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2011 Kawasaki Ninja 1000 First Look

Tuesday, October 5, 2010
2011 Kawasaki Ninja 1000
Snag a Z1000, slap on some bodywork for sportbike looks and voila - the 2011 Kawasaki Ninja 1000.
Sourcing the same engine and chassis of the Z1000 streetfighter  the new Ninja 1000 adds a full fairing for sportbike looks and relaxed ergos for street-riding comfort.
Kawasaki brings back a familiar model name for the 2011 lineup with its Ninja 1000. Sourcing the same engine and chassis of the Z1000 streetfighter, the new Ninja adds a full fairing for sportbike looks and relaxed ergos for street-riding comfort.

Take away the sportbike bodywork, which mimics the lines of its sibling, the 2011 ZX-10R, and the new Ninja 1000 reveals its Z1000 pedigree. Power production comes via a 16-valve dual overhead cam Inline Four. The liquid-cooled mill displaces 1043cc with its 77mm bore and 56mm stroke. No engine tuning changes are mentioned by Kawasaki press materials, with the Z1000 engine churning out 122 horsepower and 72 lb-ft torque at the rear wheel when tested during out 2010 Streetfighter Shootout.

A 4-2-2 exhaust routes to the characteristic dual silencers. Straight off the Z1000, the muffler caps maintain the image of a four-pipe exit – a trait of the original Zed streetfighter.

Also identical to the Z1000 is the aluminum frame and swingarm. Suspension duties are handled by a 41mm inverted fork and monoshock rear. The front sticks offer three-way adjustment for compression, rebound and preload. The shock delivers adjustment for rebound and preload, with the rear suspension featuring a horizontal linkage.

Brakes are radial-mount, four-piston Tokico calipers up front, pinching down on a pair of Kawasaki’s familiar petal-style rotors (300mm). A single-piston caliper clamps onto the 250mm rotor out back. Tire size is identical with a 120/70 front and 190/50 rear, but the wheels are different, with six-spoke sportbike hoops replacing five-spoke units from the Z1000.

The real distinguishing feature of the Ninja 1000 is its bodywork. Aside from imparting a sportbike look, the fairing promises protection from wind and weather. This is enhanced by the relatively tall windscreen. Handlebars are raised from a typical sportbike position, with the pegs lowered. With the relaxed ergos, Kawi touts its new ride as a “capable medium-haul tourer.”

2011 Kawasaki Ninja 1000 Specs
With the Ninja 1000s relaxed ergos  Kawi touts its new ride as a capable medium-haul tourer.
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: 41mm inverted fork, adjustable for compression, rebound and preload, 4.7 inches travel
Rear suspension: Horizontal monoshock, adjustable for rebound and preload, 5.4 inches travel
Front brakes: Dual 300mm petal-type rotors with radial-mount four-piston 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
Backing up this touring claim, the new Ninja 1000 offers hard saddlebags and top case as accessories, as well as other touring accoutrements like heated grips. Perhaps its best touring aid, however, is the extra gallon of fuel in its five-gallon tank. That’s good for about a 180-mile range, if it sticks with the 36 mpg efficiency we measured on the Z1000 during our aforementioned comparison review.

As far as weight goes, Kawasaki claims 502.7 pounds for the Ninja 1000 curb weight. The Z1000 measuring 481 pounds during our comparison test. MSRP for the new bike is still pending. It will be available in Ebony and Candy Fire Red.

So the details out of the way… Why would Kawasaki slap a fairing on its naked bike?

The answer: Because Americans don’t buy naked bikes.

In Europe the “streetfighters” are top-selling models, but not so in the States. No OEM knows this better than Kawasaki, who has seen its middleweight naked, the Z750, flourish in the Old Country (in some years it’s been the top-selling motorcycle in France). Meanwhile the Z750 languished into extinction as a U.S. model, not seen in the Kawi lineup since 2006. The Z1000 has suffered a similar fate, though to a lesser extent, skipping from the Team Green US roster for a season until an all-new version was re-introduced in the 2010 model year.

Thing is, the standard, upright stance of most naked bikes engenders far more comfort on the street than the typical “sportbike.” Supersports and Superbikes are designed for the racetrack. Standards are built for the street and deliver plenty – plenty – of road-worthy performance for the average rider. If the success of Kawasaki’s standard-like Ninja 650R is any indication, this literbike equivalent of a real-world sportbike could be a hit.

