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2020 Kawasaki Ninja 1000SX: MD Ride Review, First Thoughts

We have already put 100 miles, or so, on our 2020 Kawasaki Ninja 1000SX. This is a substantially revised model from Kawasaki. All of the changes for 2020 are described in an earlier MD article here.

The Ninja 1000 is a bike we have always liked (we last tested the 2014 model). With this bike, Kawasaki was a pioneer in the “comfortable sportbike” category, long before several other manufacturers joined (the Ducati SuperSport comes to mind). Over the years, Kawasaki has continually refined this model, and the new Ninja 1000SX is the best, yet.

We will talk more about all of the changes for 2020 in the next installment of this review (including all of the new electronic functions integrated with the Bosch IMU, as well as those enabled by the new ride-by-wire throttle). One thing we want to focus on in this short first impression is the handling of the new bike.

The Ninja 1000 has always handled well, but has had a slight tendency to “want to stand up” when braking and bending the bike into a corner. Many owners addressed this by installing a taller rear tire (a 190/55, rather than a 190/50). For 2020, Kawasaki addressed this with steering geometry changes, and they work quite well.

The steering rake is steeper this year by 0.5 degrees, and trail is reduced slightly by a few millimeters. Together with Bridgestone’s excellent S22 tires that are stock this year, and a seemingly minor change to the fork, the 100SX turns in, and holds a line through corners much better than prior models.

Indeed, the handling is so good that the versatility offered by the Ninja 1000SX – with its nicely integrated, available saddlebags and comfortable ergonomics (including new seat and adjustable windscreen) provides a more compelling package than ever. More in Part 2.

85 Comments

  1. Ramish Rambarran says:

    I am 64. I have a R1150RT and a “go-for” Honda Nighthawk 250 which I use almost every day. The Nighthawk has no centre stand. I have a small trolley-jack in my storeroom that I have to pull out every time I have to lube the chain. Next week the rear tyre has to be replaced. I will pull out the jack again. I will adjust the chain as well……….Oh, it would have been better with a centre-stand !

  2. mickey says:

    Talked to a fellow this weekend that was riding a 2017 model of this bike. I asked him if not having a center stand ever caused him an issue? He dejectedly said it had. I asked him about vibrations. He said it got buzzy above 6500 rpms. Despite those two things, he absolutely loved the bike, said it was a rocket, that it handled well, and got great gas mileage.

  3. Kawatwo says:

    I would love to see Kawasaki to a 600 or 750 4 cylinder version. And give it a center stand! I can dream.

    • Snake says:

      Such a model sounds great!

      But you’re right, since the industry is myopic and only looks to one another for market ideas, competing with model designs rather than look at what customers are clamoring for, it won’t happen 🙁

    • Fred N says:

      Honda CBR650R or CB650F, 4 cyl inline, but no centre stand.
      Half right, better buy this one or it will slip away too.

  4. Jim Kircher says:

    I was lucky enough to be able to test ride this bike this past weekend. I am looking for a smaller sport tourer having had a 2013 FJR. First impression was that the bike looks awesome in person. However, once on the bike, the pegs are too high for me (age 61) and I was uncomfortable from the get go. I could not see spending more than an hour on this bike at a time. The seat was ok for me, but the wind protection is minimal at best and would definitely require a higher screen for touring. I also didn’t care for the quick shifter since you need to roll-off the throttle to initiate the clutchless upshift and there is no clutchless downshift. However, I really liked the motor – very smooth and tractable power deliver like I was hoping for. I also really liked the weight of the bike vs the FJR. Very manageable. I would definitely say it’s at the sportier end of this category, but just not comfortable enough for me and my wants at this age.

    • fred says:

      Considering that the Ninja 1000 has been available since before your FJR was built, the ergos, windshield, etc aren’t issues with your age. You didn’t choose the bike 7 years ago, and still don’t. Don’t blame age for your preferences. Personally, I prefer higher pegs and lower windshields, and I’m older than you. Like you, I’ve had those preferences for some time.

  5. motorhead says:

    In the years I’ve been reading motorcycledaily, and it’s been years, I must have seen 3,000 comments saying, “If it had a center stand, I’d buy it now.”

    Why is a lack of a center stand such a deal breaker?

