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2014 Kawasaki Ninja 1000 ABS: MD Ride Review


Motorcyclists spent many years lamenting the lack of high performance motorcycles with comfortable ergonomics. If you wanted top shelf performance from a street bike, most of the options required acceptance of a race track oriented seating position, i.e., lots of weight on the wrists and legs folded at an angle common to pretzels. Yamaha’s FZ1 was a hit with MD when we tested the original version more than a decade ago, and it definitely checked the right boxes as far as ergonomics go.

In 2011, Kawasaki introduced the Ninja 1000, which seemed to take things even further with a torquier, larger displacement (1043 cc) inline four. Although the original Ninja 1000 was an excellent bike, and seemed quite popular with consumers, suspension damping was finicky, fuel injection response was a tad touchy, and there was some vibration at highway speeds that could become annoying. As a package, it was an impressive first effort, but like most first year models, there was plenty of room for improvement of the stock machine.


Kawasaki held a very long distance press introduction in California for the new 2014 Ninja 1000 ABS, with a roughly 500 mile trip up the coastline that included a wide variety of riding conditions and speeds. Our first impressions were quite positive, but we asked Kawasaki for a bike that we could ride on roads familiar to us in the Temecula area. We went through all of the changes to the 2014 model in the report from our first riding impression. Although cosmetically the bike doesn’t seem to be changed very much (except for the new, optional, much more nicely integrated saddlebags), chassis and engine changes are numerous. Kawasaki’s goal was to improve engine performance, handling and practicality (with the new bags). After our trip up the coast, we thought Kawasaki had accomplished all three of those goals.

The 2014 Ninja 1000 ABS now has specifications very close to those of a superbike, without the radical ergonomics. The engine was already excellent, and the 2014 version is even better.  Throttle response is smoother, and the bike feels like it has a meatier, more immediate power throughout the rev range. One of the things we love about this bike is the power advantage it has over superbikes at real world rpm levels, which we illustrated with the following chart.

Horsepower/Torque (Nm)






Kawasaki Ninja 1000 (2011 model) 46/83 61/88 75/91 95/97 115/105
BMW S1000RR (2010 model) 41/76 56/83 65/77 80/84 102/92

Kawasaki ZX-10R (2013 model)

38/68 52/76 65/78 79/83 100/92

Race replicas serve a purpose, but at most street rpm levels, the tuning of the Ninja 1000 is superior. If you own a 1000 cc superbike, and ride it on the street frequently, you know how hard it is to find and use 10,000 rpm.


Although in the meat of the superbike powerband (at high rpm levels), the Ninja 1000 comes up a distant second, it still pulls well enough on top that very few street riders will be wanting more.

Although the bike shares the engine counter-balancer design with the 2011 model, we found the 2014 model noticeably smoother, particularly at highway speeds.

For such a fast motorcycle, the comfort offered by the 2014 Ninja 1000 ABS is excellent.  Having done several hundred miles in the saddle in a single day, it is our opinion that the seat is firm and supportive, without being too hard, and works well with the rest of the rider triangle (bars/seat/footpegs positioning). On the highway, we put the adjustable windscreen in the highest of the three available positions and found good wind protection with minimal head buffeting.

The new bike has three traction control settings that can be selected by the rider together with two power modes (full power and approximately 70% power). We did not experience rain or other significant traction issues that would allow us to fully test the effectiveness of the these options, but in theory the lower power setting together with the most intrusive traction control setting would be ideal for riding in the rain.

Part of the smoother engine performance at highway speeds must be credited to the taller sixth gear found on the 2014 model. Given the amount of torque available at lower rpm levels, highway passing was still easily accomplished without a downshift in most circumstances.


Frankly, the Ninja 1000 ABS can make you feel like a deity on the freeway. You have so much more power and acceleration available compared to the “cages” surrounding you that you can feel like you are in your own world.  This is part of the thrill of riding a big horsepower machine, of course, but the controlability of the Ninja 1000 ABS and its incredible brakes give you that much more confidence wielding all that oomph.

Speaking of brakes, we continue to be impressed with the all new monobloc radial-mount front brake calipers. Combined with a radial master cylinder and latest generation ABS, they offer incredible braking performance. This front brake needs to be measured against state-of-the-art superbike brakes from Brembo and the like.  For street use, we really can’t fault them, and extended aggressive riding in the canyons resulted in zero fade. These might be the best brakes available on this category of motorcycle (a faired, upright “superbike”).

Our earlier article showed you a closeup of the remote preload adjuster knob on the right side of the bike, which allows quick (at a stop light, for instance) rear preload changes to accommodate different passenger and luggage loads. We found ourselves using this feature several times, and we wished more bikes offered it.

The new saddlebags are so far superior to the old system it isn’t even close.  Aside from the ugly, clunky mounts and the extra wide load (again, see photos in our first article), locking, unlocking and removing the bags is as easy as we can remember any saddlebag system being. The photos in this article of the bike without the bags attached show how clean the mounting brackets look (very much like traditional passenger grab rails). We do wish the bags were a little longer front-to-back. Although both bags are deep enough to easily swallow my size large Arai helmet, longer articles  (such as files or briefcases) frequently won’t fit.

