A MO favorite, the Kawasaki Ninja 1000 does a great job of combining sporting capabilities with a relaxed riding position to create a versatile machine ready to tackle almost any riding duty. Its bars are high, pegs relatively low, and it provides a comfortable cockpit for a weekend ride or a quick trip across town to do some errands. It’s a terrific do-it-all sportbike and also makes a fine platform for lightweight sport touring.
Now Kawasaki is delivering an even better Ninja 1K for 2014, augmented by the addition of ABS, traction control, power modes, monobloc brake calipers and the availability of hard-shell saddlebags to turn it into an authentic sport-touring machine.
Starting at the engine, the 1043cc four-banger remains but now gets different intake cams for improved low- to mid-range power. High-rpm push is helped by revised cylinder connecting passageways which reduce pumping losses and a new high-flow air filter. A taller sixth gear has been added to keep revs and vibration lower, plus helps the engine run more economically while cruising on the highway.
The increase in torque could mean it’s easier to break the rear end loose, but Team Green has you covered there with the introduction of its K-TRC traction-control system. It offers three levels of intervention (four including off).
Similar to the K-TRC system used on the ZX-10R supersport bike, the first two settings on the Ninja 1000’s TC provide maximum acceleration with limited intervention. The third setting is meant for wet or slippery conditions, with high intervention rates to ensure slippage is kept to a minimum.
The two power modes offer full power or approximately 70% power to suit the road ahead. Combined with TC adjustments, it adds up to eight different power and TC combinations conveniently adjustable via the left thumb switch.
Stopping performance, something we’ve never complained about in the past, also gets an upgrade, with the addition of monobloc radial-mount calipers biting down on the 300mm wave discs. A radial master cylinder should offer improved feel at the lever, while the small and lightweight ABS unit is a great safety feature for street riding.
Suspension still includes a 41mm fork up front and a horizontal shock out back, but now the latter includes a remote preload adjustment knob for much easier tuning for various loads, without tools.
A new subframe now comes with built-in mounts for optional quick-release saddlebags designed to complement the Ninja Thou’s styling, enabling greater touring capabilities. The saddlebag kit retails for $1269.75. What’s more, this Ninja retails for a very reasonable $11,999. That’s only a few hundred dollars more than Japanese 600cc sportbikes, including Kawi’s ZX-6R.
Combine the comfy ergos with the manually adjustable windscreen and the accessory bags, and the Ninja 1000 ranks high on our list of bikes we’d want to ride up to, say, Laguna Seca. And that’s exactly what Content Editor, Tom Roderick, will be doing later this month during the Ninja 1000’s official launch. Stay tuned to read our full report.