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2011 Kawasaki Ninja 1000 First Ride

Friday, October 29, 2010
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2011 Kawasaki Ninja 1000 First Ride Video
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Watch the new Ninja 1000 in action in our 2011 Kawasaki Ninja 1000 First Ride Video.
A purpose-built sportbike for the street. Kawasaki’s simple objective when developing its all-new 2011 Ninja 1000 sounds easy enough. Yet delivering exhilarating performance in a street-friendly manner, all wrapped up in enticing sportbike style and an affordable price point… that sounds a little tougher. We put the new Ninja to the test on the scenic roads of California’s Marin County to see if it lives up to the hype.

Riders will always demand production racebikes, and success on the racetrack drives the development of Team Green’s ZX-10 and ZX-6 flagships. But the drive for excellence at the track has long outpaced real-world performance for the street to the detriment of many riders who can no longer palate the sportbike compromises in comfort. Track-biased performance comes at a cost. Hunched over the tank is an optimal stance for a 20-lap sprint race, and the occasional trackday, but not for long-range comfort. High redlines are required to reach ever loftier peak horsepower, but they don’t make for the most user-friendly powerbands. And racing bodywork is built for aerodynamics, not rider comfort and wind protection. Then there is the literal cost, as supersport and superbike MSRPs race up along with
Riders familiar with the raucous character of the Z1000 will not be disappointed with the new Ninja 1000.
performance. Just look at Kawasaki’s own ZX-10R. In 2004 it retailed for $10,999 (the new Ninja 1000 asking price) but the 2011 base model rings in for $13,799 and the ABS-equipped version $14,799. And price tags only increase as sportbikes adopt more sophisticated electronic aids, like production traction control.

Enter the Ninja 1000, which Kawasaki shills as an answer to genre dissatisfaction. Its research indicates riders forced onto naked standards or performance cruisers for the forgiving riding position, will come back when they see the Ninja’s sporty lines. The improved comfort also should appeal to riders that want to tour, but don’t need the bells and whistles, high MSRP and 600 to 700-pound curb weights of the “sport-touring” class. As the riding age climbs, delivering a do-it-all sportbike for the street makes more and more sense.

Reading the spec sheet for the Ninja 1000, riders could be forgiven for assuming it’s simply the Z1000 with a fairing slapped on… as that’s a fair summation. The two bikes were developed in tandem and, in fact, Kawasaki USA wanted the Ninja 1000 to debut before the Z1000, as Americans seem genetically predisposed to not buy naked standards. But globally the big Z, and its 750 sibling, are huge sellers, particularly in Europe. So the Ninja 1000 arrives as a 2011 model, a year later than the redesigned Z1000, but sporting the same engine, suspension and brakes.

2011 Kawasaki Ninja 1000
The Ninja 1000 aims to deliver sportbike thrills to the street without the compromise in comfort.
The new Ninja delivers the sportbike looks  but without the aggressive ergonomics. Instead riders sit upright in a standard position.
Kawasaki pitches its new Ninja 1000 as a do-it-all sportbike, with relaxed ergos inviting long-range comfort and touring.
A liquid-cooled, 16-valve Inline Four takes center stage on the Kawasaki. Without any racing regulations to please, the displacement is a satisfyingly irregular 1043cc. Tuned for street performance, gone are the sky high redlines and top-end biased powerbands of the track-oriented Ninjas. Where the ZX-10R redlines at 13,000 rpm and the ZX-6R screams up to 16,500, the new Ninja 1000’s redline is 11,000 rpm. Yet the new 1000’s power claims are far from paltry, with 136 horsepower at the crank. The new Ninja churns out 10% more hp than the ZX-6R and 65% more torque, it’s lb-ft production on par with the ZX-10R.

Jump behind the controls, thumb the starter and the Ninja packs a nasty wallop right off the bottom. An aggressive burp on the throttle in first gear hoists the front wheel sans any clutch finesse and it only gets better from there. Acceleration is brusque, yet smooth, pulling steady down low. The power builds with a delicious top-end zing around 7K that hammers away until topping out. The top end boost cranks power up to the proverbial 11 on the seat-of-the-pants dyno, though it also accompanies buzzing vibration up through the tank at 8000 rpm. Riders can take two paths with the Kawasaki: ring its neck for optimal power and performance in the top end, or chug along nice and steady in the lower rpm. Either way, the Ninja is happy to play along.

Unlike most first ride evaluations, we have independent results to give relative credence to Ninja’s power claims, having run the Z1000 on the dyno during our 2010 Streetfighter Shootout. That engine confirmed a notable up-tic on the torque curve beginning around 7K with a 72.34 lb-ft peak registering at 7900 rpm. Rear wheel horsepower for the Z1000 measured 122 at 9800 rpm.

The only difference between the Z and Ninja 1000 powerplants is the addition of a top speed limiter on the latter. Kawasaki decided to add the limiter because of the fully-faired Ninja’s improved aerodynamics, which actually make it a speedier ride than its sibling – as the naked Z reaches its top speed without electronic inhibitions and much more wind resistance.

2011 Kawasaki Ninja 1000
The Ninja 1000 eats up the curves, with its Showa suspension featuring a three-way adjustable fork and the rear horizontal-link shock adjustable for preload and rebound.2011 Kawasaki Ninja 1000
Unchanged from the Z1000 are those distinctive four-pipe exhaust silencers. The system is, in truth, a dual exhaust, with the end-caps only delivering a faux four-pipe aesthetic. But it pulls off the charade well enough, and it manages a respectable tone in stock form.

