Ideal Performance from an Open-Class Sportbike
They’ve been a staple of the sporting motorcycle world for decades: sportbikes that blend top-shelf engine and handling performance with a high degree of comfort, practicality and devastating good looks. Kawasaki has built plenty over the years, from the original Ninja® 900R of the 1980s, to the ZX™-11 of the ’90s, and the ZZR®1200 of the ‘00s – standout performers that are also easy to live with, day in and day out.
For 2011, an all-new model slots into this legendary and ultra-capable category – Kawasaki’s new Ninja 1000. Like the original, which debuted to an amazing chorus of press and customer kudos back in 1986, the new Ninja 1000 offers an alluring blend of capability and technology, from the very latest racetrack components, to astounding engine and chassis performance, and to cutting-edge styling that’ll stop you in your tracks the instant you lay your eyes on one.
It all starts with a core motorcycle – frame, engine, suspension – that’s so good, so flexible and so downright capable it’s been wowing press and customers worldwide all year long: Kawasaki’s amazing Z1000 super-standard. Using the Z1000’s new-think engine and chassis package as a starting point, Kawasaki engineers added radical, knife-edged bodywork along with a host of cool features that push the Ninja 1000’s performance, capability and flexibility envelopes to amazing heights.
Ninja 1000 motivation comes by way of a highly advanced open-class powerplant – a 1,043cc, DOHC, liquid-cooled, 16-valve inline-four featuring a long-stroke design for instantaneous power, a slick-shifting six-speed gearbox, and no-fuss electronic fuel injection for the type of seamless throttle response – warm or cold – that makes short work of tricky traffic, higher-speed backroad situations and everything in between.
Power? There’s a ton of the stuff, but the real magic of this engine is its flexible, midrange-heavy thrust that accelerates you out of corners and away from stops in a satisfying manner that’s sure to keep you entertained – and your riding buddies impressed – for years to come. At seemingly every rpm, the Ninja 1000 engine produces the sort of smooth, instant-on thrust many hard-core sportbikes just can’t match.
Digital fuel injection helps, and the quartet of 38mm Keihin downdraft throttle bodies slam the perfect mix of fuel and air into the combustion chambers with help from an advanced ECU, oval sub-throttles and a cool air intake system that routes fresh air to the airbox via ducts at the front of the bike. A balance shaft driven off the crankshaft keeps the solidly mounted engine as smooth as possible, while a radically designed 4-into-2-into-2 catalyzer-equipped exhaust system offers a pleasing growl without being overly loud along with the cleanest possible emissions. It’s a perfect engine for a road-going sportbike – smooth, powerful, flexible and blessed with the sort of legendary reliability Kawasaki motorcycles are known for.
Like the superb-handling Z1000, the new Ninja 1000 features an advanced aluminum frame similar in design to that of the all-conquering Ninja ZX-10R sportbike. The lightweight cage curves over the engine, cradling it from above and bolting solidly to it in three places, with a rubber-backed fourth mount provided for added vibration isolation and torsional rigidity. This design allowed engineers to keep the waist of the bike very narrow for superb rider interface and high levels of comfort and control. The main frame and swingarm pivot pieces are cast as a single unit, with welds eliminated wherever possible for seamless aesthetics.
The wheels, brakes and suspension parts that control that frame/engine duo are thoroughly advanced. Up front is a stout 41mm inverted fork that’s fully adjustable for spring preload, rebound and compression damping – just what you need for dialing things in perfectly for your weight and riding style. In back is a horizontal back-link shock system featuring a damper mounted nearly horizontally above the swingarm for optimal mass centralization and excellent heat resistance. The gas/oil shock is adjustable for both spring preload and rebound damping, and tuned for effective performance everywhere from backroad sport riding to bopping along a pothole-infested city street. As a package, the Ninja 1000’s suspension is designed to provide the rider with clear communication of what’s happening at the contact patches, while still taking enough edge off the bumps to provide a comfortable ride on longer trips.
Strong, responsive stopping power is provided by the new Ninja’s racing-spec brakes. Dual 300mm petal-type rotors up front are squeezed by ultra-rigid radially mounted calipers pressurized by an equally race-spec radial pump master cylinder. In back is another high-tech disc setup. Braking power and feel at both ends are amazing, giving rookies and pros alike a feeling of confidence while aboard.
The wheels holding those brakes – lightweight six-spoke supersport-style hoops – are also the latest in production technology. They not only reduce unsprung weight, which allows the suspension to function optimally, but they carry the latest in radial tire technology. The result is excellent grip, precise handling and extended tire life.
But perhaps the most stunning aspect of the new Ninja 1000 is its racy, full-coverage bodywork. Designed with one eye focused directly on Kawasaki’s track-ready ZX-6R and ZX-10R, Kawasaki has blessed the new bike with a thoroughly radical look, one that’s fresh and riveting. But despite its edgy, rakish appearance, the bodywork cleaves enough of a hole in the atmosphere to offer a reasonably quiet cocoon for the rider. A manually adjustable, three-position windscreen helps here, allowing riders to pick just the right setting for their height and riding style. Integrated front turn signals, a ZX-6R-spec front fender, a stylish tail section, a wildly styled exhaust system and a full-featured instrument panel help complete the look. It’s one you won’t soon forget.
And despite its radical stance, the new Ninja 1000 retains comfortable ergonomics. The handlebars are mounted higher than on a supersport machine and the pegs a touch lower, all of which makes the Ninja 1000 a capable medium-haul tourer, and certainly a sportbike you could spend the day aboard without undue strain. To sweeten the day- or weekend-trekking deal even more, Kawasaki offers a line of optional touring-oriented accessories, including hard-case saddlebags, a top trunk, heated grips and more.
It’s rare to find such all-around functionality and performance in a sport motorcycle these days, with many bikes so specialized they’re almost one-trick ponies. But the 2011 Ninja 1000 is a different animal – one with wide-ranging talent in sport, sport-touring and commuting roles. And because it’s based on a motorcycle – the Z1000 – so all-around competent and happy in its own skin, you know the newest Ninja will be a hit. Chalk up another great do-it-all sportbike to the Kawasaki folks.
Authentic Kawasaki Accessories are available through Kawasaki dealers.