There wasn’t any shortage of great new motorcycles in 2012. But nothing impressed us more, or was more exciting to ride, than Kawasaki’s re-tooled Ninja ZX-14R, our selection for Motorcycle of the Year.
Kawasaki’s top-shelf hyperbike has always been a good motorcycle, but this year it truly became great, offering one of the smoothest, most refined, and, of course, speediest riding experiences. With over 186 horsepower and 110 lb-ft of torque available at the twist of the wrist courtesy of its 1441cc Inline-Four engine, there’s no question that the Ninja is quick.
But the real magic is the way it harnesses that power. Multiple engine power modes and traction control help make all that performance accessible — from the street to the drag strip, and even on a racing circuit. In spite of its 580 pound curb weight, in motion the green bike has the agility that many motorcycles could only dream of.
Versatility is yet another weapon in the Ninja’s arsenal. With its undemanding riding position, cozy seat and big windscreen the ZX-14R is equally adept at cross-country touring as it is laying down 10-second quarter mile runs. Best bike of 2012? We’re sticking with the Kawasaki Ninja ZX-14R.
Motorcycle USA Best of 2012 Awards
Rider of the Year 2012: Max Biaggi
Manufacturer of the Year 2012: KTM
Best Cruiser 2012: Ducati Diavel
Best Sportbike 2012: BMW S1000RR
Best Street Bike 2012: Triumph Speed Triple R
Best Touring Motorcycle 2012: BMW K1600 GTL
Best Adventure Motorcycle 2012: Triumph Tiger Explorer
Best Enduro 2012: Beta 450 RR
Best Dual Sport 2012: Kawasaki KLR650
Best Motocross Motorcycle 2012: Kawasaki KX450F
Best ATV 2012: Can-Am Outlander 1000 XT
Best UTV 2012: Polaris RZR XP4 900
Motorcycle of the Year 2012: Kawasaki ZX-14R