2014 Kawasaki Ninja 1000 ABS Review

Reviews -


2014 Kawasaki Ninja 1000

The newest generation of the Ninja 1000 is up on power, up on torque, up on features, and down on price. We’ve spent a few days with one and are proud to present RideApart’s review of the new 2014 Kawasaki Ninja 1000 ABS.

What’s New

The 2014 Kawasaki Ninja 1000 has received a huge makeover, both inside and out. The styling is still very “Ninja,” while also looking slightly more subdued as it seems Kawasaki has reserved its crop of even more radical looks for the 2014 Kawasaki Z1000.

Power is up on the new Ninja. Horsepower increases from 136 to 140 bhp, and torque jumped from 76 ft.-lbs. to 82. Kawasaki has added traction control and made ABS standard, to help control a bike that’s become pretty impressive on the performance spectrum. There are also two fuel maps: full power and 70 percent, to help further customize your ride based on the conditions. Gearing has been reworked as well, especially 6th gear, which is longer, making highway cruising a far more relaxed affair.

In addition to ABS, Kawasaki has also upgraded the brake components; now utilizing a radial master cylinder, one-piece radial calipers and 300mm wavy rotors.

One of the biggest additions is the (optional) inclusion of two, 29-liter hard panniers. They’ve also fitted a knob at the rear to make preload adjustments possible on the fly, and have modified the grab handles to make them easier for your passenger to grip.

2014 Kawasaki Ninja 1000 ABS
2014 Kawasaki Ninja 1000 ABS

The Ride

We’ve spent the week enjoying the last of the warm days here in sunny Southern California, where a roadster like the Ninja is at home. It’s immediately obvious why so many people choose the Ninja for is blend of sport and touring capabilities.

On the freeway, the Ninja is about as good as it gets. Sitting in 6th, the inline-four hums along quietly while still offering plenty of oomph to get up and go should you need to pass someone. Having recently come off much smaller bikes, I found myself cruising in 4th often, reveling in the whine of the engine and enjoying the additional torque provided by riding a little higher in the rev range.

Around town, you definitely feel the 509 lbs claimed curb weight more, though it isn’t unmanageable. Kawasaki warned us that the new Ninja 1000 was exceptionally sensitive to tire pressure and I found the handling a bit awkward until I checked and found my Ninja was about 5 psi short of recommended. With that fixed, slow speed handling was greatly improved though it never really let’s you forget you’re riding a fairly heavy, fairly powerful bike that mostly wants to go fast and in a fairly straight line.

The panniers are easy to operate and are actually unobtrusive. Due to some slimming of the sub-frame, Kawasaki has been able to pare them down a little, which makes a big difference, especially when lane-splitting around Los Angeles.

The Good

Taking a beloved bike and increasing the power, adding features, and reducing price is a well-proven formula for success and it’s hard to find much negative to say about the 2014 Kawasaki Ninja 1000 ABS. The engine is incredibly smooth and the power is abundant, regardless of RPM. The brakes work great, the bike is comfortable (though it would be more so with a better seat) and, assuming you’re into Kawasaki’s aesthetics, the bike is beautiful.

Wind coming over the half fairing doesn’t buffet your helmet, but does allow a fair amount of air to hit your chest. You may want a taller screen if you plan a ton of highway miles.

Kawasaki has created a package that is worth far more than its price tag and it’s no wonder the Ninja has become so popular. As a result, this new 2014 model can only enhance its legacy.

2014 Kawasaki Ninja 1000 ABS Review
Kawasaki Ninja 1000 ABS

The Bad

The problems we had with the Ninja were minor. The seat could be a little less sporty and a little more relaxed, as the current one tends to seat you directly where a pair of bicycle shorts would provide alleviation, instead of on the meat of your backside.

We were very happy when our steering issues seemed to correct themselves with the appropriate tire pressure, but it’s a bit unsettling to know that such a small amount of pressure difference could provide such drastic results. This is a major reason we always recommend carrying a nice air pressure gauge and checking your pressure often.