The Ninja’s transmission is almost complaint proof. A cable-actuated clutch delivers a light pull and easy engagement, while the six-speed gearbox offers zero hiccups rolling through the gears. There is no slipper clutch, though, so sloppy downshifts can be problematic for the lackadaisical. Another minor quibble is the lack of a gear position indicator on the LCD display – hey, we pick nits because we care.

The Kawasaki brakes feature radial-mount four-piston Tokico calipers up front clamping down on a pair of 300mm petal-style rotors. The front units also source a Nissin radial-pump master cylinder. The single disc rear is a 250mm rotor pinched by single-piston caliper. At first, our test unit required a much sterner two-finger tug than expected, and the rear pedal offered little feel from out back. However, the braking performance improved during our ride, possibly as the new braking components on our test bike bedded in. We’ll give Kawasaki the benefit of the doubt, as our recollection of the Z1000’s brakes is quite positive. It’s a trait we look forward to re-examining on a future road test or comparison review.

Handling wise, the Ninja craves high-speed flowing terrain, where it can stretch its legs. The aluminum frame and swingarm chassis transmit ample feedback. The Showa suspension components, a 41mm fork and rear monoshock (utilizing a horizontal linkage similar to the new ZX-10R), are set up softer than those developed for the track-oriented Ninja Supersports. Yet riders can dial in the settings with three-way adjustment options for the fork and preload and rebound for the rear shock. A couple quarter turns for rebound and preload after lunch improved feel for our afternoon ride, which took us up to the top of Mount Tamalpais for a majestic view of the Bay (double true for us, as the weather proved to be an atypical cloudless blue sky).

2011 Kawasaki Ninja 1000
The Kawasaki is designed for the high-speed sweeping backroads and the street, not the racetrack.
Heading down the mountain, the Ninja’s 502-pound curb weight feels more than manageable. The 24.5-degree rake and four inches trail, combined with the 56.9-inch wheelbase, make for an easy-to-turn, yet stable mount. The biggest challenge in tighter terrain comes not from the chassis, but keeping the lively throttle smooth, as the Ninja chomps at the bit to open things up.

The ergonomics and rider comfort are a huge selling point on this model, and having the 2010 Sport-Touring Shootout fresh in mind (which included the 2010 Kawasaki Concours 14) our critical teeth were ready to eviscerate long-range comfort. In the context of a sportbike, however, the Ninja 1000’s ergonomics excel in this regard. The natural riding position leans, metaphorically, toward the upright standard variety – similar to the position on the Ninja 650R. Footpeg placement, rubber mounted to mitigate vibration, felt good for our 6’1” frame. Unlike the single piece handlebar on the Z1000, the Ninja sports individually mounted handlebars. Despite a subtle forward cant in the neutral riding position, we felt no untoward pressure on the wrist, the placement quite natural for our tastes. At 32.3 inches, the Ninja’s perch may be on the high side for shorter riders, and the seat comfort we rate only average after our 150-mile testing rout. It’s not bad by any means, but not the highlight of an overall ergonomic package that lives up to its billing.

2011 Kawasaki Ninja 1000
2011 Kawasaki Ninja 1000
The Ninja 1000's full fairing keeps the rider
protected from the wind, along with its three-
position adjustable windscreen. The optional
hard luggage enhance touring credentials.
Aside from the intrinsic aesthetics it conveys (is there a more distinctive sportbike feature?), the Ninja’s fairing is quite effective at directing air away from the rider. The open section of the segmented design channels engine heat air out away from the rider as well. A tall windscreen offers three positions to further maximize rider comfort. Adjustment is manual, but tool-less, with a lever underneath the control panel allowing the screen to rotate into three positions. We’d be fibbing if we said there was a dramatic earth-shattering difference between the three settings, which can be altered while on the move (though a big warning on the gas tank says not too..), but it’s a nice option.

The overall comfort factor makes the Ninja an intriguing touring mount. The bike’s subframe has been built up to better accommodate two up rides, but namely to handle saddlebags and serve as a touring-capable mount. We saw a test model with optional hard bags attached and expect top case options as well. Further increasing its touring credentials, Kawasaki added another gallon of fuel (compared to the Z1000) for a five-gallon tank, so a range of 180 isn’t improbable (based off the 36 mpg of the Z in our Streetfighter Comparison).

In the looks department the latest Ninja may not sport the uber-sleek lines and full unbroken fairing found on the “real” Ninja ZX sportbikes. But much like its smaller-displacement kin, the 650R and little Ninja 250, it delivers legit sportbike styling despite lacking a full track pedigree.

The launch of more practical sportbikes herald an emerging Roadsport class, but the Ninja 1000’s success is far from assured. American riders don’t buy bikes for practicality, and production trackbikes for the racing leathers and knee-puck clan are in their own way as much a lifestyle purchase as the lumping V-Twin for the leather-clad cruiser brood. Kawasaki’s betting on those interlopers who’ve grown tired of the rigid genres. At $10,999 the Ninja 1000 delivers versatility and exhilarating road performance, without compromising comfort. Riders looking for a road-going sportbike should take keen interest in this new entry from Team Green.
2011 Kawasaki Ninja 1000 Photos
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2011 Kawasaki Technical Specifications
Aside from the intrinsic aesthetics it conveys  is there a more distinctive sportbike feature    the Ninjas fairing is quite effective at directing air away from the rider.
Engine: Four-stroke, liquid-cooled, DOHC, 16 valve Inline Four
Displacement: 1043cc
Bore x stroke: 77 x 56mm
Compression ratio: 11.8:1
Fuel system: DFI with four 38mm Keihin throttle bodies, oval sub-throttles
Ignition: TCBI with digital advance
Transmission: X-ring chain
Final drive: Chain
Rake / trail: 24.5 degrees / 4 in.
Front tire: 120/70 ZR17
Rear tire: 190/50 ZR17
Wheelbase: 56.9 inches
Front suspension: Showa 41mm inverted fork, adjustable for compression, rebound and preload, 4.7 inches travel
Rear suspension: Horizontal linkage Showa monoshock, adjustable for rebound and preload, 5.4 inches travel
Front brakes: Dual 300mm petal-type rotors with radial-mount four-piston Tokico calipers
Rear brakes: Single 250mm petal-type rotor with single-piston caliper
Seat height: 32.3 inches
Curb weight: 502.7 pounds
Fuel capacity: 5 gallons
Color choices: Ebony, Candy Fire Red / Ebony
Warranty: 12 Months

