First off, I would like to thank Kawasaki America for allowing me to take out this machine for two days. I would also like to thank RMC for there help with allowing me to have this experience.
When I got the news that a new demo 2011 Ninja 1000 was getting dropped off at our service bay, I had to go check it out. When I arrived at the service bay a beautiful black ebony/red Ninja 1000 was awaiting. It has the lines of a dragon, just sharp and angry looking. Aesthetically speaking I was impressed in person.
Looking over it, you could not ignore the clip-ons. They looked like they had been taken off of a Concours and shrunk a bit to fit this bike. But nonetheless Kawasaki did a great job making it look normal. I threw my leg over it and was expecting to have to struggle a bit to get it to stand up, but it took me by surprise how easy it was to pick up.
Later that day, I signed all the paperwork in order to take it out for a ride. I was expecting at the most a half an hour with the bike, but after I handed the paperwork in my boss looks at me an says, "See you tomorrow!".
I geared up, grabbed the keys and headed over to the bike. Before taking off and riding I wanted to just go over the bike in detail, to know what I was riding. The tire set-up was literally just taken off the zx-10r. Same Battlax tires, same 190/55 rear. The suspension was not anything race bread, but the inverted forks and horizontally mounted shock absorber looked like they could handle the streets having a decent range of preload and damping adjustments. I did not fiddle with the set-up though, as I was way to excited to hit the open road.
Turning the bike on, the instrument panel was almost identical to the zx-6r. Main difference was there was a gas gauge and the numbers being a tad bit bigger. The bike is also fairly quite, and does not vibrate at idle, which was a huge surprise, knowing that Kawasaki has always had issues with vibration and fairing rattle, or at least in my experience.
After warming the bike up, I clicked into first gear and took off. First reaction was, wow that was smooth. The bike does not lunge, nor does it stutter, the clutch was very easy to use and it just goes. Running through a few gears I also noticed that it shifted quite smoothly. I didn't get that clunky response that I always get from my zx10.
My favorite aspect of the bike was the riding position, how non aggressive and laid back it was. It felt like a tourer, yet was not bulky. Coming to a stop, I did notice the front brakes were a tiny bit soggy. I don't know if I'm just use to riding a bike with better brakes or there was just enough front suspension travel to make it feel uneasy. Nonetheless, the front brakes seemed to get better down the road.
Getting on to the freeway on-ramp was just so darn easy. The bike even in brake in period has all of its grunt right bellow the mid-range, and carries it on through the mid-range. It was just so cool to shift into every gear and still have the bike pull so hard. Clicking up into 6th and cruising at freeway speeds was so easy. Passing was also something else, I did not need to down shift, the bike just pulls and goes in 6th like nothing I have ever felt. Even my ten won't pull that hard at that set rpm.
Arriving home, I had a huge smile on my face, and I really did not want to park it! So I called a friend, Jack, and asked him if he wanted to go riding around town. We agreed to meet at my place and do a small tour around some side streets. Mind you the time was around nine at night, so the sun had set, and I wasn't going to go rail this new bike.
Waiting for him, I went over the bike again to see if I missed anything, and sure enough, I forgot about the adjustable windscreen. So, I clicked the screen to the "vertical" position, and would test it out while I was out on my quick jaunt with jack.
Jack arrived on his 09 cbr600rr, and we took off to go find some quick roads to hit. We ended up in a small twisty road right between Lynnwood, Shoreline and Terrace. As we went through the small "twisties" I could not help but notice how easy the bike was to just stick into any direction. For a 500+ pound bike that was a big deal to me. It really was not a super sport, but for the street you could not ask for anything more enjoyable. I was upright, relaxed and having fun! Usually on a super-sport riding the street it feels more like strict business to me. The Ninja was more like riding a high performance scooter, and that's not a bad thing. No strain on my wrists and upper back, and all the guts you can ask for.
Realistically, the ninja 1000 would be great for someone looking to upgrade from a 600 or move up to an "intermediate" bike. Its not advance science in anyway, the bike is simple, looks good, and rides great. I could imagine a college student on one of these, or someone who has at least a 80 mile commute. The bike truly performs for its intended purpose, the street. The gearing is set up for exactly where you want to be, and the power is no overwhelming. Don't get me wrong though, this is no Ninja 650r in anyway, you mistreat this dragon and it will eat you and spit you out hard. Getting on the bike hard will rip your skin off, its that fast. Also being in the upright position, the "g-forces" are more immense, almost like your in a high performance car, it lunges you back and all you can do is hang on. But believe me, being easy on the throttle, the thing makes for one enjoyable commute, and when your ready to fight the weekend, you have a perfect weapon.
Another great thing about the bike was the fact that it got great gas mileage for what it was. No your not gonna get 75 miles per gallon or anything like that, but your wallet wont be light by the end of the week. The gas gauge is great, the only thing I noticed though was there was no gas light, once the bar got low, that means you need to get gas, I might be wrong, but I kept waiting and waiting for a light and nothing ever turned on, so I just pulled into a Shell.
Heading back home after the ride with Jack I took a side road, The road was very uneven, and there was light construction, going through it was amazing though. Not that the ninja is a off-road bike or anything like that, but the suspension travel made the bumpy road very soft and cushy. I thought that was a sweet benefit.
Recapping back on the windscreen, in the upright position there was a lot less wind noise, but my helmet would still shake from the wind the same it did the the screen down, so it is a novel idea, and a aftermarket screen would do wonders, but the stock one was well, stock. It still offered great protection but I could see myself changing that if I were ever to purchase the 1000.
Having the Ninja for the two days was an incredible experience, and I can see myself owning one of these in the future if I had the funds. Its gentle when you want it to be, and a dragon when your on the throttle. It screams in the mid-range in every gear, which is great for highway commuting, and it cuts through corners like a knife. The bike might just be one of the best purpose bread "street" bikes out there.
Hopefully I will get a few more bikes to try out down the road, but for now, I'm convinced that the Ninja 1000 was a great bike. Kawasaki did a great job! Thanks again team green!
(This just in, Honda might be throwing me the keys to a cbr250r, and the new cb1000! sweet)
Some repost pics from my last thread.
Some stats on the bike of the kawi site:
Engine Four-stroke, liquid-cooled, DOHC, four valves per cylinder, inline-four
Bore x Stroke 77.0 x 56.0 mm
Compression Ratio 11.8:1
Fuel System DFIŽ with four 38mm Keihin throttle bodies, oval sub-throttles
Ignition TCBI with digital advance
Final Drive X-ring Chain
Rake/Trail 24.5deg / 4.0 in.
Front Tire Size 120/70 ZR17
Rear Tire Size 190/55 ZR17
Wheelbase 56.9 in.
Front Suspension / wheel travel 41 mm inverted cartridge fork with stepless compression and rebound damping, adjustable spring preload / 4.7 in.
Rear Suspension / wheel travel Horizontal monoshock with stepless rebound damping, adjustable spring preload / 5.4 in.
Front Brakes Dual 300mm petal-type rotors with radial-mount four-piston calipers
Rear Brakes Single 250mm petal-type rotor with single-piston caliper
Fuel Capacity 5.0 gal.
Seat Height 32.3 in.
Curb Weight 502.7 lbs.
Overall length 82.9 in.
Overall width 31.1 in.
Overall height 48.4 in.
Color Choices Ebony, Candy Fire Red / Ebony