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Motorcycle News, Editorials, Product Reviews and Bike Reviews

2011 Kawasaki Ninja 1000: MD First Ride

The concept seems simple enough. Take top shelf components designed for a pure sport bike, including adjustable suspension, radial-mounted disk brakes, aluminum twin-spar chassis, and a take–no–prisoners motor and combine these elements with real-world, comfortable ergonomics for the street. Simple, but surprisingly rare among production motorcycles. Kawasaki cannot claim to be the first to do this, as Aprilia and Ducati certainly have followed this formula in the past, but among the Japanese manufacturers the new Ninja 1000 is something special.

The Ninja 1000 shares an awful lot with its naked sister, the Z1000, but this is not a bad thing. We praised  the Z1000, as did virtually every other journalist. The suspension, brakes and engine on this bike put a Japanese naked on the same playing level as the pricier European exotics mentioned above. Moreover, the Z1000 and the Ninja 1000 were developed simultaneously. The Ninja 1000 is not a Z1000 with bodywork slapped on it as an afterthought. This machine was designed from the beginning to serve two purposes, both naked and clothed.

Before we get into our riding impression of the Ninja 1000, courtesy of a romp through the beautiful hills of Marin County, California earlier this week, let’s talk about the essence of this motorcycle, particularly, its engine.

The thoroughly modern 1043cc four-cylinder powerplant is fed by fuel injection and produces awesome power for the street. This is not a de–tuned sport bike engine, it is an engine purpose built to provide more usable street power to the rider than either 1000cc sport bikes or 600cc sport bikes. That’s right, nine times out of ten, this bike is faster on the street than the latest 1000cc superbikes. Most of those superbikes will do 100mph, or more, in first gear, meaning peak horsepower from those engines probably arrives beyond legal speeds in first gear. Will you use that peak horsepower on the street? Generally no, with rare exceptions.

Take a look at this comparison between Kawasaki’s own sport bikes with the Ninja 1000. As our riding confirmed, the Ninja 1000 has power virtually everywhere you will use it on the street… no waiting.

What about peak power? According to Kawasaki, the Ninja 1000 delivers 10% more peak horsepower than the ZX-6R, and 65% more torque. At the same time, although the Ninja 1000 is down on the high RPM horsepower provided by the ZX-10R, it produces the same peak torque at lower RPM.

The adjustable suspension components are slightly smoother and softer than sport bike units, providing a better ride on the street, but still allowing the rider to stiffen up the units for a track day. The 300 mm front disc brakes get radial-mount brake calipers and a radial-pump master cylinder, state-of-the-art for the sport bike class.

Nothing on this bike looks cheap or acts cheap. The swingarm is where many manufacturers save money on a naked, but the Ninja 1000 gets an aluminum swingarm with a built-in eccentric chain adjuster. Unlike a naked, of course, the Ninja 1000 offers excellent wind protection along with a full fairing reminiscent of a sport bike.

That fairing includes a distinctive slat in front of the engine that helps direct hot air away from the rider. During our testing, we did not notice any significant heat coming from the engine, but the weather was cool and hot weather testing would be warranted.

That bodywork and simple, three-position windscreen, provide surprising wind protection, without buffeting. The windscreen assumes one of three positions simply by pushing a button in front of the instrument panel and manually selecting the position desired. No tools and no waiting. You can easily change the position of the windscreen at a stoplight, if you desire.

Along with the frame and suspension elements derived from the world of sport bikes, you get light-weight wheels and sport bike instrumentation. The instruments are taken from the ZX-6R, with different fonts and colors. Included is a very legible, traditional analog tachometer next to an LCD screen that includes a speedometer, fuel gauge, clock, dual trip meters and assorted warning lamps. The fuel gauge is easily read at a glance, it is appreciated when combined with the comfort and long-distance touring capabilities of this bike.

The riding position is just about perfect for this 5’10” test pilot. The bars are higher and closer than many found on sport tourers. The seat is thicker and more comfortable than that typically found on a sport bike. The pegs are a bit high compared to many sport tourers, but still much lower than those found on a pure sport bike.

