Monday, January 24, 2011

2011 Kawasaki Ninja 1000 Review - First Ride

While the Ninja 1000 is a new model this year, as a co-developed sibling to the Z1000, it feels more than just a little bit familiar.  
According to Kawasaki, the Ninja was conceived and born alongside the revised Z, which was released last year.

The decision to stagger their model years was made in part to meet a perceived greater demand for the allegedly “naked” Zed, particularly in Europe. Also, because sorting the details involved in bringing a new bike to market takes from limited resources, Kawasaki says the Ninja got bumped to 2011.

Speaking of the Ninja 1000 as a variation on the same motorcycle theme, we could nearly summarize it in one sentence and say that if you’re familiar with the Z1000 and can imagine extra wind protection and a bit more plastic, then you practically know the Ninja already.

But to be fair, this isn’t quite true. The Ninja’s above-the-triple-clamps alloy handlebar differs from the tubular bar on the Z1000. They’re about 45mm higher, 10mm narrower, and the grip angle is slightly different. Also its footpegs are set at a somewhat more relaxed position, and the Ninja’s rider and passenger saddle sections utilize 10mm more urethane padding. This extra cush should augment its long-legged comfort potential that also comes with its 1.1 gallon greater fuel capacity.
And then there’s the aesthetic impression, including slightly mellower intake sound due to a deleted “intake-howl” inducing resonator that comes in the Z1000’s intake tract, and a functional full-coverage fairing with a three-way adjustable windscreen. The combined affect makes it feel like its own bike which is kind of surprising, considering on paper – as we recently documented – the bikes are so similar.
"...the Ninja 1000 is an answer to the runaway design exercise that is repli-racers..."
Kawasaki says the Ninja 1000 is an answer to the runaway design exercise that is repli-racers – which, while popular, have for more than a decade become less and less practical track-oriented machines.

The Ninja 1000 (and the Z1000) is therefore a deliberate departure to take things back toward street-riding friendliness with a liberal infusion of trickle-down technology to keep the fun quotient high, if not arguably higher on the street.

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