At 120 horsepower, the Ninja...
At 120 horsepower, the Ninja 1000 is right around three horsepower down on the Z1000. The lower numbers are most likely a result of the Ninja's smaller airbox that was fitted to accommodate the bike's fairing and larger fuel tank.
|2011 KAWASAKI NINJA 1000
||Fairing keeps hot air away from lower body
||On the heavy side
||Have to come to a stop to adjust windscreen
||Windscreen positions make only slight difference
||Comfortable for commuting and full of potential in the canyons
Suggested Suspension Settings
Front: Spring preload - 7 turns out from full stiff; Rebound damping - 2 turns out from full stiff; Compression damping - 1 turn out from full stiff; 30mm fork tube protruding above top triple clamp.
Rear: Spring preload - position 5 of 10; Rebound damping - 1 turn out from full stiff.
"Surprise, Surprise", that's the first thing that comes to mind while riding the New Kawasaki Ninja 1000!
It's clear within the first 10 minutes of riding this bike that you know you're going to have a good time no matter where you're going. The bike is really comfortable and I like that the bars seem to be a bit on the straight side rather than having them swept back like a beach cruiser.
The typical Kawasaki transmission makes shifting smooth and effortless, brakes are rock solid and did I say just how much fun this bike is to ride? The slight adjustability of the windscreen didn't seem to have a huge effect whether it was fully up or fully down; however, the rubber-mounted foot pegs were a nice touch.
Overall I was extremely happy riding this bike that the need for a full on sportbike seems somewhat excessive even if 70 percent of your riding is in the twisties.
Kawasaki continues to bridge the gap between sport and tour. The new Ninja 1000 is a completely different platform which makes it a true hybrid, more so than its naked brethren. The Z1000 may share a ton of similar attributes from the current fully faired Ninja but that's where similarity stops and function steps in. The 1000's short first gear makes for a usable powerband and the taller gearing is great once you get rolling on your favorite piece of tightly wound tarmac. Shift up to second and she pulls across the tach like a turbocharged train. The bars are mounted in an ideal standard seating position, the three-stage wind screen is a nice touch when set at its elevated position. In the lower position it might as well be a naked bike. The categories of sport and touring are continually morphing, in a good way, and the difference between a touring sport bike and a sport oriented tourer is now blurred more than ever. It all boils down to how big or how small you really want to go these days and the Ninja is a great balance/option when considering a price point.
I must admit, when I first started riding the Ninja 1000, I was a bit confused. I was confused in a good way though, I guess. The question that had me scratching my head was, "What is this thing?" The reason I asked was because the bike handled every type of riding scenario I threw at it - brilliantly I might add. It didn't matter if I was taking a short trip around town, commuting hours in traffic or thrashing (I mean putting) through the canyons, the bike was comfortable and performed beyond how I expected. So that's when I started to question, if the bike performs just like a sportbike, is as comfortable as some touring bikes and has great looks to boot, then really what is it? What I decided was that the Ninja 1000 is really in a class of its own. It is a do-all bike that lacks few marks in any categories.
On a side note, its strong performance has me wondering, what would it be like to ride on the track? Theoretically, you could ride the bike to the track, thrash around on it all day, and then commute home-in comfort too. Hint hint, Kent?
When a group of riders on one of Kawasaki's organized test rides at the Long Beach motorcycle show last year returned to the base camp trailer, I quizzed the ones riding the then-new Z1000 for their impressions. Every single one of them replied that they loved the Z1000's engine and chassis. When I asked them if they were going to buy one, however, their response was just as similar: they'd buy one if it just came with a fairing. "I ride a lot of highway miles," replied one consumer, "and I don't want to be a sail fighting the windblast for hours, and ending beat up because of it."
Well, those requests have been answered with the Ninja 1000. The new Kawasaki has all the qualities of the Z1000, with some upgrades in key areas, including a larger fuel tank and more comfy ergos. While the windscreen may be a little short of what some were expecting, you can be sure the aftermarket (and probably Kawasaki's own accessories division) will be taking care of that. And with an MSRP of just $10,999? Heck, sign me up!