Those pegs deserve special comment. It is always interesting to note whether a manufacturer paid attention to the important details. Here, along with the smooth engine, Kawasaki took great pains to eliminate any unwanted vibration traveling through the footpegs to the rider’s feet. Both the front and rear pegs are rubber-coated, but the front pegs are also rubber mounted and feature a counterbalancing weight on the heel guard to further reduce vibration. The result is an extremely smooth riding experience that was even a bit surprising when we first pulled out of the parking lot for our test.

Kawasaki even made the passenger seat thicker, longer and wider than those typically found on a sport bike, so that a passenger can experience something short of the torture-rack found at the back of most super sports.

Although the engine is virtually the same as that found in the Z1000, rated at 138 PS at the crank, it has slightly taller final gearing (41 tooth rear sprocket versus 42 on the Z1000). This change reflects the distinct likelihood that the Ninja 1000 will be used for highway touring, but it is not enough of a difference to blunt the stupendous acceleration offered by the bike.

As you might expect, Kawasaki is working on plenty of accessories for this bike. We saw a Ninja 1000 with saddlebags attached, but those are not yet available. Kawasaki promised they would be available soon, however, and you can expect pricing to be similar to the pricing of this accessory on the Versys, since they are the same bags. Different windshields, heated grips and a trunk are also under development.

What is it like to ride the Ninja 1000? Not surprisingly, it is similar to riding a Z1000, with the added comfort provided by the windscreen and fairing protection. The bars are in a similar position, but are actually angled a bit more towards the rider. The result is a seating position that was hard to criticize. Sporty enough, but offering comfort worlds beyond a super sport. Most of the time, we ran the windscreen in the middle position. The stock photos you see typically have the screen in its lowest position, but we found the middle position to provide excellent upper body wind protection without buffeting at the helmet level.

Wind protection for the lower body was also excellent. Combined with the low vibration levels, this bike could easily be toured on, and Kawasaki knows it. Our only criticism would be the fact that the seat seems to push the rider forward onto the tank more than it should.

As we have previously reported in the Z1000 test, engine performance is outstanding. The fuel injection is very well dialed in, and transitions from closed to open throttle are quite smooth. The bike will pull from under 3000 RPM smoothly, and provide decent forward thrust above 4000 RPM. Corner exits above 5000 RPM are plenty strong, allowing the rider to roll the throttle on as he stands the bike up, and then feel a bit of a power bump at 7000 RPM as the Ninja 1000 squirts towards the next corner.

The handling of the Ninja 1000 was, perhaps, the most surprising thing about our test. The upright ergonomics and relatively wide bars, coupled with the relatively light weight, and well centralized mass (which the horizontally-mounted shock absorber contributes to), results in a machine that changes directions almost effortlessly relative to other open-class bikes. This nimble nature is coupled with excellent stability and confidence from the front end. Although the front wheel can get light on corner exits, and we sometimes found ourselves slightly crossed-up when hard on the gas.  we never experienced anything remotely resembling head shake, and really learned to trust the front end of this bike.

The transmission performed its duties without complaint, and without requiring much attention from the rider. The brakes are strong and progressive, although we could have used a bit more feel from the powerful front binders.  Our test bike came with excellent Bridgestone  sport bike rubber.

The Ninja 1000 is an excellent motorcycle. After just one day of testing, coupled with our knowledge of the Z1000 from earlier tests, we can confidently say the Ninja 1000 is an outstanding motorcycle, and one of the most versatile motorcycles we have ever ridden. There is very little compromise in this machine. Can it run with sport bikes in the twisties? No question about it, and it will exit corners harder than most sport bikes without paying too much attention to where the tachometer is pointing when you pull the trigger. Does it  work droning along in a straight line on the super slabs? Absolutely, and rider fatigue won’t be much different than the fatigue experienced on a modern sport tourer.  Touring, commuting, play riding on the weekends . . . the Ninja 1000 can clearly do all of these things, and do them quite well. The 5 gallon fuel tank (1 more gallon than the Z1000) should provide plenty of range (although we didn’t take fuel consumption figures at the press launch, we traveled over 120 hard riding miles without refueling, and the bike seemed to have a fair amount of gas left).