Some suspension damping tuning by Kawasaki has resulted in a firmer, but more controlled response from the fork and shock, and, as a result, we didn’t play with preload and clickers nearly as much as we did with the 2011 model. If the factory delivered settings are too firm, you can back off both compression and rebound damping to create a relatively plush mount.

Although the new instrumentation contains an “Economical Riding” (ECO) indicator, we really didn’t pay much attention to it, and found gas mileage similar to the older model’s mpg (high 30s to low 40s).

The 2014 Kawasaki Ninja 1000 ABS is a confident corner carver, and it seems to turn in quicker than the old bike. At a claimed curb weight at roughly 510 pounds, however, it is still not as flickable as some of the new lightweight nakeds, for instance, or a pure sport bike.  Nevertheless, a good rider can certainly hustle the Ninja 1000 through the twisties at a very high pace.

The 2014 Kawasaki Ninja 1000 ABS is a much improved bike that delivers superbike levels of performance on the street from its 1043 cc engine, more than competent handling, carefully tuned suspension and awesome brakes … all in a package comfortable enough to ride all day. The new remote preload adjuster and electronic controls (adjustable power modes and traction control) only increase its practicality and versatility. Standard ABS will be appreciated by most buyers looking at this category of machine. U.S. MSRP is $11,999 (add $1,269.75 for the hard bags and mounting system) in either Candy Lime Green or Candy Cascade Blue. Visit Kawasaki’s web site for additional details and specifications.



  1. Alan says:

    Decided on this one ! This is after a GSX R1100, Honda VFR and FOUR new 1200 Bandits. Like it says, people like me have always wanted a lighter aluminium framed bike with lots of power and sit up bars. I know a compression ratio of 11.5 means strong slowing on over-run which is not nice for touring – but nobody is perfect. I hear the clutch is on/off which sounds tricky at first with 140hp on tap – so level one TC and level 2 power until I get it home – and then ….. I passed my test in Harrogate, England in March 1964 and I will piloting it in Wisconsin – in summer !

  2. Colors says:

    It’s no Guzzi and with the windshield canted up like that it almost has a beak.

  3. VLJ says:

    So, to summarize, this seems to be all Kawi needs to do in order to perfect the Ninja 1000:

    1. Change the ‘Ninja 1000’ name to ‘ZRX1000’ so that insurance companies don’t rape us for the privilege of owning one, and so that older riders don’t feel silly riding one. Killing these two birds with one stone would lead to increased sales for Kawasaki, which is ultimately the name of the game. Norm says that Kawi isn’t concerned with insurance rates; that it’s not their problem, it’s the buyer’s business. Wrong. When insurance companies raise the cost of responsible ownership beyond all reason relative to other, similar steeds, many buyers will choose those other steeds, and that hurts Kawi’s bottom line. Geico wanted $1200 per year from me for the Ninja 1000 vs $544 for the R1200R, $538 for a CB1100F, and $347 for the Street Triple R. That’s a problem for Kawi; one easily remedied.

    2. Move the catalytic converter into the exhaust pipes to make room for an optional centerstand. On an upright, hardbags-equipped sport-tourer, that’s a no-brainer.

    3. In addition to the corporate-friendly green, offer the bike in a color more befitting the intended target market, with red and black variations being the obvious choices.

    4. Add a gear indicator. People want them, they’re becoming commonplace, they’re easy to add, and there is simply no reason for a bike of this sort not to include one.

    5. Ditto, for an ambient temperature gauge.

    6. Use both lights for low beams, as well as for high beams. Enough with the stupid one-headlight-only-for-lowbeam thing. It looks awful, it’s confusing to oncoming motorists, it forces the rider into constantly having to explain to people, “Nope, it’s supposed to be like that,” and no one prefers it. Ditch the whole concept, once and for all.

    7. Make sure the charging system is stout enough to handle heated clothing gear and a proper set of factory heated grips.

    All very easy fixes, with the addition of the centerstand being the only one requiring any different engineering whatsoever.

    • Norm G. says:

      re: “When insurance companies raise the cost of responsible ownership beyond all reason relative to other, similar steeds, many buyers will choose those other steeds, and that hurts Kawi’s bottom line.”

      which insurance companies…? the one in your backyard…? the one’s in NorCal…? the one’s in the UK…? the one’s in South America…?

      if you really think insurance companies are going to give a rat’s that kawi changes the name, or that a GLOBAL brand like Kawi is going to change a name over the behaviour of a few rogue insurers…? well you simply haven’t been paying attention. those insurers will just find some other reason to charge you more…

      helllooo……!!! mcfly…!!! (rapping on noggin’) they’re INSURANCE COMPANIES.

      I mean, you can try and shun the responsibility all you like, but at the end of the day, the burden’s just going to come full circle back to YOU having to pick up a phone, and call a more enlightened insurance provider…

      I guarantee. (Cajun accent).

      • Scott says:

        Not quite sure that’s how it works. Insurance companies base their rates on statistics. All insurance companies do it this way. The one in my backyard and the one’s in the UK. Ninja owners are typically young male drivers that frequently have accidents. Thats why rates on sport bikes are usually higher. If Kawi would change the name of the bike and position it within the touring category, time would probably show older riders are buying these bikes and I bet statistics will show they are less prone to incidents. This will most likely lower rates for the future. No one is shunning responsibility – thats just how insurance companies work.

