ Championship title by a healthy margin over its nearest rivals.

All this success has a direct impact on Kawasaki’s street products, with the technology being fed back to Kawasaki Heavy Industries, Ltd. for integration into the 2016 Ninja ZX-10R ABS motorcycle. This has helped to sharpen the motorcycle’s edge, resulting in better handling, improved lap times and a thrilling riding experience.

Participating in the most competitive arena in the world for production motorcycles, Kawasaki continually pushes its technology forward, not only in terms of engine performance but also handling and the suite of electronic rider aids thanks to the introduction of a ground-breaking Bosch five-axis Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU) and Kawasaki proprietary software. Much of this technology is transferred from the World Superbike pit box to the 2016 Ninja ZX-10R ABS motorcycle.


For the 2016 model year, the architecture of the proven 998cc engine retains its 16-valve, DOHC, inline four-cylinder layout and its over-square 76 x 55mm bore and stroke dimensions. Known for its strong mid-range power delivery and ballistic top-end performance, Kawasaki has made a large number of improvements to continue its winning advantage by improving peak power output as well as the power delivery. Almost all of these are the direct result of Kawasaki racing development, which translates to the 2016 Ninja ZX-10R ABS, creating a very competitive motorcycle.

These improvements start with a lighter crankshaft, which allows quicker revving for improved throttle response and acceleration. It also has increased low- and mid-range power output, which is appreciated when exiting a corner on the racetrack or on a favorite stretch of blacktop. Another advantage of the reduced reciprocating mass is better cornering turn-in and side-to-side transitions.

The crankshaft also has a new balancer, which is lighter and damps vibrations just as effectively. The crankshaft’s connecting rod journals have a new coating for reduced friction at high RPM.

The cylinder head has revised intake and exhaust ports. These have a straighter cross-section to allow better gas flow, contributing to the increased power output. Only the intake ports were polished on previous models, but the 2016 model also has polished exhaust ports to further increase power.

The cylinder head design incorporates larger coolant passageways to help provide engine reliability. Long-reach spark plugs are another part of the package, helping to boost ignition efficiency.

The combustion chamber shape is revised and the titanium exhaust valves are increased 1mm in diameter to 25.5mm, boosting high-RPM power output, while the combustion chamber shape is revised for the same goal.

Both the intake and exhaust camshaft profiles offer greater overlap to increase power at high RPM, without adversely affecting exhaust emissions. A new camshaft chain tensioner is also specified in order to help provide accurate valve timing and to reduce mechanical noise.

The all-new pistons are cast from heat-resistant alloy that improves durability, while overall weight is reduced by 5g per piston thanks to shorter skirts (37.7mm instead of 39.2mm). This superior construction and reduced mass means they are able to cope with the greater demands of the more powerful engine as well as improve engine response. Furthermore, a dry-film lubricant coating on the piston skirts reduces friction at low RPM and helps with the breaking-in process.

Kawasaki engineers also took the opportunity to increase the cylinder wall thickness in order to produce a more rigid engine block, contributing to the overall reliability.

The 2016 Ninja ZX-10R ABS motorcycle has 25% larger air box volume and is fitted with a new air filter element that offers 60% more surface area and greater air flow. This upgrade contributes to better engine responsiveness, improved corner exit acceleration and better low- to mid-range power.

New electronic throttle valves allow precise control of the intake airflow, contributing to efficient power delivery and seamless integration of the electronic aids such as the S-KTRC Traction Control, the new KLCM Launch Control and KEBC Kawasaki Engine Braking Control.

The new throttle bodies necessitated the use of a new Engine Control Unit, which is mounted under the seat in an aluminum case to provide heat dissipation.

The titanium-alloy exhaust system, which helps with weight reduction and mass centralization as well as the power to weight ratio by removing significant weight from the bike.

New titanium-alloy headers use a special heat-resistant alloy, which is unique to Kawasaki in a motorcycle application and have a new connector pipe joining headers three and four to help smooth the engine response. The heat handling capacity contributes to durability, while the new alloy also allows thinner pipes thickness, reducing weight even more. The titanium alloy exhaust silencer offers nearly a 50% larger volume than the previous model, reducing sound levels and overall weight.


Another feature directly derived from the racing success of the Ninja ZX-10R ABS motorcycle is its cassette-type, close-ratio transmission. The gear ratios are idealized for circuit riding. Shorter ratios for second through sixth gear deliver strong corner exit acceleration. The closer ratios also give stable downshifts and works with a slipper clutch. The clutch is 130g lighter than in the 2015 model, thanks to a thinner primary gear.

A new dry-film lubricant coating has been applied to certain gears in order to reduce internal friction, improving shifting speed.

