2020 Kawasaki Ninja 1000SX First Look

John Burns
by John Burns

The Ninja 1000 has been a great sport tourer ever since it appeared on scene in 2011. In recent years, though, it’s been let down by a lack of what are now considered sport-touring must-have amenities. Not anymore. The price is right too, Bob. This one will be a great do-everything motorcycle for a lot of enlightened people.

Kawasaki Press Release:


The new 2020 Ninja 1000SX has been refined to provide an even better platform for experienced riders to enjoy sport riding combined with touring capability. The dynamic, sportier styling, including a single-sided muffler is sure to catch your eye upon first glance. Rider aides have also been added including Electronic Cruise Control and Intergrated Riding Modes that combine KTRC and Power Modes in one easy selection. The electronics can now be monitored through the new 4.3” all-digital TFT color instrumentation screen or with Kawasaki’s RIDEOLOGY THE APP using Bluetooth smartphone connectivity.

Highlights of the 2020 Kawasaki Ninja 1000SX motorcycle:
 NEW Enhanced chassis orientation awareness technology featuring Bosch IMU
 NEW Kawasaki Cornering Management Function (KCMF)
 NEW Kawasaki Intelligent Anti-Lock Brake System (KIBS)
 NEW Windshield and fairings
 NEW Ergonomically comfortable seat
 NEW ECU tuning


 Exhilarating power from the 1,043 cc, inline 4-cylinder engine
 NEW Electronic throttle valves
 Improved throttle response that is both quick and smooth

A powerful 1,043 cc liquid-cooled, four-stroke in-line four-cylinder engine pulls strongly from all rpm. Adding to rider exhilaration, the engine delivers superb engine response, a strong mid-range hit and a powerful intake howl. New electronic throttle valves were added to enable the ECU to control the volume of both the fuel through the fuel injectors and air through the throttle valves delivered to the engine providing smooth response and ideal output. The electronic throttle valve system locates the accelerator position on the handlebar, eliminating the throttle cable. To provide a natural feel, friction is used to simulate the feel of a throttle cable. The fuel injection and electronic throttle valve settings mean response is both quick and smooth which helps the rider maintain control when riding at low speeds while also contributing to the sport riding potential of the Ninja 1000SX.

Camshaft profiles were revised to reduce tappet noise and the intake funnels have been changed,
meaning shorter intake funnels for the first and fourth cylinders, which matches the exhaust layout and leads to cleaner emissions. The Ninja 1000SX features a cool air system which routes cool air to the airbox through ducts at the front of the side fairings, minimizing performance loss due to heated air intake.

The Ninja 1000SX features many enhancements that allow for a smoother engine feeling. One major
feature is the secondary balancer on the engine crankshaft, which helps to reduce vibration.
An all-new exhaust system has a header pipe configuration, which contributes to a sportier
appearance. Joint pipes linking the exhaust headers merge into the single collector contribute to
increased feeling and response at all rpm. Three-way catalyzers in the exhaust collector complement
the revised engine mapping.

Complementing the transmission is an Assist & Slipper clutch, race-inspired technology that offers both a back-torque limiting function as well as a light feel at the lever. The Assist function is noticed by the lighter pull at the clutch lever, helping to reduce rider fatigue especially in stop and go traffic situations. The Slipper function is noticed when excessive engine braking occurs as a result of quick or
 accidental downshifts. The slipper cam comes into play, forcing the
 clutch hub and operating plate apart, which relieves pressure on the clutch plates to reduce back-torque and help prevent the rear tire from hopping and skidding.


 Highly rigid aluminum frame
 Combination of solid and rubber engine mounts for reduced vibration
and excellent handling characteristics

Thanks to a rigid, lightweight aluminum frame and compact engine design, the weight is not only low and centered inside the motorcycle, but the overall profile is slim. This centralization allows for sharp handling, neutral steering and a light turn-in. Lightweight and highly rigid, the frame uses the engine as a stressed member. The frame is a five-piece cast aluminum construction, consisting of a steering stem, left and right main frames, and two cross pieces. The front part of the rear frame is an example of form and function combined, allowing the side covers to be eliminated. This also allows the width under the seat to be narrower, offering riders a shorter reach to the ground.


 41mm front inverted forks
 NEW Low speed damping pistons for smoother fork action over bumps
 Front and rear adjustability

The Ninja 1000SX features 41mm inverted front forks with stepless compression and rebound damping and spring preload adjustability. New for 2020, a low-speed slit was added to the damping pistons to help relieve negative pressure that builds up during compression and results in a smoother fork action over bumps. Fine-tuned settings offer both sporty performance and comfort, which contribute to light handling on city streets and on winding roads.

