The Superbike World Championship is set for a shake-up next year as Kawasaki prepares to revamp its Ninja ZX-10R.
With Ducati developing a 1000cc race-ready R version of the stunning Panigale V4, a new BMW S 1000 RR expected in 2019, and reports of a revised Yamaha YZF-R1, the gauntlet has been thrown down to the dominant WorldSBK-spec Kawasaki.
The current Ninja ZX-10R might still be the bike to beat in production-based racing but its bare bones are seven years old. It has been incrementally improved since 2011, with a substantial facelift in late 2015.
Kawasaki can’t afford to rest on its laurels despite four WorldSBK rider titles and three manufacturer crowns in the last five years.
With the ZX-10RR to be discontinued, Kawasaki looks set to finally produce a new WorldSBK contender
The Japanese company has just filed a document listing its unchanged models for 2019 with the US authorities.
While the 2018 version listed no fewer than four versions of the superbike – the ZX-10R, the ZX-10RR, the ZX-10R SE and the ZX-10R KRT Edition – the 2019 list has no ZX-10Rs.
That indicates the existing ZX-10R is being discontinued. And since Kawasaki isn’t about to desert the superbike scene, it can only mean there’s an all-new model on the way.
Kawasaki will no doubt submit a revised list later this year, including the new Ninja ZX-10R, after the bike has been unveiled.
It will have to be something pretty special. The present model is already at the cutting edge with its Bosch-developed electronics, and there aren’t many complaints when it comes to power, with around 149kW (200hp) on tap.
However, looming new emissions rules provide an opportunity to create a new engine at the beginning of its development curve, with a new chassis to suit.
Expect to see a lighter, stiffer and more powerful Kawasaki platform as the basis for a new decade of updates.
ANOTHER bike missing from the 2019 US model list is the Ninja H2, but the & cheaper, touring-oriented H2SX and H2SX SE remain. Given that Kawasaki has a special low-volume production line to build the H2 and track-only H2R machines, and its apparent dedication to supercharging, a very different replacement is likely.
Kawasaki has previously hinted about other radical supercharged bikes. In 2016 it showed two styling sketches – the SC-01 Spirit Charger and SC-02 Soul Charger. The former was a luxury sports-tourer, perhaps previewing the H2SX that arrived the following year, while the Soul Charger was a naked, neo-retro machine.
Given the popularity of naked superbikes at the moment, the Soul Charger idea has wings. If it uses the low-volume approach of the original H2, we can expect a high price, crazy performance and luxury materials.
A new 600 too!Kawasaki will launch a new ZX-6R later this year to add much-needed life to the 600cc Supersport class.
Only Yamaha, with the YZF-R6, and MV Agusta with the F3, make supersports machines with Euro4 emissions certification.
But Kawasaki will soon join them, with the ZX-6R to be revamped to meet Euro4, and return the bike to the European market.
Yamaha might want to reconsider leaving Supersport to its privateers.
Source: Kawasaki Europe,Australian Motorcycle News.