A brand-new feature for 2016 is the standard Kawasaki Quick Shifter (KQS). Working on upshifts only, it uses the same contactless sensor as the Ninja H2R motorcycle and helps to provide seamless acceleration thanks to rapid upshifts, which is especially beneficial for circuit riding.


The 2016 Ninja ZX-10R ABS motorcycle uses a full complement of electronics that allow the rider to fully explore its performance on the track. The Kawasaki electronic system uses a proprietary algorithm that optimizes the electronic stability systems. The Kawasaki system uses a Bosch five-axis Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU) with software developed in-house, drawing on the experience of the Kawasaki Race Team’s World Superbike experience, making this application unique. For example, it takes the pitch and roll rate data measured by the IMU, and the ECU calculates the yaw rate, resulting in six-axis operation. It provides an additional layer of precision to the already high-level electronics package, giving the rider greater confidence on the track by allowing them to explore limits within the parameters controlled by the on-board computer.

Specifically, the IMU is able to measure longitudinal acceleration and braking, transverse or lateral forces when cornering, vertical acceleration such as when cresting a hill at steady speed, rotational roll rate (or lean angle) as well as the pitch rate such as during a wheelie or under hard braking. The Kawasaki software adds the sixth axis with yaw rate calculations, such as experienced during a powerslide where the rear wheel is out of line with the front.

The IMU input into the ECU works in conjunction with wheel speed, brake pressure, throttle position, engine RPM and throttle opening sensors. This high level of chassis orientation awareness means the ECU can adapt to changes in tires and even road camber. This gives the Kawasaki system an advantage because the S-KTRC Traction Control, KLCM Launch Control, KIBS Intelligent ABS and Cornering Management Function can respond to real-world conditions in real time, rather than relying solely on pre-set limits like some competitor’s systems.


The Sport-Kawasaki TRaction Control system now has five modes of intervention, compared to the three settings on the previous model. Modes one and two are designed for a racer on the track. Mode three is designed for a dry circuit with high-grip tires. Mode four is intended for dry canyon roads or commuting, while mode five is programmed to suit wet circuit or street use.

The inclusion of the IMU means that S-KTRC changes from being a purely predictive system to one that also offers feedback. The new predictive/feedback system offers even more precise management to help riders push harder on the racetrack by maximizing acceleration.

The highly sophisticated traction control system is based on racing technology and acknowledges that in order to accomplish the quickest acceleration, a certain amount of tire slip is required. In order to optimize traction, S-KTRC varies slip according to the prevailing conditions, taking information from a number of parameters to get a real-time image of what is happening. As such, it looks at front and rear wheel speed (slippage), engine RPM, throttle position, acceleration, etc. The system also looks at the chassis’ orientation relative to the track surface, rather than simply in the horizontal plane. Therefore, it is able to account for camber, gradient, etc. and adjust accordingly. It is also able to adjust for tire wear, tire profile, tire compound and numerous other factors.

Acting before the slippage surpasses the limit of adhesion, the ECU is able to minimize engine power reductions, resulting in ultra-smooth operation and maximum forward acceleration on the track.


The Kawasaki Intelligent Braking System is available on the Ninja ZX-10R models equipped with the optional ABS braking. The multi-sensing brake management system uses high-precision control to modulate brake pressure during sport riding.


Using the five-axis IMU and Kawasaki’s original chassis attitude software, the Cornering Management Function helps distribute optimum hydraulic pressure to the calipers based on the motorcycle’s lean/pitch angle. The result is reduction of the motorcycle’s tendency to stand up when applying the brakes in a turn on the track. Instead, the Ninja ZX-10R ABS motorcycle is better able to follow the rider’s intended line while slowing down for a difficult turn, rather than having the tendency to run wide.


Another new addition to the 2016 Ninja ZX-10R ABS is the Kawasaki Launch Control Mode. It has three modes, which vary the level of intrusion via the ignition and intake air (throttle valves).

The three different modes are designed to suit different rider abilities. Mode one offers less intrusion from the system but requires the rider to operate the clutch and throttle with greater sensitivity. Mode three allows the electronics to do more of the work while the rider simply drops the clutch with the throttle wide open. Mode two gives a setting between the first and third.

The Kawasaki Launch Control assists racers by optimizing acceleration from a stop by controlling engine output to prevent wheelspin and minimize font-end lift when leaving the starting line.

Using an indicator on the digital instrument display, the rider selects KLCM with the Power Mode also on FULL.


The Kawasaki Engine Braking Control was first seen on the Ninja H2R motorcycle and enables the engine braking to be managed when the rider snaps the throttle shut. This feature is intended for circuit use only and contributes to smoother braking and corner entry when in operation.


Selectable Power Modes have been available on the Ninja ZX-10R motorcycle for several years but this new system now has three modes to allow the rider to select the power delivery to suit the prevailing conditions.

