Kawasaki Team Green third at Suzuka

The Team Green Kawasaki squad of Jonathan Rea, Leon Haslam and Kazuma Watanabe finished third in a dramatic Suzuka 8Hr race on Sunday 29 July. After leading for much of the early part of the race, mixed fortunes befell the team at a crucial point. However, all three riders battled hard in the final hours […]

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The Team Green Kawasaki squad of Jonathan Rea, Leon Haslam and Kazuma Watanabe finished third in a dramatic Suzuka 8Hr race on Sunday 29 July.
After leading for much of the early part of the race, mixed fortunes befell the team at a crucial point. However, all three riders battled hard in the final hours and secured a valuable podium place in this iconic event.

The 41st edition of the race was won by the No.21 Yamaha of Alex Lowes, Michael van der Mark and Katsuyuki Nakasuka ahead of the No.33 Honda of Takumi Takahashi, Takaaki Nakagami and Patrick Jacobsen.

The race could not have started in more dramatic conditions. An overnight typhoon had swept through the region leaving behind a mix of sunshine and showers. As the teams lined up on the grid one of those showers returned meaning the race would start in wet conditions. Leon Haslam shot into the lead into the first corner but soon settled into second place as the track surface began to dry. When the time came to change to slick tyres, Jonathan Rea took over the riding duties and duly engaged in a close battle with the No.21 Yamaha of van der Mark.

For the first few hours of the race, both Rea and Haslam battled hard with van der Mark and Lowes as they edged further ahead of the nearest challengers. As the race approached the half way point Rea had established a two second lead over the Yamaha rider. That evaporated at the next rider change when Rea ran low on fuel on his in lap. He had to coast down the pit lane to hand over to Haslam for the next stint losing valuable seconds.

When Rea took to the bike again with just over three hours to go another heavy shower came over the track and brought out the safety car. As the slow string of riders approached one of the many tight bends around the track Jonathan had to run off the racing line and unfortunately fell on the treacherous surface. He brought the bike back to the pit box where the Team Green mechanics repaired the damage in amazingly quick time, sending Kazuma Watanabe into the race without losing position.

The race ran under the safety car for a considerable time and it was with around two hours remaining that racing could be back underway. Despite all their best efforts, and at one stage gaining time on the second place team and trying to claw back the deficit, the Kawasaki trio finally had to settle for third place.

Another Suzuka podium to add to those already achieved by Kawasaki and all three riders and an amazing team atmosphere are certainly positives to take away from the event and, of course, there is always next year !

Jonathan Rea – we proved our speed
“It was a very, very difficult race we had so many different conditions thrown at us and things we were not prepared for. I am really happy and I gave a big effort and myself, Leon, Kazuma and the all the team fell short; the chips just did not fall our way this year and congratulations to Yamaha and Honda. It just didn’t happen for us but we proved our speed which I am really happy about. I just want to thank my team mates, they did a really good job in a difficult race”.

Leon Haslam – a great team effort
“Really happy. I made a podium again with Team Green. I had a real good first part of the race and had some good battles with Yamaha and Honda. I came into a little bit of bad luck in the mid race stage and had to bring the bike home for third place. I am really happy, it was a great team effort and the bike was working really good. I can’t be too disappointed, we are back on the podium here at Suzuka so I am really happy”.

Kazuma Watanabe – we had good potential to win
“First of all I would like to forward big thanks to Kawasaki, the sponsors and Team Green.

It was a difficult race with many extraordinary issues like the typhoon, ever changing weather and the safety cars etc.
I had only one stint but that was not a problem because I know my job is not only on Sunday. However I do regret that we ended up third although we had good potential to win. I will be improving myself as from today for the next Suzuka 8hr based on the experience I absorbed from two great riders this week”.

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THE FREEDOM OF THE CITY – SYM JET 14

Designed to get the best out of city traffic, the Jet 14 is a high-wheeled scooter that stands out for its aggressive yet elegant design. It is ideal for those looking for practical, every day transport, and who want to stand out from the crowd. Just like its SYM siblings, it always seemed to be […]

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Designed to get the best out of city traffic, the Jet 14 is a high-wheeled scooter that stands out for its aggressive yet elegant design. It is ideal for those looking for practical, every day transport, and who want to stand out from the crowd.

Photo Credit: Julio Moreira

Just like its SYM siblings, it always seemed to be the centre of attention. The Jet 14 has striking double LED head lights, and an attractive rear light with “3D-design”. Check the detail in the styling, and you will notice the imitation carbon fibre on the exhaust heat shield, and other body panels, giving the SYM Jet 14 a really sporty look.