        Kawi should definitely rethink how this bike is positioned since I bet most young riders aren’t interested in the bike. If other bikes within the same category are much cheaper to insure, I bet it could ultimately impact sales of the bike and I would think Kawi would be very interested in knowing this.

        By the way, My family has been in the Insurance business for over 50 years and I’ve heard this story many times. Insurance companies don’t raise rates for the hell of it, they have to stay competitive just like every other business with competition.

    • Norm G. says:

      re: “That’s a problem for Kawi”

      you’re confused. it’s a problem for YOU.

      see, this is #1 dysfunction facing motorcyclists… the illusion of “self-importance”. the sooner you get it in your head, the rest of 97% don’t care that you ride or have a desire to ride a motorcycle, the better off you’ll be. trust me, I’m not going to steer you wrong. they’re completely oblivious to how cool you are.

      see in response, K-heavy’s just going to build another multi-billion Yen bullet train to replace the one lost in Spain, or build another multi-billion Yen boring machine to replace the one stuck under Seattle. there are 10,001 deal breakers happening daily in the naked city that impacts whether or not someone closes escrow on a Ninja 1000.

      again, the only reason you cite insurance as being important is because it’s a problem affecting YOU.

      • Dave says:

        If the name “Ninja” causes insurance companies to charge higher rates for this over it’s competitors then it is a problem for Kawasaki. It will cut down the number of riders that choose this over something comparable and less costly to own. There may be 10k reasons but this is a bigger one than 1-2k price difference for anyone who outs a little thought into their choices.

        From a marketing perspective naming this Ninja also dillutes the brand. Besides, word marks are antiquated.

        • WillieB says:

          I’ve had State Farm forever. They quoted me about $25 / mo more for a 2014 N1K than for my 2011 Multistrada 1200. So either people are crashing N1Ks a lot, or the name has something to do with it. On the collision / comprehensive side, any given part for the Ducati is probably 50% more than the N1K.

        • WillieB says:

          I’ve had State Farm forever. They quoted me about $25 / mo more for a 2014 N1K than for my 2011 Multistrada 1200. So either people are crashing N1Ks a lot, or the name has something to do with it. On the collision / comprehensive side, any given part for the Ducati is probably 50% more than the N1K. So the higher premium is either due to actual higher accident rates for the N1K itself, or the N1K is grouped into a class of Kawasaiki sportbikes and not accounted for separately……

    • paul says:

      VLJ +1

    • John C says:


      Perfect suggestions. How about a charcoal grey/silver color?

      And the person that said it’s our problem about insurance couldn’t be more wrong. I worked in management for one of the big 4 and high insurance rates will seriously hurt the retail sales of that bike. A buyer could afford the monthly payment but not the monthly insurance payment. This was brought up in almost every quarterly meeting and in many monthly reports. When dealers can’t sale a bike they order less or even none for the next year.

    • Fangit says:

      I rode one of the previous models. Almost hit my target but not quite. I agree dropping the silly “Ninja” name may attract more buyers. It certainly puts me off a little. I see the exhausts are still horribly ugly and yes most people will change them but yet another issue to put you off. I also didn’t like the very upright riding position. I know many will like it, but the fairing is very low and I want my sport-tourer with a slighlty leaning forward riding position. It doesn’t have traditional bar risers which makes it very difficult to replace the bars. I agree on the colours too. A couple of plain colours would attract more buyers.

  4. Bob says:

    The exhaust servo valve is gone on the 2014. So no worries about losing performance when getting aftermarket slip-ons with their cat eliminating y-pipe.

  5. starmag says:

    +10 on function

    -10 on looks

    Are there really people who like:

    1) the tailight bracket

    2) the exhaust

    3) the huge air gap over the rear tire

    4) the “quasimoto” fuel cell

    5) marginal passenger accomodations on a $13.5k sport-touring bike

    • Scott says:

      1. Taillight bracket – I assume you mean the rear fender? No one ever likes it – thats what a fender eliminator kit is for.

      2. Love the exhaust – tired of the same old thing. Gotta give Kawasaki credit for changing it up. I actually really like it in the brushed metal.

      3. Looks real clean with a fender eliminator.

      4. Looks fine to me. Not sure what you don’t like.

      5. Its a sport bike with some touring capabilities – not the other way around.

      I can’t think of any bike that does everything great – this seems to blend the two (Sport and Touring) pretty well. For anyone who hasn’t ridden this bike, you may want to hold you comments until you have. It will quickly change your mind. Get a test ride if you can.

      • Sean says:

        +1 fender and exhausts are the necessary evils of gov regulation but easily fixed in the after market.
        Strictly speaking looks I’m a fan but color options don’t fit the purpose/target buyer in my opinion.

        • Norm G. says:

          re: “but color options don’t fit the purpose/target buyer in my opinion.”

          the color is for the Kawasaki faithful. they’d do more damage NOT offering this color.

          btw, just in case people are confused or are running a few burned out LED’s in their flat screen, this is not the Lime Green or Works Green found on Sykes’ World Championship Zed, this is the far more mature Emerald Green Metallic or whatever they call it introduced back in ’99.

          this color didn’t exist before then. I would imagine it was introduced to address the very thing everybody seems to be on about. it’s 15 years old now, and they keep using it, so stands to reason it must be making somebody happy…?

