KLX250S Project Bike – March Update

Since we first introduced our KLX250S project bike last October, we’ve tinkered here and there with it. March marks out first major update to the bike which sees us install a new bar, bar risers, sprocket, chain, new hand guards, grips and skid plate. It adds up to quite a lot and all of it was done with one goal in mind – making the KLX250S more capable off-road.

Let’s start at the rear. We replaced the OEM chain (which hadn’t been looked after by the previous owner) with a nice RK chain. We’re going with a clip type master link which while isn’t as reliable, will serve a purpose – more on that later. More importantly, we replaced the OEM 42 tooth sprocket with a 48 tooth one from States MX. This is a hybrid steel/alloy sprocket – steel on the teeth and allow elsewhere to create a great combination of longevity as well as weight reduction. It also comes in pretty Kawasaki green.

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Now, going for a 48 tooth sprocket when the stock one is 42 is a big jump and it most certainly comes with compromises. The biggest downside is obviously when on the highway – our KLX250S now gets close to redline while in sixth gear when doing 110 kph. That’s neither comfortable or economic – but there is method to our madness.

Having the bigger sprocket now means we can crawl along in either first or second gear off-road without having to play with the clutch lever. It’s been a godsend on the more technical terrain, although if we’re honest, first gear is probably somewhat useless now – it doesn’t allow enough speed with our new setup. However, it does help with engine braking while going down steep declines.

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Ultimately, we may go down maybe to 47 or 46 in the future when off-road, or we might wait to see how the dynamics of the bike changes when we eventually increase the bike’s capacity to 350cc. Either way, we do need to factor in how the bike performs on the open road, which we’ll get to later.

Up front, we’ve changed just about everything to do with the controls. The biggest change is our new bars – a set of fat bars from Kwala which helps a lot with off-road riding while standing up. The new Kwala bars, aslong with the risers from Spex, mean total handlebar height is now around an inch higher. Both items seem to be top quality and ooze strength.

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We know rising the bars so much isn’t ideal for sharp and quick handling, but even with this new setup, I’m still having to bend my knees to comfortably hold onto the bars while standing on the pegs. Being 6’3″ does that. The Kwala bars seem extremely strong and from all reports, the OEM bars they’re replacing bent on first impact.

We’ve also put on some Kwala grips which are quite a bit more comfortable than the stock ones. We’ve also replaced the Barkbusters with a set of plastic guards from Polisport. No doubt the Barkbusters provided better crash protection, but they were bulky and quite frankly, rather ugly with their multiple attachments to actually connect to the bars. We save a bit of weight with the Polisport guards and they’ll provide protection for all but the worst impacts.

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Speaking of impacts, we’ve now also greatly improved the crash protection to our engine. Our new skid plate actually provides protection to some of the most expensive bits of our bike. Why things like this don’t come standard on dual sports we’ll probably never know.

So, why have we decided to sacrifice the KLX250S’ performance on the road? That’s because on our next update, we’ll be showing off our supermoto setup for the bike. What we’re hoping to achieve is a roll off, roll on setup where we can quickly change the bike from an enduro machine to a daily street machine in a matter of minutes. With this we hope to show how you can have a one size fits all motorcycle with just a little bit of effort.

That means a separate set of wheels with their own properly sized sprocket for the street, and thus with a clip type master link, removing the off-road chain and putting on the supermoto chain will be quick and easy. That at least is the plan…

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Kawasaki Promise Twelve New Models for 2016/17

As far as EICMA went for Kawasaki this year, it was very quiet. Not only did the not show a single new bike, they didn’t even bring any concepts either. The best they could muster was some renders of what they’re calling the ‘SC-02 Soul Charger’ – an image of a supercharged motorcycle that was probably mocked up in a few hours. But good things come to those who wait and hopefully there’s some big things coming from team green…

Despite the lackluster showing at Milan, Kawasaki Motorcycle President Kenji Tomida gave us a glimpse of the near future, and it will feature 12 brand new bikes over the next two years. Of those, there’s no doubt that some of those will be supercharged motorcycles – successors to the Ninja H2.

The Soul Charger concept is an example of Kawasaki’s supercharger technology but in a downsized form. That means we’ll hopefully see supercharged bike(s) from Kawasaki that shed some of the excess weight of the Ninja H2 and potentially in machines with capacities between 600 and 800cc.

Trawling through patent filings, Kawasaki continues to register more designs for their superchargers, so we wouldn’t be surprised if more than one of those 12 new bikes features forced induction.

