2008 Kawasaki ZX-10R First Look - Motorcycle.com

Kevin Duke
by Kevin Duke

Kawasaki has released the first pictures of its heavily revised ZX-10R that looks set to battle for the liter-sized superbike crown. Team Green is thus far stingy with details about this thoroughly tweaked literbike, but here’s what we’ve been able to glean from the photos and the limited specs.

The most obvious change is the Ninja’s dramatically leaner styling that is a big improvement over the slightly awkward look of the 2006-07 version. Its minimalist bodywork gives it a much lighter appearance. It now looks phat instead of fat, with a pointier beak, a tidy fuel tank and clipped tail.

Much of the side bodywork is black, which helps disguise the appearance of mass, as do the new ultra-thin-spoke wheels. Body-colored pinstripes around the wheel rim edges are a nice

The 2008 ZX-10R looks like it has hit the gym, appearing leaner and nastier than the bulbous outgoing model.
touch, and new mirrors appear to include integral turnsignals. Passengers might need an oxygen mask when then mount the stratospheric pillion pad under the tail cowl.

Not much is yet known about the changes in the engine room, but we can affirm that it retains its 12.7:1 compression ratio and 43mm Keihin throttle bodies with oval sub-throttles and two injectors per cylinder. The new megaphone exhaust outlet combines with a pre-silencer section behind the transmission, likely with an exhaust powervalve.

Kawasaki hasn’t supplied chassis geometry specs, but we’ll guess the rake, trail and wheelbase numbers aren’t drastically changed from the previous model’s respective 24.0 degrees, 4.0 inches and 54.7 inches. An Ohlins steering damper again resides behind the upper triple clamp. Last year’s bike had a stated dry weight of 386 pounds, and we expect this version to be slightly lighter.

Braking performance should be slightly improved, as the front calipers appear to be of a one-piece monoblock design and the wave rotors have increased in size 10mm to 310mm. Suspension appears relatively unchanged, with Diamond-Like Coating (DLC) on the inner fork tubes and a fully adjustable single shock out back now with separate adjusters for high- and low-speed compression damping.

In 2007 the ZX-10R retailed for $11,249. Our crystal ball predicts a new MSRP in the mid-$11,000 range.

Kawasaki’s press release follows.

With a major styling update, improvements to the brakes and a likely horsepower boost, the new ZX-10R takes a leap forward in desirability.
Factory Superbike Talent in a Street Savvy Performer

For the 2008 NINJA ZX10R, Kawasaki engineers aimed for an ideal superbike with engine and chassis performance capable of satisfying professional racers, combined with top-notch streetbike qualities for mainstream riders.

It’s a delicate balance, but these aren’t your average engineers. They’ve been directly involved in the development of every 600 and 1000cc supersport machine since the 2003 Ninja ZX-6R, plus Kawasaki’s factory Superbike racing efforts, so they have the know-how to deliver the goods.

The result is an exceptionally communicative machine that provides the clean two-way rider and machine dialog demanded by professional racers. Placing the ZX-10R in the racing crucible and applying lessons from that unforgiving environment resulted in an ideal balance to satisfy the most demanding of riders.

Kawasaki engineers relied on the assistance of a professional Superbike rider to push the new ZX-10R’s engine and frame components to the limits in actual competition. Parts that met with the racer’s approval were then tried on the production test bike, tweaked, retested on the race bike and adjusted again. This process was repeated throughout the development cycle for the all-new 2008 Ninja ZX-10R.

2008 Kawasaki Ninja ZX10R Specifications:


Four-stroke, liquid-cooled, DOHC, four valves per cylinder, inline-Four



Bore x stroke:

76.0 x 55.0mm

Maximum torque:


Compression ratio:


Fuel injection:

DFI with 43mm Keihin throttle bodies with oval sub-throttles, two injectors per cylinder





Final drive:


Rake / trail:


Front tire:

120/70 ZR17

Rear tire:

190/55 ZR17



Front suspension / wheel travel:

43mm inverted fork with DLC coating, adjustable rebound and compression damping, spring preload adjustability and top-out springs / TBD

Rear suspension / wheel travel:

Bottom-Link Uni-Trak with top-out spring, stepless, dual-range (high/low-speed) compression damping, stepless rebound damping, fully adjustable spring preload / TBD

Front brakes:

Dual semi-floating 310 mm petal discs with dual four-piston radial-mount calipers

Rear brakes:

Single 220mm petal disc with single-piston aluminum caliper

Overall length:


Overall width:


Overall height:


Seat height:


Dry weight:


Fuel capacity:


Color choices:


MSRP standard / Special Edition:




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