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toowheeler   May 26, 2013 09:17 PM
i have owned the 2011 ninja 1000 for a year now. enjoy it. fun bike likes to go fast. however it does have issues. 35mpg. buzzy hand grips at higher rpms that make my hands numb! why don't these gauges have ambient temp. engine temp, gear indicator, (oil pressure, and plug in for phone charger etc)? butt gets numb after an hour. would love grip warmers and some hard bags which i hope to add one day. This bike is so practical and fun for commuting, joy riding and sporty riding. but its not perfect. i like the torque curve where it is. cant imagine riding a supersport bike and having to keep it in the 10k plus RPM range to get the Hp WHEN IN TOWN.
igbymac   November 11, 2011 10:11 PM
I've waited for this bike since 1984. That was the year the FJ100 hit the road and was an amazing sport tourer for its time. I always yearned for the seatability and versatile rideability of an FJ with 17" wheels, hard luggage, heated grips, adjustable suspension and shaft drive (one omission here). Instead the market gave us everything but ...until NOW! I cannot wait to get delivery of my new dream bike. With over a quarter million sport touring miles exclusively on the backroads of America, its about time. Thank you Kawasaki!
jfundora   October 23, 2011 08:19 AM
Has anyone taken the Kawasaki ninja 1000 to it's top speed? Having a limiter I'm curious to know the top speed.
Wabbit1961   August 1, 2011 02:34 PM
50y/o, swm, 6'2", 175# former 2006 VFR800 owner here. I do agree that this bike is targeted for people my age. Just look at the official Kawasaki videos for the proof of that. That's a shame. For a smart younger experienced rider this bike does it all and is quite the bargain. It's also a sharp looker. This bike is plenty for a smart, younger rider with modest to advanced riding experience that wants a do-it-all machine. It's a bike you could say you would own if you could only afford, or only wanted, one bike. I've owned a 2003 FZ-1 in the past. The Kawasaki Ninja 1000 is a notch above that bike, IMO. The riding position is very similar to sitting on a BMW R1200R, but when it comes to engine it's more of a race bike than a low rpm cruiser. It's a very relaxed mount. Personally, it would still be comfortable to me if it had normal sportbike clip-ons. Then it would have a slightly more forward lean. That lean would put more weight over the front end and inspirre better backroad handling, IMO. I own the red/black Ninja. I bought it just more than a week ago. Coming from the VFR it takes a bit of retraining yourself. The Ninja is way more flickable and way more powerful than the VFR. It's way more sit-up-and-beg than the VFR. It's narrower than the VFR and a tad taller in the seat spec-wise. I really don't notice it being I have a 36" inseam. It's more flickable than the FZ-1 from my memory of that bike, and it sits even more upraight than the FZ-1 also. I've ridden it in the rain already and protection is very adequate. The adjustable screen is nice. Unlike your report, I can tell the differences in the screen positions. I like it in the middle or set high. It offers more wind protection than a FZ-1 stock screen. Puig already has an aftermarlet for the Ninja also. I bought mine with hard cases and heated grips. Try getting that stock for your FZ-1. They are Givi cases and that's all that need be said. VFR owners know, if you had hard cases as I did on the VFR. I also owned a 2006 Ninja 650. It was a fun bike but the front end quickly limits a rider's fun factor. It was also buzzy in the front dash. Since then, Kawasaki seems to have upped their quailty. The Ninja 1000 is superb in fit and finish. From looking at it you cannnot see any mounting screws for the fairing pieces at all. No rattles or shakes. It comes from the factory pretty tightly sprung. For us old farts, and if your a saavy young rider that wants a good buy for youtr money, the Ninja 1000 has a 3-way fully adjustable front end. The FZ-1 does not as far as I know. To me that's a big deal actually. If you find that the spring rates are the limit to the bike's front end it's a simple matter to get aftermarket progressive springs. The Ninja pulls hard from even 2krpm. It cruises at 2.5krpm steady and with no surging or sputtering. That to me is amazing. I though I would have to at least get O2 Sensor elliminators. Not the case. The fuel mapping is perfect. At such a low rpm, most bikes surge or you get chain lash. Not so with the Ninja 1000. Also, I like the concentric chain adjustment. This should be an industry standard, IMO. Almost as easy to adjust as the VFR single-sided swingarm. No slippage like normal chain adjustments that only tighten down on a bar and notlocked in by a notch. The power on tap is incredible. The handling is race bike sharp. The saddle is comfortable and the reach to the bars is non-existent for me. What more can you ask for. I am sure on weekends I can keep up and pass many of my friends on their R-1's and the like. Sue me for being old. But it's true - With age comes wisdom. This bike is a wise choice. It's also a steal for what it offers. I will tell you that my dealership had it on sale for $8,298.00. With bags and the heated grips I was OTD at $11,240.00. That's less than the bike itself would cost! This bike is a sleeper. If people don't buy it, it's because advertising has failed to reach out enough and inform the public. I would hate to see this bike fail in the US. It really is in a class by itself at this moment in time.
gtwatt   February 9, 2011 09:21 PM
Great review, but the statement "American riders don’t buy bikes for practicality" is simply not true. I'm very interested in this beautiful bike for really three basic reasons: (1) blistering, exhilarating, acceleration, (2) damn great looks, and (3), practicality. I'm gonna commute, quickly, on this bike, and go out for weekend rides, where, I expect, I'll come away with a shit-eating grin on my face.
William -missed  January 30, 2011 09:13 AM
I currently own a Aprilia SL1000 and a SV650 both sf which I love! I sold my 00' zx9 when I got the Aprilia, I miss my 9 have been thinking of getting 08' zx10, now I'm not sure. I like the new Kawi.' but why a speed limiter , why not more power from this motor, better gas mileage and make those bags std. I think they missed the mark!!! I'll stick with my original idea and find a previous generation zx10 and make it alittle more tour friendly!!
47 and rockin -this ones for me  January 26, 2011 06:52 PM
This is exactly what guys in their 40's and up have been looking for.

