2014 Kawasaki Ninja 1000 ABS Preview

One of our favorite “real-world” sportbikes gets even better

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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.

Kawasaki NInja 1000 Forum

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.

2014 Kawasaki Ninja 1000 Blue Profile Left

It’s easy to mistake the 2014 Kawasaki Ninja 1000 for previous models, but there are some big changes sprinkled around.

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.

2014 Kawasaki Ninja 1000 Green Profile

A new subframe incorporates mounting points for Kawasaki’s accessory quick-release 29-liter saddlebags, designed specifically for the Ninja 1000. Note also the remote preload adjuster, which will come in handy when riding two-up and/or with luggage. Heated grips and a top case are optional.

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.

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  • Craig Hoffman

    If people have a brain, Kaw will sell tons of these things. Alas, I predict tepid at best sales, as people prefer to pay a lot more for lawnmower tech.

  • Craig Hoffman

    Looks like a great bike. I love my ’06 FZ1 and have to admit that this updated Ninja looks even better at being an all around value conscious but high performance bike. There is joy to be found in the saddle of this kind of bike. Super Standards rock!

  • Bmwclay

    Wanted to buy this bike last year, but they did not have ABS, etc. Finally they came out with everything I wanted, but alas, I found the love of my life, a 2006 K1200S. Everything I wanted in the plus ESA and 165 hp. For less than half the price of the Ninja. Sorry Kawasaki, just too late. Maybe next time.

  • Warprints

    This update is making me think hard about finally replacing my VFR. Now, just have to find a dealer willing to let me test ride one.

  • Ryan Garcia

    I have the 2012 650 and I love it. I’ve been wanting more power and I use my bike for commuting, I love the looks of this bike and little things that make this bike great from others , the adjustable windscreen, option of heated grips and you can fit a full size helmet in the saddle bags and lets not forget the riding position.

  • Warprints

    $1269 for saddlebags !?? Ouch.

    • Brett Lewis

      I know, but I would gladly pay the price for cases that fit perfectly to the bike, unlike the aftermarket stuff that costs half as much.

      • Warprints

        Yeah, but it’s just the principle of having to pay that much – I know … limited production, etc. At least they’re less expensive than the VFR bags and hardware.

  • toumanbeg

    Thanks but I will keep my Fazer. I wonder why they put ABS and traction control on a machine with that much power? If you need TC and ABS to ride, you SURE as ‘ell have to much power. May it is a poseur bike. The rider never rides any farther then the ole malt shop?

    Here in the land of the big PX, the carnage among young males is horrendous. ABS and TC are part of the reason for that carnage. The manufactures pretend their devices can compensate for the lack of skill on the part of their customers. They don’t and those same devices prevent the riders from learning skills properly. So they die………..
    One wonders about the survival of a business that routinely kills off it’s future customers.
    OH well, nothing I can do about it. I’m 61 and have managed to stay alive on motorcycles for 48 years. I’m slowing down though and I suspect it won’t be much longer before some old woman in a Buick turns me into hamburger. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

    • Warprints

      TC and ABS are not substitutes for knowing how to ride, they are safety features that, unless purposely abused, only come into play in unusually low traction situations. True, TC is generally found on more powerful machines — a TW200 is much less likely to spin its rear tire on sand or slippery surfaces than a Ducati Multistrada — but ABS is a safety feature useful on any motorcycle.

      • toumanbeg

        In Your Humble Opinion. In my humble opinion, they are sales tools that add weight and fool young riders into exceeding their safety margin by waaaay more then they should. A big part of the fun of riding is expanding your envelope and getting better. Normal males are attracted to danger and the unknown in general, which is why motorcycles are so alluring to teenage males. Plus the chicks like them because they know the guys on them have balls. The mechanical safety devices halt the natural development of a rider, add weight and cost.

        I cannot think of anything positive accomplished by TC or ABS.
        While useful on cars, motorcycles ARE NOT cars. That may sound obvious but millions of bureaucrats haven’t figured it out yet. Have you?

        • Warprints

          You are entitled to your opinion.
          If you cannot think of anything positive accomplished by TC or ABS, that is you. Fortunately, I can think of positive things that are accomplished by TC and ABS on motorcycles.
          Do some people unreasonably rely on these technologies – sure they do. That’s them.

          • toumanbeg

            I can think of all sort of positives but not for the operator. The manufacture and the banks for sure.