    It feels like: I would go on a two-week Hawaiian vacation with Miss America, except she doesn’t come with the right suitcase.

    • eddie says:

      I’ve experienced a flat tire while on a multi-state tour, and was quite thankful to have had a centerstand. IF I only rode around town, absence then certainly not an issue.

      • mickey says:

        Fixing a flat on the road, adjusting the chain, lubricating the chain after riding all day in the rain, weird parking situation, checking out something with the front end/wheel and you need it off the ground to spin it. Lots of reasons a center stand comes in handy. I find them indispensable. Would not buy a bike without one or at least it would have to have the option to buy and install one.

    • Mick says:

      Center stands are handy on heavy bikes. What I don’t get is why is a center stand such an important deal breaker on a bike that is really heavy and has three acres of plastic panels covering anything you might want access to.

      Weight and plastic turn me away long before I check for a center stand. And this just in. The plastic and the bracketry to hold it on adds a considerable amount of weight.

      • Snake says:

        Like mickey said, on a chain-driven motorcycle you really want a centerstand for chain adjustments whilst traveling, at the least. I’ve never had a flat (thank goodness), and carry a flat fix kit, but when on a chain bike a centerstand is really, really, really, good to have.

    • neil says:

      My fave is center stands that are not at all centered and so you have to live on burgers and pizza to get the thing up on them. I’ve stood on several the bike was like “ah haa ha ha haaa!”

      • mickey says:

        Plastic never covers the rear wheel tread, so a centerstand still comes in handy for plugging a flat even on big plastic covered bikes.

        BMW had the perfect centerstand in the 70’s you could lean the bike either way and it would hold either the front wheel off the ground, or the rear wheel off the ground. They also had a lever affixed to the bottom of the rear shocks so you quickly could set it for single or double up without any tool. I miss THAT BMW.

    • fred says:

      Hopefully the motorcycle manufacturers have seen those same 3000 posts. They don’t seem to understand the need/want for centerstands any better than you do.

  6. eddie says:

    IF it had a centerstand, I’d already have one. Instead, I’m getting a Tracer 900 GT. Not exactly apples-to-apples, and I think that I’d like the ergo’s of the Ninja better, but the light weight of the Tracer is very nice.

    • MotoVelo says:

      I have had the Tracer 900GT for a few months now and I like it very much, however it is a very different bike than the Ninja. Among my other I bikes I have previously ridden mostly my ’94 VFR, which I consider more or less in the same family as the Ninja. Really smooth and stable high speed touring, but a little heavy and less agile especially at low speed. The Tracer is quite upright, agile, lighter and very quick, but it is a bit flighty at 80 mph and above. The Tracer is a ripper though, and yes, many smiles when you ride.

  7. mickey says:

    Spools/race stands are ok for maintenance at home, but pick up a nail in the rear tire while riding through Montana or Kansas and you’ll be missing your race stands big time unless you packed them in your luggage….Or if your chain needs a lubing after riding all day in the rain or a chain adjustment a couple thousand miles into your trip.

    • Tom R says:

      The chain and sprockets apologists always neglect to mention/remember these issues.

      • fred says:

        No we don’t. That’s really and argument about remembering to carry chain lube and being grateful for a centerstand. It’s not an argument against chains.

        The fact that some bikes have chains, others have belts, and other have shafts means that each style has solid arguments, but none of them is perfect. Having a preference usually just means that we value some characteristics more than others. It doesn’t mean that we are blind to the virtues of other choices.

        The same could be said for centerstands. There are good arguments for and against. Some are well-designed, others are not. That also applies to almost every imaginable feature. It’s great to have choices, but it’s hard to find perfection.

        • DucDynasty says:

          Well said, Fred! I have bikes with/without center stands. That being said….on any new bike I will be buying, lack of one IS a deal-breaker for me.

    • Marcus says:

      I made a rear lift stand that fits inside an old soft eyeglass case. And I made it from stuff laying around my basement.
      I’ve used it dozens of times.

    • David M says:

      I had to adjust a quickly deteriorating chain every 2-3 hours on the side of the road for 3 days running on one of these. If I had to experience that again, this is the bike that I would want to do it with ( or another bike with the same setup.)

