2018 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R SE Preview

Kevin Duke
by Kevin Duke

Team Green delivers high-end ZX with semi-active electronic suspension

Today Kawasaki Motors Corp., U.S.A., announced that it will be offering a high-end SE model to its ZX-10R line, joining the ZX-10R ABS KRT edition ($16,399) and ZX-10RR ($18,899). This new SE ($21,899) takes the RR’s premium components like forged-aluminum Marchesini wheels and an updated KQS up-and-down quickshifter and adds semi-active electronic suspension.

The Kawasaki Electronic Control Suspension (KECS) system automatically adjusts suspension damping depending on stroke speed, vehicle speed, and acceleration/deceleration rates reported to the SE’s IMU (Intertial Measurement Unit) every 10 milliseconds. The ECU then directs current to the suspension solenoids to adjust damping suitable for the road conditions and speed.

A rider has the option of selecting from road, track and manual modes, the latter allowing a rider to choose from 15 levels of adjustability for rebound and compression damping selected electronically via the instrument panel.

The ZX-10R SE comes in this sinister-looking Metallic Flat Spark Black/Metallic Matte Graphite Gray colorway and has a list price of $21,899.

The front suspension is a version of the excellent Showa Balance Free Fork (BFF) that we’ve been delighted with on the ZX-10R. Derived from the racing world, BFF supposedly eliminates the pressure fluctuations typically found in conventional forks, as the damping valves are located 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,” says Kawasaki.

The rear suspension uses a Showa Balance Free Rear Cushion (BFRC) unit that also has a separate damping-force chamber housing the compression and rebound damping circuits. The separate circuits allow the damping piston to focus on hydraulic fluid movement, says Kawi.

Brembo’s stellar M50 aluminum monoblock four-piston calipers provide strong braking responses, and the large 330mm front rotors are cross-drilled and have a circumferential groove in the outer edge to aid heat dissipation. Clutchless up- and down-shifting are enabled by an updated Kawasaki Quick Shifter aided by a slipper-clutch design that reduces rear-wheel hop during sudden downshifts.

The SE is also blessed with seven-spoke forged-aluminum wheels, which are lighter than traditional cast-aluminum wheels and were jointly developed with Marchesini. Lighter wheels always pay dividends in quicker responses to steering inputs, so these will make the SE feel lighter than its 458.6-pound claimed wet weight. For reference, that’s about 2.5 heavier than the ZX-10RR, which seems to be due to the SE’s fancy electronic suspension. High-performance Bridgestone Battlax RS10 tires are standard equipment.

2018 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R SE Specifications

Engine Type4-stroke, 4 cylinder, DOHC, 4-valve, liquid-cooled
Bore x Stroke76.0 x 55.0mm
Compression ratio13.0:1
Fuel SystemDFI with 47mm Mikuni throttle bodies (4) with oval sub-throttles, two injectors per cylinder
IgnitionTCBI with digital advance and Sport-Kawasaki Traction Control (S-KTRC)
Transmission6-speed, return shift
Final DriveSealed chain
Electronic AidsKawasaki Launch Control Mode (KLCM), Kawasaki Intelligent anti-lock Brake System (KIBS), Kawasaki Sport Traction Control (S-KTRC), Kawasaki Engine Braking Control, Kawasaki Quick Shifter (KQS) (upshift & downshift), Kawasaki Corner Management Function (KCMF)
Frame TypeAluminum perimeter
Front Suspension43mm inverted Balance Free Fork, KECS controlled compression and rebound damping, manual spring preload adjustability
Front Wheel Travel4.7 in
Rear SuspensionHorizontal back-link with Balance Free gas-charged shock, controlled compression and rebound damping, manually adjustable spring preload
Rear Wheel Travel4.5 in
Front Tire120/70ZR17
Rear Tire190/55ZR17
Front BrakesIntelligent Braking (KIBS), Brembo dual semi-floating 330mm discs with dual radial mounted monobloc 4-piston calipers
Rear BrakesKIBS-controlled, single 220mm disc with aluminum single-piston caliper
Rake/Trail25.0°/4.2 in
Overall Length82.3 in
Overall Width29.1 in
Overall Height45.1 in
Ground Clearance5.7 in
Seat Height32.9 in
Curb Weight458.6 lb (claimed)
Fuel Capacity4.5 gal
Wheelbase56.7 in
Color ChoicesMetallic Flat Spark Black/Metallic Matte Graphite Gray
Warranty12 Month Limited Warranty
Kawasaki Protection Plus12, 24, 36 or 48 months
Kevin Duke
Kevin Duke

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2 of 8 comments
  • Carl Zaldivar Carl Zaldivar on Dec 03, 2017

    I'm going to be on the market for a new possibly new or near new (pre-owned) bike next year, and all but disregarded Kawi because of how everyone says they have no low end particularly against the GSXR. Now I hear Kawi did something to remedy that. I'm suspicious, but it seems they of all the makes would benefit most from a VVT system. Would be nice to see some dyno charts for the new 18s compared to the GSXRs.

  • Jimmy Jimmy on Jan 07, 2018

    Kawasaki ZX10R 2018 has awsome features and advanced technology.