Nope, this is not a First Ride review. Yes, I’m annoyed too. But hey, COVID-19 is affecting everyone in different ways. I won’t whine about not getting to ride new motorcycles for X number of weeks if you folks promise not to whine about, “Where’s the Ninja 1000 SX review!” I understand your anticipation, we feel the same way over here. When our comprehensive Ninja 1000 SX data dump (basically just a giant Kawasaki press release) was published last November during EICMA 2019, Kawasaki spilled all of the beans on the new model. Last week we had a “virtual press launch” which was a lot of fun. Unfortunately, there was no new information to publish since Kawi had already released it all.
When that press release was posted on the site last Fall, the 2020 Kawasaki Ninja 1000 SX was one of the most popular motorcycles our readers were interested in during our 2019 EICMA coverage. Since we don’t anticipate Kawi opening its press fleet doors to the motorcycling media anytime soon, we (Evans) thought I’d distill down those previously posted 2,300+ words into a concise list of what’s actually new for 2020.
For 2020 Kawasaki has eschewed those pesky throttle cables in favor of an all-new ride-by-wire throttle. A new accelerator position sensor on the throttle negates the need for cables by working with the Electronic Throttle Valves (EVT) to ensure just the right mixture of air and fuel is sucked into the engine. The intake funnels have been revised so cylinders one and four now use 45mm shorter funnels to contribute to cleaner emissions while also matching the new exhaust layout.
Kawasaki has now included four ride modes: Sport, Road, Rain, and Rider. The first three have preset power and traction control (KTRC) settings while the fourth, Rider, can be customized.
All of that is fine and dandy, but what we’ve really been waiting to see on this sport touring machine is… CRUISE CONTROL. Yes, folks, it’s here. Thanks to the inclusion of the ride-by-wire throttle, cruise is easily set via the left switchgear.
In favor of a “sportier appearance” says Kawasaki, Team Green has chosen to use a single-sided muffler setup on the 2020 Ninja 1000 SX, a decision that dropped 4.4 lbs off the previous dual-can set up, we’re told. We now have a four-into-two-into-3-way catalyzer-into-one exhaust system. Whew.
TFT haters can GTFO. This stunning new 4.3-inch display isn’t as big as others on the market, but the functionality and delivery of information still gets the job done. Two selectable display modes allow folks to prioritize the information they want to see. Users can also select from black and white background color or set the system to auto-adjust with ambient lighting. Riders are also now able to link up with their Ninja 1000 SX via Bluetooth through Kawasaki’s Rideology app. This sophisticated app lets you do all the things we’ve already talked about in the latest Versys 1000 SE LT +, Z H2, and Ninja 650 reviews. As far as information available on screen, bullet points seem more efficient:
The 2020 Kawasaki Ninja 1000 SX now comes with (hyper)sporty Bridgestone Battlax Hypersport S22. Kawi says the tires, “contribute to lighter handling, while offering enhanced grip in both dry and wet conditions.” But you don’t have to take their word for it! Check out Evans Brasfield’s comprehensive S22 review where our leading man put down more laps than any other journalist around the legendary Circuito de Jerez in Spain to ensure a thorough test of what they have to offer. [Yeah, right. – EB]
They add up. There are a handful of other changes that will likely address some of the complaints riders have had about the Ninja 1000 for the past few years. For example, EvB mentioned to me on the phone that the previous gen was a bit of a “ball buzzer” to some that might sound kind of nice, to others not so much. Kawasaki has addressed this issue by replacing the seat’s padding with a denser urethane. Furthering the mission of quelling those unwanted vibes, “dampers” of some sort have been added under the seat as well.
We’re always happy to see quickshifters included because we’re lazy. The 2020 Ninja 1000 SX now comes off the showroom floor with a quickshifter capable of clutchless shifting up and down. We’re also told Kawi has added a “slit” to the fork internals, “A low-speed slit added to the damping pistons helps relieve negative pressure build-up during compression, resulting in smoother damping feeling”.
Other small details such as revised fairing pieces here and there add to less wind fatigue for the rider as well as better cooling for the 1,043cc inline Four underneath. Slight changes have even been made to the camshaft profiles to reduce tappet noise.
That covers the major changes of the 2020 Kawasaki Ninja 1000 SX. If you’re looking to take it all in though, the looooong press release from Kawasaki can be found here. Of course, if you want to get an idea of how the motorcycle rides as a whole, take a look at Evans’ review of the 2017 model. Much of the engine and chassis has remained unchanged so perhaps that will quench your thirst until we can get our filthy mitts on one to flog and report back.