I have been doing some research on setting up the suspension on my Gen 4 for the track.
I am not the fastest bloke around but certainly not the slowest with some racing experience on a Daytona 675 (I did not set up the suspension on the race bike then).
I have found an interesting variant between the Gen 4 2011 models vs Gen 4 +2012. It seems the recommended ride height setting for the front forks shows 11mm (0.43 inch) fork tube showing above top triple clamp for 2011 models but for +2012 models the fork tubes must sit flush with the triple clamps.
See website below and scroll down to the Kawas.
Suggested Sport Bike Motorcycle Suspension Settings | Sport Rider
I have a friend that races a Gen 4 2011 and he was struggling with the suspension setup until some bright spark measured the triple clamp-to-ground distance and compared it to some other Gen 4 racing bikes and his was running +- 10mm (0.40 inch) higher in the front than +2012 models with the same rim/wheel/tire setups.
They then dropped the triple clamp by 10mm into the fork tube and he said he could finally get a proper line to and from the apex.
Can somebody confirm this perhaps. I don't race but mostly use my bike for track days and would like to get the most of the stock setup.
Magazines concoct their own settings. Forget what they say, that is all to make them look sharp.
Put the bike together like the service manual specifies and then work out from there.
The service manual for the 2013 ZX-10R states 11mm above the triples just like all years of the Gen 4. If you lower the forks like they suggest you are going to have the laziest, most understeering bike around.
Like any well-designed racebike the Gen 4 is very response to changes of just 1mm for any geometry dimension; the position of the forks in the triples (and adding shims to the shock mount) is the last place to go, after everything else is properly adjusted and it is very unlikely you will need to do anything in that regard. Adjust the ride height with spring preload, if you can't get it right, replace the springs with those of the correct rating.
I always thought it was rather suspect that any publication could broadcast either a "one size fits all" or even a "baseline" setup since they didn't design or manufacture the bikes in question and have hardly got the time to spend testing these bikes and sorting them in proper manner.
Not only that but I am unaware of any real engineers working for these kinds of magazines, online or print. So forget that stuff and do it right.
Patience and careful attention to changes is what we want in sorting a bike, not reading a magazine. With all respect I know that is the nature of the business and they mean no harm but there is still a right way and wrong way to do things, and you won't find it in the monthly rags very often.
Start with the manufacturer's baseline as I mentioned before. Whatever the service manual states, set the bike up that way.
Next, if you are serious about this, select the spring rate that suits your weight and riding style. You can do this right off the bat, that is Suspension 101. It is especially important for the forks. For me this is easy, I am very light at 143 pounds so the stock springs are perfect. If you are over 160 you need new springs all the way around.
Then set the static sag and ride height, you can find out how to do this somewhere else as it is all over the place.
Do not touch the damping settings yet, ride the bike first and see what's up. It's a boatload of guesswork and really takes years of riding to be able to predict what changes are needed.
Some guys will say, "It needs two clicks of rebound damping and a click of compression damping in the forks, and the high-speed compression damping should be backed off a half-turn on the shock whilst the low-speed compression damping must be bumped a full turn clockwise. Then adjust the rebound damping on the shock 1.5 turns clockwise, that will do it."
Of course, no one can really do this; some riders can get pretty accurate in predicting these things but only after a lot of experience and observation.
As I said on my bike, stock spring rates were correct. I had to adjust the ride height in the rear by simply adjusting preload on the spring, and it didn't take much; the range of motion of the ringnut was less than 1/4 turn to find the "neutral" handling I like. Quick turn-in but still very stable in high speed turns, on/off throttle and brakes, no tendency to over/understeer.
I only had to increase the damping perhaps 1-2 turns all round, front/rear, and dial in two clicks of additional spring preload in the forks; I like to brake quite aggressively and do not like the front end to dive. I cannot remember my exact damping settings and there is little point in writing these things down because as the tires and bike wear these settings change and need to be adjusted to compensate for wear and riding style changes.
If you are quite heavy or can really run in the podium group at your local race club you are going to need better than this of course but that is a different discussion.
A final note; when my bike was rebuilt from the frame up, with a new frame, the technician did a superb job of reassembly and essentially blue-printed it exactly to all factory specifications. It handled better than it had before. The forks were set to 11 mm above the triples by the book, steering bearings by the book but also with the proper final touch which only experience can provide. Like he said, after thirty years he should know how to do it, but many don't.
The KISS principle applies to suspension more than almost anything else in life.