The telescopic forks, combined with the twin rear shock absorbers, give a firm, yet comfortable ride, even when negotiating less than perfect surfaces. Thanks to the 14 inch rims, this scooter handles the tightest, and most congested streets, with ease. The mirrors are excellent, easy to position, and provide good rear vision, eliminating blind spots.

Photo Credit: Julio Moreira

Lightweight and particularly manoeuvrable, the Jet 14 shows its muscle with its air-cooled 168.9 cc single-cylinder 4-stroke engine. A twist of the throttle easily gets rid of chaotic city traffic. Vibrations are minimal, and then only at Idle. Once she’s rolling, all is super smooth.

Photo Credit: Julio Moreira

The SYM Jet 14 does not only ride well, but it stops well, with both front and rear hydraulic powered disc brakes. The rear brake in particular, is phenomenal. It could be due to SYM using a braided hose, instead of running the conventional brake lines found on most scooters.

Photo Credit: Julio Moreira

A helmet can be stored in the compartment under the saddle. There is also a compartment located directly in front of the seat, with a lock, allowing you to safely store your Smart phone or small luggage. Underneath the seat, SYM has cleverly placed an engine lock switch. (kill switch) Leaving your scooter parked, has never been safer.

Photo Credit: Julio Moreira

I did have a clumsy moment when taking my helmet out of the storage compartment. I accidentally flicked the kill switch, and after several minutes of trying to start the scooter, I figured it out. The wide, well shaped saddle, makes it easy to transport a passenger, as well as being very comfortable on long journeys. There is also a bag hook in front of the rider for your Woolies shopping.

Photo Credit: Julio Moreira

The Jet 14’s clocks layout is simple to read, with the analogue fuel gauge on the left, analogue speedometer in the centre, and on the right you find the digital rev counter, trip meter and a clock displaying the time. As for fuel economy, the SYM Jet 14 does a great job. With a 7.5L fuel tank, I managed to get 213.2km before running out of fuel. [28k/l] Small capacity Scooters aren’t meant for highway use, yet I spent roughly 200km on the highway and realised the SYM Jet 14 can do it, albeit at its own pace. The screen on the Jet 14 works well in town, but on the open roads it is a bit lacking. With a top speed of 110km/h, and a rev limit of 10 000rpm, the Jet 14 sits comfortably at 90km/h,[ at 7 000rpm] and could do 100km/h all day long. Early morning peak hour traffic seldom does over 80km/h, so highway commuting, whilst not ideal, is possible.

Photo Credit: Julio Moreira

Practically speaking the little SYM is a revelation. Priced at under R23000, you get incredible bang for your buck. Go and price bicycles, then you will realize what a bargain this classy SYM is. This is a real freedom machine. Traffic snarl ups, fuel prices, and general twist and go ease of use, make the Jet 14 the weapon of choice for the savvy city dweller. I find myself questioning why I don’t have one for city use to save my big bikes. It will literally pay for itself with fuel, tyre and service savings on the big chaps. Wise up South Africa! Take your cue from the Europeans and join the SYM freedom revolution! Jet 14, you little revolutionary, Che’ Guevara would be proud of you!

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The 2018 Ninja 400 SE – The Ninja Family is Getting Bigger

The smallest member of the Ninja family started it’s life as a 250cc, grew to 300, and now, with styling inspired by the championship-winning ZX-10R and the Ninja H2, enter the new Kawasaki Ninja 400 SE. The Ninja 400 is not a face lifted Ninja 300. It has received new brakes, suspension, chassis, rider geometry, […]

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The smallest member of the Ninja family started it’s life as a 250cc, grew to 300, and now, with styling inspired by the championship-winning ZX-10R and the Ninja H2, enter the new Kawasaki Ninja 400 SE.

Photo Credit: Bjorn Moreira

The Ninja 400 is not a face lifted Ninja 300. It has received new brakes, suspension, chassis, rider geometry, wheels and bodywork, making this a completely redesigned motorcycle for 2018. The main difference is the trellis frame inspired from the Ninja H2, which features a shorter wheelbase and steeper rake over the previous model. Kawasaki impressively has made the 400 Ninja 8kg lighter than the 300, tipping the scales at 168 kg.

Engine Characteristics

The Ninja 400 doesn’t just leave the traffic behind, it also punches way above it’s weight from robot to robot. The plucky little 399cm³ parallel twin engine pulls well enough at low revs, and produces a noticeable added kick from above 7 000 rpm and lays down 45hp at 10 000 rpm, with a Max Torque output of 38Nm.

