When I was at the Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca
in Monterey, Calif., to cover a round of the World Superbike series, I took a 2015 Kawasaki Ninja 1000 for a test ride.
I spent 1,476 km on the Ninja and came to appreciate its capability. Riding the beautiful winding highways and roads leading from Los Angeles north to Monterey along the Pacific Ocean, the Ninja the perfect vehicle.
The bike looked beautiful in its Candy Lime Green livery and its presence received many accolades from onlookers. This bike is a favorite in the Sport bike category and after spending some time with it, it is easy to understand why.
It is nimble for its size, with a powerful 1,043 cc EFI Inline 4-cylinder engine that has been optimized for the 5,000 to 10,000 rpm range to produce a healthy level of torque when pulling through traffic. Kawasaki updated its electronic rider aids with a 3-level traction control using the same sensors used by the ABS system. I tested the bike in dry and wet conditions and can attest to its effectiveness.
The bike ergonomics fit a taller rider like me very well. The riding position is a hybrid between low handle bars found on Super Sport bikes and higher bars more suited for touring. The bike is very nimble and the chassis loves to turn. The rear suspension load is easy adjustable for optimum riding comfort.
The traction control intervenes gently to keep you feeling the rear tire and the ABS is also a very smooth in its initial deployment. I rode in heavy rain and the power modes available can cut engine output to about 70 per cnet, which allows the rider to feel confident in the ability to maintain all-important traction, especially on corner exit.
Highway surfaces in California can range from top class to very rough in stretches, especially around L.A. The suspension was up to the task through its easy load adjustment feature.
The engine has a sultry induction tone and was a pleasure to rev up through the first five gears. The sixth gear is a bit long in the tooth but it does help with the fuel economy. I got anywhere from 6.3 to 7.5 liters of premium fuel used per 100 km in terms of fuel consumption, depending on riding style.
If anything, the stock seat was a bit of problem. It is not well suited for more than two hours of seat time.
This full fairing sport bike blends the characteristics of a Super Sport bike and that of a Sport Tourer, with an edge given to the sporty side. The engine delivers powerful torque and the throttle turns into a joystick!
The bike inspires confidence as the combination of engine, chassis and suspension coupled with the electronic rider aides KRTC and ABS, simply work well as a package. This bike is a great commuter, but it is on the weekend ride where it will show its true potential.
The adjustable windshield will allow taller riders some protection from wind buffeting during longer rides. Where this bike shines is on twisty roads as it does not take much effort to turn from side to side, and corner grip is excellent. It shows its sporty side very willingly.
The two dual 300 mm front brakes grab quickly and stop the bike very well with the rear brakes supporting, but the engine braks the bike well on its own on twisty roads.
How does it compare?
This bike belongs to a great segment, the Sport Touring Motorcycle. But finding comparable bikes is not that simple as various manufacturers offering similar products but categorize them differently. To allow a more accurate comparison, I will list a few motorcycles that would compare with this Kawasaki.
In Canada we have a Suzuki GSX 1250 FA that would compare, but a more accurate comparison would be the currently U.S.-only Suzuki GSX- S1000 F (arrival date in Canada not known). Then there is the BMW RS 1200 that was just released last year. Another great comparable bike is the Yamaha FZ1.
RELATED: Two Suzuki motorcycles renewed for 2017
There is also the Aprilia Tuono V4 1100 RR, which is the most powerful bike in this class with 175 hp engine output. All manufactures prices are exclusive of dealer fees, licensing and HST.
Check with your local dealership, as there are some incentives available on some models at the discretion of the manufacturer and / or the dealer.
Freelance writer Axel Binneboese contributes articles to Toronto Star Wheels from time-to-time. He is host and producer of FullThrottleRadio, a weekly Motorcycle Road Racing News broadcast on spreaker.com. Download the FullThrottleRadio app free of charge at the Apple IOS store.