    • Gary says:

      “marginal passenger accomodations on a $13.5k sport-touring bike”

      I will admit that this bike is not optimal for two-up touring. But have you priced other bikes recently that ARE?

  6. Ajay says:

    I have been looking for a lighter alternative to my FJR 1300. I thought this could fit the bill. I was willing to compromise on the lack of an available center stand ( pit bull stands ) and maintaining the chain, but insurance costs! I called my carrier, and three others, 3 X the price of my FJR! A new Moto Guzzi Norge, or R1200RT, we’re just a bit more than my FJR. All insurance reps said it is because it is a “Ninja”.

    • Scott says:

      Thats been my complaint since my 2011 Ninja 1000. They really should change the name.

      That being said, GEICO does seem to cater more to sport bikes more than others. They told me they work closely with Kawasaki. This is currently who I’m with for my 2014 N1000. Check them out.

    • Mark says:

      Take a look at the Tiger 1050: very comfortable, light, fast and can handle some light duty gravel and dirt. I love mine!

    • John C says:


      Interesting about the insurance. I have a new concours and want to ADD a lighter sport touring bike for solo multi dat rides like you do. Ktm 990 Smt makes my top 3 for my next new bike

      Damn cost cutting price point mumbo jumbo…..give us a center stand. Young riders who can barely make min payments aren’t buying this type of bike.

    • warprints says:

      I am about to buy a 2014 Ninja 1000. I switched my insurance from Progressive to GEICO recently because of the rates they quoted for adding the Ninja to my other three bikes. Significant savings over what Progressive quoted.

    • Norm G. says:

      re: “All insurance reps said it is because it is a “Ninja”.

      sorry guys, it’s a USP. Kawi says you can have their USP when you pry from their cold dead fingers. manufacturing and selling bikes is their problem. insuring them is a problem for the consumer.

      we’re grown ups, yes…? right then, carrying us and holding our hands on everything isn’t their business. keep in minds, some states don’t obligate you to carry insurance. if you’re lucky, you’ll already live in one, or if your psychologically “consumed” by the need to save 2 bits…? you’ll move to one.

  7. John C says:


    This is a must standard feature or design the exhaust to accept a center stand. I’ve bought 3 new motorcycles in the last 4 years. I’m not posting this as idle chat. I really wanted to buy this bike as an addition to my new concours as a one up sport touring bike. But without a center stand I can’t buy one.

    Motorcycle daily rocks

    • Mark says:

      The Tiger 1050 can accomodmdate a center stand. Amazing motor and great handling once you disk in the suspension. No tc but has abs

    • richard says:

      wow would base your whole decision on a centre stand…dont get it

      • John C says:

        Richard, yes a center stand is now mandatory for me. I take week/month long rides and require a center stand for chain maintaince when 1000s of miles away from home.

        • Norm G. says:

          fair enough. admittedly don’t know too many who have it so good they could be away for a month at time, but is it possible here in the 21st century that the technology is to a point that the service would keep till you got back…? and that everyone’s desire to shoot lube into a chain every 5 seconds has more to do with quirky personal compulsions and less to do with preventative maintenance…?

        • Blackcayman says:

          NOT just chain maintenance…Flat Tire repair

    • Jeremy in TX says:

      A center stand is a handy addition, no doubt, and I love them: but mandatory? I’ve been on a 4000 mile round trip that included both paved and unpaved roads without ever giving a second thought to the chain. That chain and sprocket set didn’t need replacing any sooner than any other chain/sprocket set on that bike. I respect your position, but it certainly wouldn’t be a deal killer for me. I see this more as a sport bike with bags rather than a sport-touring machine.

  8. todder says:

    Can I get Cruise Control?

  9. Tom says:

    On second look, the side fairings have sharp corners that protude so that you get to bang your shins on that, instead of the cylinders.

  10. Tom says:

    This bike looks really interesting to me. For me it has to have center stand, which I assume is option. I will have to check it out and find out how buzzy the engine is. It does seem to have a bit of a niche. I would probably want to make the handlebar reach even shorter, but that’s doable. One good thing about it is that your shins don’t bang against cylinders, which actually happens with some motorcycles and is not particularly easy to fix, since it involves replacing the engine with a completely different engine of a different type. I’ve never tried to do that, but I expect that it would be a lot of work. I’m just trying to be funny you know. But this bike is definitely worth a very close look.

  11. Tomas says:

    I really want to like this 2014 version, and I really want to buy it. But the Green paint, and the Ninja name are a bit of a turn-off for a 55-year old. I have a 2012 Aprilia Shiver 750 and love it – great bike – but want just a bit more power. Maybe the Blue color is the ticket – will have a look. It’s this or a Honda CB 1000R.

  12. AFW says:

    On paper this bike produces more power per RPM than the other two bikes but it is cancelled out by the heavier weight of the Ninja 1000(510lbs) vs ZX10(431lbs) BMW(451lbs). Gearing also affects acceleration, I doubt this bike picks up speed like the other two. Nicely engineered bike, and metallic lime green looks pretty good too.