Will the Ninja 1000 sell well in the United States? That is hard to predict, but American attitudes certainly work against it. Younger riders want pure sport bikes, regardless of the fact that these bikes are generally slower on the street. These riders won’t think about the fact that they can’t live above 10,000 RPM on public highways. Nevertheless, there seems to be emerging a more mature, thoughtful American consumer for motorcycles.  This could be the Ninja 1000’s saving grace. These consumers will get an extraordinarily versatile motorcycle. They will get a motorcycle at a price significantly below the price of the latest-and-greatest, open-class superbike, while benefiting from many of the same top shelf components and performance capabilities. Oh yeah, and they might also save some money on chiropractor visits and Advil purchases.

The Ninja 1000 will be in U.S. dealer showrooms in the two colors pictured shortly after you read this at an MSRP of $10,999.  Visit Kawasaki’s web site for additional details.

Motorcycle Daily attended a manufacturer-sponsored event, to which selected members of the press were invited, to facilitate this report.


  1. CurtyD says:

    OMG, the green w/saddlebags shown above is the ticket and I save 200lbs on the 2007 C-14 I’m riding now!!!!

  2. Gritboy says:

    A Ninja…no! A kick-ass Kawi…yes! I saw and sat on it this weekend at the International Motorcycle Show in San Mateo. Once I get to do a demo ride on one of these, I’m pretty sure my FZ1’s days are numbered.

    I wish they’d call it something else just to avoid the Ninja confusion, but hey, aside from the Vulcan and Versys Kawi seems very afraid of names instead of alphanumerics — I even like the Z1000ST suggested, though I’d prefer a name over a number.

  3. RobG says:

    I have a 2010 Z1000 and LOVE it. The Ninja 1000 will be a great bike. I still prefer the Z for its “naked” style though. I doubt the name choice is going to affect insurance. When I replaced my ER-6n with the Z1000 on my insurance policy, my rate DOUBLED. I knocked it down a little by switching insurers, but I doubt the Ninja 1000 will be much less. Besides, the Ninja 650R has about as much business being called a Ninja as the Ninja 1000. I see the Ninja 1000 as the big brother to the Ninja 650R. Both are upright sport-type bikes.

    Ride quality of my Z1000 is excellent. It’s better than my ER-6n for sure, but is still firm compared to my DR650. Handling is outstanding. I highly recommend both the Z1000 and Ninja 1000… pick the one that fits your needs best and enjoy it!

  4. nile says:

    max this machine’s introduction corresponds with the 25th anniversary of the original NINJA 1000R way back in 1986, a bike which was VERY similar for its day.

  5. Max says:

    I agree, stupid as hell to call it a ninja. If I owned it I’d call it the Z1000 ST. Ninjas are for racers and under 30 riders. MOST of the buyers of this bike will be likely 35-50. We want this bike, but would not brag that it’s a NINJA.

    Exhausts would be a piece of cake to replace, and add hp, tq, less weight, and moderate sound. Two Bros makes a very nice looking set of slip-ons for this bike. For me the stock pipes should be ditched for slip-ons before the bike leaves the dealership.

  6. kirk66 says:

    It’s a marketing disaster from a motorcycle insurance perspective. They should have used the z1000sx name like in Europe. Insurance companies will slot this bike into Superbike categories and leave bikes on the sales floor because of this. I should know. I make my living selling motorcycle insurance.

  7. sam says:

    They praise this bike without reserve, even comment twice on the lack of vibration, yet with that much attention put forth to isolate it in the pegs, it does beg the question why they did not specifically comment on bar vibes. Bar vibes are the hardest vibes to address if they are bad. And also the kind that parks your average ST wannabee.
    Big displacement I4’s (especially Kawi’s, although excluding the ZX1400) are notoriously not smooth. Better than their big twins though I will admit. Versys feel and sound like swarm of bees are coming.

    I agree the bike should be available with ABS, but I suspect they have built to a price point and hope to sell a few before tooling up for the ABS. If the bike is good, news will spread that it is worth the extra cash for ABS. But personally I think it was a mistake to not make the option avail from the start.

    Sure not impressed with the ‘new’ exhaust can looks. Suzuki started it, so I blame them. And noise laws are starting to crimp our aural pleasures; combine that with probable mandatory emission levels testing, the OEM cans have that much more responsibility to not look ridiculous.

