We’ve always felt that Kawasaki was onto something good with its Ninja 1000, and the bike’s success on the sales floor has confirmed that notion. We also recently had the opportunity to test a Ninja 1000 with hard bags made by Givi from the Kawasaki accessory catalog, and that experience only reinforced our opinion that the Ninja 1000 could be made into a superb sport-touring machine. Kawasaki apparently noticed as well, judging by the significantly upgraded 2014 Ninja 1000 ABS.
The 1043cc inline four-cylinder engine was subtly massaged for better low-end and midrange performance, an area of performance the previous version certainly wasn’t lacking in. Internal crankcase windows reduce pumping losses, while revised intake cams improve breathing in the lower half of the rpm range. The airbox now features a fresh air intake system instead of the previous intake that pulled hot air from underneath the fuel tank, and the new air filter provides better airflow for better overall performance. Velocity stacks atop the fuel injection throttle bodies are now equal-length. Engine electronics have also been upgraded with the addition of KTRC three-level traction control and two-way selectable power modes. And to help with long-range fuel economy, the sixth gear has been made into an overdrive ratio.
One-piece monobloc radial-mount calipers with radial-pump front brake master cylinder work with the small and lightweight ABS unit to provide outstanding braking power and feel. Out back, a new remote rear spring preload adjuster permits easy changes for passenger and luggage.
Speaking of luggage, the rear subframe of the Ninja 1000’s aluminum backbone frame is all-new, with its design made specifically to work with the new accessory hard bags. The new subframe’s shape and construction eliminates the need for sidecovers and makes the bike’s midsection narrower for a shorter reach to the ground. The accessory hard bags and mounts are reported to be much better tucked in than the previous units we tested, which were splayed out much too wide in our opinion. New passenger grab handles are also included with the new subframe.
The previous all-LCD instrument panel has been thankfully replaced with an analog tachometer/LCD info panel display.
List price for the 2014 Kawasaki Ninja 1000 ABS is set at $11,999, which is actually $100 less than last year’s model.