Kawasaki Ninja 1000 Review 2014: Oriental Swiss Knife

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IMAGE CREDITS: Yatharth Singh Chauhan

From dreary single cylinders to high revving parallel twins, from exotic Italian L-Twins to torquey V-twin rumblers, we’ve experienced it all. But there is nothing that attacks your senses as an inline four between your legs! It doesn’t matter if it’s humming away at a stoplight or taking the fight to the wind over 200 kilometres an hour. The sensuous symphony blaring out of those pipes stimulates the rider’s brain like no other.

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It’s been indeed long since we had a full blown 4 pod litre class motorcycle in the Motoroids stable. This time it’s the 140 bhp mercenary draped in green armour ready to dart into the winds. An exhaustive 300+ kms ride under the hot sun- from the traffic infested Pune roads to the thrilling Mutha ghats and mesmerizing twisties of Lavasa to late night high speed runs on the Pune-Bangalore highway. Gentlemen, it was time to put the 2014 Kawasaki Ninja 1000 under the scanner and paint the town GREEN in envy!

So here we go with our 2014 Kawasaki Ninja 1000 Review.

STYLING, FEATURES & BUILD QUALITY

The Kawasaki Ninja 1000 evokes the memories of its previous gen younger sibling- the 650R from the frontal view, but that is where all the similarities end. Built around the Z1000 architecture, the Ninja 1000 might not possess the aggressive design language of the menacing ZX10R, but Kawasaki hasn’t deprived the 1000 of the usual Ninja genealogy. Where the front fascia might not set hearts racing, the Kawasaki Ninja 1000 does manage to get your eyes hooked from rest of the angles, reeking of that trademark Ninja styling.

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The beaky front fairing gives the Ninja 1000 a crouched and restless feline profile that’s ready to leap with all ferocity. The slats at the edges, the angular fuel tank, body panels draped in a mix of black and green, and the split seats all lend to the aggressive upswept design philosophy of the Ninja 1000. And then those gorgeous integrated twin pipes in a classy brushed aluminium finish which you can’t help but ogle at. Not many motorcycles in the world today succeed in carrying over the aggression of the front end to the rear, but the Ninja 1000 is an exception here.

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The 11-LED tail-light flanked by an integrated set of grabrails ensures that the Ninja holds onto its demonic notion even at the far end. The LED-tail, the striking stubby exhaust unit, the slim rear fender and that fat rear tyre- taking a few step backwards and viewing it in entirety, the 2014 Kawasaki Ninja 1000 is sure a mean looking machine.

It’s no easy feat to incorporate various motorcycle traits into one, and yet let the final product have its own, beautifully unique character. But Kawasaki has very successfully managed to deliver a well sorted all round package. And with the feature list that the Kawasaki Ninja 1000 boasts of, it wouldn’t be out of place to say that its three different motorcycles rolled into one.

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The 2014 Kawasaki Ninja 1000 features twin headlights where the unit on the right serves as a daylight running lamp. A three step adjustable windscreen can be adjusted for both sporty and long haul riding by a release button located below the instrumentation panel. The mirrors are widely placed and work well to keep an eye on the trailing traffic. But with 140 bhp at your disposal, you’d most probably be more interested in looking ahead than bother about what’s happening behind your back.

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The high placed clip-on handlebars render a comfortable riding position, and are mounted with the necessary switchgear that performs duties ranging from starting the motorcycle to toggling between power and traction control modes. The cockpit might not be the most modern looking unit, but displays the important numbers with ample clarity.

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The front blinkers are integrated into an aerodynamic fairing which not only reduces drag, but the fairing keeps the heat off the rider’s legs. Recesses on the 19 litre fuel tank provide a tucked in riding position and combined with the upright handlebars and a broad urethane seat makes the Kawasaki Ninja 1000 a comfortable machine to ride long distances.