    • KOTH says:

      ABS is available in other countries where it is sold as the Z1000SX so it is not a matter of “tooling up” for it. But to your point they are trying to market it at a certain price in the US to jump start sales.

  8. Max says:

    I’ve been waiting for this bike. I have an FZ-1, and a CBR1000RR, and am seriously considering trading both for this one bike. The only things I would change are the pipes and the windscreen. Other that that, this bike is just about perfect for the 40+ year-old that wants speed, but comfort, too (that’s me). And I’d shut off the ABS anyway, so it doesn’t bother me that ABS is not offered, but not a bad idea to make it an option. It will likely show up on this bike soon, from the ZX-10R unit.

    Great job Kawasaki!

  9. Pacman says:

    Second Bob and Roxx motions. XX rider here. Thought I found the replacement for the good old bird. But no ABS, no Ninja for me. I’ll keep the XX. Maybe 2012?

  10. Mark says:

    Perfect bike once it comes out with ABS. I shake my head at Kawi USA for denying our market this option. I will not buy another new bike without ABS, or fuel injection. I hope it is an option in 2012 otherwise I may buy the Triumph GT.

  11. AndyZA says:

    And it looks awesome in candy-lime too!

    UK version

  12. Bob says:

    When all the other STs are getting much longer, way bigger and mega heavier, Kawasaki saves the year with a small and agile solo tourer! (Sorry Triumph and Honda) That’s what I will use it for anyway. There’s still a large percentage of people who don’t drag their significant others around with them. I ride for me and me alone. 400,000 miles of solo touring to 49 US states, 6 Mexican states and 6 Canadian provinces. I need to carry my stuff but still like flicking it into the corners with the best of them. But I also like my ABS. I want it but I won’t buy this until ABS is offered in the USA. Too bad it’s an I-4, but to me, it’s a package deal and the package Kawi is offering wins my money.

    2013 is the year for Europe to mandate ABS on all bikes over 250cc, BTW.

    • Justin says:

      Yeah, loving this bike more the more I think about it. If you’re like me, you want to be able to take a passenger for a few hours, tops. Wouldn’t want them to get too comfortable…

  13. ziggy says:

    Great idea…but that fugly tail section has to go (easy fix) and the exhaust cans, particularly left side (no so easy fix).

    I can’t recall EVER seeing anything in motorcycling as bad-ugly as that left side exhaust with the bike leaned over.

  14. ROXX says:

    I ride a 99 Honda Blackbird XX, and it’s getting a little long in the tooth.
    Simply put, THIS is the bike I have been waiting for someone to build.
    All I can say is FINALLY!

  15. Easy1958 says:

    I think this is a great looking motorcycle. I would love to see a comparison between the Ninja and the Honda VFR1200. And throw in the BMW too. A sporty-sport touring comparison?

  16. Jay Mack says:

    Sorry, I just put money down on a Motto Guzzi 1200 Sport. My test ride put me in love. I am sooo tired of the same old Japanese in-line fours. The Breva is already non-current, so it cost substantially less than the Kawasaki MSRP.

  17. Mark says:

    How was the suspension in terms of compliance and comfort? (I ride on some terrible roads here in the Four Corners area, and right now my street triple is just about killing me!)I am looking at the new Tiger 800 (like many here!) but this seems like an option as well.

  18. Justin says:

    I hope you guys buy tons and tons of these, so that I can get one almost-new in a couple years without having to pay extra for the aftermarket seat and exhaust.

    Also, if Kawasaki sell a ____load of these maybe the other manufacturers will realize that America is not completely full of idiots.

  19. Dan says:

    I think the bike actually looks better with the saddlebags. Sounds like this could be the VFR replacement that Honda should have built!!!!!

  20. vtx1300 says:

    Can’t wait to see it at the Kawasaki Dealers!

  21. Ron says:

    I’ve been woefully wondering what, if any, bike would be capable of replacing my Gen 1 Yamaha FZ1 when the time came. This is almost too good to be true and is likely to be my next bike! A bit of a tweak to the padding on the stock seat pan by a capable pair of hands like Rick Mayer and it might just be a decent 500 mile/day bike.

  22. Tommy See says:

    Way to go Kawasaki, You are going to continue to win with this machine.
    I want it!

