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2011 Kawasaki Ninja 1000 -- New Levels of Performance

By Arv Voss, August 27th, 2011

The 2011 Kawasaki Ninja 1000 is an open-class, naked sport bike to be sure, but with a more civilized and upright riding position. This latest iteration Ninja 1000 serves up a tempting blend of both capability and technology, inspired by the very latest racetrack componentry. Let's call it a super standard bike.

It features a new-think engine and chassis package as its core, with a radical, edgy, almost transformer-like bodywork and an impressive inventory of impressive touches. All of this combines to push the Ninja 1000's flexibility and performance capability to heightened levels.

The Ninja 1000 gets down the road courtesy of an open-class 1,043cc, DOHC, 16-valve inline four-cylinder motor with DFI fuel injection and four 38mm Keihin throttle bodies and oval sub throttles. The exhaust is a 4-into-2pre-chamber-into-2 setup with silencer end-caps maintaining quad-style image.

The motor generates 138 horses at 9,600 rpm while developing 81 pound feet of torque at 7,800 rpm. Power reaches the rear wheel via an X-ring chain final drive geared through a six-speed manual gearbox. The bike is capable ripping from 0-60 mph in 2.7 seconds, and has a top speed capability of 148 mph. That's what I'm told, but I didn't actually put it to the test.

The advanced aluminum frame is formed in a lightweight cage that curves over the engine, cradling it from above and bolting to it solidly in three positions, featuring a rubber-backed fourth mount for added rigidity and vibration isolation. The main frame and swingarm pivot pieces are cast as a single unit adding to the bike's pleasing aesthetics.

The Ninja 1000 rolls on radial Bridgestone Battlax Hypersport rubber mounted on three widespread "V"-spoke cast alloy wheels. Suspension components consist of 41mm inverted cartridge forks forward, with stepless compression and rebound damping, adjustable spring preload and 4.7 inches of travel, with a horizontal monoshock setup with stepless rebound damping, adjustable spring preload and 5.4 inches of travel aft.

Bringing the incredibly quick and fast Ninja 1000 to a halt are hydraulic front dual 300mm petal-type rotors with radial-mount four-piston calipers front and a single 250mm petal-type rotor with single-piston caliper in the rear.

My test Kawasaki Ninja 1000 was finished in Gloss black with Red graphics. The base price was set at $10,999. The final total was estimated at $11,249 figuring an average $250 dealer prep and handling fee, which can vary per individual dealer.

The Kawasaki Ninja 1000 displays a sinister, yet alluring presence with its racy, full-coverage body panels. On the one hand, it first appears to be bulky, but actually proves to be quite aerodynamic, and, despite its bold, radical stance, it delivers a comfortable ride thanks to its pleasing ergonomics. The bars are set higher, with the pegs set a touch lower than a normal all-out sport bike and the seat height of 32.3 inches makes for a manageable combination, especially considering that the tank is sculpted with knee cutouts for a narrow solo saddle.

The Ninja 1000 hauls with aplomb and authority. The steering feel is positive at virtually all speeds, the ride quality is firm and tight, but not to the point of discomfort. The mirrors are more functional than many bikes in this category, and the 3-position adjustable flyscreen (can only be adjusted at a standstill) allows for aero improvements based upon rider height.

Gauges and instrumentation with their yellow tinted lens are quite legible, in virtually all lighting conditions, but a gear indicator would prove to be a plus, as would self-canceling turn indicators.

The 2011 Kawasaki Ninja 1000 may be optionally equipped for touring, but is suited for commuting or day trips just as it is. Consider it a sport bike with do-it-all capability whether you go all out, cajones to the wall or just cruising -- it is wicked fast and fun to ride. The Ninja 1000 is not for the inexperienced rider, but it can be docile if need be.

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