The ZX-10R embodies the performance and personality of a world championship-winning machine. The ZX-10RR takes the upshot one step beyond with specialized components that reveal a deeper look into Kawasaki’s dominating on-track heritage. Here are thirteen things you should know about the 2021 Kawasaki ZX-10R + ZX-10RR.
Kawasaki ZX-10R + ZX-10RR Design
Straight away, you note the ZX10-R and RR’s new bodywork. More specifically, the new front end is an attention grabber, borrowing design elements from the Kawasaki H2 models. The 2021 ram air intake port is more compact than the 2020 design but remains just as efficient. Other new design elements include integrated winglets.
These subtle and organic, in appearance, winglets work in harmony with the overall flow of line and compliment the new design aesthetics of the 2021 model. The winglets also move heat away from the rider as air flows through them. The new body maximizes the 2021 Kawasaki ZX-10R + ZX-10RR’s aerodynamic abilities. Drag is reduced by almost seven percent. Downforce is increased by almost seventeen percent. Greater wind protection for the rider is also a benefit thanks to a 40mm taller, steeper angled windscreen.
Ergonomics of the Kawasaki ZX-10R + ZX-10RR
With the rider in mind, Kawasaki revamped their outlook on the union of rider and machine. For 2021, the handlebar position moves forward 10mm at a straighter angle. This placement frees up space between the bars and the new higher seat, offering the rider a wider range of motion. The higher seat position and a 5mm higher mounting point for the footpegs provide ample room to fully tuck in behind the windscreen at speed. Additionally, it makes it easier to apply weight to the pegs in the corners.
The 2021 ZX-10R + ZX-10RR aluminum twin-spar backbone frame has a 2mm greater fork offset and an 8mm longer swingarm, features a 10mm longer wheelbase than the previous model. The swingarm pivot is lowered by 1mm. The math of the 2021 model equals greater handling when changing directions and cornering.
The new Mitsubishi direct-projection LED headlights appear tucked in the underside of the upper cowl, a good nod to a race-inspired design. The new bright LED headlights weigh one pound less than the halogen bulbs from the 2020 model. The flush-mounted position light and the integrated turn signals, housed in the removable mirrors, both utilize bright LEDs.
Ride Modes of the Kawasaki ZX-10R + ZX-10RR
There are four ride modes at the beck and call of the rider on the 2021 ZX-10R and the ZX-10RR. Each mode engages the traction control and engine power modes in varying degrees. For track riding or active road riding, there is Sport mode. Road mode covers a lot of bases and is appropriate for the streets, highways, and byways. Rain mode has the most interaction with the traction control, set at 5, and sets the engine in the Low power mode setting. Rain mode is the preferred mode when the riding conditions are less than optimum. The remaining mode, Rider, can be manually set to customize how the traction control and power modes are engaged.
Kawasaki ZX-10R + ZX-10RR Engine
A 998cc inline-four-cylinder engine powers the ZX-10R and the ZX-10RR. With a maximum torque output of 83.9 at 11,300 rpm, the ZX-10R is not lacking in the power department. Nor is the ZX-10RR with its slightly lower output of 81.7 at 11,500. For the 2021 ZX-10R and ZX-10RR, Kawasaki incorporated a new air-cooled oil cooler with its own circuit. The oil travels from the lower crankcase on the left side where it cools out before it returns to the right side.
While the ZX-10RR uses the same elements of engineering, that’s where things take an upward leap.
A selection of titanium components, courtesy of Pankl Racing Systems enhances the ZX-10RR’s engine. Its titanium connecting rods are lightweight and durable under engine stress. Shorter, single ring pistons with a durable diamond-like carbon coating minimize friction wear. The combination of the connecting rods and pistons increase the rev limit of the ZX-10RR by 400 rpm.
Both the ZX-10R + ZX-10RR engines employ Finger-Follower Valve Actuation that allows aggressive cam characterizations so that valves can open and close rapidly for increased performance. This actuation reduces valve train mass by almost twenty percent compared to the tappet-style actuation.
The 2021 gearbox is upgraded. The six-speed cassette transmission’s forty-one tooth rear sprocket is larger than the 2020 model, by two teeth. The gear ratios are shorter in first through third gears to get off of the line and out of corners faster.
No Throttle Cables on the Kawasaki ZX-10R + ZX-10RR
Both models have upgraded their throttle system with an accelerator position sensor that eliminates the need for any wires to connect the throttle to the ZX10R + ZX10RR’s digital fuel injection system. The sensor is located at the handlebar and operates with a sense of friction to simulate the natural feeling of rolling on the throttle.