    • Sean says:

      Yes exactly why does it have to weigh so much more??? Maybe a few pounds here and there but 80??? No bueno! Overall like the bike and the concept but would Love it if it was closer in weight and spec with zx10.

      • Norm G. says:

        re: “Yes exactly why does it have to weigh so much more??? Maybe a few pounds here and there but 80??? No bueno!”

        a new 2014 ninja 1000 parked in the garage. all the incentive you’ll need to stick with that weight loss resolution in the new year.

        • Scott Myers says:

          Exactly – once you’re on it – the weight goes away. Its just that much fun. For those of us that want a bike with a bit of touring that leans more towards sport – it doesn’t get any better than this.

          • MGNorge says:

            I think that can be said of most bikes, maybe even more today than in the past. Everyone knows what weight reduction feels like in a good chassis but there’s too much attention to a specific weight here, like there’s some magic number! The only true test for anyone interested is to go ride one, then draw your conclusions. But liter class bikes will never feel like trail bikes. Even so, for road work I rather enjoy some heft in the right chassis as it can lend a certain “road hugging” quality that lighter bikes have a hard time matching.

    • Dirck Edge says:

      Remember power-to-weight ratios must include rider weight (fully geared up). Using your example, 180 pounds of rider and gear makes for a smaller percentage weight difference (8% difference for the BMW and 11% for the ZX-10R). Also, the Ninja 1000 gearing in the lower gears tends to be lower than the superbikes, aiding the Ninja’s acceleration further.

    • Tom says:

      If the numbers in the table are correct and the weights provided by AFW are correct, the Ninja 1000 has power-to-weight ratio at least as good as the other two bikes almost everywhere in the rev range, after adding 180 lbs to the bike weight. The table doesn’t go below 4k rpm, but the same finding very likely holds at very low rpm. I like that table, however it is like life itself in the sense that there is always more to be desired. If you know that wheel diameter is the same for all, then wheel torque translates to propulsive force in identical manner for all, so you can compare the wheel_torque-to-mass ratios. However, it is some work to calculate the wheel torques, which requires the overall gear ratios plus the sprockets. After doing all that work, you still end up with a comparison of acceleration that isn’t really all that meaningful because the different bikes are moving at different speeds: when two different bikes are both running at 5k rpm they generally are not moving at the same speed even if you work out the individual wheel torque amount for the different bikes at that engine speed. The only completely satisfactory way to do this kind of analysis is to generate curves or tables where vehicle speed is the x-axis or the defining column in the table and the value you read from the curve or table is the ratio of power to mass for the given bike at that specific speed. As with life itself, the more you ponder, the more complex you discover it to be.

  13. JimW says:

    Love the look of the bike, but damn that exhaust is UGLY, not just the outlets but the bed pan shaped main chamber. Couldn’t they at least paint that black?

    • Tom says:

      That pipe reminds me of Rodney Dangerfield’s joke about when he was born he was so ugly that his mother put a paper bag over his head.

  14. Bones says:

    This bike looks better with the panniers fitted. I’m guessing the big red reflector on the side is a DOT requirement, but Kawi surely could find something that looks like it belongs there and isn’t just stuck on.

  15. mickey says:

    To be fair, if riding the bike equipped with the bags as shown the price is $13,269 not the $11,999 as listed, which is a lot closer to other sport touring bikes from other mfgs. Still a good deal for what you are getting. I agree with others, for someone that truly tours on their bike, a centerstand should come standard, or at least be an option.

  16. Bones says:

    A buddy of mine had the gen 1 version of the Ninja 1000 and it looks like Kawasaki has addressed the issues that led to him selling it.

    I agree with previous posters who say that Kawasaki should fit this bike with a center stand if it’s going to be pitched as a sport tourer. Chain drive is light and efficient, and with a center stand it’s simple to lube it. Not a deal breaker but something I’d rather see addressed.

    This bike makes my short list, along with the 1000 VStrom.

  17. Larry says:

    I am 58 yo. and I am a very very happy owner of a 2012 model.
    After many owning many bikes, I think, this is the best I ever had.
    After installing Madstad windshield (tall), OEM gel seats, Givi 46L trunk, this bike became a REAL sport tourer. Highly recomended !! No compromise !!

  18. Scott Myers says:

    I just traded my 2011 Ninja 1000 for a Green 2014. I would have to agree on pretty much everything mentioned in this article. Its an absolutely amazing bike and Kawasaki is definitely listening to owner suggestions.

    My two cents – tame down the color schemes (come on Kawasaki – I’m 50, not 20). Give it a gear indicator and ambient air gauge, and change the name “Ninja” – the insurance cost is killing me. Other than that, its a serious home run.

  19. Gary says:

    Two questions:

    1) Is the horsepower chart for the 2011 Ninja or the 2014? It is labelled 2011.

    2) You say it is smoother. Can you say a few words about how smooth? Smooth for an inline four or dead smooth?

