Saturday August 30, 2003Kawasaki Heavy Industries dropped several bombshells on the motorcycle world this week with the announcement of the 160 bhp Ninja ZX-10R Supersport and a 2053cc version of its Vulcan V-twin cruiser. The heavily-race oriented ZX-10R is aimed directly at the supersport one litre Yamaha R1 and Suzuki GSX-1000R and will almost certainly take to the racetracks next year. Kawasaki is already claiming the best power-to-weight ratio in the class, although weight has not yet been specified and only one source is prepared to be quoted on power - 160 brake horses is the figure according to UK-based Motorcycle News.Unlike most other Kawasaki machines, the Ninja ZX-10R design started with chassis simulations according to Kawasaki. The engineers wanted an extremely lightweight and compact chassis that would offer superb handling and stability. The combination of a short wheelbase with a long swingarm is a configuration also seen on the Ninja ZX-RR MotoGP bike, though given the distinctly lack-lustre performance of that machine, we're surprised Kawasaki would be promoting this fact. The chassis is all-aluminium frame with 600-class dimensions mated to a long and highly rigid gull swing-arm, which Kawasaki claims offers very nimble handling. The lightweight and very compact all-aluminium twin-beam frame is a composite structure of castings and pressings. The frame's thin walled die castings are a mere 2.5 mm thick for maximum strength with minimum weight. The in-line 998 cm3 four-cylinder engine is a liquid-cooled, DOHC, 16-valve with a bore and stroke of 76 x 55 mm and a number of considerations were made to avoid compromising the desired chassis dimensions; use of a one-piece cylinder/crankcase, a compact rear-mounted generator and "stacked" transmission kept the high-spec power unit lightweight and compact. Other engine features include a new fuel injection system, a close-ratio transmission with a back-torque limiter clutch, and magnesium engine covers. The adjustable back torque limiter fitted to the clutch helps prevent rear-wheel hop under rapid deceleration. The engine is fed by 43 mm throttle bodies fitted with dual throttle valves and automotive-type fine-atomising injectors which improve performance, fuel economy and emissions. While fuel spray from conventional injectors has a droplet size of 120 microns, Kawasaki claims the fine atomising injectors have a droplet size of approximately 70 microns. Highly rigid 43 mm inverted fork is fully adjustable and features settings that are biased towards track riding. Both front and rear suspension are fitted with top-out springs for stable suspension performance. Because the top-out springs regulate suspension elongation, the rider will also experience less nose dive feel under heavy braking after hard acceleration, as well as greater stability when getting back on the gas after hard braking. An all-titanium exhaust system and oval-section muffler with titanium internals and a 1 mm thick aluminium cover designed for light weight.The Ninja ZX-10R is the first supersport bike to feature petal brake discs. This unique disc shape improves cooling and helps prevent disc warp. It is also lighter than conventional discs. Front discs are 300 mm. Radial 4-pot opposed piston callipers deliver impressive stopping performance with excellent feel at the lever. The ZX-10R has a lightweight instrument cluster featuring a perimeter LCD tachometer, digital LCD speedometer, adjustable shift indicator lamp, and stopwatch-style lap timer. The shift indicator has three settings: Off, Low and Bright. Not much is known about the Vulcan VN 2000 at this point in time - more details as they appear.
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