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Tuesday, November 18, 2014


New Sports Touring Option comes to India!
As one comes out of the 141st corner, about a third of the way to Shimla in the hills, it is time for a coffee break! Even when you are enjoying, taking a strong good espresso enhances the fun further. I put my hands down to the rubber… the edges were hot, wavy and the edges roughened out… the way it should be during cornering. Of course this is not a race track. But the fun factor is not far from it. And tarmac here is superb and the tyre grips it beautifully!
I was shifting mostly between 2nd and 3rd at 5K to 7K going around the corners at 60 to 70Kmph at max and the bike felt comfortable doing this. 
As we sat in the café sipping at our respective drinks and me at my espresso shot, we, along with many others, kept staring at the Ninja 1000 that we had just ridden 300kms! As much as I was initially loath to try this bike out, the more I was beginning to get attached to this. And I did not want this feeling creep up on me with such a wonderful machine from Kawa. And try as I may, I could not stop it… initially. So I decided to really flex the twinspar frame and also check what engine was capable of doing!

We took off for three days.

Quite a looker!
Somehow the 2014 Ninja1000 reminds me of the scary fast monster, the 2006 ZX-10R in looks. The profile of the front end, if you look at it carefully, is a clear reminder of that awesome machine. The instrument cluster also reminds us of the older Sbks but with a host of added features that we are beginning to accept as standard. Soon we would be looking for Bluetooth connectivity, online camera for video feeds and Facebook uploads from the instrumentation as standard features and getting them too!
The tank looks aerodynamic with soft lines and not over emphasised with aggressive jagged edges. Again the profile view of the tank shows a clear aerodynamic outline derived from windtunnels. Just pay attention to how the line curves from the bubble towards the tank going over seat in a smooth flowing line. The tail lamp is especially pretty too. The body integrated indicators look good. Some more color options would be welcome though.

Tank curvature blending perfectly!

A rear that you would love to stare at!

And she would be content!

Super lines that grow on you...
This is one of the most important aspects that needs to be detailed especially for a Sports Tourer. This is after touring quite extensively over nearly 50K Kms with a Sbk. At 168cms height, I find the bike sits a little high for me. But the narrow twin spar frame made it easier for me and I could plant my feet on the ground. Thankfully, I sat better than on the GS. This would of course not be the case with taller folks.  The riding stance is relatively upright which enables you to ride endlessly till you run out of fuel. And after a refill, you continueriding! You do not need a break. You would probably get hungry before you would get tired riding the Ninja1000! 
And in the hills, the clip-ons helped in handling. The rake angle is not as sharp and you are not sitting on the front wheel as you are on the Z1000. Engine wise, these two machines, the Ninja1000 and the Z1000 are identical. But the ergonomics are totally different. And the Ninja1000 can corner quite well. I would not say that it is a racetrack winner. But if you are a long distance tourer, you will not be disappointed on the mountain tarmac.

Motor and Powertrain
With 140Bhp of power available at your right wrist and with 111Nm of torque at 230 odd kilos, make sure your girlfriend sitting behind you holds on firmly and is game for the power pull because you have more than enough power to whizz past the 230kmph mark with such ease that you would be left wondering why were you hankering after a Sbk for so many years! On 6th gear at 5K, I was cruising at 120 clips with a sandwich in my left hand. And when you go for broke, you are at the edge of the redline at 11K. Do your math!
On any gear, once you are past the 3K mark on the tacho, all you have to do is open the throttle and you can feel the power propelling you forward. I never switched off the KTRC. Hence I did not get the front wheel off the ground at any instance. And what is incredible about the KTRC and the power mode is that all of them are adjustable on the fly. But to turn the KTRC off, you have to be stationary.
Heating? What heating? Yes, you heard me right! When one rides a bike with an engine size as this one, one should be usually prepared to sweat it out while being stuck in traffic. However, with the Ninja 1000, even in rush hour traffic, when the console showed the coolant temperature at 100°C for a good 10 minutes, sometimes even longer, somehow that heat did not translate to me sweating right into my boots! (Gosh I remember the Blackbird and its barbecue capabilities!)

