Skiny versus a Ninja (1000)

Dailies, Galleries, Reviews -


The first thing I noticed upon delivery of the Ninja was the muscular styling and, I have to say, my impression mirrors the flaccid US sales figures of the past. As a member of the infamous Gold’s Gym or, as I like to call it, “the house of insecurity,” I have long since realized that the appearance of strength isn’t what you should be looking out for when the mood sours between men. Given the option, I’ve always chosen to go for the big guy when it kicks off and avoided the lean, ginger-haired Scot or the Asian that tugs his trouser leg during the pre-fight “fuck your mothers.” The appearance of brute muscle usually means useless showmanship and I have had zero occasion to move a 777 Boeing with my teeth or remove a giant tractor tire without the aid of hydraulic puissance.

Photos: Kurt Mangum

Obviously there are exceptions to the formula and one must scan for clues such as Tap Out apparel or cauliflower ears when applying this rule of thumb, so I will keep an open mind as the Kawasaki Ninja 1000 has recently undergone a sweeping transformation to its performance faculties that might overshadow my prejudgments. According to other reviews and reports from Kawasaki, it’s been more of a gender reassignment surgery than a little housewife’s nip and tuck.

Thumb the ignition and pull into traffic. Take note of the way the power comes on. Unlike most performance bikes that produce results within a millimeter’s wrist action, this throttle lays out a very long satin sheet, some Tibetan throw pillows, pours you a glass of Kahlua and puts on Sade 1st album. My desires are torn between burning some calming sage and wheelieing this fucking animal through the rear window of a Prius.

The second thing I notice is renewed good posture. Being accustomed to the embryonic riding position that makes you feel a part of the spine of a sportbike makes sitting on the Ninja feel very exposed, but that swiftly changes as I grasp that this practical position actually grants you another 40 degrees of peripheral vision and the audacity of a squirrel in traffic.

The higher vantage feels refreshingly offensive. The girthy Dunlop’s give one the confidence you normally lack on a touring BMW or a Dual Sport, but retain the testicular displacement and comfort. Suddenly my balls want to visit a friend up the coast in Santa Cruz and my balls never want to go anywhere on a motorcycle.

My wrists, which I didn’t want to mention in the same paragraph as my balls to avoid palpable mockery, are also high-spirited. The bars feel somewhat tall and tight but, with zero vibration, an hour-long ride up the PCH doesn’t result in anesthetization. The adjustable angle on the windscreen is another added perk that will cocoon you in its wind shadow even if, like me, you’re above 6 feet tall.

The see-through brake fluid container above your right wrist is practical, but gives me a constant craving for Chinese pot sticker dumplings as I gallop my 125 horsepower squirrel through gridlock. Understandably, the clear plastic tub offers you a failsafe, lightweight measurement system for a very critical operational element, but it looks like a dipping sauce in contrasts with the Giger-esque lines that define the rest of the bike.

Subsequently I have had to focus any critique of this bike on a minor aesthetic shortcoming, as it is hard to fault the performance of the Ninja. The bike is fast, stable and comfortable with plenty of power all through the gears but with a serenity that makes you want to take your time getting somewhere.

Substance categorically trumps styling in this instance.

Skiny previously discussed the Hayabusa’s rotund posterior.

  • gkanai

    Kaloua -> Kahlua

  • Mark D

    Shamu killer?

  • Brook

    Tim Carrithers would be proud of your writing style.

    • DoctorNine

      I LOL’d

  • zipp4

    These are the worst pictures I’ve ever seen on this site.

    • RocketSled


      • Brammofan

        I miss Grant. :(

        • Grant Ray

          Aww. Working on a photo essay that will go up tomorrow.

    • MotoRandom

      It’s a Ninja silly. If you could see it well, you’d be dead.

      • brutus


      • pinkyracer

        well said!

  • Scott-jay

    Wow, look at its muffler/exhaust shapes!
    Isn’t it same as yesterday’s Star Wars x Akira x Honda concept bike?

    • Ben Incarnate

      My Z has the same mufflers. Shut yo mouth!

      They’re not pretty, but then slipons on these bikes don’t eliminate the massive cat chamber down below.

      • Scott-jay

        Struck by styling similarity; no comment to pretty-ness intended.
        Obviously, I don’t get out much.

  • kashani

    Somewhere in the text a motorcycle was reviewed. Damned if I can figure out where though.

    • ike6116

      Seriously, these metaphors are fuckin strange to downright unintelligible.

      It’s like a koala bear crapped a rainbow in my brain

      • Thom

        OK ike6116

        I’m stealing that one !

        ” …… Koala bear crapped a rainbow in my brain “

        • Thom

          Come to think of it ike6116 that’d make a great T-shirt

          ” Koala Bears are Crapping Rainbows in my Brain ”

          Freaking brilliant !!!!

          I know a lot of Politically Correct folks that would thoroughly piss off . And Damn it I’d enjoy every freaking minute of it !

    • hooligan317

      It was? All I got was “The bike is fast, stable and comfortable with plenty of power all through the gears.” A review I suppose, albeit a short one.

