Kawasaki is planning to launch its 2021 model range on November 23, but before the official unveiling, we’ve already worked out what to expect, and now the first pictures of next year’s Ninja ZX-10R and ZX-10RR superbikes have emerged online. The pictures appeared via Australian type-approval paperwork, which also confirms some basic specifications for the upcoming machines.
It’s clear that while the 2020 models have a drastically new face for the new model year, the changes are largely skin-deep—the frame and most of the engine are carried across from the existing model, but there are clearly tweaks including a new exhaust system and alterations to the suspension. Mechanically, the 2021 machine will be revised to meet Euro 5 emissions rules in most markets, with power remaining the same, but it will receive changes as to where it arrives in the rev range. As with the current model, the new ZX-10R peaks at 149.3kW (203 PS/200 bhp) and the ZX-10RR hits 150kW (204 PS/201 bhp), but where both versions used to hit those maximums at 13,500 rpm, for 2021 the ZX-10R will peak at 13,200 rpm while the ZX-10RR needs 14,000 rpm on its new TFT dashboard. At the moment, though, US models have a lower peak power than rest-of-the-world equivalents at 186 hp, and that might well remain the case in 2021.
The new Ninjas’ wheelbase is stretched by 10mm (0.4 inch) to 1,450mm (57.1 inches) for 2021, though such a minute change could be due to a revised sprocket size and rear wheel adjustment, or altered suspension settings. Weight is listed at 194 kilograms (428 pounds) for both versions of the bike, which is identical to earlier versions measured in the same state.
The styling, of course, is the big departure. There’s something of a Predator look in the gaping maw and deep-set headlight “eyes” of the new bike, while the side panels have a combination of flat planes and straight edges reminiscent of an F-117 fighter jet. The new exhaust muffler looks longer than the old one—which is unsurprising, given the tighter emissions targets—while the fuel tank appears much the same as the current model.
All will be revealed in detail, along with much better high-res imagery, on November 23.