Fast, smooth, refined!
Kawasaki’s sporty and powerful Ninja 1000 ABS was first introduced as a 2014 model — and it's still a fine machine! With standard ABS brakes and available color-matched saddlebags, it can be a sportbike and a sport-touring machine; your call.
Power comes from a potent 16-valve, 1,043cc inline four which has been proven in prior Ninja 1000 and Z1000 models. Minor intake and exhaust tweaks were made, and the computer has been remapped to widen the torque band. With just 0.3mm less intake camshaft lift, plus six degrees less duration, the Ninja's torque peak arrives 500 rpm sooner. Electronic Keihin fuel injection works under the control of throttle by wire. KTRC traction control and two-mode power selection help keep you in control. The lower-power mode reduces power to about 70 percent and slows throttle response for slippery conditions.
The Ninja's potent but silky engine can lug down to 2,000 rpm in sixth gear, which is about 30 mph. Try that on other sport bikes! Power climbs fiercely as the rpms head from about five grand toward the 11K redline, yet for normal riding you'll find ample midrange zip. A little buzziness can be detected around 5,500 rpm, typical of inline fours, but it’s so slight most riders won’t notice it. Otherwise, it's almost turbine smooth.
Thanks to the wide torque range, you can leave the six speed gearbox in one gear much of the time; constant down shifting isn’t needed. At an actual 70 mph in sixth gear, the tach shows about 5,000 revs. This nimble Ninja is easy to get acquainted with, and feels like an old friend within minutes. Clutch pull effort is light and operation is chatter free with easy modulation. Shifting is also smooth and quick, and neutral is easy to access.
A high-tech lightweight aluminum frame provides torsional stiffness and a solid feel. At the front is an inverted, fully adjustable fork. An aluminum double-sided swingarm with a nearly horizontal shock and stepless rebound adjustment controls the rear wheel. A remote rear preload adjuster on the right side makes setting changes a breeze.
Thanks to a sporty 24.5 degrees of rake and four inches of trail, steering is light for quick turns and effortless transitions. The handling is confidence inspiring and there’s enough clearance for steep lean angles, so this Ninja is happy in the twisties. Wheels are lightweight six-spoke alloy. Standard fitment on our test bike was a pair of Bridgestone Battlax 520R tires, 120/70 ZR17 front and a beefy 190/50 ZR17 at the rear. They provide good grip and have a good neutral turn-in feel along with nice high-speed stability. A pair of radial front calipers grab the big 300mm discs and provide powerful, consistent braking with little lever effort and easy modulation. The standard ABS delivers up fast, safe stops even on slick surfaces.
The Ninja's slightly over 509-pound claimed curb weight seems to diminish as it gains speed. Ride quality is firm with decent road isolation as long as the pavement isn’t too rough. Riding is sporty yet tolerable on longer rides, with handlebar risers allowing a more upright stance that removes weight from the wrists. Heated grips are offered as an accessory. The manually adjustable three-position windscreen provides moderate wind protection; however, a taller windscreen would be welcome on highway trips.
The Doctor's Gripes
The rider’s seat is too thinly padded and gets uncomfortable after a while. The pillion pad is literally that: small and thin. Additionally, the passenger pegs are up too high. These two things are sure to displease passengers.
Another issue is with the odd-shaped mirrors, which are too far from the rider, resulting in a limited field of view.
A small gauge pod fits a lot in, with a digital speedo and analog tachometer. An LCD display shows traction control status, gear position, average or instantaneous fuel mileage, plus odometer, fuel level, coolant temp, clock and more. Fuel mileage averaged just over 40 mpg; which yields a range near 200 miles to empty with the 5.0-gallon tank. However, the bar-graph fuel gauge drops quickly and indicates the tank is almost empty long before it is — typically after little more than 100 miles. This makes it hard to keep going when you think you'll run out of fuel at any moment.
The aluminum rear subframe is designed to carry the optional hard saddlebags. Both bags have 29 liters of capacity, and fit a full-face helmet. The latches operate easily, and luggage liners are available as accessories. With the saddlebags removed, the Ninja appears sporty and trim, as there’s little mounting hardware present. A tail trunk is also available as an accessory, but Kawasaki states it can’t be used at the same time as the saddlebags.
Kawasaki’s Ninja 1000 ABS is a fast and refined sportbike or sport-touring machine, depending on whether you have saddlebags installed. Saddlebags must be dealer installed because they get keyed the same as the ignition lock. The bike displays top-notch fit and finish quality with well-made components. Perhaps better suited for solo riding than hauling a passenger, Kawi's Ninja 1000 can run through the canyons, slog the highways, and work as a commuter, if needed. And it does this with style and grace all for a reasonable price: MSRP -- $11,999
Engine: 4-stroke, 4-cylinder, DOHC, 16-valve, Liquid-cooled
Bore x Stroke: 77.0 x 56.0mm
Compression ratio: 11.8:1
Fuel System: DFI with four 38mm Keihin throttle bodies, oval sub-throttles
Ignition: TCBI with digital advance
Final Drive: Sealed Chain
Electronic Rider Aids: ABS
Front Suspension / Wheel Travel: 41mm inverted cartridge fork with stepless compression and rebound damping, adjustable spring preload/4.7 in
Rear Suspension / Wheel Travel:Horizontal monoshock with stepless rebound damping, remotely adjustable spring preload/5.4 in
Front Tire: 120/70 ZR17
Rear Tire: 190/50 ZR17
Front Brakes: Dual 300mm petal-type rotors with radial-mount 4-piston monobloc calipers and ABS
Rear Brakes: Single 250mm petal-type rotor with single-piston caliper and ABS
Frame Type: Aluminum backbone
Rake/Trail: 24.5°/4.0 in
Overall Length: 82.9 in
Overall Width: 31.1 in
Overall Height: 46.1/48.4 in
Ground Clearance: 5.3 in
Seat Height: 32.3 in
Curb Weight: 509.4 lb
Fuel Capacity: 5.0 gal
Wheelbase: 56.9 in
Color Choices: Metallic Carbon Gray/Metallic Spark Black, Candy Fire Red/Metallic Spark Black
Photography by Kawasaki