The Engine loves being revved out like a sports bike, with a red line at 12 000 rpm It is a pleasure to ride on the highway in where it allows you to travel at a comfy 120 km/h at only 7 000 rpm. Top speed of a motorcycle is always a contest in every motorcycle category and this Ninja tops out on a level road at 192 km/h, which is decently fast for a 399cc motorcycle.

Photo Credit: Kawasaki EU

Engineers at Kawasaki maintain that a lot of the bike’s power gains are fulfilled by utilizing a new downdraft intake with a larger air-box. What impressed me almost as much as the bike’s new found power, was the deeper intake note, which gives the bike a mean growl at 6 000 rpm and upwards. What I found enjoyable and practical for everyday use was the assist & slipper clutch which gives you a lighter clutch lever pull, and when downshifting fast, there was no chatter or bouncing rear wheel.

Suspension

Photo Credit: Bjorn Moreira

The Ninja 400 is fitted with non-adjustable, traditional Showa front forks and a five-position adjustable preload ring on the rear KYB bottom-link Uni-Trak shock. Although the suspension is non-adjustable, (barring in mind the rear preload), it was no real loss to me, weighing in at 69kg’s, the set-up is spot-on for riders of similar weight. The forks have grown in size from 37mm to 41mm and provide a firm, precise ride that is enjoyable during sporty riding and comfortable around town.

Photo Credit: Kawasaki Eu

Overall the bike’s balance is remarkable thanks to the new trellis frame which uses the engine as a stressed member and has the swing-arm mounted directly to it.

Brakes

Photo Credit: Bjorn Moreira

The brakes are bigger as well, with the front rotor up 20mm to a full-sized 310mm. The new Ninja 400 now uses dual-piston Nissin calipers at the front and the rear, with Nissin’s newest ABS control unit available as an option. Over the past 2 weeks the Ninja and I got the chance to ride in all sorts of weather, and having the ABS option made my life so much less stressed on oily and rainy South African roads. The ABS cannot be disengaged, so if you are a track rider then you could save a few rand and go for the none ABS model. When it comes to brake feel, the initial bite is not instant and the brake lever is non adjustable, but after riding for a while it becomes predictable and second nature when getting on the anchors.

Lights

Photo Credit: Bjorn Moreira

The Ninja comes armed with Lean LED headlamps which gives the Ninja 400 a mean, sharp, aggressive look, so much so that I have nicknamed our test bike “The Gremlin”. The headlamps each featuring low and high beams that are highly visible and offer significantly increased brightness compared to the Ninja 300.

Tyres

The new five-spoke mag wheels look awesome! and wearing the Dunlop Sportmax GPR-300 radial tyres with a 110/70R17 at the front and a 150/60R17 at the rear – they are also functional too. Original tyres that come fitted on bikes are often a let down, but it was quite the opposite in this case. At times the bike leaned lower than what I expected, pushing me to the point of deciding to suit up and drag a knee.

Rider Cockpit

Photo Credit: Bjorn Moreira

The clip-on handlebars still feature the same amount of rise, but are pulled 15mm closer to the rider, while the foot pegs are moved 9mm backwards. The seat height remains the same at 785mm and provides an easy reach to the ground, even for short riders.

Photo Credit: Bjorn Moreira

The seat itself has thick cushioning and low-rebound urethane, all which contributes to a superb comfortable ride. At 170cm tall the cockpit fitted me like a glove, however with a size 8 shoe I did have issues with my heel hitting the exhausts heat shield whilst riding on the ball’s of my feet.

Photo Credit: Bjorn Moreira

Clocks are from the Ninja 650 and comprise an analogue tacho plus an LCD panel displaying speed, fuel, trip, km/l average, as well as a current and a very useful gear indicator. Overall fit and finish is excellent and on a par, if not better than current competitors in it’s class.

Photo Credit: Bjorn Moreira

Even though the Ninja 400 doesn’t have an adjustable screen it did it’s job just fine. If you are a taller rider, Kawasaki do make larger screens which are 20mm taller and 40mm wider. The mirrors stick out a fair bit, and more than on the Ninja 300, whilst lane splitting it can give you that hesitant feeling where you ask yourself am I going to fit? When it comes to function they work well with minimal vibration and they can be slightly adjusted, I say slightly because you can only move the mirrors and not the stems.

