2010 Kawasaki Models Unveiled

The C-14 is first in line for Kawi's all-new traction control!


Seems like only weeks ago we were writing, “Well, it’s that time of year again.”

Well, it is that time of year…again! Honda and Yamaha/Star have previously announced a number of new and returning models for 2010, so next up is Kawasaki.

Today we learned that the 2010 Z1000 has stepped into the ring for round three with the American motorcycle-buying public. But the Z isn’t an island unto itself. Four existing Kawasaki models are back and updated for next year, with minor tweaks to one of them to create a slightly different but new model.

2010 Concours 14 -- $14,599/$15,299-ABS; Candy Neptune Blue/Flat Super Black

2010 Concours 14 ABS

When Kawi introduced the ZX-14 in 2006, the bike world was en fuego with excitement about a new, ultra-powerful gentleman’s express.

In 2007 Team Green continued to make waves by updating the venerable sport-tour Concours. Really, though, the Concours 14 wasn’t so much a heavy revision of the previous Connie, as it was an entirely new bike. The Concours was now a ZX-14-based mill outfitted in a touring package.

The big land rocket didn’t receive top honors in our 2009 Sport-Touring Shootout, but then again it’s a tough class. There isn’t too much to sincerely bag on the Connie about in its current form. Nevertheless, Kawi has given it reams of meaningful updates, improvements and new stuff, not the least of which is traction control, what Kawi calls KTRC (Kawasaki Traction Control).

Here’s the heap of details on the new stuff that seem to emphasize the touring side of sport-touring:
Enhanced Comfort & Touring Potential
A completely redesigned, more aggressive fairing with new inner guide surfaces and outlets is designed to facilitate heat dissipation, reducing the amount of hot air transmitted to the rider
A 70mm taller windscreen with a wider upper portion reduces upper-body turbulence. The screen is electrically adjustable, with four new programmable preset positions
When the power is turned off, the windscreen goes to its lowest position. When the power is turned back on, the windscreen’s memory function returns it to the selected preset position
Passages from windscreen slits direct air through the inner fairing to vents next to the instrument panel; alleviating the lower pressure helps prevent turbulence around the rider’s head
An exhaust pipe guard added to the upper part of the exhaust mid-pipe helps protect the rider from heat when stopped
Stepless adjustable grip heaters are standard, with an easy-to-reach switch located in front of the new lockable storage case on the inner left fairing panel. The lockable storage case uses an electromagnet lock to prevent entry when the engine is off
New mirrors positioned 40mm higher increase rear visibility and provide increased hand protection from the wind
New hooks at the front of the tank facilitate securing a tank bag
New KTRC Traction Control (Concours 14 ABS only)
KTRC (Kawasaki Traction Control): Kawasaki’s first traction control system reduces engine output when wheel spin is detected, allowing the rear tire to regain grip
3-way control (airflow, ignition timing, fuel delivery) gives KTRC smooth operation, natural feel and the ability to operate on long stretches of bad road, according to Kawasaki
KTRC allegedly adds no weight, since it uses the existing ECU and ABS sensors
New 2nd Generation K-ACT ABS (Concours 14 ABS only)
Second generation K-ACT (Kawasaki Advanced Coactive-braking Technology) ABS links front and rear brakes for most effective front-rear brake force distribution
A smaller, lighter K-ACT ABS unit with a higher-spec ECU is capable of more detailed calculations
The rider can choose one of two modes to suit riding situation or rider preference
In Standard Mode, rider control is prioritized, with linked effect reduced at initial pedal stroke for natural sensation when sport riding
In High Combined Mode, there’s a more pronounced linked effect from the beginning of the pedal stroke — ideal for touring and two-up highway use
A low-battery mode maintains the ABS function as best possible when the battery charge is low. In low-battery mode, ABS timing and pressure relief functions are maintained, so brake effectiveness is preserved (although riders will notice that ABS operation is not as smooth). The K-ACT lamp will flash and “Low Battery” will be displayed on the LCD screen. The system resets when the engine is turned off
New Fuel Economy Assistance Mode
Activating fuel economy assistance mode changes the engine to a leaner map which prioritizes fuel economy, for as much as a 25 percent MPG boost
Fuel economy assistance works in any gear, as long as rpm is below 6000, throttle opening less than 30 percent and speed less than 80 mph
Improved KIPASS
Now each Concours 14 comes with one key fob (kept in a pocket) and a small card-type key for emergency/backup use. The new card-type key includes an immobilizer function (but no remote activation) and is highly portable, measuring just 1.2 x 1.6 x 0.25 inch
Updated fit and finish
Revised muffler end cap gives the silencer a more compact appearance; internal construction is unchanged, but the end cap itself is 1.6 inches shorter
Multi-function display now includes outside air temperature. The sensor is located at the intake duct (the furthest point from the engine)
Other new instrument functions include the K-ACT mode indicator, Economical Riding Indicator, and Fuel Economy Assistance Mode mark
The Mode-Select button on the front of the left grip lets the rider change LCD modes without taking their hand off the grip, toggling through average fuel consumption, instant fuel consumption, remaining range, tire pressure, battery voltage and outside temperature

2010 Ninja ZX-10R -- $12,999 - Metallic Spark Black; $13,199 - Lime Green/Pearl Stardust White

2010 Ninja ZX-10R

Don’t fix it if it’s already one of the most badass literbikes available. Still, Kawi continues to tweak and refine the biggest Ninja, runner-up (by a narrow margin) in our 2009 Literbike Shootout.