The Price

The 2014 Kawasaki Ninja 1000 ABS has a suggested price of $11,999, that’s $100 less than the previous model. May not sound like much, but this is an incredible deal considering you get multiple riding modes, multiple levels of traction control, and ABS all included stock. In comparison, the Honda CB1000R is $11,760 but only makes 125 hp and 73 lb.-ft. of torque and doesn’t come with many of the rider aids of the Kawasaki. The Yamaha FZ-1 is the other main competitor, which is nicely priced at $10,790, but isn’t nearly as good to ride.

The Verdict

We were very impressed with Kawasaki’s new Ninja 1000 ABS. We wish we had more time to take it on a proper tour, and we’re hoping Kawasaki can part with it a little longer to afford us time to do so. It’s a great all-rounder that will take you on any journey you can dream up and still keep you entertained in the canyons on a nice Sunday afternoon. For the price, it’s going to be really tough to beat.

RideApart Rating: 9 out of 10

Photos: 2014 Kawasaki Ninja 1000 ABS >>

  • Piglet2010

    Will a full-face lid fit in a pannier?

    Heated grips available? (A must on a true sport-tourer in northern climates.)

    Now someone just needs to make a solo-seat and top-box mount for the pillion position.

    • Guest

      509lbs heavy? I’m assuming you mean the bike feels its weight moreso than others since 509lbs is ridiculously svelte in regard to other sport tourers out there.

    • JT

      As a person who has just installed heated grips they are a must in the cold! A bit clunk on my Bonnie, but it’s worth it to feel my fingers.

      • Piglet2010

        Which grips did you put on your Bonnie?

        • JT

          Oxford Heaterz Touring Style. They work well, and install was easy enough. Mine unfortunately had a fault where they would draw power in the off position, but I just wired in a switch and they work just fine now. Tips of my fingers still get cold, that’s my only complaint though.

    • Adam E.

      According to Cycle World, both panniers will fit a full-face helmet.

  • Rameses the 2nd

    I understand that Jamie Robinson has his own channel now, but I think RideApart needs to start making its own videos again. I want to see the bike in action, I want to see the exhaust sound and I want to get excited about motorcycles by looking at the scenery. Just my 2 cents…

    • Piglet2010

      I like videos without talking heads* – if I want words I can read the article.

      *Unless the person talking is a narrator on the level of David Attenborough or such.

      • Clint Keener

        I like Wes’ awkward fast talking. Reminds me of myself =P

    • FSAE

      Totally agree, being several feet deep in snow means I need video reports to take me away from reality. In particular, the sound and buzziness of the inline-4 are my biggest concerns when cross-shopping with a VFR. (I’ll admit, I’m a diehard)

      On a separate note, I was on the Kawi site and they list the hard bags as being 28 litres, not 29. ;) details, details. Haha

      • Bob

        Bike isn’t too too buzzy, only on one section of rpm range. Coming from a VFR, this is a worthy replacement. Only thing missing is that sweet V4 growl.

        • Bruce Steever

          New VFR may solve that dilemma…

          • FSAE

            Not if it’s not coming to North America… :(

    • imprezive

      Amen, I thought they were supposed to do videos again.

    • http://www.RideApart.com/ Jen Degtjarewsky

      We are getting ready to do just that in 2014. Stay tuned.

  • kawatwo

    Love the Ninja 1000. Would love a lighter 635 CC version even more :)

    • Piglet2010

      Heh – pretending the Ninja 650 does not exist? :)

      • kawatwo

        Yeah i had a ninja 650 and loved that too and will probably buy another one, would just like to see a 4 Cyl making ~ 100 HP in a package that weighs around 450 – 475 :)

        • Bruce Steever

          To make 100 hp from 600cc, you’re going to lose all the lovely low-end power that makes this style of engine so enjoyable.

  • Jai S.

    How are passenger accommodations? Full day comfort?

  • thegreyman

    Looks like a great ride but purchasing now seems like a gamble, since the new body style is coming for the z1000. I’m sure the ninja will follow suit next year. Thoughts?

    • http://RideApart.com/ Wes Siler

      The Z1000 is actually following the Ninja 1000. This is the new model.

    • Adam E.

      The Z1000 is the naked version of the Ninja, based on the same frame and engine that were updated for the Ninja, but without most of the bodywork.

  • Sentinel

    Of course all bikes handle differently with different tire pressures, but 5 pounds making that much of a difference for this one seems strange, and is concerning for sure.

