New Bikes

New 'Testarossa' engine for 2019 Kawasaki ZX-10R range

Titanium rods, redesigned 'red-head' cylinder head, and more power all round, on three new models

KAWASAKI'S UPGRADED its ZX-10R superbike for 2019, with a new engine, extra power, and high tech upgrades across three models.

At the heart of the changes is a new cylinder head design, with finger-follower valve operation, which has reduced the mass of the valve train by an impressive 20 per cent. That will allow higher revs and a more compact combustion chamber.

It's fitted to all three models - the base ZX-10R, the ZX-10R SE with electronic suspension, and the limited-edition ZX-10RR race homologation machine. And to mark the upgrade, all bikes get a new red-painted 'Testarossa' (or should that be akai atama?) cam cover - nice.

The base bike sees a power increase to a claimed 203ps, and also gets an up/down quickshifter upgrade. The SE adds the KECS electronic suspension package and forged Marchesini wheels, while the RR is limited to 500 units, and has Pankl titanium con rods. These save nearly half a kilo (400g) in mass, which has let them raise the rev limit another 600rpm, giving an extra claimed horsepower - up to 204ps, without ram-air assistance.

One other update on the SE is new paint for hard-wearing areas: Kawasaki has used the same 'self-healing' technology as on the new H2 in the SE's paint job. The new high-tech coating claims to self-repair minor scuffs and scrapes – Kawasaki says the new tech uses "Soft and hard segments in the paint coat working together like a chemical spring, creating a trampoline effect allowing light impacts to be absorbed." Sounds amazing.

It's an impressive set of updates - apparently aimed at tightening the firm's stranglehold even further on the WorldSBK championship. They've got their retaliation in early against Ducati clearly - the Panigale V4R is due for launch next month, and its 999cc V4 engine will no doubt pose a big challenge to Kawasaki's hegemony in the superbike race stakes...

There's a price to pay of course. Pankl titanium rods aren't the sort of thing even Kawasaki Heavy Industries can pick up on the cheap - RRP for this sort of thing is usually about a grand apiece. So that's £4k onto the bottom line right away... We're hearing £21k for the RR version - a hike on what it is now, but just about the same price as a Yamaha R1M.

We're a little sad there's no posh colour dash - the current bike's small monochrome cockpit lets it down a bit against the very top end litrebikes out there. But perhaps this is deliberate - Kawasaki positioning the Ninja as a no-nonsense track weapon rather than a flashy technicolor roadbike. The H2SX is there for that sort of thing after all.

More on the new ZX-10R - being unveiled in Japan today - as we get it.

 

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