The available levels are Full, Middle (80%) or Low (60%). These reduce power by the stated amount and are easily selected via the rocker switch on the left handlebar, allowing riders to select the power delivery to suit their preference.


On the frame, the steering head pipe is moved 7.5mm closer to the rider than the previous model, placing more weight on the front-end, resulting in improved front-end feel. This helps to improve the motorcycle’s stability on corner entry. It will also help in transitions, when flicking the bike from one side to the other, creating nimble handing and increased corner speed.

The front section of the main frame has been internally profiled to reduce induction noise, effectively using the interior as a resonator chamber. This has the effect of allowing the exhaust to be liberated, freeing significant horsepower from the engine while still meeting US noise regulations.

The swingarm is lengthened 15.8mm, resulting in a wheelbase of 56.7”, which is almost 0.5” longer than the previous model. The swingarm is also torsionally more rigid thanks to additional bracing. This contributes to the motorcycle’s nimble handling and excellent behavior in corner entry as well as transitions.


Giving the 2016 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R ABS motorcycle a distinct advantage over its competition is the Showa Balance Free Fork (BFF). This is the first mass-production motorcycle application for the fork that was jointly developed with Showa in World Superbike competition.

The main feature of the Showa BFF is that the design of the hydraulic system eliminates the pressure balance fluctuations typically found in conventional forks. With the BFF, the damping valves are located in one place – outside the fork legs in the damping force chamber. This allows the entire surface of the fork pistons to push the hydraulic fluid toward the valves in the damping force chamber, with nitrogen gas in the compression chamber pushing back against the oil, helping to maintain the balanced pressure inside the fork tube.

Compression and rebound damping are generated (and adjusted) completely independently from one another by the compression and rebound adjuster screws on the damping force chamber at the bottom of each leg. Locating the adjustment in this single place has resulted in a more focused design that greatly improves responsiveness. Spring preload adjustment is located on the top of each fork leg.

Other advantages of this system include better traction, improved low-speed comfort and increased front-end feel. When combined with the benefits in braking, front-end feel and comfort, riders will truly appreciate this new fork on the racetrack.

The rear shock absorber is a Showa Balance Free Rear Cushion (BFRC) unit that also resulted from joint development in World Superbike competition. Just like the forks, the rear shock has a separate damping force chamber that houses the compression and rebound damping adjusters. By separating them, it again allows the entire damping piston to focus on hydraulic fluid movement. There is also external spring preload adjustment. The result is increased traction and superior shock absorption.

The horizontal back-link suspension has revised linkage ratios for 2016. This has allowed a wider range of adjustment, making it easier for the rider to feel the changes and causing the vehicle to be more targeted to circuit use than ever before.


As another direct consequence of Kawasaki’s World Superbike involvement, the 2016 Ninja ZX-10R motorcycle has been fitted with a Brembo front braking system. This not only includes the very high specification M50 aluminum monobloc four-piston front calipers (with 30mm opposed pistons), but also larger Brembo front rotors, up from 310mm last year, to 330mm. The rotors are cross-drilled and have a circumferential groove in the outer edge to aid heat dissipation.

The Brembo components offer strong initial bite for circuit use and great feel through the lever. Each part is inspected and adjusted by Brembo to eliminate and ineffective (idle) stroke, providing strong braking force from the initial lever stroke. As a further measure to help provide excellent brake action, race-quality stainless steel braided lines have been fitted front and rear to help ensure direct feel when the brakes are applied.

On the rear, the previous petal-shape disc is replaced by a similar-sized 220mm round rotor to match the front. The two-piston Nissin caliper used by last year’s model remains.

Riders who choose to purchase the 2016 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R ABS motorcycle will also experience the Kawasaki Intelligent anti-lock Braking System (KIBS) described earlier in this release. It uses high-precision control to regulate brake pressure during sports riding.

The 2016 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R ABS motorcycle also benefits from Cornering Management Function, which uses the five-axis IMU to allow riders on the track to brake into a turn, without the tendency for the bike to stand up and run wide.


The wheels remain unchanged from the 2015 model year, although the brake rotor mounting areas are revised in order to increase the rotor stability. Angled air valves have also been fitted, identical to those used on the Ninja H2R and Ninja H2™ motorcycles, to make tire air pressure maintenance easier with the very large brake rotors that are fitted.

Another feature carried over from the Ninja H2 platform is the Bridgestone Battlax RS10 tires, which remain the same size as before: 120/70 ZR17 front and 190/55 ZR17 rear.


