Life with­out the bor­ing bits

With im­pres­sive power, the Ninja is far from dull, writes Craig Duff

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Onroad -

CALL­ING a sports-tourer a Ninja may ran­kle Kawasaki diehards, but the com­pany made the right call to ap­pro­pri­ate the tag from its sports­bike range for its lat­est 1000cc ma­chine.

Af­ter all, the Ninja 1000 ABS is much more of a stealth fighter than its track-fo­cused sta­ble­mate the ZX-10R – and it’s been lurk­ing in the shad­ows as the sports­bike gets most of the me­dia’s at­ten­tion.

The sports tourer is a much more prac­ti­cal day-to-day ride though, while still ac­cel­er­at­ing is as quick as you can want on the open road, with an ad­dic­tive torque boost from around 7000 revs that oblit­er­ates those bor­ing straight bits be­tween the corners.

The brakes are more than up to the job of rein­ing in that power, with a pair of To­kico 300mm petal discs with four-pis­ton calipers up front and a sin­gle 250mm disc and caliper at the rear, both linked to the lat­est gen­er­a­tion ABS sys­tem. They work well in the dry and are a po­ten­tial life­saver in the wet.

The 820mm seat height is tall – Honda’s VFR1200 is 815mm – but barely no­ticed once un­der­way and the up­right ride po­si­tion makes it a gen­uine long-dis­tance propo­si­tion, though I’d be fit­ting a gel seat given the stan­dard one is a touch firm for 500km runs.

Pil­lion com­fort is first rate and does lit­tle to hurt the bike’s hand- ling – cor­ner­ing isn’t af­fected with a street-savvy pas­sen­ger and a snap of the throt­tle in the first three gears will lift the front wheel whether there’s one or two aboard, so that’s hardly an is­sue.

Down­sides . . . there’s no slip­per clutch so give the en­gine the re­spect it de­serves on down­shifts or you’ll lock up the back and the trape­zoidal mir­rors look good but the stem needs to be a tad longer to im­prove vis­i­bil­ity. The 19-litre tank is up four litres on the naked Z1000 ABS, but you’ll still be look­ing for a ser­vice sta­tion ev­ery 200km or so if you play hard.

And that’s about as harsh as you can be on the Ninja 1000 ABS. In just about ev­ery as­pect it’s the ideal mount for rid­ers who want a com­pe­tent week­day com­muter with the abil­ity for week­end tour­ing.

The young guns will still head for the ZX-10R, but older and more prac­ti­cal bod­ies will find the Ninja 1000 is sim­ply a bet­ter bike to live with.

Tourer: The prac­ti­cal and gutsy Ninja 1000 ABS.

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