  8. Bubba Blue says:

    It would have to have CC and SCTSs.

    • Hi mile says:

      Congratulations Kawasaki, the Ninja 1000 has always been on my bucket list when the VFR’s are no longer offered (and that’s getting close now). I am now approaching 300,000 miles on my 3rd VFR and it has simply been an excellent bike. I do agree with the convenience the center stand offers but something else this traveler looks for, and that is a hydraulic clutch. I do love that cruise control offered this year but to be honest I think I’d prefer to buy a ZX-14. It carries a hydraulic clutch and the ability to put on the center stand plus that 1441 engine is one of the smoothest out there for traveling. Maybe in a year we will be talking of the new ZX-15 (my fantasy) with cruise control, TFT instruments with Bluetooth. Before putting a deposit on a SX at least test ride a ZX-14. I’ll end as I started, Congratulations Kawasaki Either way you can’t go wrong.
      Rob

      • David M says:

        I looked into the ZX-14 not too many years ago. I wanted it for touring. The problem is that its valve inspection / adjustment interval means almost twice as many inspections / adjustments as this bike. And according to the Kawi dealer that I talked to, it will take far longer and therefore, will be far more expensive. And then, of course, you will need to spring for an angle grinder to remove those ugly fins on the side panels.

  9. Studdy says:

    Maybe add a shaftdrive and larger tank and call it a Concours 10.

  10. Vadim Sedletsky says:

    We did 7 days in Japan with my wife on a 2012.
    Thinking about getting the 2020!

  11. Zoot says:

    How is engine vibration at highway speeds of 70-75 MPH and 60 mph? Always loved how smooth my VFR800 was.

  12. mickey says:

    One of these were on my short list a few years ago, but a couple things kept me from buying one. Chain drive, lack of center stand, lack of passenger accommodations, and no cruise control. Also didn’t care for the crooked look of the rear of the saddlebags and the fact that it still bore the Ninja name, which yells squid to me and freaks out insurance companies. Ended up keeping my ST 1300 Honda, put 110,000 miles on it and then bought an FJR which I’ve put about 30,000 miles on in the last 2 years.Plus I have my CB 1100 for around town which just turned over 50,000 miles.

    This bike keeps getting closer to ideal all the time, but at this point in my life, at age 70, the FJR and my CB 1100 will probably serve me well until I’m done riding.

    But you never know ……

    • todd says:

      You’re on the right track, mickey. I keep coming back to my BMW K75S for the long hauls with 92,000 miles and another quarter million left to go on it. Everything is faster and newer, but nothing is as refined.

    • Hot Dog says:

      I know exactly how you feel Mickey. The only thing that keeps my VFR12XDCT from being perfect is no cruise control. I fixed that with a throttle lock. It’s sort of like discovering a padded bra, ain’t perfect but still fun.

    • TimC says:

      Generally to insurance companies it’s something like a “GPZ1000SX” or something like that. I don’t think they see “Ninja” unless you spell it out for them?

    • fred says:

      Understood. My current main ride is an older ZX6E. Chain drive, centerstand, fair passenger seating, no hard bags, throttle lock/no cruise, Ninja moniker. It works great, but I seldom ride with a pillion these days.

      My Concours 14 was my go-to bike when I used to take longer trips regularly with my kids on back. One kid at a time, of course.

      On all my bikes, I tweak and farkle each of them until they are close to what I want or need, and adapt to the rest. Though I may never buy another bike, there enough in the garage to keep me interested and having a great time for as many years as I am likely to be able to keep riding.

  13. Tank says:

    I love these fast, comfortable bikes. I just don’t think I could own one and not get speeding tickets. I’ve tried before and failed.

    • Lawrence says:

      Me too. From Triumph Sprint ST to Bandit 1200 to FJR1300 and a number of other big/comfy/sporty the self-restraint/aversion to frustration were tough to control. Now have a Kaw Z900RS and maybe older age or no shield but rarely over 75 for more than a few moments. Still big/comfy/sporty.

    • Marcus says:

      Touring on an R3 ??? Good heavens.
      Around town..ok, touring..oh heck no.

      • TimC says:

        Yep, real touring = first-gen Ninja 250.