The horizontal back link rear suspension positions the shock unit and linkage above the swingarm,
allowing for greater mass centralization. The rear shock features rebound and preload adjustability, with a remote preload adjuster facilitating setting changes to suit tandem riding, luggage or rider preference. This is ideal for quick adjustability when traveling.


 NEW Electronic Cruise Control
 NEW Kawasaki Quick Shifter (KQS)
 NEW Integrated Riding Modes
 Bosch IMU with 6-axis of measurements
 Kawasaki Cornering Management Function (KCMF)
 Kawasaki Intelligent anti-lock Brake System (KIBS)
 Kawasaki Traction Control (KTRC)
 Power Mode selection

The strength of Kawasaki’s cutting-edge electronics has always been the highly sophisticated
programming that uses minimal hardware to give the ECU an accurate real-time picture of what the
chassis is doing and what the rider wants, to best support the rider’s inputs with a natural feel. Using
the latest evolution of Kawasaki’s advanced modeling software, including input from a compact Bosch IMU (Inertial Measurement Unit), Kawasaki Cornering Management Function (KCMF) monitors engine and chassis parameters throughout the corner to assist riders in holding their intended line through the corner. The Ninja 1000SX motorcycle utilizes the input from multiple sensors to optimize ride quality via the Kawasaki TRaction Control (KTRC), and the Kawasaki Intelligent Anti-Lock Braking System (KIBS).

The Ninja 1000SX is equipped with four integrated riding modes that combine both KTRC and Power Modes that efficiently set traction control and power delivery for the given riding situation. The settings are Sport, Road, Rain or Rider (manual) and while the first three settings are fixed, in Rider mode, the systems can be set independently. As conditions change the riding mode can be adjusted while riding.

The Ninja 1000SX is equipped with electronic cruise control, which improves the overall comfort for
those long days on the road. The cruise control system enables riders to set and maintain their desired speed with the simple press of a button. Once activated, the rider does not have to constantly apply the throttle to maintain speed. The cruise control helps to reduce rider fatigue when traveling long distances, allowing the rider to relax and enjoy cruising, contributing to a high level of riding comfort.


The Ninja 1000SX features a highly reliable contactless-type quick shifter that allows for ultra quick, full-power upshifts and seamless acceleration. The system detects that the shift lever has been actuated, and sends a signal to the ECU to cut ignition so that the next gear can be engaged for clutchless shifting.


 NEW Wider fairings and taller double-bubble windshield
 NEW Five-way adjustable clutch lever
 NEW Mirrors for increased visibility
 NEW Ergonomically comfortable seat for rider and passenger

The relatively upright position, compared to supersport models, offers both comfort and confidence for riders. Separate, raised clip-ons are mounted on top of the forks, for relaxed arm position, while
maintaining a sporty and comfortable riding position. A new five-way adjustable clutch lever can be set to suit the size of the rider’s hands, aiding in rider comfort. Mirrors are positioned farther outward and have a greater range of movement, offering easier adjustability.

Both rider and passenger seats deliver increased comfort, thanks to a new, more dense type of
urethane padding used in the construction of the seats. Dampers on the underside of the seat also help reduce vibration. Ergonomically sculpted passenger grips are easy to hold and naturally positioned, contributing to even more passenger comfort.

The fairing design also covers part of the frame, contributing to a good ergonomic fit and helping to
protect the rider from engine heat for added comfort.


 300 mm front discs with four-piston radial mount calipers
 Lightweight six-spoke wheels
 NEW Bridgestone BATTALAX HYPERSPORT S22 tires

The Ninja 1000SX features two large, 300 mm front brake discs that are gripped by opposed four-
piston radial-mount monobloc calipers. The upper pistons in the caliper are 32 mm while the lower
pistons measure 30 mm. The front brake offers a firm initial touch and the level of braking force is easily controlled offering superb braking performance. The rear brake features a single piston, pin slide caliper that grips a 250 mm disc. The rear caliper features a torque rod and is mounted below the swingarm to add to the sporty image of the Ninja 1000SX. Braking functions are assisted by the
Kawasaki Intelligent anti-lock Braking System (KIBS). This supersport-grade brake management
system uses high-precision control to regulate brake pressure during sporty riding.

Bridgestone’s latest sport tires, the BATTLAX HYPERSPORT S22, are mounted on lightweight six-
spoke wheels. The new tires contribute to the lighter handling of the Ninja 1000SX, while offering
enhanced grip in both wet and dry conditions.