Photo Credit: Bjorn Moreira

Fuel Economy

After riding the Ninja 400 for five days and just under 1 000 km, I can report that I managed, on a good day, to get an average fuel consumption of 27 km/l. You can expect to get between 20 and 23 km/l when riding briskly or in typical rush hour traffic.

Photo Credit: Bjorn Moreira

A 14 litre tank is what you get, and with those 14 litres of fuel I managed 322 kilometres in which there was urban, sporty and highway riding involved.

Conclusion

When I just got into high school, 125cc bikes were known as beginner bikes and if you had a 250cc, you were the man. Kawasaki changed that with the Ninja 300 and now with the 400 Ninja. Kawasaki have managed to build a bike that is suitable for a beginner, yet exhilarating for pretty much anyone.

Photo Credit: Bjorn Moreira

What amazed me the most whilst riding the bike and gathering notes for this review, wasn’t how good this bike is for a beginner, but rather how good a motorcycle it is, period! Whether you’re a new rider who wants something that transmits a big-bike style, or you’re a skilful rider looking for a lightweight backroad carver or track-bike, that will cost very little to maintain – the Ninja 400 is certainly going to appeal to a wide variety of riders.

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Team Green On The Pace In Final 8-Hour Testing

The official Team Green entry for the 41st running of the classic Coca-Cola Suzuka 8-Hours World Endurance Championship race, comprising Jonathan Rea, Leon Haslam and Kazuma Watanabe, took the second best time on their Ninja ZX-10RR at the end of the final official test session before the race itself later this month. In a gruelling […]

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The official Team Green entry for the 41st running of the classic Coca-Cola Suzuka 8-Hours World Endurance Championship race, comprising Jonathan Rea, Leon Haslam and Kazuma Watanabe, took the second best time on their Ninja ZX-10RR at the end of the final official test session before the race itself later this month.

In a gruelling three day test against all their numerous rivals Team Green’s new look line-up, drawn from WorldSBK (Rea), BSB (Haslam) and JSB (Watanabe) headed off many more experienced teams. The official Kawasaki Motors Japan squad put in a strong showing at a critical time in the build up to race weekend itself, with just over two weeks to go before the action gets underway for real.

Leon had flown in to Suzuka direct from a win at the Knockhill round of the British Superbike Championship in Scotland, while Jonathan Rea had a similar travel experience after winning both races in the WorldSBK round at Misano in Italy.

In all, eight Kawasaki mounted teams have entered the Coca-Cola Suzuka 8-Hour race this year.

The wonderfully varied 5.182km long Suzuka circuit, built in 1962, hosted its first 8-Hour race in 1978. Kawasaki has won the event once before, in 1993, with WorldSBK Champion Scot Russell and fellow WorldSBK Superstar Aaron Slight.

The 2018 edition of the Suzuka 8-Hour race itself will take place on the weekend of the 27th to the 29th of July, and will be the climax of the overall FIM World Endurance Championship season.

The race starts in daylight and is completed in the darkness, adding another theatrical element to one of the single most important races of the year for riders and especially for manufacturers.

Jonathan Rea, stated: “The test is really positive – as this was my first test with Team Green Japan it was important to see the bike set up that Leon and Kazuma were working on. A really good sign is that I jumped on and with only a few tweaks l was up to speed. I basically worked on re-learning the track – it’s been four years since I’ve been here. Also I am learning about the Ninja ZX-10RR Suzuka endurance spec machine. I’ve ridden six of the last seven days, so it’s still fun but also hard work. The bike is working in a good window and we are competitive in all temperatures. The bike is very agile and good in traffic. At the final part of day three we did a race simulation and we had a lot of positive input. To be honest, all three of us in the team have been fast so that’s a good sign. All members of the team have been welcoming and I am looking forward to coming back for the race and doing the best we can.”

Leon Haslam, stated: “We’ve done three days of testing – the last test before the Suzuka race. It’s gone really well. I’ve done quite a lot of testing this year and it was great to have Jonathan Rea to join this final session. The pace is good and the team is positive and we are making progress with the bike. My race simulation laps are really consistent. We finished second the last two years and hopefully with the steps and improvements we have made we can climb to the top of the podium on 2018. In have another BSB race in the UK coming up then we are back to Japan for the race. I am looking forward to giving some good news after the race itself.”

Kazuma Watanabe, stated: “This is the first time for Team Green to welcome Jonathan at a Suzuka test. To my great surprise, after hard Misano race and long haul flight from Europe, he has joined the test from the very first session with good lap time. Leon, being direct from his BSB race was also fast. These guys are charged with big amount of energy! They have long been friends, which helps make the team atmosphere in the best condition looking toward the race. The impact of these guys pushes me work hard to make better lap time by studying the logger data thoroughly and carefully. You will see a new Kazuma at the race.”