        • Kawatwo says:

          Yes! I think you mean the 2nd generation. The first was fairly comfy too (1986 to 1987) but the 2nd gen, starting in 1988 was an amazing all around bike. Probably one of the most comfortable sport bikes ever made, pretty great seat, grab handle, almost 250 miles on a tank if you were careful, and the beloved center stand. Once you got used to 9K plus RPM on the freeway anyway. It even had pretty good wind projection if you are short and thin enough 🙂 I had a 250 of each generation and the 88 to 2007 is a classic. The 86/87 were the best looking though.

  14. RyYYZ says:

    Have they improved the seat at all. I sat on one of these a couple of years ago at a bike show and it took about 10 seconds to realize that the seat would probably need immediate replacement.

  15. Neal says:

    In my brain, this is about the perfect bike: Small enough with handling to be fun around town or in the mountains, power and ergos and convenience features for road tripping, with Kawasaki refinement and reliability. It would be a logical step up from my previous Z800. But my guts say to get an R3 for its light weight and the ability to use every hp on every ride to rip around town and tour on, am I crazy?

    • Dirck Edge says:

      Yes, you’re crazy

    • mickey says:

      ROFL.. agree with Dirck although todd will probably agree with you.

    • David Hill says:

      “Speak softly and carry a big stick, you will go far” – Theodore Roosevelt

      I take from this that Teddy was a big fan of comfortable and fast touring bikes. Can’t confirm if he was specifically referring to the Ninja S1000X

    • Marcus says:

      Touring on an R3 ??? Around town…ok, touring…oh heck no.

    • dan says:

      You just described the Yamaha FJ/Tracer-09

    • fred says:

      No, you’re not crazy. Or we both are. R3’s weren’t designed for touring, but almost any bike can be a sport-tourer with a good attitude and proper adaptations. Anyone who says otherwise just lacks the skill, fitness, and/or imagination necessary.

      • mickey says:

        That IS true fred

        • fred says:

          Thanks. I “tour” occasionally on a VTR250. Mostly just day trips, though. Haven’t tried extended trips on the 250’s, as they are just a bit tight on leg room for me. Otherwise, the VTR works great.

          • Grover says:

            I used to tour on what used to be considered big bike, a CX500. I don’t remember thinking “if only it had another 500 cc’s….” We are rather spoiled today and look down our noses at smaller machines that really can do double duty.
            I remember meeting another rider at a Bakersfield, CA gas filling station around 1980 who was crossing the nation on a loaded down 450. He was British and bought the bike on the east coast to tour the nation. He was about the happiest person you could ever meet on a bike. I asked him about his bike and he said it was doing great, enjoying his trip across America. Isn’t that what motorcycling is all about?

          • mickey says:

            Yes we are spoiled these days. When I was first married and had small children we would load up the family in our Volkswagon Beetle and take off cross country on vacation. It was capable. We always made it and made it back home. But as we got older and more affluent we found it easier to do the trips in a larger vehicle with more leg room, power, and air conditioning. Same analogy with motorcycles for me. Will a 500cc do it? Sure, but it’s a bit easier on a larger bike with more rooom and power.

            Heck my first out of state trip was on a 1969 CB 350, but that was a pretty big bike back then. Now if I were limited to a 500cc bike I would still travel, but given the choice and ability to buy, I’ll take the extra 500cc (or more) for my traveling pleasure please.

          • Anonymous says:

            Robert Pirsig in his book (“Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance”) tells about his adventures aboard his 1966 Honda CB77 Superhawk. He toured cross-country with his son 2 up on a bike with only 305cc’s. A very interesting read if you have the time. Just a small illustration on how it used to be.
            My neighbor used to commute every morning on a CB77 and I still remember the sound of those twin cylinders as he accelerated out of the neighborhood. Good bike and good memories. Would love to restore one of those just to remember how it was 50 years ago.

          • mickey says:

            My first “big bike” was a 1967 CL77 305 Scrambler. The bike that taught me I could ride outside of my local neighborhood. I started out of state touring on a 1969 CB 350.

            I have read the book. The question is, given today’s choices in motorcycles, would that be the bike Robert Pirsig would choose today to take his son on a cross country trip.I doubt it.