  23. curt says:

    Thanks for the ride review. It is the closest bike I could find to what I would like to ride now, I ordered one from my local dealer it is the red and black They do not know delivery date yet. I will want to replace the ugly exhaust before spring.I have been looking at the current z1000 exhaust options and would like to replace the cat and mufflers.

    • Mickey says:

      Do you guys that immediately want to rip off the exhaust worry about new legislation that is supposedly coming in many areas (possibly federally) requiring the factory EPA stamping on the can?

  24. kawatwo says:

    This IS the bike I have been waiting for. I only wish it had a center stand and came in a smaller size. 636 version anyone? Still, this or the new Tiger 800 are on the top of my list for a next bike. I was hoping to throw the FZ8 faired version in the mix but alas Yamaha is not bringing it in this year it looks like. This makes every other sport touring bike look big and fat.

  25. asphaltsurfer says:

    Good looking bike. It will make a gorgous ride after the cat is removed and a nice aftermarket pipe is added. Interesting that Kawi thinks there is a bit more sporty and less expensive Concourse market to fill. They seem to be after the same niche previously held by Ducati STx and filled by the new Triumph GT. I like it!

  26. kpaul says:

    Great to see my prediction of that motorcycle makers will offer more bikes with ABS. This is a great looking bike and great concept. Think ABS will become more popular as more guys have them i.e. the anti ABS crowd is being irrational. For those of us in wet climates (Pacific NW) ABS is the best thing since sliced bread.

  27. Brian says:

    I think Kawi may have a winner here… Looks the part of a sportbike, they didn’t cheapen the suspension, it still has more power than a 600, and it has egros that are a little more street friendly. Yeah, the mufflers are ugly, but that is curable. And I am sure it won’t take long for the aftermarket to get a different windscreen out for this..

  28. The Morrigan's Pet says:

    I am a new owner of a Z1000. Happy as a clam. It’s the first “point and shoot” motorcycle I’ve owned in 46 years of riding. Nothing like that feeling. This Ninja is gorgeous and looks like an evolved version of the GPz1100 I once owned. Any smart adult rider who cares more about performance than esthetics will love it. Anyone who doesn’t like the looks of this or my Z1000 probably couldn’t have a meaningful conversation with the engineers who designed it. Taste is subjective and worthless, for the most part. Connecting with a machine on a visceral level is priceless. When my butt is in the saddle, whoo-hoo!

  29. Biker_Golf says:

    Hmmmmm……choice is good, as they say. Thought I was a shoe-in for a used 2010 Concours but now I’m not so sure. Since reviews of Z1000 have been stellar, this requires a serious look.

  30. John says:

    This bike looks interesting. Looks really good in the red and with the saddle bags attached.

    Just wish Kawasaki would get rid of that stupid name…..Ninja! I can kinda see the logic on a sportbike but this bike is intended for the 44 year old rider (average in USA) that’ll be sport touring, commuting and strafing apexes on the weeekends.

    Come Kawasaki, grow up…….we have.


    • Tim says:

      Agreed. The insurance would likely be cheaper, too, if they just called it the Z1000ST or SX or something equally as innocuous.

  31. Neal says:

    Dirck, there is no non-ABS VFR1200, combined ABS is standard.

    Quote:(the non-ABS VFR1200F retails for $15,999.00)

  32. Danny says:

    Looks like it may be time to retire my ZR-7.

  33. Mickey says:

    Nice one person sport tourer. The quote about the back seat being longer/wider/thicker made me laugh a bit though. That back seat would not make my wife happy. A step in the right direction though as sport tourers go. My current sport tourer is an ST 1300. I think it weighs 717 with gas …. about 150# too much IMO. It does have a decent pillion seat though, and a mechanically adjustable windshield that is the cats meow..and shaft drive and a 7.7 gallon gas tank. Just wish it weighed a whole lot less.

  34. Ken says:

    Wonder if the top exhaust outlet is going to heat up the bottom of the saddlebags?

    Will those bags hold a FF helmet?

    A striking motorcycle with odd exhaust pipes.

    • Tim says:

      No on the full-face helmet. These 35 liter bags have a fairly irregular shape to allow them to fit tighter against the bike than most other hard cases. The trade-off is some volume.