            Just out of curiosity, what do the racing guys think of the devices. How many factory riders use them on the machines they race? Where all this is leading is to bureaucrats that cannot tell the difference between a Mo-ped and a ‘Busa requiring that ALL motorcycles have TC and ABS that cannot be turned off. More lives would be saved by requiring braided SS brakes lines from the factory then ABS or TC.

          • Kevin Duke

            Wow, you really seem adverse to technology. All factory racers use TC! Sounds like you’ve never really tested bikes with ABS and TC.

            “the carnage among young males is horrendous. ABS and TC are part of the reason for that carnage.”

            There is solid data that ABS reduces crashes. Where is your evidence that ABS and TC causes them?

          • toumanbeg

            No, I love technology. But for what it can do , not just because it is technology. I question your data. We live in the age of junk science. Data is manufactured out of whole cloth if necessary to sell a product. Global warming is a prime example.

            My reasoning is that a slow speed spill is good for a young rider. They find out what that queasy feeling as a tire loses traction is like. They also learn the small quiver that precedes it. That is your bike telling you; “Slow down or fly”. With an artifical aide ‘helping out, you don’t learn the limits with a scary but not real dangerous bit of asphalt surfing. TC and ABS WILL NOT change the laws of physics. So when the inevitable happens and you part ways with your motorcycle in the middle of a downhill, declining radius curve, the speed is too high for safety.
            It ain’t majic. It is just a crutch. The real argument here is the calculator vs repetitions math teachers have been fighting since the first pocket calculator was invented.

            Do you want to practice, drill and rehearse until you can do it at any time under any conditions or do you trust a bit of rock to do it for you?

            Ever heard the term “Blue screen of death”?

          • Kevin Duke

            “I question your data. We live in the age of junk science. Data is manufactured out of whole cloth if necessary to sell a product.”

            It’s difficult to debate a subject if you reject out of hand data you don’t agree with and then counter with zero data to back up your opinion. And, besides, there’s thousands of ways to crash a motorcycle that don’t involve braking or accelerative traction!

          • toumanbeg

            My bad! Poor writing skills on my part. I’m questioning the methodology. Without the types of statistical analysis tools used and a public data base there is NO DATA to reject. GIGO (Garbage IN, Garbage Out). Where did you see those numbers? A DOT study? A Penthouse opinion poll? A 3×5 card stapled above the water kooler? Was the data base built from insurance forms, police reports, court records? Ouija board?

            I am pointing out that you have no data, if you did you would cite it. IF you can produce your data and I cannot pick it apart, then it’s science and I have to admit you are correct.

            Here is a quick google;

            “Antilock brakes (ABS) have the potential to reduce motorcycle crash
            fatalities by 37 percent, according to research by the Insurance
            Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS)”
            Leaving out the fact that they consider the Can-Am a motorcycle (Which demonstrates a paucity of math skills on the part of somebody. Motorcycles have two wheels, Can Am’s don’t.) You have a 50+ year old bureaucracy that is a proven failure.
            Founded in 1959 for the purpose of lowing accident and death rates among motor vehicles, the fact that neither of those rates has declined should be considered proof of incompetence. Like the MSF, they don’t even have a clue as to what is wrong.
            Regardless, I looked at what I think was the report. It is hard to be sure online. The data was not included, which moves the report into the “Junk Science” bin. With real science, the scientist WANTS his data and methodology checked. Being correct is more important then tricking people into sharing your opinion. I would not accuse them of cherry picking until I found out who paid for the study.
            Please note the use of the word ‘potential’.
            I have been riding motorcycles since 1965. 8 years as a motorcycle courier in Washington D.C. I am personally acquainted with most of the ways to wreck a motorcycle. I’ve never been involved (riding or sliding alongside) one while it was on fire but I have been high side, low side and under a metro bus.

          • Kevin Duke

            Unfo, it’s only the insurance industry which is willing to spend money on subsidies. The latest from the IIHS: “The latest report found ABS technology reduces the rate of fatal crashes by 31%, while collision claim rates were 20% lower with ABS-equipped motorcycles.”

            “the fact that neither of those (accident and death) rates has declined should be considered proof of incompetence.”

            Actually, accidents and deaths per mile driven are waaaaay down.

            “I am personally acquainted with most of the ways to wreck a motorcycle… I have been high side, low side and under a metro bus.”

