Kawasaki has expanded its superbike offering for 2018 with the addition of a new Ninja ZX-10R SE.
Unveiled at the EICMA motorcycle show in Milan earlier this week, the ZX-10R SE features a small number of significant updates and is the first Kawasaki to run the fashionable semi-active suspension that’s an option on high end models from a number of other manufacturers.
Kawasaki has been the brand to beat in world superbikes in recent years thanks, in no small part, to the talents of Jonathan Rea and last year the company launched the ZX-10RR – a limited run of 500 bikes upgraded to keep the Ninja at the front of the pack on the race track.
The SE, for which no prices have yet been released, uses the standard ZX-10R as its base but runs the sophisticated Showa electronic semi-active suspension front and rear. Kawasaki say that Rea and team-mate Tom Sykes have had a hand in testing and developing the SE model, and that the suspension units share the same construction as the ones used on the world championship winning race bikes.
Known as ‘KECS’ (Kawasaki Electronic Control Suspension) the ZX-10R SE’s suspension features a number of stroke sensors and solenoids that can make seamless adjustments to the settings at lightning speed. The bike has its own ECU devoted solely to monitoring and adjusting the suspension. The ECU works in conjunction with the regular ECU and IMU (inertia measurement unit) to monitor the bike’s acceleration, speed and braking, as well as the suspension movement. The bike comes with two pre-programmed settings – ‘Road’ and ‘Track’ – as well as a user adjustable ‘Manual’ mode. The benefit of the semi-active suspension is that it offers the optimum suspension settings for the road surface, making on the fly adjustments to compensate for changing conditions.
As well as the upgraded suspension, the SE also has Marchesini seven-spoke forged alloy-wheels, a quick shifter for clutchless up and down gear changes and a distinctive matt black colourscheme (with green highlights, of course).
Other tech comes straight from the standard ZX-10R Ninja, which means that there’s a 200bhp, 998cc inline four, motor at the rider’s disposal, reigned in by some sophisticated electronics.
While not an all-new model, the SE helps take the Ninja from the ‘raw and ready’ member of the superbike class to a competitor to the more sophisticated versions of the BMW S1000RR and Yamaha YZF-R1.
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