2014 Kawasaki Ninja 1000 Preview

Oct 11, 2013 View Comments by

2014 Kawasaki Ninja 1000 PreviewWith some skillful and well-chosen changes, Kawasaki has transformed the sporty 1000cc Ninja into a high performance sport-touring model that’s both good-looking and very capable. It didn’t hurt that the new Ninja version’s press launch was held in conjunction with the World Superbike races at California’s Mazda Laguna Seca Raceway. Kawi’s top rider, Tom Sykes, managed a win on Saturday’s round and led for much of Sunday’s race until his tires started to go off and he had to settle for fourth place in the final laps.

For motorcycle touring enthusiasts, however, the most exciting news is the improved saddlebags, which are now well integrated with the bike and tuck in nicely, rather than sticking way out and making the bike very wide as the previous accessory bags did. The Ninja’s rear subframe had to be redesigned to permit the bags to tuck in tightly, and retrofitting earlier models with the new bags and mounts would require that most of the parts on the rear half of the motorcycle be replaced.

Although the bag’s shape is slightly odd, a full-face helmet can be stowed in either side, and special bag liners provide a convenient way to pack and unpack when traveling. There’s also an accessory tail trunk, which can hold a helmet and riding gear, and is designed for commuters. Unfortunately Kawasaki states that the trunk cannot be mounted or used at the same time as the saddlebags.

Power comes from the potent one-liter inline four banger, feeding through a silky smooth clutch and six-speed gearbox. Acceleration is quick and there’s plenty of power for passing.

A manually adjustable windscreen provides adequate wind protection in the upright position, however there’s certainly room for aftermarket replacements. The same goes for the seat, which is firm and thinly padded, and the compact pillion seat is almost sure to elicit complaints from passengers. Riding posture is sporty, but the handlebars rise several inches from the upper triple clamp, which helps keep weight off the wrists.

Braking is powerful and ABS is standard. High quality suspension components provide a firm ride and competent handling. Overall the new Ninja is a fun, sporting machine, which offers strong performance and good value. Stay tuned for more information and impressions in the pages of RoadRUNNER.

By Ken Freund

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