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Getting to the technicalities, the 2014 Kawasaki Ninja 1000 is suspended by 41mm inverted front forks which can be adjusted for compression damping, rebound damping and spring preload – while at the rear you have a horizontal monoshock setup with step-less rebound damping and linkages mounted above the swingarm. The monoshock comes with a remote rear spring preload adjuster placed on the co-rider’s right footpeg and is extremely easy to operate. An ABS equipped Nissin braking system comprises of radial mounted 4 pot braking calipers floating over dual 300mm petal rotors at the front and a single piston caliper mounted over a 250mm petal disc at the rear. Rubber specs read 120/70-ZR17 at the front and a low profile 190/50-ZR17 tyre at the rear.

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The 2014 Kawasaki Ninja 1000 comes with a new KTRC Traction Control system featuring three different modes under varying riding conditions. Also the Ninja 1000 offers two selectable Power Modes with first offering full thrust and the second cutting down engine power by as much as 30 percent. No guessing as to which mode we were riding on 😉

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Coming to the rear- as mentioned above, the 2014 Kawasaki Ninja 1000 has to be one of the meaner looking motorcycles when looked upon from this angle. The LED tail light with a red transparent lens, in addition to imparting a vicious appearance to the Ninja offers optimum visibility to the trailing traffic during braking. The integrated grab rails provide hold for the co-passenger during sedate riding speeds. The 4-into-2 exhaust cans are the highlight of this Ninja’s rear appeal and the raucous note pouring out of those four pipes at high speeds is pure symphony.

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On the quality part, we are frustrated to report that we couldn’t really find any flaws. Finishing on the motorcycle is absolutely top notch at even the minutest of places. But if we had to really complain for the heck of it, we would have wished for a better set of rear blinkers. Overall, for a motorcycle costing INR 12.5 lacs ex-showroom- the Ninja doesn’t give the buyer an opportunity to complain.

NEXT PAGE FOR PERFORMANCE

PERFORMANCE

ENGINE & GEARBOX

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Powering the 2014 Kawasaki Ninja 1000 is a 1043cc liquid-cooled inline-four cylinder engine- the same motor that powers the Kawasaki Z1000. Kawasaki states that the Ninja 1000 features new cylinder connecting passageways that reduce pumping losses and improves performance in the mid and high rev range. Also featuring are new intake cams for improved low and mid-range torque. All this results in the Ninja 1000 cranking out a scrumptious 140 bhp @ 10,000 rpm with max torque numbers reading 111 nm at a low (for a hi-performance sportsbike) 7300 rpm- all sent to the rear wheel through a six speed gearbox. A secondary engine balancer has also been put in place for elimination of excess vibrations at the higher rev range. We’re putting the rest of the tech crap in the spec chart later in the article. As for the moment, all the numbers of the Ninja 1000 had got us excited and it was time to get the Green Goblin howling on the blacktop.

After all the visual delight, the Ninja 1000 simply swept us off our feet with its refinement. We for certain were expecting the trademark Japanese refinement from the big Ninja, but for a litre class motorcycle, we assumed it to be at the higher end. To start with, the bike tends to overwhelm you with its size the first time you swing your leg across. You’d be caught in a cautious state to get the bike rolling- and then comes the surprise.

It would just take you a few hundred metres to realize how easy the Ninja 1000 is to ride. Slow moving traffic is a cakewalk for this Kwacker except for the engine heat which was acceptable considering it was a litre class bike. We were left with our mouths wide open on the way the Ninja effortlessly crawled through traffic. We anticipated frequent clutching, gear change and throttle modulation in a stop-go scenario. But this huge litre class motorcycle would put most street friendly single cylinder 150cc motorcycles to shame. At times we were riding the Ninja 1000 through traffic- stopping and starting over without realizing that we were in the second gear and not the first.

