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2011 Kawasaki Ninja 1000: MD Long-Term Test, Part One

After attending the press intro for Kawasaki’s new Ninja 1000, we immediately asked Kawasaki for a test unit.  We will have the bike for a long-term evaluation, and will test it both in its stock form and with assorted modifications. 

If you read our First Ride, you will see that we were very impressed by the Ninja 1000.  Its performance is very close to a full-blown superbike, in terms of its engine, chassis and brakes.  Combined with ergonomics that are more comfortable than some sport tourers, very low vibration and a trick, three-position adjustable windscreen that requires no tools (change it at the next stop light, if you desire), we couldn’t wait to see what it would be like to live with the new Ninja for several thousand miles. 

The bike has been every bit as impressive as it was at the press intro, and we are preparing a full report on our experiences with the stock model for publication next week.  This is a preview, of sorts, of our long-term test and an opportunity for our readers to suggest modifications to try on our test unit.

We have already taken delivery of a Shorai battery that we will use to replace the stock unit.  Our Shorai (still in its box, pictured) is the LFX18A1-BS12 model, which is the “duration” recommendation for our bike.  We will be talking more about Shorai in our next article, but our unit is a Lithium-Iron battery that is dramatically lighter than the stock unit.  Shorai is an impressive company with its own ISO certified factory, and it claims certain advantages/differentiations over its competitors.  We will tell you how much weight we saved over the stock unit, give you our initial impressions, and discuss Shorai in greater detail in a future article. 

We are also expecting an exhaust system from LeoVince.  LeoVince has developed a new “Factory R” exhaust for the Ninja 1000, which is pictured on a green European model below.  Our goal is reduced weight and increased performance without obnoxious sound.  Our understanding is that the Factory R exhaust we will be testing features a removable insert that reduces the standard decibel level. 

We also have plans to try out some luggage on the Ninja 1000 because the bike is fully capable of touring. 

Stay tuned for our first performance evaluation of the 2011 Ninja 1000, and feel free to offer suggestions.

The manufacturer provided Motorcycle Daily with this motorcycle for purposes of evaluation.

101 Comments

  1. Bob says:

    I like that bike! This could be a replacement for my ZRX1200R….maybe. The problem is I like the ZRX so much it would be hard to give up. The styling is great, ergos look good, it is a nice package.

    Way to go Kawasaki!

  2. M DePiano says:

    What gives….where’s that full report?

  3. Rich says:

    Ummm, it’s past “next week”!

  4. hose head says:

    Seems the upswept pipe may make luggage an issue as now you have a hair drier blowing hot exhaust on the bags. Any extension in an aftermarket pipe could exacerbate that problem.

  5. Dean G. says:

    As far as suggestions the mods I’d like to see are a full system, PC III or V, high flow air filter and go down a couple teeth on the rear since I heard this bike can get buzzy over 90 mph. I have read that these mods are worth 15 horses. These are the mods I would do if I got this bike I think. Would be great if they don’t destroy mileage too. I think I am going to trade my Versys in for this bike…seems like the best of all worlds!

  6. RDM says:

    Love this motorcycle! Been waiting a long time for one of the manufactures to get it right, I am glad it was Kawasaki! I owned a 1984 Ninja 900 and loved it, but that was back in my younger days. I am no longer interested in the “Racer Crouch”! I would like to see this test bike get a more comfy seat and a fuller coverage, taller, windshield. I fully intend to purchase this bike, but I will wait until the 2012 unit hits the dealerships because I want ABS. This will, in all probability, be the last new motorcycle I purchase, I intend to get the one I want!

  7. Gary says:

    The Leo Vince slip ons look great but will they fit with the acc. saddlebags attached? The carbon fiber cans appear to be much higher than the stock cans when you compare pictures.

  8. David says:

    I would like to see this setup as a sport tourer for two-up riding. Maybe a Corbin saddle with removable backrest for the passenger.

    • rodent says:

      No way. Look how small the subframes are on these sportbikes. Would you feel safe sitting on that? Maybe if you’re 150lbs. and your passenger is 90lbs.

      • Burt says:

        When riding the Z1000 at the IMS show, one of the Kawi guys
        leading the ride mentioned that the faired model has a stronger
        subframe than the naked version. I hadn’t noticed that mentioned
        anywhere else, so I just thought I’d regurgitate.

  9. Davis says:

    You may have ridden a poorly set-up, steel-framed FZ1. The fact that the frame is steel has little to do with its inherent stiffness, just ask a knowledgeable mechanic or a Ducati fan.

    I have a well set-up FZ1 with good suspension (Wilbers sock, adj. linkage to raise rear ride height, Race-Tech gold valves and springs, good tires, steel brake lines, slip-on, jet kit, etc.) that I ride the be-jesus out of. I was thinking this Kawi would be a good replacement, but like Mickey I need to wear the FZ1 out first. Plus, it would be hard to imagine the stock Kawi out-handling my non-stock FZ1.

  10. Ed Chambers says:

    As usual too much plastic for me and my god what were they thinking with that exhaust system?

    • MGNorge says:

      The mufflers almost beg to be replaced don’t they? I think many designers are having issues packing the exhaust with needed catalyzers. Hopefully they’ll get it together and find a way to integrate it all into more aesthetic lines. The LeoVince looks good above but would appear to cut into space for bags.