But I think kawasaki has copied my idea, I have a 86 ninja 1000, I loved the handling and power but wanted more practicality, built custom brackets and put in hard bags and custom brackets for top case, high handle bar risers. This turned out to be the perfect bike, all the power and control plus upright position and cruising capabilities with big the nig ninja stickers to tell all that its a rocket.

We want our bikes to be fast and fun for short rides and with a couple of clicks turn it into highway super tourer.

So Kawasaki has read our minds and given us what us long time, older riders who dont want to move over to the cruisers want.
AJ -Bike  January 23, 2011 03:44 PM
I own one, I love it....rides like a dream.
david penrose -gone back to the ZX9  January 18, 2011 07:04 AM
So, it seems like Kawasaki looked at the 1990's ZX9 and decided to build that bike with new parts and a bigger engine. I used to own a '94 and it was amazing hw many Kawasaki mechanics and riders told me how much they liked that bike over the newer ZX's. They said they wished Kawasaki would ahve kept building that bike instead of going lighter and sleaker. I sold that bike to buy my 1st house and miss it. I may have ot go check this new version out.
bmwclay -bike nut  January 8, 2011 06:19 PM
Didn't anyone read the part about vibration buzzing through the tank? That's the typical deal breaker if you want a fast sport touring rig. That buzzing goes up your arms and legs and ends up in your brain. No matter how well your bike handles and how fast it is, the fun is over when that happens. Typical inline four secondary vibration has been killing the ride for over 40 years, ever since the first Honda 750 came out.
Gottaride -It's about time  January 7, 2011 11:44 AM
I'd say this bikes demographic falls to the "old guy". That's me....52 years old, riding for 30 plus years. I've been whining for a long time that bikes are either underpowered or overpowered, too fat or too hyper. Kawasaki is the only marque I've not owned from the big Jap 4 and have been looking for an excuse for some time to remedy that. This looks to be the one. Of the 15 or so bikes I've owned over the years, My 03' FZ1 turned out to be the one that tripped my trigger the most. Now it appears as Kawasaki's offered it back up with improved suspension, sorted FI as well as better looks. It's an impressive package for the rider that likes to tour and enjoy the twisty bits without the over complication of slipper clutches, ABS, traction control and all the other gee whizzery that has accompanied this class of bike as of late. I'm hoping the kiddies and cruisers snub the bike so I can watch Stealer's and the factory throw huge purchase incentives at the machine. I will then promptly head on down, and give some Dealer my useless U.S. samolians. This appears to be the bike I've waited for for a very long time. I presently own an 08' CBR 1K and an 03' Viffer. This bike seems to fall smack in the middle of that spectrum. For my purposes, the perfect do it all bike. We shall see if things fall into place. If they do...there will surely be room in the stable for this new offering by big green.
Flash1034 -Where's the ABS and heated grips?  January 5, 2011 10:56 AM
Love the bike but for its' stated purpose it will need ABS and heated grips! Give us the perfect bike Kawi!

