Life without the boring bits
With impressive power, the Ninja is far from dull, writes Craig Duff
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.