  35. rapier says:

    I hate the pipes and maybe the windscreen, but I am not looking at a bike when riding it. I didn’t like how my ZZR 1200 looked but riding it 60K miles was great except the thing was too damn fat with crummy suspension. The only possible deal breaker is peg height for these 60 year old knees. I could live with 20 less HP for lower pegs, but then I am old. I’ll take one, with the side cases, if the cash flow improves.

  36. Brian says:

    Finally, what I wanted to replace my old Connie.
    !000cc is more than enough for real world.
    ABS is knowing how to brake… I hate depending on tech to do my job, and yes I practice hard braking in safe parking lots, just to keep sharp.
    Hard bags, good performance, lighter than my old Connie all good so far
    I’ll get used to the looks.
    Just needs a touring saddle and to loose that fugly pipe.
    Might be a little tight for my 6′-4″ frame, I’ll have to find out.

    • MikeD says:

      I think any 1/2 or full system from the (1year?) already out Z1000 Fits the bill for a exhaust transplant.

  37. While I agree to certain extent that the price point was a consideration for the inclusion of ABS; I don’t agree that ABS models don’t sell well. I ride a DL-650(vstrom) with the ABS option and am very active in the v-strom community. The ABS models are coveted and hard to come by. Most of the time, they are sold even before they hit the floor. The 2011 model year of the DL-650 now only comes in ABS, just like Canada. Suzuki understands and wouldn’t have done that unless they expected to sell them all.

  38. Goose says:

    This bike should hold zero appeal for me, I haven’t owned an across the frame four in nearly three decades, I tend toward European and American twins, I don’t like chain drive, especially on a big, powerful street bike. The last across the frame four I owned was campaigned in local superbike races so long ago that an air cooled, SOHC, 8 valve bike was still competitive. Very poor reliability with the Japanese bikes of the time got me off them.

    That said, Kawasaki seems to have, at least on paper, put together a great bike. I sounds like they finally figured out what the more experienced riders wants in an engine and combined it with reasonable ergonomics, a gas tank that is (barely) big enough and a good chassis. Add a few accessories like saddle bags and heated grips so you can actually use the bike for something besides canyon carving and you get a pretty interesting bike. I would LOVE to put a tank of gas through this thing.

    All the good stuff said, yup, the mufflers are butt ugly and it needs an (optional) center stand. If the windshield works I can put up with its less then beautiful shape.



    • Brian says:

      Pour reliability compared to the Harleys and Euro brands of 30 years ago???????????
      I need what your smokin, cause the reliability issues of Harleys and Euro bike of 30 years ago is what sent me to the Jap bikes.

  39. Chris says:

    This is exactly what I’ve been waiting for. When will they offer it with ABS? Given its cornering capabilities it should also have the Traction Control system from the Concourse as an option. I’d pay an extra grand for that.

    What’s the maintenance interval for valve adjusts? And can it be done by a reasonably handy owner?

    Hmmm.. Black or Red and Black…

    • Chris says:

      An owners forum confirms you check the valve clearances on the 2010 Z1000 at 15k miles. Several owners of earlier generation models report their valves still within specs at more than 25k miles. The Z/Ninja 1000 use steel valves which is good for longevity. This bike should be bulletproof. I’m stoked.

      ABS and Traction Control Please

  40. TonyT says:

    How does the image in the mirrors look (vibration and view)? A couple of things and it would replace my ZRX1200R:


  41. Jack says:

    I’m so excited to see this bike. I’m a firm believer of never buying new with the huge discounts in buying used but I may have to plunk down some cash and grab one of these up in a year. Good job Kawasaki.

  42. ABQ says:

    How about a comparison between this and the Triumph Sprint GT

  43. Steadman says:

    I’ve had a chance to ride the Ninja 1000 twice in the last month. First ride was in and around the city…second was in the country. What an awesome motorcycle. I’m certain those who buy one will not be dissapointed.

  44. Tom Barber says:

    I understand the need for advertising to support a site such as this, and I really do like this site.

    This seems a very nice bike, and another excellent write-up from Dirck and Motorcycledaily, one of favorite web sites, and my very favorite among web sites that are related to motorcycles and cars.