The Kawasaki ZX-10R + ZX-10RR sport a Showa Balance Free Fork set up on the front end. The benefits of the Showa include a wider fork clamping area for the lower triple clamp and improved rigidity balance for the forks. At the rear, you find a horizontal back-link Showa BFRC-Lite-Shock Absorber. The suspension for both the 2021 ZX-10R + ZX-10RR is optimized with track duty in mind. This includes a lower spring rate (21.5 N/mm to 21.0 N/mm) as well as firmer compression damping and softer rebound damping on the front end. The rear shock has a stiffer spring rate (91 N/mm to 95 N/mm) with softer compression and rebound damping. However, the suspension system for the ZX-10RR is refined by advancing the base settings on the ZX-10R. It should be noted that the settings on the 2021 ZX-10R suspension can be adjusted to achieve the same level of performance.
An Öhlins twin-tube electronic steering damper offers consistent damping performance. At lower speeds, the damper is less engaged. At higher speeds, damping is activated to maintain stability and overall handling.
Wheels and tires
The ZX-10RR received seven-spoke Marchesini Forged Wheels. These multi-directional forged aluminum wheels are durable, lightweight, and inertia reducing. The Marchesinis are fitted with high-performance Pirelli Diablo Supercorsa SP tires. The ZX-10R is outfitted with three spoke wheels and Bridgestone RS10 tires.
Stopping power is provided by a race-spec Brembo Brakes system with new rear brake pads and stainless steel brake lines. The front brakes feature radial mounted four 30mm piston front brake monoblock calipers with impressive 330mm rotors. The front end is activated by a Brembo radial-pump master cylinder that uses minimal lever force to apply appropriate pressure. The rear brake master cylinder is now further inward and is less cumbersome.
The ZX-10R is offered as an ABS or a standard version. The ZX-10RR is only presented with the ABS platform.
Electronics of the Kawasaki ZX-10R + ZX-10RR
The 2021 ZX10R + ZX10RR are bred for the track. It is evident in their electronics package and the utilization of Kawasaki’s proprietary Dynamic Modeling Software. The 2021 model has an IMU that employs a five-point measurement system: acceleration along longitudinal, transverse and vertical axes, roll rate, and pitch rate.
The ECU calculated yaw rate based upon a six-axis chassis attitude input of lean angle and acceleration and deceleration force, provides class-leading precision. This is thanks to Kawasaki’s patented software. Kawasaki’s software takes it further with a higher level of chassis awareness and the ability to analyze and adapt to different track conditions that include road conditions, vehicle altitude and tires.
S-KTRC (Sport-Kawasaki Traction Control)
The Sport-Kawasaki Traction Control (S-KTRC) allows slippage for faster acceleration. The “slip” allows for the system to process the data quickly and engage as a result of what the bike is doing in relation to what it needs to do. By monitoring a set of parameters, the S-KTRC activates just before the “slip” gets out of hand. S-KTRC is adjustable within five levels. Level one is the least intrusive while five is very hands-on. For 2021, levels four and five have been updated for a smoother rider experience in regards to applying throttle at mid and while exiting corners on the track.
Kawasaki ZX-10R + ZX-10RR Bells and Whistles
The 2021 ZX-10R + ZX-10RR is host to a bevy of features to enhance your overall ride for both street and track missions. The list is highlighted by cruise control, quick shifter, cornering management, launch and brake control. For 2021, the riding modes can be selected while riding via a button located on the left handlebar.
There is a new compact all-digital TFT color 4.3-inch data center. The usual specs are displayed with additional factors when connected to your smartphone via the Kawasaki Rideology Bluetooth app.
Two display modes offer the rider options on how they want to view their data. Type 1 displays all the necessary data that a rider could benefit from when en route. Type 2 presents information that is geared toward on track activities along with an external race-style shift lamp.
For the first time, on a non-supercharged mass-produced model, special permission was given to use the prestigious Kawasaki River Mark on the Ninja ZX-10R. In recognition of its achievement in WorldSBK, the iconic 3D River Mark emblem is displayed on the upper cowl and the upper triple clamp.
The 2021 Ninja ZX-10R is available in Metallic Spark Black/Metallic Matte Carbon Gray and the KRT Edition in Lime Green/Ebony/Pearl Blizzard White, and priced $16,399, $16, 699 (KRT Edition), $17,399 (ABS), $17,699 (KRT Edition ABS). The 2021 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10RR is available in Lime Green with an MSRP of $28,999.