    • 80-watt Hamster

      I haven’t ridden all that many bikes and thus dont have many data points, but my Versys behaves similarly. Lose 5 pounds up front and the steering gets heavy and you find yourself running wide.

      • Mark D

        Agreed, 5 lbs is fairly significant. If the recommendation is 31 psi, riding around at 26 is going to be way different.

    • Bruce Steever

      It’s a tire choice thing. Kawi went with a softer S20R Bridgestone that seems to put a larger contact patch on the ground, especially noticeable at stock or lower pressures. We actually ran our test bike up about 4 lbs. to restore the lighter steering feel from the 2011 bike.

      Change of tires should fix it.

    • Michael Howard

      On the plus side, you can feel when your tire pressure’s low. I have a habit of riding too long between pressure checks.

  • Brett Lewis

    Regarding the tire pressure; 5 lbs low to me is about typical if I don’t check it for a couple months, it happens this time of year to whichever bike is less suited to cold weather riding… But 5 lbs is about 15%, which seems significant when you look at it that way, and consider the shape of a motorcycle tire. I would take a SWAG that almost doubles the size of the contact patch.

  • Brian Reynolds

    Mistakenly posted this below in wrong spot. Sorry, but 509lbs heavy? I’m assuming you mean the bike feels its weight moreso than others since 509lbs is ridiculously svelte in regard to other sport tourers out there.

    • dinoSnake

      When I’ve sat on it, it does fell a bit “heavy” because it is top heavy. It has a seat height of 32.3 inches with a raised, sportbike-style fuel tank much higher than that (you sit “in” the bike rather than “on” it) plus high mounted bags and a sportbike-style sloping seat (rather than a touring-style flat seat).

      It just felt…tall. OK, I’m exact median average for my generation (over 40) but it is not a ‘short’ motorcycle by any means, judging by feel alone. I really WANTED to like it; one of my last bikes was a 1984 Ninja 900R but the 1000, in no way, felt like my 900R. It was a big letdown :-(

    • Bruce Steever

      Do you mean touring bikes like the FJR and Concours?

  • runrunny

    Kawi’s website says that their optional top case is not compatible with the hard saddlebags shown. Pretty major oversight.

    • 80-watt Hamster

      Could be intentional if passenger + loaded sides + loaded top gets up toward the design limits of the rear subframe. At least, that’s the explanation given for the same situation with my ride.

  • Clint Keener

    You guys didn’t even take your own review pics?

    • Bruce Steever

      Why, when Kawasaki has shooters on site for the launches?

  • NextTurn

    2014 Ninja 1000 as a Sport Tourer… How does it compare with bikes like a Concours or FJR when it comes to low speed handling, long distance comfort, and features in a sub-$16K bike?

    I am looking to step up from my NT700V to a more competent bike (that has panniers that work and a tad more excitement – or any excitement). I have seen plenty of people tour 1Up on a Ninja over the last few months. I honestly hadn’t considered the lower cost Kawi until last month when I saw one 2+Up (that guy was not small) with hard bags and a full tank bag blow past me. Carrying that kind of capacity is important to me. Even though my wife only weighs 110lbs, she packs what feels like another 100lbs of stuff on our bike. It is enough weight to act like a 3rd person is back there.

    Some more power is what I need, but the low speed sensitivity under a small tire pressure change on this bike gives me a bit of pause for the in-town maneuvers – especially in out-of-town maneuvers with 200+lbs on the back.

    • Bruce Steever

      The Concours and FJR are full tourers, whereas the Ninja 1000 is a comfortable sport bike similar to the VFR800, Sprint, and ST2/3/4.

      Low and high speed handling is worlds better than the land whales at the expense of expansive fairings and huge riding positions for two-up. Here’s the difference: both a Ninja 1000 and Concours can be ridden three hours to your nearest race track, but the Ninja is still good to ride once there.

      • NextTurn

        My only use for a track is to watch other be bad-ass… Someday I might take my bike to a track to push it a bit more than I would on the road, but I am not a racer. I am more of a cruiser/tourer guy that needs a bike to perform better than a classic Harley/Indian style platform. My biggest reasons for looking at the Ninja 1K over the Concours, ST1300, and the FJR are the price and the “bang-for-buck”.