More World Superbike-inspired development hits the street in the design of the front cowl. This time, it’s in the form of increased wind protection, thanks to a larger screen area, which allows the rider to change positions more easily thanks to reduced wind buffeting. The new cowl has also improved the aerodynamic efficiency, reducing the drag coefficient and aiding stability. The front windshield is also supported over its entire length by the cowl, reducing vibration over the previous model’s “floating” design.

Two small air intakes are strategically placed on either side of the windshield in order to help prevent a negative pressure area forming in the cockpit, reducing helmet buffeting and increasing comfort on longer journeys.

The headlights have been updated, receiving more compact lenses to match the new front cowl design and give the bike a more menacing demeanor. The mirrors are similar to the previous model but the stays have been lowered to integrate with the new cowl design. The new front fender has a stepped design, which helps to direct airflow to the radiator and is very similar to the fender of the Ninja H2R motorcycle.

In the rear, the new cowl is wider than before to create a better visual balance with the front styling. The new passenger seat is sportier and matches the design of the sharper new LED tail light, which now has separate turn signals. The license plate holder is also new and the modular design is easily removable for track use.


The main instruments on the 2016 Ninja ZX-10R ABS motorcycle have been retained from last year, but the LCD portion is new and includes the option to change the background color from black to white. There is also an IMU indicator, as well as Launch Control, Quick Shift and Engine Braking activation, plus gear position indicator, Power Modes, S-KTRC mode (and Off), low fuel level, Economic Riding Indicator, intake air temperature, odometer, dual trip meters, average fuel consumption, instant fuel consumption and a host of indicator lamps.

To select these new functions, a rocker switch is located on the left handlebar that incorporates a “select” button to allow the rider to scroll through the functions.

There are new bar end weights, which have a more detailed design.

Other updates include revised settings for the Öhlins electronic steering damper to suit the new chassis setup. It is the same damper as used on previous models, which alters its damping characteristics according to speed and the degree of either acceleration or braking. The settings were chosen so at low speeds the damper does not interfere with the intrinsic lightweight handling, whereas at higher speeds, the damping increases to help enhance stability.

With the handlebar moved 7.5mm closer to the rider, thanks to the repositioned head pipe, the riding position is more compact than before. This allows riders more flexibility in choosing their position on the motorcycle.

In preparation for the addition of an aftermarket data logger by amateur and professional race teams, a CAN coupler is provided inside the cowl.


There are four model variations available from Kawasaki’s nationwide dealer network. The Ninja ZX-10R motorcycle and its ABS-equipped version, the Ninja ZX-10R ABS motorcycle, are both available in the new Metallic Matte Carbon Grey.

The Ninja ZX-10R motorcycle and Ninja ZX-10R ABS motorcycles are also available in a KRT Edition. Both are available in the striking new Lime Green and Ebony color combination.


A wide variety of Kawasaki Genuine Accessories will be available for purchase through Kawasaki’s nationwide dealership network. These include a single-seat cowl, which will replace the passenger seat. There will also be engine guards, as well as knee pads to supplement the standard tank pad, and a pair of front axle sliders.


Kawasaki Heavy Industries, Ltd. (KHI) started full-scale production of motorcycles over a half century ago. The first Kawasaki motorcycle engine was designed based on technical know-how garnered from the development and production of aircraft engines, and Kawasaki’s entry into the motorcycle industry was driven by the company’s constant effort to develop new technologies. Numerous new Kawasaki models introduced over the years have helped shape the market, and in the process have created enduring legends based on their unique engineering, power, design and riding pleasure. In the future, Kawasaki’s commitment to maintaining and furthering these strengths will surely give birth to new legends.

Kawasaki Motors Corp., U.S.A. (KMC) markets and distributes Kawasaki motorcycles, ATVs, side x sides, and Jet Ski® watercraft through a network of approximately 1,100 independent retailers, with close to an additional 7,700 retailers specializing in general purpose engines. KMC and its affiliates employ nearly 3,100 people in the United States, with approximately 300 of them located at KMC’s Irvine, California headquarters.

Kawasaki’s tagline, “Let the good times roll.®”, is recognized worldwide. The Kawasaki brand is synonymous with powerful, stylish and category-leading vehicles. Information about Kawasaki’s complete line of powersports products and Kawasaki affiliates can be found on the Internet at

Latest Posts

Canadian Superbike: Young Breaks Lap Record, Takes Pole At Mosport

Young sets new lap record en route to pole...

British Superbike: O’Halloran Rebounds From Crash To Lead FP2 At Thruxton

Editorial Note: Americans Julian Correa and Eli Banish were...

British Superbike: Mackenzie Tops FP1 At Thruxton

Editorial Note: American Julian Correa was 16th in British...

MotoAmerica: Herrin, Petrucci Doing N2/WERA Endurance Race At PittRace

MotoAmerica stars Josh Herrin and Danilo Petrucci are entered...