KAWASAKI NINJA ZX-10R

From 30 kph to 230 kph, from a 10-ton truck to a super bike, from mild to WILD, all the way from Blairgowrie to Graskop and back, back to Graskop and back to Joburg again.

Every once in a while Simon Fourie asks me to drive his BikeSA truck to one of his Rally sites, this time it was to the Paradise Rally in Graskop, and every time he puts a bike in the back, for me to get back home with.

So there I was, eleven in the morning, chugging up Long Tom pass at 30 kph, thinking I couldn't wait for the return trip, 'cos I'd be on Kawasaki's new ZX-10R and things would be happening a little faster.

Long Tom Pass in Simon's 10-ton truck... I was back in an hour on the Ninja ZX-10R

After six-and-a-half hours in the truck I jumped onto the bike and hit the road back to Joeys. It's amazing how totally alive a powerful bike makes you feel. Just thumbing the starter button and spinning the ZX-10 into life got my blood pumping faster, and faster is what this motorcycle is all about. The first thing I noticed and 430 kilometers later confirmed, was that the 1000cc Ninja is not built for comfort, but rather speed and agility. Flicking the Kawa through the hundreds of corners from Graskop to Sabie, over Long Tom to Dullstroom and onto Belfast was absolutely fantastic, the ZX-10 never felt unstable, never put a 'foot' wrong and as for the short straights, the litre-Ninja accelerates at such a rapid rate, before you know it the next corner is upon you, thank goodness the radial binders are so good, otherwise who knows, maybe I would have gone trout fishing...

At speed the ZX-10 is quite thristy, I filled up in Graskop and after burning it all the way to Dullstroom, limped into Belfast at around 100 kph on empty, then I hung on the cable to Middleburg Ultra City, where I had to fill-up again and then had the taps open almost all the way home, again I just made it to Mayfield Park, doing the last twenty odd clicks with the fuel warning light on.

Like I said, the ZX-10 is great in corners, with excellent brakes, stunning performance and responsive handling, thanks to -the two sets of four-piston Tokico calipers gripping the sexy, wave discs, -the strong and oh-so-smooth, in-line, four cylinder, 998cc motor, -the narrow, rigid, aluminium frame and the great-working suspension.

But the road straightens out after Belfast, and that's when I reaffirmed my first thoughts, that the Ninja ZX-10 can become tiresome on long, straight, roads. After four hours in the saddle my bum was numb and my neck was stiff, from hanging on at over 200 clicks an hour, with minimal protection from the small screen.

Overall the Ninja is a truly great sports bike, the only complaints I could think of was the cramped position of my legs after four hours of riding... the small 17 litre-petrol tank and that  low 'impossible to get any benefit from' screen, but then if it had a bigger tank, lower pegs and higher screen it wouldn't be the the true sports bike it is.

And that was only my 430 km trip back to Joey's. I still had to go all the way back on Sunday to fetch the truck.

After checking to weather report and speaking to some biker-dude at the One-Stop on the N4 outside Belfast, I decided to stay on the N4, past Machadodorp, Waterval-boven and the Malaga Hotel, all the way to the Sudwana Caves turnoff and then ride up to Sabie and Graskop where the truck was, avoiding the treacherous, rain-soaked Dullstroom-Lydenburg pot-holed road and Long Tom pass - ha, either way I got soaked.

The 1000 Ninja is so powerful, I had to go kahle (careful) on the throttle, in fear of the rear wheel slipping out from under me. Again I found myself wishing the screen was a lot taller, offering a bit more protection from the elements. By the time I flicked the side-stand out in Graskop I was really wet and very cold.

Over the six days I lived with the ZX-10R, travelling from Graskop to Joburg, in and around Joburg and then back to Graskop I'd covered over 1000 clicks on the green bomber, through rain, wind, calm and sun, and it didn't miss a beat, and although I'd used it mainly for what it wasn't designed for - namely longish distance riding, I still wouldn't mind one parked in my garage... next to a ummm... ZX-14 (for those long distant rides). Reckon then I'd have the best of both worlds.

riding the 1000 Ninja in Eastern Transvaal was awesome...