picky rider -Mr  December 27, 2010 06:33 AM
Thank you Kawi for seeing the light and getting this bike just right! You are spot on and in time your sales will reflect you nailing this project. All congrats to all who worked on this project. I could not see a more prefect bike for my wishes and needs. I will be FOR SURE buying it come late spring. I am a 36 year old male and this would only be my second bike. My current ride is a 2000 Aprilia Pegaso 650(assembly line twin of BMW F650). It only has 50hp, only goes up to 100mph, but of course is a dual sport. I tend to never go offroad though, and have wanted a way more powerful semi comfortable sports bike that can do light touring. I am not into crusers or naked bikes or large/bukly/heavy touring bikes, and most upper level big sport touring ones. And yes, race replica's are fun but very unpleasing for light touring. I had decided this next spring I am going to buy a new BMW F800st, or Honda VFR until just now I saw this bike come out. Susuki has a nice little 600cc sports tourer, but it is too cheaply built and underpowered for my needs, same with the above 2 bikes mentioned. Thus I was torn of weather I wanted to buy either of the 2 above(which are a little underpowered for my wishes), or get a Honda CBR1000rr or the uber cool BMW S1000RR and just put risers on and better seat/higher windscreen and suffer a bit trying to ride 2 hour rides. Thus, my dream bike is in-between the middle weight sport touring ones and Race Repli's: ie. this new Kawi Ninja 1000. What took you so long Kawi to build this perfect bike? I am a very odd buyer in that style means very much to me. I will never buy a big/heavy bloated tourer. And kawi's bikes to me the last few years(RR's) looked odd(bug eyes), plus I always hated Kawi green colors. This ninja is just right for all my needs and looks 9 stars out of 10 in my book. Thanks Kawi for allowing yourself to slip away from Kawi green for us non Kawi green fanboys. BTW- Your new ZX10R(in black color) is the coolest looking RR out there- even nicer then the BMW RR which I drool over. I want it soooo bad, but my back and joints tell my brain it wants your ninja 1000. I think I will listen to my bones:) Thank you Kawi for this new bike!!! Keep up the good work!
Dirty Harry -Just about perfect!  December 26, 2010 04:23 PM
Most of the above comments are spot on about the Ninja 1000. I've been riding for almost 50 years and currently own q 35,000 miled FJ1200, vintage 1991. I commute 50 miles per day to and from work, mostly on a four lane interstate at 75-100 plus depending on traffic. Nothing in this world out trumps torque. I worked at a Japanese dealership in the late sixties and early seventies and thoroughly enjoyed the cubic inch wars of 450, 500, 650, 750, and finally 903. Sitting upright and having 120 plus horses at your right wrist is the perfect, practical, neck snapping (if necessary) combination I could wish for. All the handling and horsepower and wow factor mean nothing, if it sits in the garage for more time than it spends under your butt cheeks, because it is not comfortable to spend large amounts of time on. I was hoping Yamaha put the newer R1 engine in the FZ, but I guess they know better. I'm due for an updated ride and it looks like Team Green is going to get my green.
RJ -Ninja 1000  December 21, 2010 03:29 PM
I think the price point and approach is trending in the right direction given the economy. A highly functional street bike is exactly where former cruiser owners are headed. I won't say practical b/c we all know in reality motorcycles are never a practical choice. What is missed though is that marginal fuel economy is not acceptable in any form when a Honda Civic can offer better overall MPGs. I don't mind paying a little to play, but it seems more can be done from a company that offered a remapping button for econo mode on the C14... What really seems unbelievable to me is the small gas tank on a bike intended to cross over into the touring segment. Did anyone at Kawasaki read the list common complaints when the VFR1200 was released? At the top of the heap was complaints about the small gas tank...
Spoilsport -new&used  December 13, 2010 05:59 PM
Just finished reading the review in the January issue of Motorcycle Consumer News. They gave this bike a 5 out of 5 overall rating. And, they got 40mpg. The only quibbles were the seat and closer than necessary gear ratios. I'm bummed it doesn't have ABS though. That's a deal breaker for me. They've got it in EU, so maybe....
tyler -1125r  December 7, 2010 11:43 AM
Al -FZ1 or this one?  November 22, 2010 12:22 PM
As the owner of an '08 FZ1, I'm intrigued by this bike - want to see a comparo before I decide if it's better. Wind protection might be better than on the FZ1, although I put a taller V-Stream on my fazer and that works well, at least up to 100 mph :) Redline on the Fazer is 12k, as opposed to 11k for the Ninja. Ninja offers hard bags; no OEM for the Fazer, although you can go Givi (rumor has it Yami was worried about Fazer sales cannibalizing FJR if hard bags were offered).

As for gas mileage, my Fazer lists at 35 mpg but I routinely get 40+ if I shift early and use 5th and 6th a lot - not as much fun, but if you're going for distance, that's how to do it. I suspect the same may be true here.
drt -I will buy this bike in the spring  November 17, 2010 09:58 AM
I use to own 03 z1000 and it was the best bike I ever had. after putting 17,000miles on it I traded it in on a 08cbr1000 and that was a blast too. however, I did get tired of commutin with it and when I wanted to use all the power (which was all the time) it had to always be going 100mph+! I jumped the gun and traded it in on a victory cruiser. nice bike but I miss the zip of the zed. I don't know why they are putting a speed limiter on it though and I hope it can be removed!
jeffree -kudos  November 9, 2010 08:29 AM
Nice job Kawi.This is what old sportbike riders want to ride and the price they want to pay.
Marko -Perfect once it comes with ABS...  November 6, 2010 11:37 AM
Why Kawasaki, why no ABS? I will wait until it is an option then buy this bike as I've seen it in person and it is an amazing machine. Perfect ergo, light weight compared to any other sport tour other than Triumph, perfect size not a bloated 700 lb+ machine. BUT...until it has ABS I will wait. I hope Kawasaki is listening.
Michael -More MPG = Less "Sport" in sportbike!  November 3, 2010 09:15 PM
I've got the 2007 Z1000 and only get about 130 miles on a tank, which puts me at about 33mpg. But I generally ride aggressively and the bike rarely sees 5th and 6th gears as I don't generally "cruise". The naked bike is built for shakin' and bakin', but this new faired version is getting my attention. Heated grips and some wind protection would extend my riding season and the addition of hard bags would add practicality. And with a Z1K underneath, I know it can handle it when the roads get nice and twisty. And I actually prefer no ABS as I know how to stop without locking up the front. I'm not convinced the pillion seat is comfortable, but I generally ride solo anyway. Pictures can only show me so much though... I'll have to meet her and see if she speaks to me.
Ryan -Mileage  November 3, 2010 09:00 AM
The 36 mpg for the Z was based off of MCUSA testing. No offense to the staff here, but I'm sure they were pushing the bike pretty hard when they calculated that figure (wouldn't you if you got to test motorcycles for a living?). If you rode more conservatively I'm sure you can get it up to 45+. The fairing on the Ninja should also bring its drag down well below that of the Z and also increase its efficiency on the highway.
Ezekiel -It's about time  November 3, 2010 04:11 AM
I agree with the statement about the knee puck clans and v twins, it is truly a sad fact that in America if it ain't a cruiser or a super sport seen on the track they just don't sell as well here, the Suzuki B-King was imported for 08 only but yet continues to sell over seas, not to mention Yamhas MT-01 which never made it stateside or Hondas redone Cb 1100 retro( beautiful ) this is a definite step in the right direction I have 14000 miles from April of this year to current date on an xb12ss , the only thing lacking is wind protection, real world riders need a competent bike not some " I'm a racer wannabe" I dog these guys in the easiest turns, my only gripe is the lack of selection I hope other manufactures take note and follow suit. I will say I would rather have ANY motorcycle than be stuck inside a car, and just for the love of riding want to see this venture succeed .
Gunther -sweet  November 3, 2010 01:55 AM
Good to see a lot of positive comments on here. This is what the sportbikes of 10-15 years ago were with even better handling and probably a bit more comfort too.