We already know the new Ninja’s Z1000-sourced engine has plenty of beans to get things moving. We’ll find out how well the complete package holds up later this month during our Ninja 1000 first ride evaluation.
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douglaskayse   August 16, 2013 02:10 PM
Pilotrt   March 15, 2011 06:17 PM
Just put one of these in the garage for the wife. Now that its here, I'm thinking about ditching my Aprilia Tuono Factory to get one of these. Wow, what a nice bike! I have yet to ride it, but the thing looks as if its doing 100mph just sitting there. Just statically sitting on it feels so comfortable. It will be a couple of months before I get to ride it, but if I like it, another one is coming home. RT
Tom -Add to previous  December 29, 2010 03:10 PM
Oh yeah... I am 6'4". The ergos look almost identical to the z1000 (short wheelbase and seat-to-handlebar length). I would definitely have to sit on it to see if I wanna sit on it for four hour stretches... My ladies are nice n long... Just a thought for us GREEN giants out there. Oh yeah... Kwak should make EVERYTHING green.

Tom -Love it, but will it dethrone the ladies?  December 29, 2010 03:07 PM
Finally Kawasaki comes back to the GPz1100 mould, a 'civilized' sportbike. I have been running a pair of old 1984 zx900a's for a couple years now. While I love the new look, I don't know if I am ready to part with the ladies. zx900a1 is the longest-running untouched production motorcycle in history- 9 YEARS with only a fork/brake upgrade in 1992 in Europe and a 17" front wheel.
Maybe if I get this, I keep the ladies for special days and make this my beater! thanks Kawi for doing it right!

Former ZX-6R Rider -Great job Kawasaki, now bring the same styling and ergonomics in a 600 class in line 4  November 13, 2010 10:40 PM
I hope kawasaki reads these comments, because I'd love for them to bring the same concept in the 600 class in line 4 for fuel efficiency and for budget minded individuals, with the same ergonomics and styling of the Ninja 1000 which in Europe is called Z1000SX. Hopefully they'd call it Z600SX here in the US and eliminate the Ninja logo for insurance purposes. For Example: ZX-10R = Ninja 1000 aka Z1000SX ZX-6R = Z600SX or something similar
HR -Finally a Z1000 with a windsheild.  November 11, 2010 09:55 PM
Always loved the Z1000 but no windscreen. got a 06 Z750s and you know that thing HAULS. At 430lbs its nice around town and 3000 rpm. Around 7000 and up going through the gears its a sport bike EATER. No vibration to speak of even though lots of folks cry "it buzzes". Above 7000 its pretty smooth and pulls like hell. So they must be sissy. This Ninja 1000 gives the 750 boys the bike they wanted. Stock will be fine with me I just need to get a new mohawk for my helmet...
Aaron -Less CC's = More MPG, please  October 25, 2010 05:11 AM
While this is a good idea in theory, I'm not quite sold on the labeling of this as a more "sport-touring"-oriented machine. Large displacement inline-four engines like these in sportbikes never get the greatest gas mileage, based off my own experience. If I'm going to drive something that gets less than 40mpg on average, I'll just take the car. Also, why is it that the US Z750's only have 20 less horsepower? Did Kawasaki seriously detune the engine that much? If you're going to label this as a sport-touring machine, you need to give it more than just a larger fuel tank. My Z750S gets, on average, around 50mpg when I'm not gunning the throttle around every corner. I don't think I could compromise the 15 or so MPG that this thing will probably give up in exchange for 250 cc's more of displacement and only a .20 gallon increase in fuel capacity. Sad too, because I really like the styling of this over previous "Zed" models.
jwaller -i like the trend  October 12, 2010 05:44 PM
I really like this trend. A few years ago, there were sport-touring bikes that weren't too far from their sportbike cousins. Bikes like Ducati's ST-3 or ST-4, Aprilia's Futura, and Triumph's Sprint models. Sport touring bikes have become heavy and too far removed from sport riding for my tastes. I like what Suzuki has done with their Bandit and now it seems Kawasaki is joining the SPORT-touring lite party. Triumph's had it their way with the Sprint seemingly being in a class of its own for the past few years. I think the Sprint GT may be getting too heavy for the class it has owned now that other manufacturers are getting on board. I'd love to see a comparison between the Ninja 1000, the Sprint GT, the Bandit, the FZ1, and the BMW F800ST. Heck, throw in the MultiStrada, the V-Strom, and the Tiger too. For whatever reason, I'm drawn to this new Kawasaki, looking like a suitable replacement for my 2001 Sprint ST, which is getting long in the tooth. I just wish Kawi had seen fit to bring the green model to the states and had decided to call it the Z1000ST or something like that. The insurance companies are happy to call it a Ninja so they can charge more money for coverage.
Ron -back in the fold  October 11, 2010 06:09 PM
I've been out of motorcycles for 15 years and this looks like the bike that will bring me back. Thanks Kawasaki!
john -disappointed  October 11, 2010 09:46 AM
really, they are giving an ABS option to the ZX-10R which probably will be ridden by helmetless squids and skipping out on the Ninja 1000 which will be chosen by people looking for a reasonable sportbike... btw: Ninja? we still in middle school? should have just stuck with z1000s
Bon2 -Sorry Honda you gotta go,  October 8, 2010 05:55 PM
I have a 2005 919. Been a fabulous bike but did a 800 mile day with a horrible head wind and 150lbs of luggage. I felt like I would rather have been dead. The wind and rain protection plus an extra 22hp to the ground will more then make up for the extra 17lbs. Congrats Kawi I think you are a winner now for sure. VFR1200 $5000 more, no way!
Dabber -Sweet spot  October 7, 2010 01:32 PM
I wish I saw this a month ago.Pulled the trigger on a versys. This is the next MOTY for sure.
RENDELL -?  October 7, 2010 07:44 AM
Why are the streetfighter motors always detuned? Aprilia and Ducati don't detune theirs?

