Kawasaki: Ninja turns 30 years
Want a cool-looking, comfortable sport touring machine that has seen continual upgrading and improvement over the past 30 years? The Kawasaki Ninja 1000, which debuted in Japan in 1984, has many new and worthwhile features to offer discerning riders.
In terms of its appearance, the Kawasaki Ninja 1000 displays a super sport-style full-fairing bodywork that gives it a distinctive, attention-getting persona, while also providing wind and weather protection. Turn signals are incorporated into the fairing and the windshield has three available hand adjustable positions over a 20-degree span from sporty to maximum protection.
The front fender adds to the aerodynamics and racy good looks. The tail cowl assembly is slim and compact and the design directs attention forward, with the slender rear fender lightening the look of the rear end.
Its upgraded 1043cc four-stroke, 16-valve four-cylinder engine with direct fuel injection and four Keihin throttle bodies and oval sub-throttles deliver more power and torque for added capability and fun-to-ride quality. Horsepower is rated at 123 with 74 lb.-ft. of torque at 7,350 rpm. The exhaust is a 4-into-2-pre-chamber-into 2 (dual side).
Power reaches the rear wheel through a smooth, six-speed sequential manual gearbox via X-Ring chain final drive. The 5-gallon fuel tank provides a substantial range for longer rides.
Among some of the new features: a KTRC Traction Control system with three different modes to maximize performance in different riding scenarios; new selectable Power Modes with a choice ranging from 50 percent to full power to suit the rider; one-piece “monobloc” radial-mount front brake calipers with a black finish and laser-etched Kawasaki logo.
The Ninja 1000’s wheelbase measures 59.9 inches, overall length is 82.9 inches, and the seat height measures 32.3 inches. The bike tips the scale with a dry curb weight of 509.4 pounds.
The Kawasaki Ninja 1000 rides on 41 mm inverted cartridge forks with stepless compression and rebound damping, with a fully adjustable spring preload and 4.7 inches of travel up front, and a horizontal monoshock with stepless rebound damping and remotely adjustable spring preload along with 5.4 inches of travel in the rear. Rolling stock consists of Bridgestone Battlaxx tires mounted on “V”-spoke black-painted alloy wheels.
Reining in the Ninja 1000 is accomplished by dual 300 mm petal-type rotors with radial-mount four-piston monobloc calipers and ABS brakes up front, and a single 250 mm petal-type rotor with single-piston caliper and ABS in the rear.
I tested a Kawasaki Ninja 1000 ABS Bagger finished in Candy Lime Green metallic with black trim elements; a Candy Cascade Blue metallic is also available. The base price was set at $11,999.
The Ninja 1000 delivers the goods thanks to a more upright, comfortable riding position with separate raised handlebars featuring tapered grips mounted to fork tube tops that extend above the top clamp. The seat, which is made of thick urethane, has a height of 32.3 inches and is fairly comfortable, particularly if you possess built-in natural posterior padding. If not, your backside may start to numb after 100 or so miles.
Knurled foot pegs are available for both rider and passenger, along with new passenger grab bars, designed for a better, more comfortable hand-hold. The passenger pegs also incorporate convenient luggage hooks.
The left handlebar holds switches for KTRC traction control, power mode selector, high/low beam headlight flasher. The directional signals are not self-canceling and there is, unfortunately, no gear indicator, which would prove to be a nice addition.
This new Ninja 1000 is fast and very smooth. It is ergonomically correct to suit a number of rider statures, providing a just-right riding posture. The torque range is very broad, but the bike is happiest in the higher rev limits, delivering the optimum level of power. The combined engine and exhaust melody is a steady, powerful thrum. The bag design is ideal, but those with really long legs will have to focus on clearing them when mounting the bike.
Bottom-line: the new Kawasaki Ninja 1000 ABS “Bagger” represents an excellent value in a modern, practical liter bike.