    • Sean

      Yeah, I failed to see what the purpose of posting this was. I know the guys are trying to churn out content and I appreciate it, but that was like the introduction to a review.
      Then when I was ready to turn the page to read the rest of it, there was nothing there …

      • Joshua

        Jeez, it was an initial impressions article. Heaven forbid he makes it interesting. It touches on first impressions, power delivery, improved ergonomics, visibility, handling. Get over it, sometimes some people like to write/ read a different style of writing.

        • Scott-jay

          Aquí está a la variedad!

  • TreMoto_Eddie

    Ugly but awesome.

    • cynic

      This bike is not a good looking bike, I really wanted to like it, good reviews and all, but I went to the dealership and was very disappointed.

  • JRl

    sooo are you saying they should put a more accurate brake reservoir? Something non-see-through with a digital output and warning lights? Danger Brian O’Conner, BRAKE LEVEL 0.01 fl.oz LOWER THAN NORMAL! =)

  • JonB

    wtf did i just read?

    • Thom

      Back in the day I think the Beats called this Stream of Consciousness Writing.

      But I like ike6116 ‘s description better .

      See his post above ( I won’t be so bold as to steal from the guy right under his nose )

  • rndholesqpeg

    At least it isn’t as ugly as the zx1400

  • Ben Rowland

    This was a grin inducing, out of the ordinary, article. (Shame about those pictures though.)

  • AJ

    What artistic statement was Kurt Mangum trying to make with these pictures?
    A black cat on a black night is clearer.

    • Terry

      “…as in the dark, all Cats are grey…”

  • brutus

    i appreciated both the pictures and the article. you can go search Motorcyclist for crisp studio shots and dyno charts.

  • Nate

    I think Kurt has the gamma on his monitor way too high. The rest of us can’t see a fucking thing. Calibrate your shizz.

  • Myles

    At first I thought I was stupid for having a hard time reading this.

    Ran a word count, The first paragraph averages 36 words per sentence. The lead sentence in the second paragraph (lead after the jump) has 54 words! That’s fucking insane.

    • DoctorNine

      Punctuation is the for weaklings…

    • T Diver

      Yeah focus on the bikes, not the words. Oh wait, you can’t see the bike.

  • Ian

    Love the style of the article. All we need is another pic with the Onion to make the bike look better.

  • dux

    Was a fun one. Who cares about pictures? The damn thing’s ugly anyways.

  • David
  • aristurtle

    “Kurt Magnum” sounds like the stage name of a male porn star.

  • je

    A+ on seat/tail section design.. Minus The plate/blinker bracket… Fairings look like a bird swooping down for the kill. Horrible exhaust…

    • Ben Incarnate

      Yeah. I finally got rid of the huge fender section on my Z. It makes a world of difference on these (and most other) bikes. Exhaust? Well, there’s plenty of options out there.

  • Laurel

    Cool, and I thought this guy’s Hayabusa article was short-bus. I’ve never seen a writer work harder to be more obtuse— dude’s “girthy” text is seriously awful.

  • Mattro


  • Courtney

    This piece is a contrived disaster. Someone fell asleep at the keyboard

  • pinkyracer

    Dunlops cause testicular displacement? how is that comfortable? I’m confused. But then, I only ride Pirelli. And don’t have testicles. Well, not in the physical sense, anyway.

    • Brammofan

      I think he meant “displacement” in the sense of “c.i.d.” as in, it will make your balls grow. (Well, not YOUR balls . . . in the physical sense, anyway). I don’t think he meant “displacement” as in a refugee forced at gunpoint to move to a displacement camp.
      But this has been bothering me: It’s “Dunlops” not “Dunlop’s”. No need for a possessive apostrophe just because the word ends with “s”. Is our children learning?

  • Zach

    I dug it and didn’t have any trouble following along. I even like the looks of the bike in person.

  • damien

    I like this bike too. Saw a black one in the shop a few weeks ago and was impressed.

  • frankieapples

    So Tap Out clothing makes you tough? What if you have the sticker in the back window of your Eclipse?

  • Paul B

    Any article that uses “fuck your mothers.” is an automatic win.

  • zato1414

    Makes me want to find a Prius!

  • Ray


  • Trent

    125 horsepower? What?

    • Ben Incarnate

      At the wheel, yep. Is that confusing?

  • Chongo

    I test rode one and fell in love with it. The looks are weird, but after riding it I definitely plan on selling the my 08 CBR1Krr and buying either a black Ninja 1000 or a black Triumph Tiger 800xc.

    This Ninja just got motorcyclist magazine Best Motorcycle Of The Year Award.

    The Triumph got best adventure bike award.

    But yeah, the Ninja is fun to ride, it wheelies on command and is comfy to my ass, knees, back and wrists. Plus it has a nice intake howl that sounds pretty cool.

    With my Honda, I ride fast because the sooner I get to my destination, the less torture I have to endure. With the Ninja I can relax and enjoy the scenery. With the Triumph I can explore trails and shit.