            And those crashes can still easily happen on bikes with ABS and TC. :)

          • toumanbeg

            Exactly. Supporting my contention that they are unnecessary and more of a sales tool then a safety device. If safety was important to the bureaucrats, clip-ons would be restricted to the track. Actually, I do have a Universal TC unit. It sticks out of the right sleeve of my jacket, which, BTW, is Kevlar and ballistic fabric. I do love my technology. I just love it for what it can do, not just because it’s technology. I especially do not miss torquing my spokes once a month.

            I’m not sure where your data on mortorcycle related crashes comes from but the CDC has a different opinion; I see you did the ‘airline’ trick and threw in the totally meaningless per mile figure. Getting desperate, are we?

            http://www.cdc.gov/features/dsmotorcyclesafety/index.html

            {snipped}

            “Motorcyclist death rates increased 55% from 2001 to 2008 (1.12 per 100,000 persons in 2001 to 1.74 per 100,000 persons in 2008). The number of nonfatal motorcyclist injuries that were treated in EDs also increased, from nearly 120,000 injuries in 2001 to about 175,000 in 2008.”

            “With more people in the United States riding motorcycles today than ever before, motorcyclist deaths and injuries are an important public health concern.”
            That last quote is the camel’s ugly nose peeking in the tent.
            Bureaucrats will jump on the chance to expand their turf (and funding) to prevent all those tragic deaths. We will end up with rules written by people who’s closest exposure to motorcycling is having one pull up next to them at a stop light.
            I’ll be dead by then but that is no reason not to swat the camel’s nose.

          • Kevin Duke

            Per-mile data is a trick…? What would you prefer?

          • toumanbeg

            Per Hour? Per journey? My point is that while figures never lie, liars do figure. Any complex data base can be sliced and diced to produce whatever the slicee and dicee wants.
            Politicians and bureaucrats do it all day, every day. Don’t make the mistake of thinking the figures are meaningful.

          • Kevin Duke

            So all figures have no meaning…?

      • Brett Lewis

        .Warprints is right. It’s not like ABS comes into play every 50 miles of riding… For a new rider, it can reduce the fear of locking up the front, helping them to learn to use the front brake up to it’s full potential. Instead of fishtailing and and bald-spotting the rear, it’s a much gentler reminder to go easy on the rear and rely more on the front. Contact patch size and the hazards caused by inattentive car drivers, being what they are on a bike, ABS makes sense. It’s quickly becoming a moot point, soon all new bikes will have it.

        • zack

          But if the rider is scared of the bike to begin with, why not do things gradually? I went from a 2004 250 ninja to a 2003 FZ1 without any problem or fear of using the front brake. If the brakes or any other aspect of the bike scared me I would have settled for a smaller bike. Besides, I hear you can still lock up the brakes even with ABS (could be garbage but that’s what i’ve heard).

          • Warprints

            Nope. ABS won’t lock up — that’s the whole idea. (Actually, the brakes do “lock up” for a few milliseconds, then release, then “lock up”, etc. etc. — but they won’t stay locked up unless the system is not working. ) When riding in sand, small gravel, etc., you want the the brakes to lock up, so many dual purpose machines with ABS let you turn ABS off.

          • Brett Lewis

            Smaller bikes are more forgiving when you lock up, I had an incident on a DRZ400 where I got on the brakes so hard the rear came around to full lock and I recovered and continued motoring to work, almost as if it had never happened… ABS would have denied me that puckering experience though. Personally, my time riding ABS bikes has improved my braking on any bike I ride – ABS or not.

  • kawazuki_gtp

    It looks almost the same as the new Z1000. I wonder what the insurance difference is since it is called a Ninja ?

    I’m getting raped by my insurance co. for my 98 ZX11 “Ninja”

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  • DAVID

    I have a 08′ CBR 1000 (440 lbs-150+hp) with no TC or ABS, I’ve put over 20,000 miles on her and never went down, I’ve done track days-1,000 miles trips-high speed runs etc. I was always taught by good riders> good tires and good gear (t-shirts don’t work)
    I just don’t see it with all these gizmos with 120hp or less and 500 lbs.
    SKILLS AND COMMOM SENSE WILL SAVE YOUR ASS QUICKER THAN GIZMOS
    that’s my take on riding on the street for 30 + yrs

  • Jamo11

    I’d like to see a price tag and a date when I can see the bike in person at the local K-KWAC dealer.