2013 Kawasaki Early-Release Models
ABS now optional on Ninja 650, electronic steering damper added to ZX-10R, plus new graphics/colors
Kawasaki has just released news about changes to four of its existing models for 2013, including the addition of an electronic steering damper to the potent ZX-10R and the option of adding antilock brakes to the versatile Ninja 650. As for new bikes in the pipeline, we expect a couple of announcements in September.
Kawasaki’s superbike has been the leader among Asian literbikes since its ground-up revamp in 2011, and it came out on top in our 2012 Japanese Superbike Shootout based on its class-leading horsepower, lightest weight and bleeding edge technology.
Steering dampers aren’t often a prime topic when discussing liter-sized sportbikes, but Kawasaki hasn’t excelled with the stabilizers employed on the 10R. Recent 1000cc Ninjas have been equipped with Ohlins steering dampers, but they’ve always been light on control and adjustability despite Ohlins’ estimable reputation; they build ‘em to Kawasaki’s specifications.
Meanwhile, Japanese rivals have fitted electronically controlled units that vary damping force according to speed, and their variable nature boasts soft damping at low speeds for maximum agility while maintaining stiff settings when needed at high speeds for optimum stability.
So, the addition of an Ohlins electronic steering damper to the ZX will likely bring the Kawi up to par with its competition in that regard. Using Ohlins patented twin-tube design, a dedicated ECU mounted under the fuel tank cover varies damping based not only on rear-wheel speed, but also the rate of acceleration and deceleration.
Otherwise, the only thing new about the 10R is the addition of a Pearl Flat White color option alongside the traditional Lime Green hue associated with Kawasaki’s sportbikes. MSRPs of both the standard model and the ABS version are up $300, to $14,299 and $15,299, respectively. The 2013 ZX-10 is expected to hit dealers in September.
We’ve been fans of the sporty and affordable Ninja 650 since it debuted in 2006. It’s a versatile machine that can please both noobs and vets, and it became more appealing with various tweaks and sharper styling of the upgraded 2012 version reviewed here.
To expand the Ninja’s appeal among safety-conscious riders, Kawi has added an ABS version to the 2013 lineup for an extra $500. The base model retails for $7599, up a Benjamin over last year’s bike, while the ABS version lists at $8099. It’s available in three color choices: a new Pearl Stardust White, a Candy Thunder Blue, or a Vader-esque Metallic Flat Spark Black. You can expect to see the 2013 Ninja 650 in dealers later this month.
If you’re in the market for a globe-trotting adventure bike that won’t break the bank, the venerable KLR650 soldiers on mechanically unchanged for 2013 since its considerable update in 2007. And if its stock configuration doesn’t quite fit your needs, there is an almost unlimited amount of aftermarket support for this two-wheeled Jeep, as we found in our nine-part KLR650 project bike series. The KLR650 is expected to hit showroom floors later this month.
Like its KLR big bro, the quarter-liter KLX250S receives only BNG additions to its 298-pound dual-sport package for 2013. Winner of our 2008 Lightweight Dual-Purpose Shootout, its retail price goes up $100 to $5099. This is quite a bargain compared to the higher-spec Yamaha WR250R’s MSRP of $6690 or even the low-tech XT250’s $5190, but it’s $600 more than the newly announced Honda CRF250L that will be launched this summer. Shootout, anyone…? Like the KLR650 and Ninja 650, the 2013 KLX250S is expected to hit dealer in late July.