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Motorcycle of the Year 2012: Kawasaki ZX-14R

Thursday, December 27, 2012
2012 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-14R is priced at  14 699.
The 2012 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-14R is priced at $14,699 and is Motorcycle-USA's Motorcycle of the Year.
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.

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jimbo4001   January 30, 2013 03:51 PM
Why not pick the best rides in different displacements, say under 700 cc's, 700 to 1300 cc's and over 1300 cc's? Not everyone wants the "best" because what you think is "best". Your "best" may not be in my real world budget or even on my "want" list. My wife likes to ride with me so include co-rider accomodations and opinions in your evals.
RENDELL   January 12, 2013 08:54 AM
@jfc1 I was incorrect on mpg. Thank you. That 2013 ZX-14 in white is beautiful...
gregp   January 3, 2013 10:28 AM
..and **Way To Go, Beta!!!** Yes! Finally, an great Enduro/dirt bike manufacturer that is bringing seat heights back down to comfortable "trail riding" levels. Not everybody is 6' or over, with 34" inseams... Now, if I could just find a dealership that is somewhat established, and close by.. They have some work to do in that regard, but I do want one!
RENDELL   December 31, 2012 09:06 AM
I like everything about the ZX-14 except the color. I saw on the MC USA review the ZX-14 gets a lot less MPG than the Busa. That is not an issue on the drag strip but I like to sport tour and sometimes gas stations are far and few in-between. I'd take one in blue if the price was lower (I know it is not possible with the yen to dollar exchange rate). Maybe I'll wait and pick up a left over model next year, if there are any left...
GB   December 31, 2012 08:26 AM
seriously? have you ever rode a Diablo for a distance? Distance being being more than 20 miles. of all the great crusiers out there you pick a crotch rocket that tries to say it's a cruiser? I smell kickback. Plus it is just one fugly as hell bike. lose the fairing and call it it what it is, a crotch rocket that can't keep up with the Jap bikes.
gregp   December 30, 2012 03:16 PM
With all of these reviews, which almost always accentuate engine, chassis, and suspension performance, I find myself wanting more information on comfort levels for both the rider and the passenger positions. I find the Adventure and Touring segment picks particularly lacking in this regard, when passengers are more likely to be along for the ride. How about a little more information on leg room, peg locations, seat to peg distances, top case interference and sturdiness, seat height and comfort, etc.. The old V-Strom usually received top marks in these categories, and I would love to know how the Tiger Explorer stacks up, or how the GTL stacks up against the 'Wing. I have a feeling that - they don't.
wildpig   December 30, 2012 12:10 PM
. I see the S1000RR on this but man how can you justify that bike at that price? It is over twice the price of a very-good Japanese sportbike, $30k for the new HP4 model. well heres the deal -- YOU CAN'T. KAWASAKI-- twice the bike at half the price.........
Piglet2010   December 28, 2012 08:26 PM
Good news is ABS is available for 2013. Now Kawasaki should offer optional hard bags (those huge cans would make putting soft bags of any size on difficult), top box, and heated grips to make a sport biased sport-tourer. And Congress should bring back the "safe and reasonable" speed limit for federally funded rural freeways.
Rucuss54   December 28, 2012 10:18 AM
The Ducati Diavel is the only cruiser I am willing to ride, glad no Harley got the nod. Kind of surprised the ZX14R is bike of the year, I never rode one but sat on it at the dealer, the fit and finish is top grade, it must feel fantastic blasting down the road on the big ZX out in the boonies or at the drag strip.
Kropotkin   December 28, 2012 07:16 AM
With respect to the ZX-14, it's bikes like that give me pause in my decision to buy a new Road King this spring. But I can't go 110+ mph in my neighborhood. And my neighborhood extends across all North America! How would I use that thing? Besides, I really don't want to ride leaning forward any more. It was fun for a while, but now frankly, it's just annoying.
neo1piv014   December 28, 2012 06:22 AM
Lol, Piglet. I would love to do some long range sport touring on that bike. Sitting on one, it was light years ahead of the comfort that regular sport bikes offered.
Piglet2010   December 27, 2012 06:49 PM
The ZX-14R should come with a traffic defense lawyer as standard equipment.
Kropotkin   December 27, 2012 01:05 PM
Why am I haveing so much difficulty picturing anyone "crusing" on a Diablo? Maybe it's just me. Sorry. As for the other picks, well they're nice, but most of them wouldn't have occured to me.