Just make a comfortable ZX-10R or a naked ZX-10R, R1, CBR 1000RR etc. Damn... it's not that hard. I don't want a detuned machine. A lot of buyers don't want to buy one either.

Regardless, this bike does look like a fun machine. I just wish it wasn't detuned to 122 hp
nathan -just what i have been looking for  October 6, 2010 09:54 PM
this almost seems like the perfect bike. i owned a naked fz1 (in australia) for about a year and my only complaint was that travelling for extended periods of time on a highway into a headwind or at high speeds was fatiguing. this looks the goods, will be more comfortable than any sportsbike and will still keep with the majority of sport bike riders anyway
Tim B -I just threw up in my mouth!  October 6, 2010 10:47 AM
This is f'ing FUGLY! It looks like it was styled by Hyosung! Kawis are almost always ugly, but this takes the cake. Now once they cover it with their puke green it will be a perfect match. WOW! Kawi has the motor, but they need new stylists ASAP.
Bob -Better have ABS  October 6, 2010 09:23 AM
If they bring the ABS model over, this will be my next bike, moving from a DL650
Kyle -Great idea  October 5, 2010 02:34 PM
I rode the 2010 z1000 back to back with a 2009 Yamaha FZ1 and preferred the z1000 in every way except for the lack of wind protection that could make it more useful as a commuter and short distance sport tourer. Now it looks like this is the answer. I'd love to see a comparo of the Kawasaki Ninja 1000, FZ1, and the new Suzuki GSX1250FA.
TT -$10,999 on the Kawi website  October 5, 2010 11:02 AM
More choices to go fast, look sporty, and not break my back, yes! I hope they got rid of that silly digital tach. I want to see the dials flying everywhere, not some digital screen. The bigger fuel tank is a big plus too.
Dani -Great compromise  October 5, 2010 07:48 AM
Looks great! Exactly what I would have wanted the new VFR to be and quite promising. With the Z1000 best assest - the motor - untouched, better ergos than most sports bike this should be a hit. Hopefully, the price will be around $11k. Sign me up!
CF -Been waiting for this for years...  October 5, 2010 07:35 AM
As an owner of a 2000 Concours, I've been waiting for something like this for some time now. The availability of hard luggage and heated grips will definitely put this on my hot list of new bikes. This is what the old Concours should have been made into, and I'm glad to see that Kawasaki listened to myself and many others who since 2006 have been asking for precisely this bike.