People who obsess so much about horsepower won't buy this bike anyway. 122 at the rear is plenty for the road, you only need really more for the track. (not saying it ain't fun)
I do a lot of miles and can dust about 95% of the sportbike riders on my heavy underpowered naked in the twisties. and I'm no great rider, I just have a lot of practise.

Only real concern is the fuel consumption. Even a S1000RR does better, which is saying a lot!
Scooby -Speed limiters?  November 2, 2010 06:43 PM
When are the J4 brands going to make their speed limiters a dealer-installed POS that is only distributed within Japan? We don' need no steenkin' speed limiters!
Mulley -...but where's the ABS and cruise control?  November 2, 2010 04:37 PM
I'm probably the median of Kawasaki's focus group. I'm 33 years old and love sport bikes but they just don't make sense for the street. My (main) current ride is an 04 BMW K1200RS. I use it for everything from touring to trackdays and everything in between. I really love my bike but I've been wanting something lighter with better handling. My previous bike was an SV650 which was nothing but fun. I want a strong torquey bike that can handle the twisties, track days, commuting and a 1500 mile weekend with hard bags. Did I find the perfect bike for me? I will watch this one closely and see how the full blown road tests go. The fuel range (180 miles) is a little bit low but not a deal breaker. My only question is, where's the ABS and cruise control (I'll add the heated grips myself)? Thanks Kawasaki....Let the good times roll
Aaron -Wow, MPG really sucks on this one  November 2, 2010 03:18 PM
There has GOT to be a way to increase the MPG on this bike, or I don't think it will be a strong-sale for me. My 650R got 170 - 180 miles before the fuel light would come on during long highway cruises; 150 or so around town. Granted, the Ninja 1000 is 400 CC's more, as well as about 70 lbs heavier in the curb weight area. But, 36mpg on a bike that's being marketed as a sleeker, more aerodynamic (and certainly more ergonomically friendly) touring machine with the heart of a hooligan isn't exactly something that equates to me. IMO, If Kawi wants to market this thing as a long-haul tourer, with all the aftermarket accessories and from-the-factory luggage options they'll end up giving this thing, increasing the fuel economy should be priority number one. I guess I just really hate the mentality of motorcycle manufacturers that simply slapping plastic on an inefficient package is the way to go. Here's hoping for some better, real-world MPG averages when this thing has had time to sink in here in the states.
JackL -Close, but not quite  November 2, 2010 02:44 PM
TG is right on! This Kawasaki is very close, but what is stopping them from taking a stock literbike and leaving everything alone except higher bars/windshield, more comfortable seat, one less tooth in the rear sprocket, and maybe hard panniers. Maybe some minor suspension tweaking might be needed for the rearward weight bias. This seems cheaper than developing a whole new bike. I love my FZ1 but have my eye on a discounted '09 CBR1000RR with ABS. Heli bars and a windshield (for starters)would give me a heckuva bike for not much more than this Kawasaki.
TG -B Dunk and Yo  November 2, 2010 09:14 AM
Yo - you have a point, as the Japanese dealer with the most sportbikes in it's lineup, they clearly hate motorcycles.

B Dunk - the only similarity between the new 1000 and the 954 is the hp.

I applaud Kawi for making a comfortable, reasonably high-hp sportbike in an affordable price range. However, the power is still low, and the market is small. They should have provided the Z1000 and this Ninja 1000 with a early zx10 motor, 160+ crank hp. Sure, less torque than the 1043cc option, but 40hp is a huge gap. I know that's what is keeping me from getting truly excited about this bike.
Yo -I want to get excited about this bike...  November 1, 2010 08:31 PM
but it seems pretty similar to an "old" 2003 CBR 954. What's new?
Rucuss54 -Kool Kawi  November 1, 2010 04:04 PM
I've seen this bike at the dealer, Kawasaki makes good looking high quality machines.They have a broader range of bikes and are faring better than the other Japanese marks in this economy, hope they continue putting on the pressure while Honda/Suzuki/Yamaha sit on their hands.
B Dunk -Lame  November 1, 2010 10:29 AM
Kawasaki left MotoGP and sucks in all forms of road racing. The company is more concerned with building skyscrappers and ships than it's bothersome little motorcycle division. Only 122 hp on a 1000 with that low of gas mileage? They hate motrcycles.
Bryan -Great job Kawasaki  November 1, 2010 08:47 AM
I have to say that I'm really encouraged by Kawasaki's recent moves. They seem to be coming out with a lot of new models and updates on there product line. They are releasing a new ZX-10r that looks great and already have the best supersport bike. I was initially concerned when they pulled out of MotoGP but it looks like they have really focused their efforts on improving the products that they sell to the rest of us. While other Japanese companies are being super-conservative and not making significant advancements in their products Kawasaki has been much more aggressive.
Drunkula -Perhaps!  November 1, 2010 06:21 AM
It might be time to trade in my 636. Or maybe time to make it track-only and get me one of these for the road! I like it.
Duken4evr -Never ridden one, but I like it already  October 31, 2010 09:39 PM
I currently own a modded '06FZ1 and it is by far the most enjoyable bike I have ever owned. Comfy, sharp handling and, in uncorked form, 148 rear wheel horsepower on tap.

