News 2012 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-14 R | Preview

2012 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-14 R | Preview

2012 Kawasaki Motorcycle

Since its inception on the motorcycle market in 2006, Kawasaki’s ZX-14 has ruled a specific class that’s known for super performance – hypersport.

The Ninja ZX-14, which replaced the ZX-12R, provided gobs of horsepower, last year’s model pushing over 200 horsepower, a top speed to the legally-limited 186 mph, and unique full-fairing styling.

But as many high-performance machines feature race-bike ergonomics, the ZX-14 catered to comfort, providing the rider with sport-touring comfort.

The bike remained relatively unchanged since 2006, but that has changed. For 2012, Kawasaki has redesigned the ZX-14, adding an "R" to its name due to improved performance.

The biggest revisions are an increase in engine displacement (1352cc to 1441cc), and the addition of KTRC Traction Control and a slipper clutch. And with the added power arrives revamped suspension, brakes and body work.

Kawasaki achieved this displacement increase by lengthening the ZX-14R’s stroke from 61mm to 65mm. With the larger stroke arrives "ported" cylinder heads and a more radical cam design.

Kawasaki says the "combustion chamber shapes are newly optimized for 2012, and they’re surface-milled now, not cast. Intake ports are reshaped and polished for maximum flow while working in concert with longer and more durable intake valves. Yep, the new Ninja ZX-14R really does come "ported" right from the factory.

"The camshafts working those valves are more radical, with increased lift and revised profiles, while a stronger cam chain and revised tensioning system maximize reliability at the stratospheric rpm levels this engine is capable of."

The 2012 ZX-14R’s engine also has redesigned forged pistons that feature oil-jet cooling, a system that "pumps a continuous stream of lubricant at the underside of each piston." The revamped pistons bump the compression up a bit from last year to 12.3:1.

As for other engine upgrades, Kawasaki says the "connecting rods have beefier small ends, and are made of a stronger material; crankshaft main journals are thicker, from 38 to 40mm; a new air-cleaner element is larger and thicker, with 10% more surface area and 40 percent more airflow capability; and transmission gears have been heat- and surface-treated to be even more durable and shift more smoothly."

Feeding the ZX-14R is a revised fuel-injection system, which features automatic idle adjustment. The exhaust is also revamped to help further reduce emissions.

Placing all this power to the ground is easily achieved due to the addition of a slipper clutch and KTRC traction control, which features three riding modes – full power, medium power and a third for low-traction conditions (wet/slippery).

Kawasaki says the "KTRC system is controlled by a bar-mounted toggle/push switch, and the system’s effects can be monitored on a seven-segment bar graph in the cockpit’s LCD info-screen. The slipper clutch technology comes directly from the racetrack, and helps eliminate the wheel-hop and stability-eroding torque effects of energetic downshifting and braking while cornering, or during spirited – or emergency – stops. It also helps protect the bike’s drive train, for optimum durability."

But Kawasaki didn’t stop at the engine; the Japanese motorcycle marquee also modified the monocoque frame for added rigidity and balance, and the suspension and brakes.

Kawasaki says "the 43mm fully adjustable inverted fork and multi-adjustable single shock have improved bottoming resistance and revised internal settings, while new lighter and beautifully machined 10-spoke wheels look great and reduce unsprung weight by a whopping 3.3 pounds, further aiding acceleration, handling and suspension action. The new ZX-14R’s triple disc brakes are updated, as well, with more rigid disc material and revised pads for powerful, fade-free stops and a progressive feel at the lever."

As for aesthetics, the 2012 ZX-14R receives a face lift with more aggressive fairings, and a tail section that features faired-in turn signals and a seat cover. Also, Kawasaki upgraded to gauge cluster, which has an "eco" indicator that lets riders know when maximum fuel economy and mileage are obtained. And there is also a Special Edition model, which features

With its technologically-savvy upgrades, the 2012 ZX-14R is sure to continue its dominance in the hypersport class, providing riders with all-out power, handling and comfortable ergonomics. From the drag strip to the streets, the new ZX-14R caters to the power-hungry motorcyclist.

2012 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-14R Specs:

  • Engine: Four-stroke, liquid-cooled, DOHC, four valve per cylinder, inline-four
  • Displacement: 1,441cc
  • Bore x stroke: 84.0 x 65.0mm
  • Compression ratio: 12.3:1
  • Fuel system: DFI with four 44mm Mikuni throttle bodies
  • Ignition: TCBI with Digital Advance
  • Transmission: Six-speed
  • Final drive: X-Ring chain
  • Rake / trail: 23 degrees / 3.7 in.
  • Front tire: 120/70 ZR17
  • Rear tire: 190/50 ZR17
  • Wheelbase: 58.3 in.
  • Front suspension / wheel travel: 43mm inverted cartridge fork with adjustable preload, 18-way compression and 15-way rebound damping adjustment / 4.6 in.
  • Rear suspension / wheel travel: Bottom-link Uni-Trak® and gas-charged shock with adjustable preload, stepless rebound and compression damping adjustments, adjustable ride height / 4.9 in.
  • Front brakes: Dual semi-floating 310 mm petal discs with dual radial-mounted four-piston calipers
  • Rear brakes: Single 250mm petal disc with twin-piston caliper
  • Overall length: 85.4 in.
  • Overall width: 30.3 in.
  • Overall height: 46.1 in.
  • Ground clearance: 4.9 in.
  • Seat height: 31.5 in.
  • Curb weight: 584.3 lbs.
  • Fuel capacity: 5.8 gal.
  • Color: Metallic Spark Black, Candy Surf Blue,
  • Golden Blazed Green with special graphics (SE)
  • MSRP standard / special edition: $14.699
  • Warranty: 12 Months

2012 Kawasaki Color Options/MSRP:

  • Metallic Spark Black / $14,699
  • Candy Surf Blue / $14,699
  • SE Golden Blaed Green with graphics / $14,899


Ron Lieback
Ron Lieback
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 Online Editor at Ultimate Motorcycling.

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