    • Neil says:

      It won’t be dead smooth. But smooth for an inline. I rode the 2011 bike and it was plenty smooth for me even up to 85 mph. I have a 919 and it’s not dead smoothe either but good enough for sure compared to the old inlines. The new CB1100 has vibes engineered into it on purpose by comparison. Frankly, it helps me feel when to shift.

    • Tom says:

      I wish there were a standard way for reviewers and manufacturers to quantitatively report the amount of vibration in the handlebars and pegs. The usual qualitative descriptions are completely useless to me. More than once I have gone to check out a new bike partly because I read that it was smooth only to find out that it wasn’t smooth at all. Even for a given type of counterbalancing, there are enormous differences that are due to the engine mounting. One of the smoothest in-line fours I have ever ridden was the Honda CB900 Custom from the ’80s, and the reason it was smoother than other bikes with similar engines was surely due to the engine mounting. The modern FJR is abysmal in comparison, because Yamaha did not put the two counter-rotating balances directly in line with each other at the midpoint of the crankshaft, and then the engine is bolted directly to the frame. I’m talking the original FJR a decade ago. It is possible that Yamaha has since strengthened the frame and changed the mounts, but I doubt it. In their messed-up implementation, the unwanted motion components of the two balancers do not mutually cancel as they are supposed to, and for that matter the balancers do not come close to proper cancellation of 2nd-order piston motion, because the balancers are not located where they are supposed to be located. To this day this boggles my mind whenever I think about it.

    • Scott says:

      I had a 2011 before trading it for the 2014. I can say its definitely smoother than the 2011. I say smooth – as there are no buzzy spots like on the 2011. Definitely a major improvement.

  20. Gary says:

    That horsepower chart is a real eye-opener. You are exactly right that it is nearly impossible to tap the full potential of a modern liter sportbike on city streets. It would be nice to have 100 hp handy with the flick of a wrist.

  21. Sam Jones says:

    Listen up, Kawasaki: You’ve done a great job with the 2014 Ninja 1000 including the new bag redesign…BUT you need to get the “cats” stuffed up in those big “dust pan” silencers to make room for centerstand mounts in the space now occupied by the huge resonator/cat converter can. After 17 BMW’s, one sprint ST and a 2000 VFR, I wouldn’t own a SPORT-TOURING rig without a centerstand..!Just attend most any rally and you’ll get the picture.

    • richard says:

      centre stand…nooooo…limits clearance…who uses a centre stand anymore unless your off road

      • Bill says:

        I don’t ride off road, but I ride a ton of long-distance highway miles. I use my center stand a lot, and always when patching a tire. If this is to be a tourer for me, it’ll have a center stand.

        • richard says:

          guess the difference for me is i dont wrench… id call a tow truck…off to the dealer…leave it to the pros… which is why i prefer the ground clearance….make sense if you tour in uncharted territory where a dealer or tow truck is not readily available…not my cup of tea !

      • mickey says:

        I have a feeling you don’t “tour” very far from home. Have a flat in some places in Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, Washington, Colorado, Arizona, Utah et al and have a flat in late afternoon, a call for a tow truck may take days instead of hours, and the nearest dealer might be so far away your tow bill would buy a nice used motorcycle.

        • mickey says:

          That was not in response to Bill but rather to Richard. Btw if you are that concerned about a centerstand clearance, it is usually easier to remove one than to install one where no attachment points are available from the factory.

          • richard says:

            good point…very few bikes have centre stand option anymore…the allowability on all bikes would be smart…just the bracket even

    • Dave in WI says:

      Google “Quick Stand”. Something like this is very well suited to a bike like this. It’s a small rear stand that comes apart but can be used to raise the rear wheel for chain lubing or in the event of a flat. Very lightweight and does not affect cornering clearance. I’ve no affiliation to this product. I’m sure there are others out there that are similar. This allows you the option of raising the rear wheel without carrying around an extra 20 lbs of steel.

      • mickey says:

        Interesting product.

      • Norm G. says:

        re: “I’m sure there are others out there that are similar.”

        several years ago someone in the UK produced a completely portable folding paddock stand. I’ve never been able to find one or seen anybody with one, but I saw it advertised. perhaps people didn’t rate it.

    • marloweluke says:

      Enduro Star Trail Stand. check it out. I don’t want a centre stand on my bike because of weight and clearance issues and this makes chain lubing at the end of the day of touring very easy. I use it on my Triumph Tiger 800 Roadie.

  22. dave says:

    This is a great ride. Sporty and comfortable. To me this is a sport tourer not these bikes that are “650 lbs plus.

    • vitesse says:

      Agree, this is the true sport tourer. Yamaha has pitched their FJR1300 as one, but even though it’s the lighter of the touring bikes, with its shaft drive, heavy weight and low undercarriage, it’s totally misclassified.

      • Dennis Hill says:

        Vitesse, as was stated by another poster, this is a SPORTS tourer, emphasis on sports. The FJR is a sports TOURER, emphasis on tour. I wouldn’t say misclassified as much as I would say it doesn’t fit your defination. Try going cross country in cold weather on the Ninja, might change your mind. Cheers

      • Tom R says:

        Then what is it?

        • Dennis Hill says:

          Both the Ninja and the FJR are sports touring machines, but from opposite ends of the definition of sports touring.