With one of the most powerful liter engines coming from the Big Four, and a generally great package in every other respect, it’s hard to believe much needs improving.

What we are happy to see is a new and improved Ohlins steering damper. The previous unit didn’t offer the same level of refinement or control as the electronically controlled damper on the GSX-R1000 or Honda’s most excellent HESD piece of wizardry.

New goodness for the 2010 Ninja ZX-10R
New styling of the upper, side and center fairings and cockpit inner covers enhances aerodynamic efficiency and appearance
Refinements to the shift ratchet assembly, shifting arm, return spring and collar result in reduced friction and less movement at the shift shaft pivot, for improved shifting feel and more positive gear changes
A new, embossed metallic gray coating on the muffler
A new, 18-position Öhlins steering damper uses additional spring and oil pistons for improved action; titanium color with a laser-etched logo
Slightly longer throttle cables inside a plastic throttle housing provide improved throttle action

2010 Versys -- $7,599 – Metallic Spark Black

2010 Versys

It’s not too often that Japanese bike makers push the funky look (well, maybe the DN-01 qualifies), leaving edgier designs to their European and American counterparts. However, Kawasaki stretched beyond the comfort zone when penning the 649cc parallel-Twin Versys.

Regardless of the bike’s Euro styling, the capable, multi-dimension (hence Versys – Versatile System) machine struck a chord with riders the first year it arrived. It even managed to nab a bike of the year award from a major U.S. motorcycle mag. And we really liked it, too!

So, a number of refinements to the motorcycle that went head-to-head with the equally odd-looking Suzuki VStrom 650, in a market segment that defies strict categorization, should only get better in 2010.

Here’s what’s new on the Versys
A new fairing, stacked dual-beam headlight, new front fender and mirrors, and a Z1000-style LED tail light
A larger, manual 3-position windscreen provides a larger still-air pocket
Revised passenger grab rails, new seat cover material, and a little fine-tuning of the passenger seating position
Rubber bushings at the rear engine mounts and hollow rubber-covered footpegs for reduced engine vibration
Revisions to the muffler, clutch cover, sprocket and alternator covers, radiator shrouds, swingarm pivot covers and rear fender

2010 KLX110 and KLX110L -- $2,099 and $2,249 respectively

2010 KLX110

Okay. Is there anything more fun, as an adult-sized motorcyclist, than rippin’ around on tiny dirtbikes? We think not!

Kawasaki even points to research that claims “KLXs get ridden more by adults than by kids.” If you’ve ever ridden a mini-moto, you’ll believe that claim in a heartbeat.

The KLX110 model, powered by an air-cooled, 111cc, four-stroke, SOHC, Single with a new 4-speed (previously 3-speed) tranny paired to an automatic (centrifugal) clutch, is more than just a kid’s bike. Plenty of two-wheel newbs are attracted to the little dynamo dirt bikes.

It seems so many “big” kids enjoy the giggles had while riding the KLX110, Kawi created the KLX110L, based on the KLX110, but now with longer travel suspension and a manual clutch.

2010 KLX110L

Suspension and clutch operation differences aside, a claimed 15% boost in power from the tiny Thumper headlines the changes to the KLX110 and 110L.

Updates and differences to the tiny funbags
2010 KLX110 and 110L receive revised valve timing, a new freer-flowing muffler, a new ignition system and reduced piston ring tension for up to 15% more power and torque than an ’09 KLX110
New push-button electric start, but a reshaped kickstarter that clears the rider’s leg better remains as a back-up
An ignition timing inspection hole was added for easier maintenance
A redesigned choke knob on the 18mm carburetor is easier to grab with gloves on
New 4-speed transmission with overall top-gear ratio nearly the same as last year’s KLX110. The new fourth gear is combined with a short final drive ratio to effectively tighten the gaps between each gear, while also widening the available range of operating speeds
KLX110 retains auto clutch, while KLX110L is a manual clutch
Redesigned shift drum cam groove and positioning spring, and a smoother cam surface for improved shift feel and more positive gear engagement
5.2 inches suspension travel in front, and 5.1 in rear for L model; 4.3 inches front and rear on the KLX110
A stiffer spring and damping rates for both shock and fork on the KLX110 provides longer, firmer rear wheel travel and greater resistance to bottoming
28.7-inch seat height on KLX110L; 26.8-inch seat height on KLX110
New KX450F-style fuel tank, seat, shrouds, side panels and fenders
The KLX110L meets California “Green Sticker” requirements

Related Reading
2010 Kawasaki Z1000 Unveiled

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