This new Ninja makes me drool. It is akin to my FZ1, but better. No doubt it will put down upper 140s as well once a pipe and PCIII are added. I like the package here.

Nobody needs a ZX10 unless they are a dedicated top shelf track rider. Don't be a 'tard squid image rider. Wannabe racers bois are as bad as wanna be bad ass me too Harley riders. Get real boys. Get one of these.
Ryan -So pumped for this bike  October 31, 2010 01:37 PM
I have an 06 ninja 650r (my first bike) and I love it but wanted to graduate to something a little more powerful. I love the 650's ergos, and I didn't want to have to go to a full blown sportbike since I ride almost every day to work. I was excited about the new Z1000 when it was released but the lack of fairing made it impractical since I like to ride well into the winter (road conditions permitting), and at only 24 I feel to young to be riding a Connie 14. This bike is exactly what I've been waiting for. 1000cc's without destroying my back after 20 minutes, plus the additional hardcases make this a competent touring option. I love that Kawasaki is addressing the needs of people who actually ride motorcycles for practical reasons but who still want something sporty. I would like ABS and traction control, but those aren't deal-breakers. I am absolutely buying this (once I get my wife a car first).
David -old man  October 31, 2010 10:37 AM
I have a 08' CBR 1k- i take 1,000-1,500 miles trips(400 mile days) on it every summer the only reson i put with ergo's is the power and handling/light weight.
But this the first real sportbike i've seen in a long ass time (old school sportbikes).
Good job for a company making something like this with out asking a 20k price tag-thank you.
I just might trade my CBR for this puppy...........
Shaitan -Looks like daddy's come home  October 30, 2010 03:07 AM
I'm thinking my FZ1's days might be dated...that's ones sexy bike, and I'd love to have a Kawi engine again.
Brian -Thank God!  October 30, 2010 02:15 AM
Thank you Kawasaki, for ignoring the usual young American 'tards who run out and buy what they see on the track. Sadly...for them...riding is about image (and having the latest and greatest for bragging rights). For the REAL riders out there (those that may do more than, say 1k a yr? ha ha)... this bike is a SWEET addition! Naked bikes are picking up the slack between full on "race replica's" and tourers... but there definitely is a lack of product for sporty, light(er) weight "do-all's" WITH a fairing. Congrats to Kawi for stepping up! I hope this bike sells well!
road rider -a third path  October 30, 2010 01:12 AM
Its great that kawasaki is putting out some more real world friendly bikes. I've had a Zx7r great engine but man was it uncomfortable, the '04 z1000 a fun great looking bike but a bit too tame in the lower rpms forcing me to hit the 100+ a bit too much for the buzz and just sold my Suzuki M109r. Great power cruiser but like a bull in a china shop at times. Engine was fantastic, I could enjoy it at sub 90mph but downshifting was unnerving and the cool looking back wheel was unwieldy on those crowned country roads. Just bought the Griso 8v which fits in this real world class of motorcycle. 500#s is just about right for a road bike. Nice and solid plus unlike a 400ish sportbike it probably won't get written off in minor crashes. I think there's a market for these bikes. Sport bikes are fun but by the time I get to good roads I don't want to be all knackered. Performance cruisers give that big punch rush but there weight shows (800#). Something like a Concourse or goldwing is cool if you do interstate travel but I don't often enough. A do it all motorcycle like the griso, both z1000s , r1200r,gt1000, mutistrada and others hits the spot. Hope enough people agree and buy them so we don't get stuck with sportbikes, cruisers and Full on sport tourers. Thumbs up Kawasaki!
cdn -return of the all in ones!  October 30, 2010 12:27 AM
It's been almost 10 years since these were available. Back then my new F4i was one of the last of the do it all performance rides, and I still have it now. 2001-03 saw FI become the new standard & coincidentally all the new sportbike model handlebars dropped inline with the seat. I think no comprimize race ergos + cred became the selling factor not usefullness. Before this bikes were designed for the street first and then honed for the track in the 90's eg;cbr900,F4, YZF 600 ect... now we could be returning to great sport bikes you can really live with and put heaps of miles on with bikes like this ZX10sX, right on!. These could outsell the trackbikes when people get wise to them, 90% pure sport performance comprimized 10% for practicallity, and still a bike most can't Handle past 7/10ths so you can still fear & love it every ride.
motousa - adam -i hate to admit...  October 29, 2010 11:56 PM
but this bike looks mighty cool and if its based off the new z1000 then it will for sure be a excellent sport motorcycle.
TT -YES!! Analog Tach!!!!  October 29, 2010 03:33 PM
doesn't have that stupid digital tach like the new ninja 650!!! I'm hoping this bike stays in the market for a while. I would like to someday grow into this kind of motorcycle. I'm also really liking the way Kawasaki has been heading lately. And having an EX250, i think i'm more attached to their brand than i realize. good job K! keep the digital tachs for the standards, and the analogs for the sport bikes!
Stan -Crotch rocket  October 29, 2010 02:07 PM
To 95% of the public there are only two classes of street bikes. Cruisers and Crotch Rockets. If you start calling a apple and orange, it will still be an apple. So if you make a bike for performance it's a crotch rocket(Hayabusa to a Vmax). If you make a bike to putt around on its a cruiser(Goldwing to Fat Bob). Whats really funny is when manufactures put saddle bags on rockets.
Bob -Forgot to Add  October 29, 2010 01:28 PM
The Euro market is being offered ABS. When an ABS model comes to USA shores, I'm there. That should gove Kawi a full year to work out any glitches.
SWFC Pilot -Sport Touring Iron Butt  October 29, 2010 12:30 PM
NOT another "crotch rocket" but we can excuse the rider of a lead sled to not know the difference. The correct term you are looking for is Sport Bike, but it's not exactly that either as a true sport bike is high performance at the expense of everything else. More torque and less HP gives a much more usable power band for a daily commuter or touring bike like this. I tour, commute, and play on a 800cc V4 and while many think it's a "crotch rocket" simply because it has fairings and doesn't shake at idle, a true sport bike can leave me pretty quick.
Bob -Another Real Rider  October 29, 2010 12:25 PM
I was really hoping for Triumph to take advantage of being the only manufacturer left that builds a relatively small sport tourer and up the game by adding adjustable suspension and removing some of the weight. They went the other way by making it bigger, longer and slightly heavier. They lost a sale from me.

