2006 Kawasaki ZX-10R Track Test
Story by Sean Alexander, March 2006
Photos by Kawasaki Motors Corp., U.S.A.
'Sweet, that's a genuine dual-chamber Ohlins race-spec steering damper,' I notice as I gaze down, lustfully, at the fierce new Kawasaki ZX-10R. My gaze rises to the new tach with its razor-thin inset LCD infospeedo
screen and I'm forced to admit it's even tricker than that new Ohlins damper. The new tach is still a bit hard to read in direct sunlight, but it is easily twice as legible as the old unit. My mind flows beyond the bolt-on and electronic wizardry as I remember the tech briefing. Trick things are happening down below behind the metal curtains which hide the engine's internals: Titanium exhaust valves, held in place by sintered aluminum valve spring retainers are forcefully popped open off nitride-coated cams. Iridium plugs fire hot, fast and help the whole package flame true and spin a relocated crank that's been raised closer to the bike's roll center. Yes, MOfos, it's pre-ride time at California Speedway, and I'm chock full O factoids and giblets about how racer-oriented this 2006 model is, all of which has me so wound up and antsy to grab the proverbial fist full of the new bike, take hold of it... Ahem! well, let's just say there's enough new inside the bike coupled with the aggressive styling, I'm swimming in anticipation and I just know there's going to be a happy ending here.
Out on the track, finally, and this machine doesn't disappoint. The ZX-10R puts me at ease immediately and my grin grows larger as the tires come up to temp. I love California Speedway, my confidence is skyrocketing and I fully intend to need said fancy steering damper. It doesn't take long to notice the stable and confidence-inspiring front-end which encourages me to try faster and hotter corner speeds, key ingredients to a fast lap time. However, this bike has so much power, accelerates so hard that full-throttle steering inputs usually result in little more than a wiggle from the handlebars as the front tire skims and skips across Fontana's tarmac.
Right Click Save As Video 1 - Listen!
Right Click Save As Video 2- Quick Blast
Right Click Save As Video 3 - Lapping Fontana