        • Bruce Steever

          We just ran an article on exactly this misconception: the track isn’t just for “racers”.

          If you ride a street bike, you owe it to yourself to attend a track-based riding school to (significantly) expand your riding skills and confidence. It’s not just about going fast. It’s a safe space to allow you to learn how to go faster, safer. Or, put another way, you can go the same speeds as before MUCH safer (thanks to your deeper “well” of confidence and skills).

          Back to the bikes: the touring machines you mention are better tourers for 600-mile days. The Ninja 1000 is better everywhere else.

          • NextTurn

            I read that article, and I completely agree with it. I just don’t know of anything like that in the San Antonio area. Next summer while I am in Denver – that is another story. My next problem – paying for a crash is not something I can afford right now.

            On the subject of the bikes – 600 miles is a bit much for one day, but 500 miles is completely doable on our NT700V. It is just a boring bike with many over-sights in design and not many options otherwise. My wife wants me to get the 2013 FJR1300A. I am just trying to weigh all my options first.

  • Hammertime

    Good to see RideApart knows how to deep etch. Typography? Mmmmm… Still a work in progress.

  • Sentinel

    I got a chance to test ride this bike, and over all I really liked it, but the high frequency buzz from the engine throughout the bike was uncomfortable, and not something I could deal with for any real length of time. I knew this was a common complaint with this bike, but I had to take it out for a ride and see for myself, and I agree with those who find the buzzing annoying and unacceptable. I’m pretty sure I’d be dealing with some hand numbness and other issues due to the buzzing before too long on that bike. What a shame, it’s really a very nice bike, but the buzz just kills it of me.

  • Zandit75

    This bike is seriously shaping up to be my next ride to replace my 2010 Ninja 650R ABS.
    My only complaint with the redesign is the new panniers are so much smaller than the Givi(Kawasaki Rebadged) models available for the earlier model. I can understand why they redesigned them, mainly to allow better vision of the rear indicators/signals from the side, but they detract so much from the side & rear 3/4 profile look of the bike.
    As someone else mentioned, the lack of frame support to be able to have the top box on at the same time as the panniers is a major oversight.

  • ThinkingInImages

    It’s a great idea. There’s a few things that don’t work for me: it’s too tall, I’d prefer it in more subtle colors, and – damn – those are the ugly mufflers. I’d like to see a version for the 650 Ninja.

    More sports motorcycles should have a factory hard bag option, or at least brackets or a tail section that doesn’t make soft saddle bags “floppy”.

  • Justin McClintock

    Really want to get a chance to ride one of these. I’ve typically found the larger Kawasaki’s to feel kinda top heavy, especially the Concours 14. I’m wondering if this suffers the same.

  • Slytherider

    I’ve ridden the Kawa 1000 and though I found it to be a decent bike, but I ended up buying a VFR 1200… I know, I can already hear you all… its too heavy, looks funny… too small tank, too pricey… bla bla… turns out that my VFR handles way better despite its additional 100 pnds… way more comfy for my girlfriend back there… I have a top box that can be add to the side paniers, its faster, no chain to adjust or grease after a whole day of riding… no terrible vibrations… and the price has gone way down… sorry for all those VFR unbelievers out there…

    • NextTurn

      What year is your VFR?

      • Slytherider


    • gravit8ed

      But did you ride the 2014 k1000?

      no? Irrelevant!

      • Slytherider

        So you are telling me that the 14 k1000 now a nice wide seat for the passenger (no!), that it can have both side paniers and top box (no!), has become much faster (may be but doubt it!), has a shaft final drive (no!), I will accept that it has less vibrations (ok you win this one!), and I see no clear indications the k1000 has become a much better handler… I rest my case… all the best…

  • Michael Howard

    If you put a chicken in a saddlebag would the muffler cook it?

  • gravit8ed

    Instant future classic?

  • Adam E.

    Unless Honda brings the 2014+ VFR800 over from Europe, this will almost certainly be my next bike. It’s the same weight, more power, good suspension and brakes, and those factory bags are beautiful, all at a good price. It’s what the successor to the VFR800 should have been, minus the V-4 and built by Kawasaki.