By Marissa Baecker
Whether you ride in town, go for a tour or out for a sport burn, the Ninja 1000 ABS delivers a comfortable experience
What a perfect day! The weather was perfect. The road was perfect. The 2015 Ninja 1000 was perfect – and after 3 hours in the saddle nothing could ruin this spectacular ride – except a text message. “Are you around today?” My friend, Mike – having returned from a week long Mexican vacation. That cordial text meant my day of perfection was over. My perfect Ninja 1000 was actually his.
See, Mike had recently swapped out his Triumph Street Triple for the Ninja and had a big ride planned upon his return from Mexico. The only issue standing in his way was an engine shy of a few hundred kilometres of broken-in, which would mean limited riding capacity.
Being that I consider myself a good friend, when he initially approached me and asked, “If I leave you my bike when I go to Mexico could you put some KM’s on it?” – I did my best to contain my glee. “I could do that for you, sure,” was my response but I was actually thinking, “Do you actually need me to answer that?”
So as Mike sunned himself poolside in a Mexican resort with tequila and his family, I lived up to his expectations and put a few hundred KM’s on his bike (like that was really any kind of chore).
First setting eyes on the prize, it is a sexy bike. Styled like a supersport with full fairing and carved out narrow seating with perfect tank wrap space for knees, I was looking forward to my week with the Ninja 1000. The mirrors pop out the front like antenna on a bug for easy visibility no matter height. The adjustable windshield offers three levels of protection. Turn the key and the digital instrument display is easy to see and offers many features like power mode, traction control level, speedo, odo, trip meter and fuel guage. Analog tach – redline at 11,000 RPM with signal and neutral LEDs decorating the rest of the panel. Dual headlights – one running light and one high beam. This is actually one area that falls short. First, I like to know what gear I’m in other than neutral and with today’s technology, all bikes should have that in the digital display. Second, I do not care for the single sided running light. Why do manufacturers make asymmetrical headlights? I think just about every rider I discuss this with would prefer both headlights on at the same time.
The week began with a few evening jaunts at sunset to familiarize myself with the bike. Technically, it is considered a sport bike but the styling is synonymous to that of its super sport siblings. The dipped down front beak and full vented fairing bodywork gives the bike that extra pizzazz, especially in the two-tone black (formally called Metallic Carbon Gray/Metallic Spark Black). If the bike were mine however, any and all Kawasaki traditional green accents would be gone – like the ‘Ninja’ decal on the 19 ltr. fuel tank. I like Kawasaki bikes but have never been a fan of the green (and I am originally from Saskatchewan but that’s a way different green – Go Riders!).
Initially, the bike feels heavy around town for a 1000cc weighing in at 509 lbs. (231 kg) but get out on the highway and that weight transfers to a solid, consistent road position against any side draft or semi trailer wind wake. This is truly a touring model and confidence booster. Everything about the bike is consistent. Gradual consistent power is delivered from the 1043cc, four stroke, inline four whether you are in town or out on the highway. Even torque and compression. Consistent braking with ABS. No surprises that will need unexpected correcting.
However, don’t go thinking this bike is a couch slouch because if you want to ride sporty it’s up to you. There is a 3-mode Kawasaki Traction Control to suit your mood. The power comes mid-range but how fast you get there will depend whose hand is on the throttle. The nice part about this is that you can cruise comfortably in known wildlife territory and then carve up a clear canyon for a bit of fun. It is like you get two bikes in one.
One evening when I was out, I was putzing along a well travelled bike route that I had not yet experienced. In the Okanagan, I am always cautious of wildlife. I like to get familiar with a road before I join the masses for a thrill ride. Sure enough, I wasn’t riding aggressively enough for two other bikes and they passed me as they blazed a trail. The next corner, I was greeted by several deer grazing roadside, that I am sure were a camouflaged blur to the two ahead of me, and not 200 feet later, I tested the ABS as a bear ran across the road. If it had been the other two riders in my place, I would have been the first on the scene of nastiness.
After several outings, I was quite comfy on Mike’s new ride – which isn’t always a given on a sport bike for a gal with a 34″ inseam. The Ninja offers a 32.3″ seat height and with a wheelbase of 56.9″, a generous rider triangle to suit my body perfectly. After three hours straight in the saddle, I could have continued as I was still comfortable and it was only thirst that pulled me off the road and the text message that wrapped up my Ninja time. The Ninja 1000 ABS ranks right up there next to the BMW1200RT for sport touring bikes. The difference is you could own two Ninjas for the price of the BMW.
** The Ninja 1000 comes ready for hard luggage which was on order for the big trip. These bags easily snap on and off and carry inside with a top handle. Each one can hold 28 ltr/5 kg – and are designed to hold a full face helmet.