Kawasaki unveiled the first of their "new" NINJA ZX-10Rs in 2004.
The NINJA ZX-10R was designed to have a great power-to-weight ratio and excellent handling on the road.
Kawasaki engineers utilized a "stack" design for the extraordinarily compact, liquid-cooled, 998cc inline four-cylinder engine. The crank axis, input shaft and output shaft of the NINJA ZX-10R engine are positioned in a triangular layout to reduce engine length, while the high-speed generator is placed behind the cylinder bank to reduce engine width. With a bore and stroke of  76 x 55mm, the ZX-10R engine's one-piece cylinder and crankcase assembly reduces weight and increases rigidity. The double overhead cams are machined from chromoly steel billet for strength, four valves per cylinder improve high-rpm breathing, and the forged, lightweight pistons offer high heat resistance to enhance the bike's power-to-weight ratio.
To obtain maximum benefit from the ZX-10R's electronic fuel injection, engineers turned to advanced flow analysis to "streamline" the engine's intake tract. A Ram Air duct located at the front of the fairing provides the coolest air possible, while the fuel injection assembly features electronically controlled sub throttles to smooth power delivery. An ultra-lightweight titanium four-into-one exhaust system incorporates a butterfly valve at the collector to improve overall power.
In addition to liquid-cooling, the ZX-10R engine features a liquid-cooled oil cooler adjacent to the oil filter to reduce oil temperatures. "Slosh" analysis was also used to design the internal structure of the oil pan, thereby reducing air-flow losses and helping to maintain low oil temperatures.
A multi-plate wet clutch with a back torque limiter transfers power to a six-speed, close-ratio transmission. The back torque limiter automatically disengages the clutch under hard braking and deceleration to prevent rear wheel hop during corner entry.
The engine is bolted into all-aluminum twin-tube backbone frame that arches over the engine rather than around it, as with conventional sport bike designs. Constructed of thin-walled castings and pressed aluminum sheets welded together for optimum lightness, the ZX-10R frame provides exceptional high-speed stability and responsive handling, yet is no wider than most 600cc-class sport bikes.
Front suspension is handled by fully adjustable 43mm forks and many of the fork's internal parts are crafted from aluminum to minimize weight. A gull-type aluminum swingarm connected to Kawasaki's UNI-TRAK linkage and a fully adjustable shock handles the rear suspension. The entire rear suspension system is both lightweight and torsionally rigid, and also features adjustable ride height.
The ZX-10R features all-new six-spoke, cast-aluminum wheels. By utilizing six spokes in place of the traditional three-spoke design, engineers were able to reduce rim thickness, yet the wheels are both stronger and lighter. To provide as much traction as possible, the ZX-10R rides on a 120/70ZR17 front tyre and ultra-wide 190/50ZR17 rear tyre.
Stopping power for the ZX-10R is provided by dual 300mm front disc brakes featuring petal disc design, radically mounted four-piston calipers, and a single 220mm rear disc brake. First introduced on Kawasaki's own NINJA ZX-6R and ZX-6RR sport bikes, the radial front brake design utilizes mounting points at both the top and bottom of the caliper, with the mounting bolts inserted through the rear of the caliper instead of the side or front as on conventional designs. This racing-inspired setup makes the caliper more rigid to improve brake feel.
With the help of a front area smaller than that of a NINJA ZX-6R, the angular body work and racing-style ergonomics of the ZX-10R minimizes aerodynamic drag.
Other features include multi-reflector headlights, forged aluminum handlebars that are gun-drilled to reduce weight, LCD display with radial tachometer and digital speedometer, plus a stop-watch function especially for those faster lap times.

trust me, the ZX-10R was the real 'Jock Of The Bushveld'.
 

Specifications

Engine type

Liquid-cooled, 4-stroke In-Line Four

Displacement

998 cm│

Bore x stroke

76.0 x 55.0 mm

Compression ratio

12.7:1

Valve/Induction system

DOHC, 16 valves

Maximum power

128.7kW {175 PS} / 11,700 rpm

Maximum power with RAM Air

135.3 {184 PS} / 11,700 rpm

Fuel supply/Carburettor

Fuel injection: ° 43 mm x 4

Ignition

Digital

Transmission

6-speed, return

Frame type

Backbone/Twin-tube, aluminium

Suspension, front

43 mm inverted fork with top-out springs

Suspension, rear

Bottom-Link Uni-Trak with gas-charged shock and top-out spring

Wheel travel, front

120 mm

Wheel travel, rear

125 mm

Tyre, front

120/70ZR17M/C

Tyre, rear

190/55ZR17M/C

Brakes, front

Dual semi-floating 300 mm petal discs, dual radial-mount, opposed 4-piston, 4-pad

Brakes, rear

Single 220 mm petal disc, single-bore pin-slide

Dimensions (L x W x H)

2,065 mm x 705 mm x 1,130 mm

Wheelbase

1,390 mm

Seat height

825 mm

Fuel capacity

17 litres

Dry weight

175 kg

 

the ZX-10 with Martin, Jack Tar and me in the Summit Lodge's pub. Photo Dougie

Thanks to Simon Fourie and KMSA for allowing me the opportunity to ride the ZX-10R

The Ninja ZX-10R is very different from its predecessor, only the main goal is the same, to set the fastest lap times!