Forget the bodywork, Kawasaki’s new-for-2011 Ninja 1000 is essentially a modern-day standard. The upright riding position is very comfortable, with none of the crouched, forward-leaning ergonomics of the more serious sportbikes. This is a bike you can really spend time on. If you can get enough gear on it you could even tour on it. This is a bike I could own.
I asked what the difference was between the Ninja 1000 and the Z1000 Ninja and the answer was “night and day.” Both are classed by Kawasaki as “sportbikes,” not to be confused with the more hard-core class of “super sport.” I tried them both. I’ll discuss the Z1000 in my next report.
Here’s a surprise: The Ninja 1000 has a lot of power. (Oh, that doesn’t surprise you? OK.) On the demo ride we got into some spots where we could really accelerate. I was riding right behind the group leader and he would take off like a rocket and I would just rocket right behind him. I was really happy not to be further back where maybe some people wouldn’t accelerate so hard. We accelerated hard and that thing had lots of power.
It’s also very light and flicks easily from side to side. Very different from my very heavy Concours. Of course, next to the Concours, or the newer Concours 14, it also felt quite small.
The manually adjustable windshield did a good job at keeping the wind blast off my chest. The wind hit me in the head pretty strongly but that was OK as long as I was wearing a helmet. Without a helmet I’m not sure I would have liked it much.
As you would expect from a motorcycle of this kind, the bike handles beautifully. The suspension does a great job of smoothing out the rough, and the seat is reasonably comfortable. The Ninja sits higher at seat level than the Concours 14 but it’s narrower so my feet touched the ground pretty much the same on both bikes. Considering that I’m totally accustomed to a higher bike with my ’99 Concours, that was not at all uncomfortable.
Unfortunately, the mirrors are nothing to brag about. You can either see who’s in the lane next to you or you can see behind you but you really can’t do both very well. If there was one thing I would change as soon as I bought one of these Ninjas it would be the mirrors. I wouldn’t give a hoot about mucking up the look, though it might very well do that. I’m more concerned with being able to see–and by extension, ride–safely.
All in all, I like the Ninja 1000 a lot. I wouldn’t replace my Connie with one, but if my old Honda CB died I might be very interested indeed in this machine.