Kawasaki has teased the forthcoming unveiling of its 2016 Ninja ZX-10R with a partial image and some rudimentary info. Scheduled for official presentation in October, the new superbike will be a race biased evolution of the current model in an effort to further cement its dominance in the World Superbike Championship.
The current Ninja ZX-10R has been in the market for a good few years now, yet it is still the point of reference in the top racing class of the World Superbike Championship (WSBK). As this production racing series is currently undergoing a mutation period, the shift is toward a more restrictive environment as a means of cutting costs.
With the official rules gradually limiting the modifications that teams are allowed to apply to their racing motorcycles, manufacturers are choosing to incorporate even more race gear into the standard production models. This is a trend we can clearly distinguish in the latest production superbikes, as most of them have by now climbed to a 200 hp (149 kW) performance level, equipped with full electronic support packages (traction control, wheelie control, launch control etc), advanced cornering ABS systems and comprehensive data logging capabilities.
Kawasaki apparently acknowledges this trend while creating the new ZX-10R or, to be precise, updating the current model.
"This is not a 'clean sheet' design as the current Ninja ZX-10R is such a good base to develop from," explains Project Leader Yoshimoto Matsuda. "With the new model we have focused our development resources on an overall engineering and performance improvement. We are proud of the result; it means a significant advance in terms of both chassis and engine performance as well as providing the platform to introduce new, state of the art rider aids and other technology."
Tom Sykes, 2013 WSBK Champion, poses between his racing Ninja (left) and the production model (right) that's currently on offer from Kawasaki
With input from the two top riders of the WSBK Championship, Jonathan Rea and Tom Sykes, the new Ninja is designed to be even more competitive on the race track.
"We want to provide a better racing machine to riders who can appreciate these changes," disclosed Guim Roda, Team Manager for Kawasaki WSBK team, in a recent interview with German website Speed Week. "Most other riders will hardly notice the difference. We are talking about a production bike with more than 200 hp; one can hardly exploit its potential at 100 percent. Those who will use this bike in racing will be very pleased with the improvements, for them it's a big step forward as it will be much more competitive."
According to Roda, Kawasaki's initial strategy had to change as it saw a window of opportunity. Aprilia, BMW, Ducati and Yamaha already had new models for 2015, so they are not expected to come up with anything fresh in 2016. There is no word from Honda on when to expect a new CBR1000RR, while only recently Suzuki confirmed that a new GSX-R1000 is not in the cards for 2016, but rather for 2017.
Nevertheless, Kawasaki practically whitewashed this year's championship, with its factory riders occupying the top two seats of the 2015 WSBK classification. Common sense dictates that a new and improved ZX-10R should offer a golden opportunity to further extend its lead over rivals, at least for next year.
The 2016 WSBK Championship kicks off at Doha, Qatar in October 18 and Roda believes that the racing teams will have the new bikes available for winter testing ahead of the racing season.
Kawasaki has announced that the official unveiling of the new Ninja ZX-10R will take place some time in October at an exclusive media launch hosted alongside the Kawasaki Racing Team in Barcelona, Spain.