Last week I had the opportunity to ride the all new 2014 Kawasaki Z1000, this week I’m on the Ninja 1000. Two bikes with the same heart, a 1,043cc inline 4 and virtually identical dimensions (the Ninja 1000 weighs in 22 lbs heavier at 509lbs). Despite their similarities, they are distinctly different motorcycles to ride. The Ninja 1000 is geared taller, gains 1/2 a gallon of fuel capacity for an even 5 gallons, and obviously offers a significant increase in wind protection. Let’s not forget about styling, either. The Z1000’s radical lines illicit a love/hate response, whereas the Ninja 1000 reverts to a more conventional fully faired sport motorcycle look. A good look, it is, and the matching factory luggage with color matched panels means you can bring along what you need whether you are commuting or planning a long trip. They are extremely easy to remove as well, which instantly lightens the bike visually.
The first thing I did was take the Ninja 1000 through downtown Rock Hill, SC – a relatively small town but one with enough traffic to give me a sense of what this bike would be like to commute with. I instantly appreciated the lighter weight and low end grunt of the Ninja 1000. In town maneuvers including swerving, squeezing, u-turns, etc are much easier on a bike this size versus a full size sport touring machine like the Kawasaki Concours. The only thing to be mindful of is the factory hard bags which not only make your butt look big, but can easily catch on an errant light pole or car mirror when you are navigating tight spaces.
Once free of the confines of traffic, I got the Ninja 1000 out on the highway to stretch its legs–and legs does it have! The Ninja 1000 accelerates with authority, albeit without the raw gusto of its naked brother, it’s still plenty quick and in a way, more refined. The taller gearing may mean less violent acceleration, but it also means a more relaxed feel while on the road, something riders who are going longer distances will appreciate. Still, a 6th gear roll on rocketed me into triple digits with ease–passing will NOT be a problem.
Getting back off the interstate and throwing the Ninja 1000 into some corners, I really fell in love. This bike really has the heart of a sportbike, the look of a sportbike, and the FEEL of a sportbike in the corners without the harshness. The suspension soaks up bumps in the pavement while still remaining planted, and the bike is easy to ride smooth thanks to its excellent fueling. This is a bike you could ride a couple hours to the fun roads, have a load of fun in the twisties, and then ride home without feeling like you’ve been beat up the next day. The seat is fairly comfortable, and the ergonomics leave the bars within easy reach and give plenty of room for your knees.
Overall the new Kawasaki Ninja 1000 is an excellent bike for many reasons. It doesn’t have the ultra precise handling of the ZX6r or the extreme cushy-ness of the Concours, but dare I say it is the perfect blend between the two. The Ninja 1000 is a bike that will be easy to live with. Raring to go for spirited weekend rides and faithfully at the ready for the daily commute to the office while returning 40+ mpg. What a great bike–I didn’t want to take it back!
Watch our review of the Kawasaki Ninja 1000 in the video below, and don’t forget to subscribe to our YouTube Channel!