        • Dave says:

          Re: “Then what is it? ”

          It’s a motorcycle. Why must it’s classification be exactly a specific thing? Customers are smart. The ones this bike works for will find it, just like the FJR, V-Strom, etc.

        • vitesse says:

          Exactly. Absent clear-cut (and agreed upon) guidelines describing the various categories, anyone is free to call a particular bike what they may according to their own inclination. If you buy a ZX14R as your ‘travel bike’ and outfit it with soft luggage, is it still a drag bike as Kawasaki marketed it or is it a sport tourer?

      • richard says:

        the most fun…specially in the twisties…bike is definately a sport tourer…touring bags,heated grips,comfort,abs…all traits for sport touring category. FJR is the most fun in the category…this new Kawi looks good too

  23. Provologna says:

    As an almost sixty year old, I can’t emphasize enough how much I admire and appreciate Dirck’s writing style of minimal adverbs and minimal passive voice.

  24. Montana says:

    State-of-the-art bike for less than the price of an under-performing car.
    That’s better than an under-performing bike for more than the price of a state-of-the-art car.

    • Scruby says:

      Montana,was that a dig on Harley.LOL

      • richard says:

        Harley bashing is getting so old…yaaawn

      • oregonlocal says:

        A 1200 Sportster with a cam, Mikuni, and after-market exhaust will blow the doors of of most any econobox and for less money.

        Add some head work and some 1450 Axtell jugs and it will blow the doors off most any car under 60 or 70k and quite a few luxo Kraut and Jap sedans more expensive than that.

        • joe b says:

          but will it beat a stock 600?

        • Tom says:

          Man, all that work just to get a motorcycle that will be sportier than a run-of-the-mill family sedan … wow. Wouldn’t it be easier to just go buy some run-of-the-mill 400cc twin or similarly sized dual-sport thumper, and save a ton of money? I’m just kidding with you, but after reading your comment I couldn’t help it. Btw, why do you find it desirable to use terms such as “Kraut” and “Jap”? Do you do this just to offend people because you get a kick out of offending people?

  25. motonut_1 says:

    Can’t imagine what possessed Kawasaki to abandon the red/black color combination. I’m sure this is a really good bike, but I’ll be waiting till next year hoping they come out with some decent color options. Shallow, I know!

    • MGNorge says:

      Shallow, not really, there are any number of aesthetics that play into the overall look of a bike and sometimes color is a major one. Look at how many people don’t care for the look of the mufflers, or the huge collector under the engine and frame. At my age and more buttoned down ways this green would not be me now. Perhaps when I was younger?

    • Norm G. says:

      always LOVED this colour since the Zed12 MkI. know anybody selling a mint example…? gimme a holler.

    • WillieB says:

      I agree about the colors. The bike is targeted at adults..I personally loved the white and charcoal combination. Not sure about having a white beard and a lime green bike. It is pretty though…

    • VLJ says:

      I can’t say that either the green or blue look bad, since they’re both gorgeous, but a red option and probably a black/white, solid black or grey/black combo would certainly appeal more to this bike’s target market.

      • mickey says:

        Im not so keen on the green, but I have a riding buddy same age as me (63) that loves the green. Red would be nice. Grey/black would be nice. grey/white would be nice.

        • adaleb says:

          Agree. I’m 57 and love the green.

          This is the closest bike yet to my Buell S3T. Great job by Kawasaki to keep the weight down and the comfort up. Another straight forward MD review.

        • jim says:

          That green makes you feel 20 years younger, I love it!

    • mickey says:

      You know with this being the 30 th Anniversary of the original 1984 Ninja 900 you’d think kawasaki would have played 2 cards by making it red/ black with the same diagonal bands and maybe picking up a few ” retro” sales, besides being a better color combo for us old folk

  26. allworld says:

    Currently my sport touring bike is a 06 Sprint ST, which I love, the miles are really racking up an a replacement will be needed soon. This bike has caught my attention, since I want a SPORT-touring bike and not a sport-TOURING bike, and form this and other reviews it would seem to be a good choice. I checked it out at the show in NY and there is a lot to like, but……
    No heated grips, no center stand, not a fan of the color choices….
    I don’t know what the charging system can handle but I use heated gear in cooler months and I would be using this bike to do 1-2 week tours so chain maintenance is a bit much with out a center stand.
    Triumph “new and improved” the Sprint to death (literally) with the GT version, Kawasaki seems to be headed in the right direction.

    • VLJ says:

      Kawi offers factory heated grips for this model.

      • Bob says:

        And those heated grips really suck. Barely warm and nowhere near equal from left to right and for too much money. I’ve since replaced them with Oxford Heaterz for 80 bucks….much better!

        I do miss the centerstand and agree chain maintenance on the road and at home even sucks without it. I was spoiled by the one on my old BMW R1100S (shaftie)…great for tire changes.

        As for the charging system, the reality is there is more than the 40 watts stated below. 40 is leftover with all circuits on. Most times, only the one side low beam that is on as is the led tail lamp and dash plus the ECU and what it takes to charge the battery. You can run heated pants/jacket and glove liners (or the heated grips but not both). You’d be taking a chance if you like to run gadgets in addition to those, so no GPS, cell phone or espresso machines while running heated gear.

