Well, this isn’t something you see every day. Motorcycle USA, Motorcycle.Com and Motorcycle Daily all have the same featured top story. Each of them have test ride reports for the new Kawasaki Ninja 1000. And they all seem to like it.
I’m curious to see how this bike will do in the US. The Z1000 on which the Ninja is based probably won’t sell well, because Americans really don’t like naked standards.
But the fully-faired Ninja is different. The power and performance of the Ninja 1000 slots it between the ZX-6 and the ZX10. So it has at least supersport performance. What is doesn’t have are the tortuous ergonomics. Kawasaki seems to have made it comfortable enough for touring, withut neutering the performance.
In recent years, sport bike ergnomics have gotten increasingly tortuous. The handlebars are low, requiring the rider to lay across the tank. The footpegs are high, to allow for extreme lean angles, but that means the riders knees are pulled up to massage the ribs. Nice for a track day or 20-lap sprint, but not so nice for a daily commute. and touring, of course, is right out.
What Kawasaki has done is created a motorcycle with the full-on performance of a sportbike, but a more upright, comfortable perch. Street performance can never really match track performance, so the race-inspired ergos aren’t really necessary. In most categories in which the Ninja 1000 competes against the ZX-10 in terms of street performance, the Ninja seems to be the equal, if not the superior bike, though the ZX-10 would undoubtedly stomp it on the track.
Kawasaki also has touring in mind for the Ninja 1000, offering full sets of color-matched hard luggage. It’s hard to imagine doing any serious touring on any of the ZX line. At least, not with an on-call masseuse and unlimited supplies of Tylenol.
It seems to have more than reasonable performance for the street–indeed, more performance than most riders can even use. At the time time, it’ll have comfort and touring capability that no pure race-bred sport bike can possibly offer. So, the question is, will American motorcyclists buy it? Or will they stick with the high-revving, pain inducing ZX line?