But at the same time, a lot of Kawasaki’s lineup is in need of upgrade. The Ninja ER-6 platform is now heavily out-muscled by competitors. Other than the Vulcan S, Kawasaki hasn’t released anything new cruiser wise for a long time. And while the W800 is an underrated bike, it’s a complete sales failure and Kawasaki desperately needs something to capitalise on the retro/scrambler craze happening at the moment.

The new 2016 ZX-10R Ninja is a start, so let’s hope they can keep up the momentum.

Kawasaki Sould Charger

 

Kawasaki is Bringing a out Grom Competitor, Except They Already Have One

Pictures taken from a showroom in Thailand seem to indicate that Kawasaki is set to release what is being called the Kawasaki Z125 – a monkey bike sized naked motorcycle that appears to be squarely aimed at Honda’s cute little Grom. That’s exciting for many, but Kawasaki has actually been making a Grom like bike for many years – even before the Honda Grom existed.

The Kawasaki Z125, a monkeybike sized machine. But will it make it to western markets?

The Kawasaki Z125, a Honda Grom sized machine. But will it make it to western markets?

Called the Kawasaki KSR110, it’s effectively a miniaturised supermoto. It first came out in 2012 in Thailand and has since been exported to other South East Asian countries including Malaysia and Vietnam. Anyone who has been to these countries will have encountered them many times. The KSR Pro is the machine that would have been most likely sent to western markets with its four speed manual box as opposed to an automatic for the rest of the range.

So despite all the Grom love and comparisons to it with this new leaked photo, Kawasaki is actually already there. So will this new Z 125 make it to western shores? Given that Kawasaki have shown no interest in sending the KSR110 our way, perhaps not. While the Grom is a fantastic bike, it is a very low margin machine – a difficult prospect to convince many corporations of taking a risk on given the market in many countries is till recovering from the GFC.

Kawasaki has been making a mini-supermoto since 2012, the KSR110.

Kawasaki has been making a mini-supermoto since 2012, the KSR110.

Source: Motorival

This is the 2016 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R

Kawasaki has just unveiled their brand new superbike weapon, the 2016 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R. Kawasaki has been somewhat quiet in the lead-up to the bikes official unveiling but what they’ve delivered looks very impressive – at least on paper. According to Kawasaki, the 2016 Ninja ZX-10R ABS is the highest performing, most track-focused sportbike available today for homologated racing use.

Looking at what Kawasaki has done, this bike has undergone a pretty major overhaul due to many small (and not so small) refinements and changes. The end result isn’t as big a leap from say the new R1 compared to the previous model but there still seems to be a lot of enhancements that accumulate to create what we now have.

One of the bigger changes relates to suspension and the use of what is called the Showa Balance Free Fork (BFF) – a first for a mass produced motorcycle. The main feature of the Showa BFF is that the design of the hydraulic system eliminates the pressure balance fluctuations typically found in conventional forks. With the BFF, the damping valves are located in one place – outside the fork legs in the damping force chamber. This allows the entire surface of the fork pistons to push the hydraulic fluid toward the valves in the damping force chamber, with nitrogen gas in the compression chamber pushing back against the oil, helping to maintain the balanced pressure inside the fork tube.

Compression and rebound damping are generated (and adjusted) completely independently from one another by the compression and rebound adjuster screws on the damping force chamber at the bottom of each leg. Locating the adjustment in this single place has resulted in a more focused design that greatly improves responsiveness. Spring preload adjustment is located on the top of each fork leg.

The rear shock absorber is a Showa Balance Free Rear Cushion (BFRC) unit that also resulted from joint development in World Superbike competition. Just like the forks, the rear shock has a separate damping force chamber that houses the compression and rebound damping adjusters. By separating them, it again allows the entire damping piston to focus on hydraulic fluid movement. There is also external spring preload adjustment. The result is increased traction and superior shock absorption.

The use of this new Showa system will probably have an immense impact on handling and we can’t wait to experience it. Adjustability with this new system is supposed to be second to none as well.

The other bit ticket item for the new Ninja ZX-10R is in the electronics department. Unlike Ducati, BMW and Yamaha who have pretty much adopted systems directly from Bosch, Kawasaki has worked in conjunction with Bosch to create proprietary algorithms that optimizes the electronic stability systems. The Kawasaki system uses a Bosch five-axis Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU) with software developed in-house, drawing on the experience of the Kawasaki Race Team’s World Superbike experience, making this application unique. For example, it takes the pitch and roll rate data measured by the IMU, and the ECU calculates the yaw rate, resulting in six-axis operation.

Kawasaki’s traction control system now has five modes instead of the previous three. Modes one and two are designed for a racer on the track. Mode three is designed for a dry circuit with high-grip tires. Mode four is intended for dry canyon roads or commuting, while mode five is programmed to suit wet circuit or street use.