    However, one of the Bel-Ray ads in this article is positioned in a manner such that it more or less pretends to be a picture related to the article. To my way of thinking, there is a line that web site operators should try not to cross when it comes to the intrusion of advertising on their sites. This site thus far has been one of the very best, which is largely why I continue to prefer it over the many alternative sites. I hope that the site operators continue to exercise the same sort of good judgment that they have shown in the past.

    I don’t believe in looking too closely into the mouths of horses offered free of charge. This site is wonderful, and I appreciate it very much. But I just thought that someone should say something.

  45. Donny says:

    Wow, this looks like the perfect motorcycle, and it can come with bags; amazing! It looks just a tad smaller in size/weight than my ZX-14, more usable power in all street-situations, and it sits upright! I like this bike! I’m 45, been riding 30 yrs, been down the racer crotch riding scene, track days, etc. The Connie looks a bit too big, this looks just right!

  46. Kawboy says:

    Is there some exhaust covers missing on the left side of the bike? If not, they need something to hide that God awful cat converter and pipe going to the muffler. At the very least paint it black. Otherwise the red and black color scheme is very nice!

  47. They missed the mark with only one thing and that is A.B.S. brakes or at least the option . Lets face it they are going to be mandated any time soon anyways.

  48. ABQ says:

    Hardbags? May just grab the bags off of the KLR and throw them over. I might add some frame sliders to save the fairing. Done!

  49. MikeD says:

    On a positive note: Looks to have the elements of a really utilitarian bike with semi decent wind/weather protection that might even be capable of some light touring.

    Black/Red paint job looks REALLY nice on it(Saddlebags and all).

    • MikeD says:

      WTH! Why was my previous post removed? It didn’t have anything offensive. Is the SECRET Post Editing Nazi Police kissing Kawi’s Butt so hard and getting paid good or something that we can’t post negative things about this “special” model? And how come the posts always appear shuffled even tho mine was betwen the recent ones and now im the first one? That is not cool man. Not cool at all. It screams TOOL.

      Anyone care to have a word about it? Specially the person running the show.

      Anyways, it went like this:
      I can’t get pass that UGLY HAMMER HEAD Winshield…looks like an after thought.
      I know the cut outs are there for a reason(so handle bars can move lock to lock) but its just UGLY. They could have done better than that EASY COP OUT Front End.
      For crying out loud, they build Bullet Trains.

    • Tim says:

      I think the Give PLX cases look great on there, as well. I wonder if the panels are available in the red instead of black. Check the photo of the EU version with color matched PLX’s in this link …

  50. Chris says:

    Sounds like quite the machine. I’ll have to swing by the local dealer sometime to see it in person.

    Looks pretty good with the bags fitted as well.

  51. Hank says:

    Replace the pipes, add the bags and go !!! Only thing I would like is a flat seat.

  52. Tim says:

    Really nice review but it would be helpful if you would add some tips as to how I’m going to slip this one past the wife. “New bike? What new bike? No, no, no. I’m just storing that for a buddy at work.”

  53. Bo knows says:

    Any branches left on that ugly tree. Like Austin ZZR said – hope it looks better in person…

  54. Austin ZZR 1200 says:

    Hopefully, not as tacky-looking in real life. Otherwise, seems extremely practical and fun

  55. Cranky Bob says:

    Get rid of the CATS and funny canisters and you’ve got a winning machine.

  56. alan says:

    nice really nice
    I wonder if the retail price will be discounted some

  57. yakimascott says:

    Dirck, How will this bike compare with the new VFR? If I understand correctly this bike will do most things better. Yes?

    • Dirck Edge says:

      Just some facts. The Ninja 1000 is nearly 100lbs lighter than the Honda VFR1200F (89lbs per each mfrs. web site, but the Honda has a slightly smaller gas tank and these are wet weights), has a wheelbase nearly 4″ shorter than the Honda, is more comfortable than the Honda, has a fully adjustable fork (the Honda has spring preload adjustment only) and is $5,000.00 less expensive (the VFR1200F retails for $15,999.00). The Honda does have shaft drive and that cool V-4 motor, as well as standard ABS (thanks, Neal). Both bikes are plenty fast, but the Ninja 1000 feels quicker to me, particularly on corner exits. The Honda has great straight-line stability, but it is not in the same league in the twisties. The lighter, shorter Ninja eats corners alive, by comparison.

