2020 Kawasaki Ninja 1000SX

Jun 30, 2020 View Comments by

2020 Kawasaki Ninja 1000SXThe Ninja 1000 has been one of the best values in the high-performance sport-touring class since it was introduced in 2014. But what it wasn’t, especially relative to the latest offerings from Europe, was sophisticated. Revisions for 2017 included monoblock brake calipers and an inertial measurement unit for uprated traction and braking safety controls, bringing the Kawi closer to the sophistication of its Euro rivals.

The Ninja 1000 gains the SX suffix and a host of updates for 2020, which makes the $12,399 MSRP a stronger value. Most obvious are the visual aspects, including a much tidier exhaust system that loses its left-side muffler, as well as a new fairing design that appears more svelte but is wider for improved wind protection. New LED headlights and taillights are part of the package, as is a windshield design that now offers four positions adjustable from the saddle without tools.

Also new is a vivid 4.3-inch thin film transistor color instrument panel that can also be linked to smartphones via Kawi’s Rideology the App, which enables tracking your trips and receiving incoming call notifications, as well as the ability to choose the new ride modes: Sport, Road, Rain, and a customizable Rider setting. New mirrors feature a greater adjustment range and are moved farther outboard to provide an improved rearward view of the road behind, while a new clutch lever allows setting the reach to five positions.

Other modern conveniences are enabled by the new ride-by-wire system, which incorporates electronic cruise control (finally!) and an up/down quickshifter. Power from the 1043cc four-cylinder motor has always been a strong point, and output remains about the same (140 hp).

To mitigate the effects of engine vibrations, Kawasaki is utilizing rubber damping units under the seat pan and a denser form of urethane padding in the seats. A 32.1-inch seat height is lower than most adventure-style bikes. Passengers are treated to a plusher seat sculpted with a raised rear area to keep them safely aboard during hard acceleration. New hand-holds promise an ergonomic design that allows a more natural grip.

The Ninja’s chassis is underpinned by the same aluminum frame as previous, but the 41mm inverted fork is updated with damping pistons that now incorporate a slit to “help relieve negative pressure that builds up during compression and results in a smoother fork action over bumps.” It retains stepless compression and rebound damping adjusters as well as spring preload adjustability. The shock has rebound adjustments and a remote preload adjuster. Kawi says it weighs a reasonable 514 pounds with its 5-gallon tank full.

There are just two aspects that keep the N1k from being a fully featured sport-tourer. A centerstand isn’t included or even available from Kawi, which means maintenance will be inconvenient. Also, saddlebags are an option that retail for an extra $1,300 or so, although it should be said they each hold a full-face helmet, are lockable, and have integrated mounting points.

So, the Ninja 1000SX asks: Where else are you going to find a 140-horse sport-tourer with a TFT and IMU for less than $13,000?

Photography: Kawasaki


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