#NinjaSpirit

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Tom Sykes and KRT to finish sporting relationship at end of 2018 season

After nine successful years on Ninja machinery and with the official factory Kawasaki Racing Team in WorldSBK, Tom Sykes and the Kawasaki Racing Team have mutually agreed to end their sporting relationship at the end of the 2018 season. Credited with changing the way Kawasaki approached the rigours of superbike racing while playing a large […]

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After nine successful years on Ninja machinery and with the official factory Kawasaki Racing Team in WorldSBK, Tom Sykes and the Kawasaki Racing Team have mutually agreed to end their sporting relationship at the end of the 2018 season.

Credited with changing the way Kawasaki approached the rigours of superbike racing while playing a large role in the development of the Ninja ZX-10R racing package, Tom will seek a new challenge for 2019 having delivered maximum effort across a total of nine years of racing and development on Kawasaki machinery in WorldSBK.

As the 2018 season is far from over, Sykes is still pushing with KRT in a bid to add to his landmark 2013 WorldSBK championship, the first title for Kawasaki after 20 years following the 1993 success of Scott Russell. Not simply a winner, Tom also achieved championship second place status in 2012, 2014 and 2016 with the 2012 attempt being closest ever runner up finish at just 0.5 points between himself and a second world championship.

With the remainder of the 2018 season yet to be completed the most successful Superpole winner in WorldSBK history still has a chance to increase his amazing tally of qualifying and race successes on KRT machinery. Fully motivated and with the full support of the Kawasaki Racing Team and his pit crew, Tom remains a racing force to be admired by fans and feared by rivals in equal measure.

Tom Sykes: “I feel the time has arrived; the moment to make a change in my career and seek new challenges. Having the motivation to push to your limits and that of your machine is all the more important when you look for the victory at every race and I feel I have given all I can within KRT. I am now the best rider I have ever been, and I have the experience and performance to keep winning. So now I have decided to make a step away from the KRT project for 2019 and look for new goals and challenges. I will now concentrate to finish on the podium for the last four rounds of 2018. I am determined to enjoy my racing and making this announcement effectively ends all speculation. The timing of this big career decision is never easy but it is especially difficult as my personal life also faces big changes. Regarding this I feel the weight of pressure has been slightly lifted from my shoulders and I am sure 2019 will allow me to operate at full capacity”.

Guim Roda – KRT Team Manager : “It has been a busy few weeks recently and for sure we have talked many hours internally. In the most recent rounds Tom’s concentration was not able to be the best, as he was dealing with a big decision – apart from some family points to solve – this has taken a lot of his concentration over the past two years. I hope this final confirmation will give us room to finish the year in the same way we dominated in Assen. We have big job to do until end of year, so is not time to say good bye yet. Of course this is an announcement of intentions for 2019 but the more important is to work hard to finish the year with the same determination that we started with”.

Ichiro Yoda – KRT Senior Engineer: “We understand Tom wishes and we agree it is time to take different ways in WorldSBK. Myself and all KHI engineering group have big respect for the job done since beginning of WorldSBK project 2010 and of course for the one still have to do to end of year. His sensors to go fastest lap, develop components and understand details of bike feedback to improve the package have been very useful those years, we will be always thankful for his efforts”.

Steve Guttridge – KME Racing Manager : “We’ve got a lot of history and thousands of happy miles with Tom over the years. His efforts both on the track, testing, developing plus within the press and at public occasions with the fans has made a really positive impact on Kawasaki. He is so popular because he always gives 100%. It is sad to lose such a great brand ambassador within KRT but I understand it’s time for him to face his new goals and motivations. Whichever direction he moves onwards, we want to help him create his best possible future and that means of course starting again on pole in Portimao as the season resumes!”

Editors notes:
Sykes Career Statistics to July 2018:
9 Years with Kawasaki in WorldSBK (8 with KRT and 1 with PBM)
World Champion 2013 for Kawasaki
Career Race Starts: 252 (222 for Kawasaki)
Career Race Wins: 34 (34 for Kawasaki)
Career Podiums: 106 (105 for Kawasaki)
Career Poles: 46 (46 for Kawasaki) – SBK Record
Career Front Row Starts: 76 (76 for Kawasaki)
Career Fastest Laps: 38 (38 for Kawasaki)
WorldSBK career span 2008 as Wildcard > 2009 onwards full-time.

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