  27. Mike says:

    Honda..are you listening???

    Here’s what your VFR SHOULD be like!!

    • Norm G. says:

      re: “Honda..are you listening???”

      you’ll have to speak up, the din of car-side cash registers is deafening. it’s like the west slots at the Bellagio.

    • bartman50 says:

      BINGO..Mike!!!! I would have been all over a new litre sized VFR in keeping with the same format as thye 98-01 versions. But NO!!! A 1200 cc behemoth that sports a 4.5 gallon tank??!! Whaat?? Should have kept it lean and mean, and that’s what Kawy did with this model. I have had three ZX11’s and have been waffle-ing over getting a ZX14R. But this bike seems to suit exactly what I want. Except maybe a v-four which I still think is the best overall engine platoform for this type of application.
      Nice going Kawasaki. I definitely interested. Honda…are you listening??!!

      • richard says:

        you ever ridden the 1200 VFR…most havnt…this bike works really well in every category…ride one…it is much better than the ZX14.

  28. Dennis Hill says:

    I always think of MD as the Walter Cronkite of motorcycle reviews, no hype, just present the facts, so I take what you say as gospel. That said, I think this bike would be a great 2nd sport tourer. Great for the summer blast to Deals Gap. But I ride as long as I can into the winter and according to the Powerlet website the excess power output from the alternator is only 40 watts. That means heated grips only. I cannot afford two bikes so I am left with my 18 year old, 100,000 mile beemer. I’m really looking for a replacement. Dirk’s report on the MG Norge still has my attention.

    • Kirk Roy says:

      Powerlet rates my 09 Versys similarly but I can run my warm n safe jacket and gloves along with the high beam with no problem. Versys forums show I’m not alone in running high drain electrical stuff. A quick internet search turns up guys running similar gear without problems on 1st gen Ninja 1000s. Strangely enough power rates my old 97 Concours much higher but that thing could barely run my electric jacket alone.

  29. Wendy says:

    Looks like a very nice sport tourer. Somebody buy one so I can buy it used.

    • Provologna says:

      Well put.

      Other posters here believe they practice the highest art of motorcycle consumerism, which is purchasing used bikes only. But their “religion” goes too far when they elevate their philosophy above those who purchase new bikes. As if their “always only used bikes” is better/smarter than buying new bikes.

      Earth to used bike buyer: special alert! If no one buys new bikes, there is no such thing as a motorcycle market of any kind, including and especially used bikes! Guess what? Once upon a time, every used bike was new when it left the factory and appeared on a showroom floor somewhere.

      Get a clue. If you like used bikes, you should always and only encourage anyone and everyone to take the new bike plunge, sign the documents, and ride away toward the horizon.

      • richard says:

        lets be honest…nothing better than a new bike…full warranty…no flaws
        Buying used is budget minded…been there too !

    • paul says:

      Ya, it doesn’t always work. A forum I follow with thumpers is full of people preaching that only an idiot would buy the bike new. The forum is also full of questions asking how to fix their previously owned (and abused ) machine that is full of snags.

      The one thing I like about buying new is that I know ALL the things that WERE NOT done to it.

      • richard says:

        Good point…ive owned pre-owned and new motorcycles…i think we can all agree buying a new bike trumps pre-owned everytime.

        Unless: you are on a budget and cant afford the bike of your dreams in the new category.

        Or: you find a mint one,still under warranty and low klms. You are the kind of person that has the money to buy new..however you wont allow yourself to buy a new bike because you have to feel good about paying a lower price for a used one…they usually brag and tell everyone what a great deal they got.

  30. daveh says:

    Nice looking bike, however the pillion pegs look a little high.
    Imagine if kawasaki had used a simple oval exhaust following the lower
    line, my wife or daughter would be much more likely to want to come for a decent length ride.

  31. Norm G. says:

    gratuitous wheelie shot…?! what gives…? this is an old man’s site innit…? 🙂

  32. Buckwheat says:

    Great overview of a great bike. Kawasaki has clearly hit a bullseye with this one. The well-designed, well-integrated hard bags transform this bike into what may be the king of sporty sport-tourers.

  33. sl says:

    Price aside, I wonder how this will compare with the new MV sport tourer

    • richard says:

      really….the Italian will always be more money…taking an MV on tour would make me really nervous

      • sl says:

        Actually yes, really. The MV will have all sorts of gadgets (electronically controlled suspension, etc), but power looks close. How much will one spend on the kawi to make it there own compared to the MV. I won’t kid anyone, I want to like the MV, but this bike makes a lot of sense. It doesn’t envoke any emotion, but does seem to hit every nail. As far as MV reliability, who here has had issues with an MV made in the last five years. Real question, is it urban legend, or have any of you had to walk because of an MV?

  34. oregonlocal says:

    This bike is a sad substitute for the bike they should really import: the fuel-injected ZXR1200.

  35. mickey says:

    If Honda hadn’t brought in the CB 1100 ( which I bought) this bike was my second choice. I know, not even the same genre,but I really enjoyed my Gen 1 FZ -1 as a solo sport tourer and this bike is the logical replacement for that. So I make do with the Honda ST 1300 for my long distance work and the CB for solo sport touring.

    Nice job Kawasaki

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