 Supersport-style full fairing bodywork
 NEW Single-sided muffler
 NEW LED headlights and taillights
 NEW Three-piece side fairing construction
 NEW Supersport-style front fender

Supersport-style full-fairing bodywork gives the Ninja 1000SX motorcycle a distinct, head-turning look. The sleek styling also offers a good measure of wind protection, helping to reduce rider fatigue. The chin spoilers similar to those on the Ninja H2 and Ninja ZX-10R motorcycles strengthen the
Ninja resemblance along with the longer design of the under cowl to give a more dynamic
appearance. A new more stylish windshield is set at a more upright angle and is adjustable to four positions ranging from sporty to maximum wind protection. No tools are required to adjust the windshield, simply depress the windshield release button below the instrument panel.

Turn signals are built into to the fairings to aid in the slim profile and sporty look. Supersport-style front fender contributes to both aerodynamics and racy looks. The sharp, compact design of the LED
headlamps contributes to a fierce expression and combines with built-in front turn signals and compact rear turn signals. Red LED bulbs behind a smoked lens adds a touch of class to the tail cowl. A single-sided muffler contributes to a much sportier look, while the swingarm features eccentric axle adjusters, contributing to the Ninja 1000SX motorcycle’s Kawasaki identity.

The Kawasaki Genuine Accessory KQR saddlebags can be easily mounted by simply sliding them onto the slots on the grips and because the elegant mounting system does not use cumbersome mounting brackets, the rear of the bike looks clean and sharp when the saddlebags are removed. The mounting system positions the saddlebags close to the bike’s centerline keeping a well-integrated look with the rear of the bike that also facilitates navigating urban spaces. The saddlebags can each hold a full-face helmet and feature a one-key system means that the bags are conveniently unlocked and removed with the ignition key.


The new 4.3” all-digital TFT color instrumentation gives the cockpit of the Ninja 1000SX motorcycle a high-tech, high-grade appearance. The full color display features TFT (thin-film transistor) technology delivers a high level of visibility. The screen’s background color is selectable (black or white), and screen brightness adjusts automatically to suit available light. Display functions include: digital speedometer, gear position indicator, upshift indicator, odometer, dual trip meter, fuel gauge, cruising distance, average fuel consumption, outside temperature, water temperature, clock, economical riding indicator, IMU indicator, KIBS indicator, boost pressure and boost temperature.


A chip built into the instrument panel enables riders to connect to their motorcycle wirelessly. Using
RIDEOLOGY THE APP, a number of instrument functions can be accessed, logged, and reviewed
contributing to an enhanced motorcycling experience. The following information can be viewed:
1. Vehicle Info
 Check latest status update
2. Riding Log
 Can be logged in detail, and played back for review
 Route, Distance & Time traveled can be logged for review
 Riding conditions can be recorded in detail
3. Telephone Notifications
 Provides a notification on dash when a call or mail is received by smartphone
4. General Settings
 General instrument display setting changes can be made on your smartphone
 Kawasaki Riding Management modes can be set

The app can also be used when away from the motorcycle. When riding (with the app ON), the bike
and smartphone are always connected and riding log data is being recorded by the app. After your ride, the latest riding information is stored by the app and may be viewed on the smartphone. Any changes made via the app while the engine is off, or while out of range, will be implemented as soon as the ignition is turned on and the smartphone is in range with the app ON.

* RIDEOLOGY THE APP is not intended for use during vehicle operation. Only use RIDEOLOGY THE APP when the vehicle
is not being operated and it is safe to do so.

A feature that sets the Ninja 1000SX apart is the large number of Kawasaki Genuine Accessories for
owners to choose from, allowing them to create a unique sport tourer just for them – like the hard color-matched KQR 28 Liter Hard Saddlebags, multiple seat options and a larger windshield, just to name a few of the most popular items. The full range of Kawasaki Genuine Accessories are available at authorized Kawasaki dealers, including grip heaters, USB and DC power outlets, frame sliders and
navigation brackets. Please visit Kawasaki.com for more information.

Metallic Graphite Gray / Metallic Diablo Black

John Burns
John Burns

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3 of 19 comments
  • Bill Hawley Bill Hawley on Nov 08, 2019

    Looks like they addressed about all the complaints about my '16. Revs should be lower on highway, but I'll live with that if the vibes are reduced. I've added a larger windshield, power socket, heated grips, and replaced the (awful) stock seat. Now it's all mostly standard - with cruise - AND you can see what's behind you too! Might just have to ride the '20 to see if it will help me get over selling my Daytona. Worst decision of my life.

  • Ron Zu Ron Zu on Nov 14, 2019

    I must be enlightened, because this bike sounds VERY interesting. Any mention of power?

    • Denchung Denchung on Nov 14, 2019

      Kawasaki USA didn't provide any figures, but Kawasaki Europe's claiming 140 hp at 10000 rpm and 82 lb-ft at 8000 rpm.