Though the happy realization did come to us later, but we decided to further test the mindboggling Ninja’s low end performance, not solo but two up riding. We were chugging along at a meager 30 kph in sixth gear and getting down as low as 25 kph with no downshifts on the slick 6 speed gearbox. Even speed breakers didn’t prompt us to go any lower on the box. The Ninja would pick up at the slightest wring of the throttle and showed absolutely no signs of knocking. The Ninja 1000 floored us with its refinement at revs which the best of street oriented motorcycles would simply go KNOCK KNOCK KNOCK!

After an hour of battling through traffic at which the Ninja 1000 came out winning, it was time for some high speed bursts. We again missed out on our VBOX, but it wasn’t hard telling that the Ninja 1000 easily clocks 0-100 at a shade over 3 seconds, 0-150 kph should take another 3 seconds with the engine showing amazing levels of refinement. We decided to keep patience till darkness fell and eventually managed to get a good empty road to stretch the Ninja’s legs. We whack the throttle ruthlessly with the rear wheel trying all its might and bite for traction, hitting the rev limiter to hit max speed in each gear (except the top of course). It’s not advisable to try and gun for the electronically limited top speed of 250 kph, but we can tell you that crossing the double ton mark isn’t a big deal with this one.

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One thing we did notice was the taller sixth gear on the Ninja 1000. We did have the Kawasaki Z1000 (review coming up soon) with us for 2 days prior to riding the Ninja and where the Z1000 had more punch, the Ninja 1000 seemed slight lazy in picking up revs in the top gear. Also with the Ninja 1000 sporting a 39 teeth compared to the Z1000’s 41 teeth rear sprocket- the difference in acceleration was easily evident. But these numbers tilt in favour of the Ninja 1000 when it comes to highway cruising. A taller sixth gear and a smaller sprocket give the Ninja 1000 the long legs for an effortless cruise. The Ninja 1000 could munch miles like peanuts- you could lazily cruise along at 130 kph with the engine revving no higher than 5500 rpm.

Taking the bike into corners, there is ample torque till the fifth gear for the motorcycle to effortlessly sail through even at moderate speeds. The Ninja 1000 was again put to the knocking test by being ridden two up on the Lavasa inclines in top gear, and it had us floored again! From all the bikes we have reviewed till date, the 2014 Kawasaki Ninja 1000 with its phenomenal levels of refinement seemed nothing short of an engineering marvel.

NEXT PAGE FOR HANDLING, RIDE QUALITY AND BRAKING

HANDLING, RIDE QUALITY AND BRAKING

2014 Kawasaki Ninja 1000 Review

Getting a hang of the Ninja on straights, it’s easy to get intimidated on corners- thanks again to the size of the motorcycle. But a couple of laps around a variety of bends, and the Ninja begins to feel like your everyday bike. The Bridgestone Battlax tyres at both ends offer tremendous grip and confidence to reduce the lean angle on every successive turn. Throttle response is impeccable and as mentioned earlier, fifth gear offers enough torque to pull you out of the corners even with the revs dropping to as low as 3000 rpm.

The Ninja 1000 happily says NO to clutching or downshifting to get that power to the wheels in the real world – all it needs is input from your right wrist. Missed your line? Dab on the brakes, correct your line and whack the throttle- the Ninja is back on track. Again for its size, the Ninja 1000 turns quick into corners and changes direction in a hurry as if it has shed half its weight. It’s an amazing corner carver and an extremely forgiving motorcycle that would bring more grins on your face than gushes of adrenalin in your veins.

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Ride quality wise the 2014 Kawasaki Ninja 1000 is a comfortable bike for everyday riding conditions. Though not as upright, the riding position feels very similar to the Ninja 650R. The seat feels firm but not hard and with ample room to move about- the rider could easily shift position to his comfort. In conjunction with its higher positioned handlebars and the near-perfect placed rear-sets, the Ninja 1000 would easily accommodate any rider size. Comfort level on the pillion seat is quite different from that of the rider and we frankly feel should be good only for shorter distances.