            It would not be the size bike I would choose, in fact having ridden across the country several times, I would not choose anything smaller than a liter class bike for my long distance travels. I have “sacrificed” before with lack of power going up hills or into strong winds, of running the guts out of small bikes on long stretches of open road, riding on skinny seats and skinny wheels…not anymore thank you.There just is no need (unless it’s a financial one and you just can’t afford a larger bike)

    • todduu says:

      Having ridden with all sorts of people in all sorts of environments, I’d suggest there are very few people who could use every hp of an R3 on every ride. Sure, maybe the occasional sprint onto a highway (or any time over 115 mph) but most enjoyable rides seem to favor rider ability over hp. Yes, Valentino Rossi riding an R3 would be faster than everyone else regardless of what they are riding.

    • David M says:

      No, you’re not crazy. I recently bought a CBR1000RR as a potential replacement for my second FJR. I made up hard bag mounts and will be raising the bars slightly. So far I have no issues doing 500-600 mile days. Before I bought the CBR I did a lot of reading and it seems to be regarded as the most comfortable bike in its class and best choice for longer days.

  16. Kurt says:

    It’s ugly.

  17. Kermit T Frog says:

    A five gallon tank on a bike with this kind of power is too small for any sort of touring save that from small town to small town, as in Kentucky.

    I also think any bike with any variant of the word “tour” in its name should have shaft or belt drive instead of a chain. But that’s not a deal breaker for me. But the tank size is. Obviously I’m not the intended target buyer but I do think it looks nice and as someone else said, the exhaust looks better than before. Electronic Cruise Control is a great feature to have on a bike like this. Or any bike legal and capable for the street. It comes pretty much standard on a LOT of cars these days.

    Dirck, I would like to know the legal speed limit MPG capabilities of this bike but if you don’t do it, that’s fine. I will just imagine it sucked at the pump, LOL!

    • Motoman says:

      Respectfully disagree with your comment about the drivetrain. I prefer ease of gearing changes and performance of a chain. Wouldn’t want to put that much HP through a belt either.

      • Bob Krzeszkiewicz says:

        You’re not well versed in belts are you? I’ve put 175 RWHP through a 1″ Sportster belt for years with no issue. And I’ve also used 1″ belts at work to transfer 400 HP to electric motor driven pumps which have lasted several years. Belts tend to have the same performance as a chain with less weight and better power pulse absorbtion. The only negative would be a heavier rear pulley for more unsprung mass but the chain weight might negate it.

        And changing ratios…never needed to on a bike purpose built for a job other than racing. Touring and commuting, the gearing was always right from the factory, whether it was chain, belt or shaft from the start. It’s only necessary if you just like to tinker, but realistically, not needed on a bike like this.

        • Motoman says:

          You may be more versed in belts than me Bob, but you sure can be a condescending prick.

          And I said I changed gearing to suit my preference and type of riding. But I defer to you, Oh wise one, that this was not necessary change.

          Or, you might consider that my 40 years of all types of riding in my 60 years would allow me to make the determination of whether it was needed.

      • Grover says:

        NINJA = performance = chain. Belts or shafts need not apply. They just don’t belong on a Ninja. Sorry

    • Mark says:

      My 150 HP KTM has gone 14K miles with 1 chain adjustment and no chain lube. And I like go fast. Chains ain’t what they used to be!
      My Tiger 1050 went 26K miles on the original chain.
      I do live in a dry environment and that surely helps.

    • Bob Krzeszkiewicz says:

      I can get 200 miles on a tank, not an issue, even in the PNW or Montana or North Dakota. Only time I had trouble with range was when the pumps were shut down for repair one place in Oregon and no alternate station available. But my plan was to go through the tank before replenishing so cutting it fine was my decision and my fault. I found fuel in another out of the way direction 15 miles away but I was close to walking or camping in their parking lot if they were shut down too. But if you tour with the intention of maxing out before refueling, some extra fuel bottles would be a good idea anyway.

      I miss shafts and belts myself. As a commuter and tourer, I have no desire or need to change gearing. Anyone who does change gearing on a bike for that purpose doesn’t need to, they just want to because they’re tinkerers.