      • Tim says:

        So, put another way, for the price of the new VFR I could have this Ninja 1000 AND a new KLX250S, (another bike I’ve been coveting).

  58. Gabe says:

    Wow! You were riding that bike yesterday…way to get the review out in record time.

  59. jimbo says:

    Your reviews read really well. The bike sounds like a winner.

    In looking at your knee-angle bend in one of the images, I’d appreciate knowing your pant inseam (mine is 34″).

    • harry says:

      Yep Jimbo a winner ‘cept the knees are too cramped and the bars still too low. Photos “from beneath” or “cornering away” make bars seem higher than they are. If any of us walked into a kawi dealer with $10,999 we would ride away I’m sure.

    • Dirck Edge says:

      Thanks. My inseam is 32″.

  60. falcodoug says:

    Nice machine but the exhaust canisters needs a little attention.

  61. joe says:

    the blood vessles are for the bel-ray ad.

  62. Burt says:

    The blood vessels are a cool touch.

  63. jesse says:

    Sweet! Looks like someone finally got the sport-tourer recipe right – lots of sport with a dash of tour. Looks like this Kawi might be filling the gap that the Sprint and VFR seem to be leaving open with their new models. I agree that it could use a center stand though – just so you can lube the chain at the campground after a few hundred miles of twisties…

  64. CCrider says:

    Wish this had been available when I bought my 2009 ZX-6R; I love the 6R but my 69 year old body can’t handle the ergonomics for much over 200 miles. Heated grips sound great and hopefully a centerstand will be available from Kawasaki. Although I don’t really need a 1050cc engine or 500+ lbs of bike, this is definitely on my short list to replace the 6R along with the Tiger 800 and the Honda AT. Unfortunately, I don’t think Honda can touch the Ninja 1000 or the Tiger 800 in terms of performance, features and price.

  65. sliphorn says:

    Outstanding machine. My kind of bike, but it needs a center stand to make chain maintenance easier. Afterall, this bike will probably see plenty of touring duty. At least that’s how I’d use it. It should also have ABS available as an option. What about heated grips? Are those gonna be an option? All in all, a great bike.

  66. WhiskyTango says:

    My ABS is my right index & middle finger. I NEED this BIKE!!!!!

  67. brianzr7s says:

    This looks like everything i have been wanting. i’ll have to see one in person, but this is going to be my next bike i think. a well done all-arounder. good suspension, good brakes, good motor, reasonable ergos, not excessively overweight, available accesories to fill several roles, and at least a little wind protection. it appears to be what suzuki was trying to hit with it’s 1250S bandit and what Honda was trying for with the VFR1200. both of those added a lot of weight. this one is lighter, and not necessarily lacking in motor compared to the larger displacement competition. i can’t wait to give one a test ride. Keep up the good reports.

  68. FreeRider says:

    I was thinking the same thing as YellowRanger…why no ABS!!!

  69. Wow, very interesting, but Kawi screwed up on one thing: the type of buyer for this bike would want the optional ABS available in the european version. That one point is a deal breaker for me.

    • Ruefus says:

      I’M the type of rider that would want this bike – and ABS is something I do NOT want.

      In this economy – no ABS is not a screw up by Kawasaki. It’s likely economics at work. Save BMW, ABS models do not sell well in the states. So why bring over a bike that you know will hold the floor down while at the same time be available in such limited quantity as to be impossible to find?

      Recipe for money lost.

      • MGNorge says:

        I agree, Kawasaki most likely wanted to slot this bike in at a certain price level and ABS would have the MSRP @ $11,999. For now the intent is to bring it to market at a price they feel they will sell best.

    • Tim says:

      They offer it in Europe with ABS so the hardware is already there. They could simply do as others have and give the US buyer the choice between ABS and non-ABS models. I’ve never owned a bike with ABS but I can see some wanting to at least have the option.

      • Dirck Edge says:

        I think Kawasaki wants to see how the bike sells in the U.S. before bringing in the ABS model. American riders have been reluctant to pay extra for ABS, but I agree it would be nice to have that option. ABS models sell well in Europe, and the bike is already available with ABS there.

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