A new addition with all the electronic aids is a cornering management function. It helps distribute optimum hydraulic pressure to the calipers based on the motorcycle’s lean/pitch angle. The result is reduction of the motorcycle’s tendency to stand up when applying the brakes in a turn on the track. Instead, the Ninja ZX-10R is better able to follow the rider’s intended line while slowing down for a difficult turn, rather than having the tendency to run wide.

There’s also launch control, engine braking control, engine power modes, an intillegent braking system that in conjunction with ABS helps to modulate brake pressure during sport riding and more.

The changes to the engine aren’t as big but they still will make an impact. Kawasaki hasn’t divulged officially the output of the bike but we’re hearing 207 hp. A lighter crankshaft, which allows quicker revving for improved throttle response and acceleration has been fitted. The benefit of that is also increased low and mid-range power output, which is appreciated when exiting a corner on the racetrack or on a favorite stretch of blacktop.

The crankshaft also has a new balancer, which is lighter and damps vibrations just as effectively. The crankshaft’s connecting rod journals have a new coating for reduced friction at high RPM.

The cylinder head has revised intake and exhaust ports. These have a straighter cross-section to allow better gas flow, contributing to the increased power output. Only the intake ports were polished on previous models, but the 2016 model also has polished exhaust ports to further increase power.

We could go on about all the changes but we’d be writing for hours. Below you can see a list of all the new additions along with our gallery.

  • More powerful 998cc in-line four-cylinder 16-valve engine
  • Lighter crankshaft allows quicker revving and increased low-mid-range power
  • Pistons, head design, camshaft profiles and air box for better response and power
  • Computer-controlled electronic throttle valve delivers precise control
  • Lightweight titanium exhaust system
  • Close-ratio, cassette-type transmission is ideally suited to racing and gives strong corner exit acceleration
  • Chassis with new steering head position, swingarm rigidity and length, longer wheelbase creates balanced handling
  • Front cowl provides better aerodynamics, improves high-speed handling, reduces rider buffeting
  • Showa Balance Free Fork (BFF) and Balance Free Rear Cushion (BFRC) derived directly from World Superbike racing, first-time used on a mass-production motorcycle
  • Brembo M50 monobloc front calipers, 330mm Brembo rotors and master cylinder provide increased braking power, feel and heat dissipation
  • Electronics suite utilizes a Bosch five-axis IMU for KEBC Kawasaki Engine Braking Control, KLCM Kawasaki Launch Control Mode, KIBS Kawasaki Intelligent anti-lock Braking System, Corner Management Function, S-KTRC Sport Kawasaki TRaction Control and KQS Kawasaki Quick Shifter
  • Kawasaki Racing Team-inspired KRT Edition color scheme combining Lime Green and Ebony paint

ICON’s Kawasaki ZX3-RR Concept

We’re big fans of light and powerful bikes, something that we just don’t see anywhere near enough of lately. Apparel manufacturer ICON seems to agree and they’ve teamed up with Kawasaki USA to concept bike built around the Ninja 300 and called the ICON ZX3-RR and while it might not offer enough in the way of raw power it certainly looks the part.

The idea behind the project was to develop a racing bike that wasn’t too expensive. Given that Kawasaki is behind dedicated Ninja 300 race series in Australia and Canada, the idea is somewhat redundant but we can’t complain about how the bike looks and the theme that it’s going for.

The Ninja 300 gets custom race fairings, Ohlins R&T suspension and ContiRaceAttack tires, a braced swingarm and high-mount subframe for increased rigidity and slightly larger ergonomics. In a case of form over function (though we’re not complaining) there’s a quad exhaust system that pays homage to the two-stroke race machines of a bygone era.

The ICON ZX3-RR utilizes a tablet dashboard based on Android OS which as well as providing the usual array of speed, tachometer, and engine monitoring, the rider can adjust fuel maps, monitor lap times, and quickly broadcast race updates to their social networks.

 

 

Kawasaki Confirms All New ZX-10R for 2016

As we reported in late July, Kawasaki is releasing a heavily upgraded ZX-10R in an effort to keep up with recently updated models from Yamaha, Aprilia and Ducati. While Kawasaki are leading the WSBK, the bike isn’t doing as well in the showroom and the Japanese manufacturer obviously feels that they need to bring the bike up to spec in the face of stiffer competition.

According to Kawasaki’s press release, the main modifications to the bike consist of major upgrades to the suspension system and brakes. This no doubt will mean the adoption of electronic suspension components and cornering ABS as seen from the competition. Ironically however, all those technologies aren’t allowed in WSBK.