      • Motoman says:

        I guess I am tinkerer but I put 32000 miles on a steel frame FZ1 with good suspension and I changed the gearing to suit my preference and the type of riding I did. What a phenomenal, do-it-all bike when set up right.

      • Kermit T Frog says:

        Sweet! 200 miles on a five gallon tank is at least 40 mpg. Good to know and I appreciate the input sir! 🙂

        As for people enjoying tinkering, I get it. Audio and photography people can be far worse than motorcyclists. Riders usually change stuff ‘cuz we WANT to because it makes us happy. Audio and photography people are just plain OSD,LOL!

    • David Hill says:

      A chain does require additional work (I have a couple of Guzzis as well as a couple of chain drive bikes) but if you install a Scottoiler then 90% of that work can be avoided. They still make more mess but hey, nothing is perfect.

  18. bmbktmracer says:

    Does every Japanese sporty bike have to look like this? For years we were subjected to matte paint. Now there’s some gloss, but still the same old tired hyper-origami look. Wish the moto designers would take a look at a new Ferrari or Lamborghini for inspiration. They’re modern but still beautiful.

    On an unrelated note…has anyone used Pine-sol? Sheesh! I mopped the office floor this morning and now it smells like Aunt Bea drank a pint of Lysol and detonated an arse bomb.

  19. Stuki Moi says:

    The outgoing model was perhaps already the most accomplished all around sporty bike on sale. And this new one takes it up yet another level with tech, S20s and refinement to handling and kit.

    The narrow, above the engine alu twin spar, and lower engine mount/COG, makes for about the best street vs sport handling trade-off of any bike. In addition to making for the most ergonomically sound junction between tank, seat and transverse engine anywhere. And the engine is again about perfect for it’s street/sport mission.

    I personally don’t grok the angle of the grip/handlebar, as it strikes me as too flat for a bike like this (almost like getting on a roadbike with a mountain bike, straight handlebar). But I’ve heard people who tour 2up on them, say it gives more leverage in tighter turns and switchbacks when fully loaded than a more traditional sport bike handlebar angle. And supposedly Europeans buying it to tour two-up, is the biggest market for it. Not Americans who want hard-bags for commuting, while also wanting to do a bit of speeding, and perhaps a trackday, on weekends…

    • Bob Krzeszkiewicz says:

      I find the bars perfect in regards to sweep and drop. I commute every day and I’ve done a lot of multi day and 2 week trips on it. No, it does not sweep back as much as a sport bike. You wouldn’t want it on this because of the heft plus as you get more tired on a long day, you’ll want to sit more upright, arms straighter and the angle on your wrist will be more comfortable. I’d want more sweep and drop if the bars were lower but that’s just not how the rider triangle is on this bike.

      • Stuki Moi says:

        Considering how popular it is, and how long Kawasaki has kept the ergos the same, it would seem you are in the majority on this one, and I’m the odd one out.

        I just remember how insanely perfect the ergos, especially the bars, of the ZX14R felt getting on it, after coming back from a N1000 test ride…. (The 14 is my idea of ergonomic perfection for a sport touring bike. That one just fits me like none other, for some reason.)
        And also, how much more natural the bar sweep on the Ninja’s evil twin, the last gen Z1000, felt…

  20. VLJ says:

    Glad they finally ditched those silly cloverleaf exhaust cans for a single, conventionally-shaped item.

    Dirck, when you do your full ride report, could you please make note of two things:

    —Busyness/buzziness of the counterbalanced motor at freeway speeds. As a frame of reference, since you know the bikes so well, perhaps you could compare the buzziness of this new Ninja 1000 to that of the Z900 and Z900RS.

    —Wind noise/turbulence, or lack thereof, of this latest adjustable windscreen.

    • Bob Krzeszkiewicz says:

      Well, the ’11 I have for comparisons’ sake to your questions:

      1. The buzzy tingly feeling in your nether regions happens at 7000 rpm. I never stay there long, only pass through it then back to reasonable rpms. My max cruising rpm is 6000 around 80 mph.

      2. The old screen I have is a dark tinted Puig that is about as effective as stock. In the lowest position, where it remains. The wind coming over hits below my shoulders so no helmet buffeting or noise which is fine for daily commuting but on long trips, something that would push the air out sideways would be desirable. My old R1100S split the wind down the middle and pushed it out so it went around the shoulders, not over it. Had something to do with the outer upper edges being upturned and away from the rider. Kawasaki would do well to make that a design element for this bike. I have a H2 SX SE now, but never sold the ’11 N1k so I still use it.

