The Essential Guide to Motorcycle Travel
Tips, Technology, Advanced Techniques
by Dale Coyner

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For the 2008 NINJA ZX-10R, Kawasaki engineers aimed for an ideal superbike with engine and chassis performance capable of satisfying professional racers, combined with top-notch streetbike qualities for mainstream riders. It’s a delicate balance, but these aren’t your average engineers. They’ve been directly involved in the development of every 600 and 1000cc supersport machine since the 2003 Ninja ZX-6R, plus Kawasaki’s factory Superbike racing efforts, so they have the know-how to deliver the goods.

The result is an exceptionally communicative machine that provides the clean two-way rider/machine dialog demanded by professional racers. Placing the ZX-10R in the racing crucible and applying lessons from that unforgiving environment resulted in an ideal balance to satisfy the most demanding of riders. Japanese Superbike racer Akira Yanagawa was the man pushing the engine and frame components to the limits of their performance in actual competition. Parts that met with Yanagawa’s approval were then tried on the production test bike, tweaked, retested on the racer and adjusted again. This process was repeated throughout the development cycle for the all-new 2008 Ninja ZX-10R.

At the heart of this capable package is a new engine tuned for even greater high-rpm performance, without sacrificing the stellar mid-range performance of its predecessor. Refinements include installing secondary fuel injectors, changing to oval throttle bodies and reshaping the intake ports. Intake flow was further enhanced with reshaped ram air ducts and a larger airbox that feeds into the new oval shaped velocity stacks. Exhaust efficiency was boosted with a new system that not only flows better but generates less noise and emissions.

To suit the enhanced power delivery, the transmission features new gear ratios for 1st, 4th and 5th gears along with an extra tooth on the rear sprocket. Quick downshifts can be executed without risk of upsetting the fine-tuned ZX-10R chassis thanks to its easily adjustable slipper clutch. These changes make it essentially a race-ready engine with performance similar to Kawasaki’s factory Superbikes.

Professional riders know it’s useless to have the most power if you can’t get it to the ground. The 2008 Ninja ZX-10R features a new Kawasaki Ignition Management System that assists with torque management by monitoring throttle opening, gear position and rate of RPM change, then retarding ignition timing to reduce torque when sudden unwanted RPM spikes are detected. This system doesn’t interfere with normal operation and still allows the engine to rev freely under typical riding conditions...

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