2011 Kawasaki Ninja 1000 | Review

2011 Ninja 1000

Make no mistake, Kawasaki’s new Ninja 1000 is a sportbike. With credentials such as fully adjustable suspension, radial petal-rotor brakes and a 1000cc engine that produces as much torque as Kawasaki’s new ZX-10R (and a full 65-percent more than the ZX-6R), the Ninja 1000 relishes fast-paced, aggressive riding.

But, having said that, the Ninja1000’s comfortable ergonomics, full fairing with adjustable windscreen, broad, comfortable seat, and a stellar motor that seems to deliver any amount of power, anytime you ask for it, make the Ninja 1000 a superb real-world machine perfect for the road.

That’s not to say it wouldn’t work at the track because it clearly would; however the big Ninja’s focus is the street, and that makes it an ideal motorcycle for riders who relish speed and handling, but who also have to deal with poor road surfaces, distracted car drivers and on occasion, long distances.

Based on Kawasaki’s own naked Z1000, the Ninja 1000 uses the same in-line four-cylinder engine and it’s a revelation if you’re used to the typical highly-strung sportbike.

Redlined at 11,500, the motor has almost no vibration and the almost limitless-feeling power is delivered quickly and predictably, especially when coming from off-throttle back to on-throttle at the apex of a corner.

Making that transition seamless keeps lurching to a minimum and makes the bike easy to ride smoothly; that’s a boom in traffic and will be appreciated by your passenger too.

Handling from the fully adjustable Showa suspension is impeccable, and there’s plenty of ground clearance to explore it too.

The upright riding position of the big Kawasaki naturally gives the rider a little extra leverage at the handlebars, but it doesn’t feel nervous. It does however turn-in quickly, and coupled with the motor’s astonishing pull and the excellent feel of the brakes, if you like to ride hard you will be rewarded with a motorcycle that feels smooth, precise, and capable of handling any type of road you throw at it.

Clocks lifted from Kawasaki’s ZX-6R are excellent; a large analog tachometer and the clear digital speedometer are easily readable. The omission of the ZX-6R’s digital gear indicator is a noticeable loss, but in all other respects the instrumentation and controls are perfectly suited for the street-sporting intentions of the Ninja 1000.

The watchword for the Ninja 1000 is versatility. This is a true sportbike with the handling to deliver that experience on the road, but the ergonomics and comfort to enable you to still walk at the end of a long day.

In fact, the comfort-level is good enough that Kawasaki is planning to offer a heated handlebar grip option for chillier rides, and the same hard-bags as the ones offered for the Versys, for those who like overnight trips. The Kawaskai Ninja 1000 is good enough that most owners will probably end up falling into that category.

Previous article2010 Mexico ISDE: Day 4 FIM Video
Next article2011 Ducati Models at EICMA | Video
One of the few moto journalists based on the East Coast, Ron Lieback joined the motorcycle industry as a freelancer in 2007 and is currently Editor at Large at Ultimate Motorcycling. He is also the author of 365 to Vision: Modern Writer's Guide (How to Produce More Quality Writing in Less Time).