      I’d like to know the improvements too. I may go back to this bike and sell the H2SX SE and the ’11. It’s a lot of bike and really goes through tires even just riding like a reasonably responsible person. But there are definitely improvements I’d like besides longer lasting tires.

      • VLJ says:

        I’ve always liked the idea of the Ninja 1000, and almost bought one on at least three occasions. Each time, however, I ended up buying something else, fearing that my gripes about the Ninja would prove too much to overcome. I read all the forums, and the common complaints were practically legion: too much motor buzz, which was felt throughout the bike, not just in the grips; gearing is too short in sixth gear, which exacerbates the engine buzz; noisy wind buffeting; no heated grips or cruise control.

        Those were the main complaints. I couldn’t care less about cruise control. Never had it, other than add-on items like Throttlemeisters of Vista Cruise throttle locks, and I stopped using those many years ago. Heated grips, yes, where I ride, they’re a necessity, and I’ve added them to every bike of mine. That might be the only thing missing from this new Ninja 1000, a good set of factory heated grips with the controller built into the grip.

        Centerstand? As long as the swingarm will accommodate racestand spools, I’m good. AFAIK, all Ninjas have this feature, and this one clearly does too.

        The only other potential issue is the seating position. Minimal leg room, and a bit of a stretch to the bars. More comfortable seating position than a stock VFR, but perhaps still a bit too aggressive for my twice-reconstructed cervical vertebrae.

        That’s it.

        • Bob Krzeszkiewicz says:

          6th gear got taller in 2012. Yes, it did need it. Still not enough? Perhaps. I do wish all of the gears were slightly taller. As a commuter/tourer, drag launches wasn’t my criteria, but it certainly will lift the front in 1 and 2. Yes, I’d prefer the gearing had longer legs on the highways. Not sure the vibes have anything to do with the gearing but the crankshaft itself, likely balanced at the rpm Kawi thinks best for cruising at certain speeds. perhaps that secondary balancer in the 2020 addresses it. But it was only at 7000 when the vibes kicked in. A place I never maintain for any duration.

          Yeah, still no centerstand. I think the pre-chamber under the bike prevents that, however the Versys 1000 can have one. But yes there are spool mounts on the swingarm.

          Forget Kawi heated grips. They super-suck, especially as a 300 buck add-on. Barely feel them through a summer glover. Just add Oxfords. Cheaper, better.

          You’d probably like the Versys 1000. 1″ more suspension, same motor, comfier seat and rider triangle. And there’s an SE LT+ version with cornering lights, electronic suspension, hand guards and a center stand.

          • VLJ says:

            Oxford heated grips work quite well (when they aren’t melting their own glue and spinning on the bar, as they kept doing on my Street Triple R), but I don’t like their separate control module. I want the controller built into the grip, which is fairly common now.

            The Versys 1000 would be great for touring, and better than the Ninja 1000, obviously, but I wouldn’t want it for much else. The Ninja 1000 strikes a much better balance of sport + touring, at least for me. The Versys is just ginormous. It’s so damn tall, heavy, rangy, etc. Out on an endless straight highway, though, just pounding out the miles, yep, among chain-driven bikes it’s tough to beat.

            Being more sport than tourer, the Ninja 1000 clearly needs to be chain-driven. The Versys 1000 isn’t a Ninja, and has no sporting pretensions. It really ought to take that final step and acquire shaft drive.

  21. DucDynasty says:

    So, I really like the specs on this bike. I ride a Yamaha FJR and have considered the 1000SX as a replacement. I realize Kawasaki is known for a more radical (modern) design aesthetic but I cannot warm up to how this think looks. Guess I’m just too conservative. For now, I’ll keep running the FJR, which is an awesome bike.

    • Duc900SSsp says:

      I concur!! However, a slip-on and maybe removing some wheel/Ninja decals might help get rid of some ugliness. Been considering a new/left-over GXSR750 for sporting duty as I also have a ’05 FJR and some Guzzis in the stable.