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Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Kawasaki Ninja 1000...700 miles of fun so far

After logging 700+ miles on the Ninjas 1000 I have come to some conclusions. First, it is not the bike I would replace my Kawasaki Concours 1400 with--and that bums me out. I wanted to LOVE this bike like I do the Concours. But... there is a but, the Ninja is clearly a much sportier sport-touring bike than the Connie.
It is nimble, light, fun and easy to pitch around. Living up to its' name, the Ninja 1000 attacks corners and punches down straightaway. The 1000cc engine spins up quickly and stays ready to accelerate in pretty much any gear--and that is one of the problems. Stock, it turns something in the realm of 5500rpm at 80mph in 6th gear. That means passing a car requires no downshifting, but it also means the engine is busy at that speed and fuel mileage reflects it. I am barely squeaking out 40mpg on my commute of 90 miles a day, most of it on the freeway --moving with traffic at 80-85mph, as traffic is prone to do in Southern California.

the riding position is very comfortable, taller bars than on the ZX-10, the Ninja lets you sit up and see the Pacific Ocean should you be riding south or north on the 5 freeway between Laguna Niguel and Encinitas each day. With three easy to adjust positions, the windscreen allows you to find a comfortable bubble to live in. Needless to say the saddlebags are handy, although while they will hold a full face helmet, they don't fit a backpack with a decent size laptop. At their widest the saddlebags are 36", so lane splitting is no biggie--and more than a few full Sportbike riders have been surprised as I led the way through gridlocked freeway traffic.
More fun techie stuff can be found on the handlebar switch set. Power modes, traction control, multiple trip meters, fuel mileage, average mileage, range and engine temperature are all available to scroll through with the left handgrip. This unit also has Kawasaki's terrific ABS system. Technology is not lacking on this bike.
Its a pleasant enough bike to ride around, again, easy to turn, maneuver and relax while you cruise. When you want to dig in on a hard corner, the Ninja 1000 is ready. I took one out late last year and ran some of my favorite Malibu Canyon roads--Latigo and Decker--and the Ninja worked really well, embracing my plant the front tire with the brakes into the turn, then be really hard on the throttle out of the turn riding style. For those of you who don't know me that well, I am never going to be a racer. I am really fast on slow roads, but just average on fast roads--I have never learned to trust the front tire, so I chose really tight roads and work really hard to go fast on them. This is where the Ninja 1000 kills my Concours, its well over 180 pounds lighter and that makes a huge difference in the tight stuff.
And that is the reason the Ninja 1000 is not the replacement for my Concours. My riding, while I like to think my riding is really exciting all the time, the reality is, I commute and just go places a lot. So, with that the comfort of the Connie, along with the 1400cc of power when I want it and all the other stuff I have battered on about with the 1400, means its the bike I am still most in love with. The Ninja 1000, is quite the exciting affair though!