 

“This is not a “clean sheet” design as the current Ninja ZX-10R is such a good base to develop from”, commented Project Leader for KHI, Yoshimoto Matsuda. “With the new model we have focused our development resources on an overall engineering and performance improvement. We are proud of the result; it means a significant advance in terms of both chassis and engine performance as well as providing the platform to introduce new, state of the art rider aids and other technology.

“The input the KHI development team has received from the Kawasaki Racing Team, and riders, Jonathan Rea and Tom Sykes has created what we are sure many will feel is the most competitive and potent Ninja ZX-10R yet. A motorcycle equally at home on the race track or as a highly responsive daily riding road machine.”’

There’s unlikely to be much in the way of changes to the engine which already produces a shade under 200hp, but expect some styling changes that may pay a bit of homage to the Ninja H2. Full details on the bike will be released next month.

Kawasaki Confirms All New ZX-10R for 2016

All New Honda CB190R – A New Design Direction For Honda?

Honda in China have announced the release of an all new machine, the Honda CB190R, a naked single cylinder motorcycle. And while such a bike won’t make it to western markets we are curious to see if the design language used for this Chinese built motorcycle will translate into future Honda updates.

The Honda CB190R is definitely a more angular machine than previous Honda models and makes the current CB300F rather tame looking in comparison. The headlights are very reminiscent of those found on the Kawasaki Z800 and Z1000 and are slanted at a rather extreme angle towards the front of the bike.

The dash appears to come straight from the Honda 500 range, although backlit in blue with contrasting white digits. As seems to be the current trend in motorcycle design, the large exhaust can is instead replaced by an underslung unit. The rear of the bike also looks great with twin brake lights. We especially like the angles on the fuel tank with we’re assuming for aesthetics only air vents on the sides.

In fact, other than the ill-proportioned engine and exhaust system, the bike looks damn impressive and in our opinion, a lot nicer looking than the current naked bikes on offer from Honda in western markets. So what are the chances that this look will make its way to other countries?

At least in the short term, not too likely. The Honda CB300F is less than two years old and won’t be due for such a radical makeover for a while yet. Similarly, the CB650F is too new for Honda to spend large chunks of change on at this stage to modify its appearance. The only model that could potentially do with an upgrade is the CB500F, which is coming up on three years of service – but that would perhaps necessitate Honda updating both the faired and adventure models too – a costly exercise for what’s designed as a budget model.

For the time being at least, you’ll have to visit China if you want a modern looking Honda naked.

All New 2016 Kawasaki ZX-10 Confirmed

It’s been confirmed that Kawasaki will be releasing a brand new ZX-10 Superbike before the end of the year. The current generation Kawasaki ZX-10 hasn’t had any real updates since 2011 when it was last overhauled and is coming under increasing competition – both on the track and in showrooms – from other updated machines including the Yamaha R1 and Aprilia RSV4 which were both updated this year.

The news comes from Guim Roda who heads up Kawasaki’s World Superbike team. Despite the current generation ZX-10 looking quite old next to some of the competition, Team Kawasaki Racing is leading the champion with Jonathan Rea in first and Tom Sykes in second. Kawasaki obviously doesn’t want to chance its domination and hence its decision to try and keep ahead of the curve.

“We will have a new Kawasaki ZX-10R in 2016. The concept will be the same but, with some details and changes, it will be even more competitive” said Roda. “Given that the current rules are very restricted, the motorbikes have to be developed with an eye on the sport. We are heading on a path that Aprilia, Ducati and BMW have already taken for this year by bringing out new bikes.”

Despite domination on the track, it’s at the dealership where it really counts and here Kawasaki is losing a bit of ground. While updated bikes like the BMW S1000R and Panigale 1299 don’t exactly attract the same type of buyer due to their price, it’s expected that Suzuki will also be soon updating their now ancient GSX-R1000.

So what shape will the 2016 Kawasaki ZX-10 take? It probably won’t be a revolutionary overhaul given the DNA is pretty spot on at the moment. Kawasaki will probably take the opportunity to boost power moderately, but the big changes will be in the form of advanced electronics that all updated bikes have been receiving.

That will likely include semi-active suspension (which will accompany the existing Öhlins electronic steering damper) as used on the new R1 and Panigale, as well an internal gyroscopic unit for cornering GPS – both of which ironically aren’t allowed in WSBK anyway.

The other big change will likely be in looks – expect the new ZX-10 to take strong styling cues from the Ninja H2. Given how desirable the H2 is, it makes sense for Kawasaki to build on that and no doubt will provide a big boost to sales. Expect an official release later this year.

All New 2016 Kawasaki ZX-10 Confirmed