More than just a crotch rocket.

Two years ago, I took a 300-mile motorcycle road trip from Toronto, Ontario to Cleveland, Ohio. Why Cleveland, you might ask. The cute answer could have been that I wanted to check out the Rock n' Roll Hall of Fame and explore Ohio. However, the real answer was that I wanted to see how good a tourer the Kawasaki Ninja 1000 was and I needed a reasonably-distanced destination (ideally that I hadn’t visited yet) to make it happen.   

Two days and 600 miles later my theory was confirmed: despite its sportbike image, the Ninja 1000 was also a superb sport-tourer. That conclusion surprised most people I discussed it with (mainly non-initiated) who immediately pictured wheelies and burnouts as soon as the name "Ninja" was uttered. I had to work through the whole rice rocket image and break it down for them. They accepted my opinion with varying degrees of skepticism.   

So, when I stumbled upon SRK Cycles’ video about how the Ninja 1000 and how great a tourer it is, it finally felt like I belonged. Someone finally understood me.   

To be specific, the bike Sean of SRK Cycles talks about is the 2011 Ninja Z1000SX, back when the model was a dressed-up Z1000 with more affirmed touring tendencies. Though things have evolved over the past nine years, one thing hasn’t changed: the Ninja 1000 still is a great all-around bike.   

As Sean discusses in the video, the big Ninja checks a lot of boxes in both the sport and the sport-touring segments. It is a sportbike both in behavior and in looks but its ergonomics aren’t as extreme as, say, the ZX-10R. The handlebar is taller which means the weight isn’t all on the hands and the wrists which results in a more comfortable ride. The bike’s gravity center is relatively low which makes it easy to maneuver despite weighing in at 514 pounds (503 pounds for the 2011 version Sean test rides).   

The one-liter inline-four is an extremely versatile and well-behaved engine. It can be as smooth and gradual or as wild as you want it to be. The throttle is well-tuned for that purpose—it’s not so sensitive that you risk lifting the front wheel every time to twist it by a millimeter but if you need (or want) to punch it, it easily unleashes the engine’s 138 ponies.   

On the modern model, the light clutch makes the bike easy to ride about town. The adjustable windscreen makes it equally comfortable on the highway. I’m telling you guys, don’t underestimate the Kawasaki Ninja 1000. Behind that crotch-rocket façade hides a well-rounded motorcycle.