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We didn’t fiddle with the suspension settings and found the stock configuration to be perfectly balanced for mixed riding style. Bigger undulations did manage to disturb the comfort levels, but the Ninja does offer you the option to tweak up the suspension for a more pampering ride. So, pull up the windscreen to touring position and you’re ready to ride into the horizon.

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The 2014 Kawasaki Ninja 1000 simply delighted us at every test we put to it, and braking was no different. The all new monobloc radial-mount front brake calipers coupled with new-gen ABS endows the motorcycle with incredible braking ability. The feedback from the front is extremely linear and predictable to the extent that you will actually breeze to a halt much before your decided point. The ABS works wonderfully well and you would really have to do something stupid to lock the front. The rear brake too has the right amount of bite and complements the front brakes extremely well. This had to be one of the best set of brakes we have ever encountered on a motorcycle.

NEXT PAGE FOR CONCLUSION AND TECH SPECS

CONCLUSION

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After the end of an enjoyable day’s work, we put the Ninja 1000 to slumber. Recollecting our day’s exploits with the big Ninja reminded us that it’s not just one motorcycle. As we said earlier in the review, the 2014 Ninja 1000 is three different motorcycles rolled into one and Kawasaki has done a commendable job of combining the traits of a streetbike, a sports tourer and a track bike into one astounding package. We’d say that someone looking out to step up to a superbike need not route through the 600s, the Ninja is a fabulous full blown alternative.

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Despite packing a staggering 140 horses, the Ninja 1000 has to be one of the most easy going litre class motorcycles in the world today as long as you are able to exercise control at your right wrist. On one hand where it would delight you with its modesty in everyday street riding, that stonking motor also has the ability to send your heart racing into a different orbit. And lastly the amazing agility and balance it demonstrates going around the bends- it just needs firming up the suspension at both ends and you have a capable track tool at your disposal.

At a price of INR 12,50,000/- (ex-showroom Pune), the 2014 Kawasaki Ninja 1000 for can’t exactly be termed as a value for money motorcycle. But with its Swiss-knife like multi-utility makes it one hell lot of motorcycle for the money. Try thinking of a four-cylinder litre class that can do everything that this Ninja does- we bet you’ll have a hard time finding one.

2014 Kawasaki Ninja 1000 specifications

EngineFour-stroke, liquid-cooled, DOHC, four valves per cylinder, inline-four
Displacement1043cc
Max Power140 bhp @ 10,000 rpm
Max Torque111 nm @ 7300 rpm
Bore x Stroke77.0 x 56.0 mm
Compression Ratio11.8:1
Fuel SystemDFI® with four 38mm Keihin throttle bodies, oval sub-throttles
IgnitionTCBI with digital advance
TransmissionSix-speed
Final DriveX-ring Chain
Rake/Trail24.5 deg / 4.0 in.
Frame TypeAluminum Backbone
Front Tyre Size120/70 ZR17
Rear Tyre Size190/50 ZR17
Wheelbase56.9 in.
Front Suspension / wheel travel41 mm inverted cartridge fork with stepless compression and rebound damping, adjustable spring preload / 4.7 in.
Rear Suspension / wheel travelHorizontal monoshock with stepless rebound damping, remotely adjustable spring preload / 5.4 in.
Front brakesDual 300mm petal-type rotors with radial-mount four-piston monobloc calipers and ABS
Rear brakesSingle 250mm petal-type rotor with single-piston caliper, with ABS
Fuel Capacity19 litres
Seat Height32.3 in.
Curb Weight231 kgs
Overall length82.9 in.
Overall width31.1 in.
Overall height: (Windscreen Down/UP)46.1 / 48.4 in.
Top speed during review222 kph
Mileage as tested14 kpl approx.
PriceINR 12,50,000/- (Ex-showroom Pune)

NEXT PAGE FOR IMAGE GALLERY

2014 Kawasaki Ninja 1000 Image Gallery

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