These can be your keys to touring happiness! :)

Ergonomic switchgear.
Handling and Suspension
In the city, I would not say it handles better than the Z1000. Again, being India specific, U-turns do not send you to the edge of the horizon, getting in and out of cumbersome parking like Nehru Place can be managed unlike regular Sbks, weaving through traffic (not recommended) and sudden directional changes in traffic (not recommended at all) are quite easy in the chaotic traffic of this country.

And somewhere during your touring endeavours, if you hit the Himalayas, which you must, you will discover the true mettle of the bike. Despite being relatively high, you would enjoy leaning into the corners. Suspension is quite stiff. And it can be made stiffer! Cornering feedback overall is truly at Sbk levels. After doing nearly 250kms of cornering alone in the Himalayas, I can totally vouch for the all round touring capabilities of the Ninja 1000.

The front brakes have unparalleled bite. Rarely have I ridden a Touring bike with such reassuring brakes. The ABS works wonderfully on regular and wet tarmac and other slippery surfaces. But not very effective on gravel!

Negative points
Headlights are a damp squib. A pocket LED Torch is better. Night riding becomes tough in hill tracks with poor, street and ambient lighting. There were moments when we had to get off the bike to check if the lamps were still working!

The suspension maybe a little stiff which is excellent for handling; however the front end dives under heavy breaking! This can be a little unpleasant for seasoned Sbk riders.

Rear brakes? Huh!!! It seemed that they forgot to put the brakes on the rear wheel on this one. It could be a case specific issue. But on some very steep gradients, the near total lack of any feedback from the rear brake gave me some big moments!

This bike is not meant to do any kind of serious offroading. For a single rider, it can pass off with severe high Indian quality speed-breakers. However, with two up and luggage panniers, you will graze the underbelly catcon on a regular basis. The GC is not very exciting.

Overall Experience
As you turn the key, the dance of the console coming alive is in itself an exciting treat. And when everything settles down along with the whir of the fuel pump, you start the bike. These days the Kawasaki inline fours have a smooth hum. Gone are the days of the ragged rough roar of the jumpy 10R! The saddle height may leave you a little surprised. But the excitement will get the better of you. 
Our bike was brand new. The gears were a little clunky initially. But all that clears up after a few hundred kilometres!

The Ninja 1000 is quick off the blocks, 111Nm of Torque takes care of that, fast on the highways with two people and loads of luggage cruising at really high speeds, 140Bhp is not to be taken lightly and quick around the corners; truly living up to the Ninja legacy. After negotiating about 1000 corners in a day and half, I can say this with a degree of certainty.
And the eternal Indian question of mileage: the bike consumed less than 5.5L to 100 kms. That is nearly 19km/L. I can live with that. Even if the Hero Splendour had 4 cylinders, it would consume as much!

Night time riding with this bike is a nightmare! Even on high beam! 
Engine heating is a non issue.

Amazing looks that grew on me over time...

Unlimited touring happiness await you...

The Ninja1000 is set to create new standards in Sports Touring in India!

Ninja1000 Beckons you...

Happy to bring you guys the review... :)
Bang for buck? Oh, surely. If you are looking for a really fast sports bike and do not want to crouch all day tucked under the screen the Ninja 1000 is an option that will certainly satisfy you. Add to it the really good factory panniers that come for a little over a 1L that can be clipped on and off and you walk with it right into the hotel and all of them operate with a single key, you have got one of the best sports tourers in business.

You wanted a fast and a really good Sports Tourer, you have it in the Ninja 1000; go for it boys (and girls)!

Acknowledgments: We are thankful to India Kawasaki Motors Pvt. Ltd. for their support of letting us, Throttle Quest carrying out our independent tests.

Imp Note: We at Throttle Quest have carried out these tests in actual regular street conditions by professionals who are trained to conduct such tests. We at TQ do not support irregular, high speed, high risk and unsafe riding by anybody

For our video footage and review of the Ninja1000 click here.
Text and Images: KEN (Krishnendu) for ThrottleQuest.com
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Item Reviewed: NINJA1000: READY TO TOUR! Description: Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Krishnendu, aka Ken.
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