The benefit of having the Ninja 1000 parked in your garage is that it really doesn't matter what kind of riding you are doing, the bike can handle it all - comfortably we might add. A great deal of this versatility can be accredited to the Kawasaki's user-friendly inline four-cylinder engine.
When Kawasaki engineers designed the 1043cc powerplant, they looked to build a motor that would be at home on surface streets and on the highway rather than on the racetrack. So when you pull out of your driveway and start riding around town, it's no surprise that the bike has plenty of torque to squirt from point A to point B with relative ease and doesn't have you constantly searching through the gearbox. The Digital Fuel Injection of the Ninja, with its four 38mm Keihin throttle bodies, makes for smooth power delivery and the transition between open and closed throttle is anything but abrupt. The refined power delivery makes short trips around town easy and enjoyable, something you wouldn't expect from a bike that looks like a sportbike.
While the Ninja pulls from right around 2500 rpm, surface street speeds usually have it running around 4000 rpm. And despite being geared slightly taller than the Z1000 (41-tooth rear sprocket as opposed to a 42), the Ninja 1000 is more than happy running in a gear higher. Don't fret though - even when running at lower rpm, the bike has plenty of power on tap, and acceleration is never a concern thanks to the torque-laden engine. This isn't to say it's a total powerhouse, though. Despite the strong-feeling power delivery, peak horsepower is nothing to write home about; at 120 horsepower, it's down slightly from the Z1000 (due to the Ninja 1000's smaller airbox). This is no concern on tighter sections of road though, where the engine packs plenty of low-end punch and allows for fewer gear changes.
Opening up the throttle of the Kawasaki Ninja 1000 as you merge onto the freeway also shines some light on how flexible the engine is. And once cruising along at highway speeds, the engine stays at a steady 5000 rpm with little effort. There is never an ounce of hesitation when throttling past cars, either. And thanks to Kawasaki's efforts at reducing vibration, only slight vibes are felt through the bike above 4500 rpm. Kawasaki accomplished this by fitting the Ninja with rubber-mounted, rubber-coated front pegs, rubber-coated rear pegs and a counterbalancing weight on the heel guard. As a result, longer rides are more enjoyable and surprisingly smooth.
In order to adjust the position...
In order to adjust the position of the windscreen, you must come to a stop and release the button below the gauges seen here and manually adjust the screen. On the bright side though, no tools are required.
While the Z1000 has great potential performance-wise, its naked design puts you in a constant battle with the wind, and by the end of even a moderate jaunt on the highway, you feel like some personal trainer has just worked you to death. Not to mention, the styling lacks some marks in the design department. Thanks to the full fairing of the Ninja 1000 though, commuting and riding at speed is no longer equivalent to a drill sergeant workout. In addition, the well-designed fairing vent and slats along the fairing's leading edge are molded in such a way that all the excess engine bay air is dispersed without so much as coming close to the rider's lower body. Above all, the fairing provides plenty of wind protection and a look that most people confuse with a sportbike.
The adjustable windscreen,...
The adjustable windscreen, seen here in its highest position, doesn't make as much of a difference as we would have liked in terms of dispersing the air and wind noise.
Another wind-protection feature is the three-position adjustable windscreen, which can be manually adjusted by means of a release button under the instrument panel. But as much as we would like to say that the windscreen made a big difference, we really can't. After miles of riding at different speeds and in different conditions, only one thing became apparent: the different positions were all compromises of one sort or another. In its upmost position, the windscreen sets right around the average rider's chin or neck area and sufficiently deflects the wind. However, running the windscreen in this position causes a great deal of turbulent wind noise around your helmet that becomes bothersome at higher speeds. In addition the difference between the middle and lower position of the windscreen is very minimal. In these two positions, the Ninja 1000 isn't that much better than the Z1000. So therein lies the problem; either you can have a decent amount of wind protection and deal with the wind noise, or you can be hit with wind blasts and ride with less turbulence. We still like the adjustable windscreen idea though, so perhaps a taller and/or wider accessory screen might be the answer.