As Honda ditched the 800 VFR, Buell was forced closed and BMW hasn't made a small ST in the form of the R1100S (my bike) since 2004, only the Triumph Sprint ST was left...just outdated.

I was excited about Kawasaki's Z1000SX as it is called in Europe and wondered if it would come to the USA, likey a year later. Turns out, this is the same bike. I've been dying for a small, light, sport/race based bike with sport touring ergos that I can play hard on and also commute everyday and tour long on. This seems to be my answer.

The only beef I have is the MPG rating. I pile on about 20k miles a year and at 36 MPG, I'd be spending $1600 in fuel at the current pump price...for 87 octane and $1780 for 93 octane. I currently get 40-42 mpg although with a lot less HP. I'd hate to go down the MPG scale, especially since i just spent $440 in fuel on the 2 week 5900 mile trip I took 2 weeks ago. I'd have spent $50 more at 36 mpg. I'd gladly settle for 10 less HP for 5 more mpg. 110 HP is plenty for having fun. Want more? Buy the ZX-10R.

I've had several Buells like Real Rider and would get 50-54 mpg on the tube frame models (w/Pro Series full race kits) and 55-60 mpg on the fuel in frame model (XB12XT). The bike was meant to pile on miles and still had fun and satisfying power at real world rpms.

Dabber -Sweet Spot  October 29, 2010 12:24 PM
I think taste in motorcycles are changing. Cruisers with studded saddlebags are fading.Having had 2 Harleys & a Victory recently switching to a more sporting ride, I can see this bike is going to be on my list of next bikes. I didn't know what I was missing,stuck in cruiserland. This and bikes like this are going to be big sellers.Price point and 21 century technology makes this bike a winner for me!
Tox -Tough Decision  October 29, 2010 11:50 AM
My first bike was a 2009 Versys, which I love to death and ride everyday as my primary transportation. However, I have become skilled enough over time that I'm ready to move up to a higher power and was actually considering the Z1000 but wanted some wind protection this time, which was an issue I had with the V. When Kawasaki announced plans for a new ZX10 I decided to wait, because I fell in love with the BMW S1000RR and wanted to see if Kawasaki could match that kind of awesomeness. I would still love to have a BMW, but I would now also love to have the new 2011 ZX10 just as much. It was difficult enough deciding between those two, but now there's this bike (Ninja 1000) that complicates things. Before, if I wanted liter bike power I had to look at superbikes, which is fine since I do attend track days, but may not be completely practical for everyday commuting. I suppose I could get something like this bike for the street, and then get a second hand BMW or 2011 ZX10 for the track, which might be the intelligent thing to do, but I would so love to buy a brand new 2011 ZX10 this spring. I'm not one that is terribly bothered by the discomfort of a superbike like some are. I almost wish I was so that nitpick would eliminate the other two choices. Ahh, decisions decisions... I love motorcycles. I would still buy a Harley 883 Iron down the road as well. Good stuff. Can I have one of each, please?
Chase -Finally  October 29, 2010 11:42 AM
I've been waiting for a bike like this for years. Never pulled the trigger on the Yamaha FZ1 because of the poor throttle response in the early models and the relative lack of midrange. The engine and chasis on the Z1000 is great and now with a full fairing touring is possible. Kawasaki nailed it and I hope this one stays in the lineup for years to come. Would love to see this compared to the new Suzuki 1250FA, FZ1, and Sprint GT.
W1LLPARK3R -maybe riders here in the US..  October 29, 2010 10:13 AM
...would appreciate these bikes more if they weren't so much heavier than hardcore sportbikes...
Real Rider -cliche  October 29, 2010 09:55 AM
V-twin bob thinks this bike is a yawn?? He clearly didn't bother to read the article, but rather looked at the picture, saw no cruiser styling, and decided to bash the bike a bit.

He is clearly identified in the article, "American riders don’t buy bikes for practicality, and production trackbikes for the racing leathers and knee-puck clan are in their own way as much a lifestyle purchase as the lumping V-Twin for the leather-clad cruiser brood. Kawasaki’s betting on those interlopers who’ve grown tired of the rigid genres."

Personally, I think this bike looks great. I hope it sells quite well, and I hope there is a 'moderate' class of motorcyclists, interlopers as they are coined in the article, who will see the Z1000 for what it is. I currently ride a Buell XB12XT for it's genre blending features. I'm also excited for this bike because apparently the only motorcyclists who are allowed to have comforable passengers are the sport touring, and v-twin classes. The optional trunk would provide sissy bar support for my better half.

This is a small rant, but honestly no one is comfortable hanging off the back of anything other than a cruiser or a sport touring motorcycle, and this limits what the motorcyling public will be purchasing. How do motorcycle companies expect folks to make a major purchase of a 'fun' vehicle when many significant others won't consider sharing in it.
vtwin bob -yawn  October 29, 2010 09:24 AM
wow another crotch rocket. whoopppeeeee