At one point in life, my daily driver was a Kawasaki ZX-6R supercar.
I’d travel to the heart of Los Angeles during the week, take it to the track once a month, and every now and then tie a rear bag to the Ninja’s pathetic excuse for a passenger seat and take a weekend trip of 1,000 miles to NorCal. At the time, the sporting prowess of the motorcycle was worth the cost of tight wrists and back pain.
That was more than 10 years ago, and my preference for motorcycles, let’s say, has evolved. Performance remains a priority, but so are comfort and overall practicality. In light of all that, real-world sports bikes like the Ninja 1000, which Kawasaki introduced in 2011 to fill the gap between its crouch racing replicas and the Concours 14 super-tourer, are a perfect fit with people like me.
And for 2020, the Ninja 1000SX has a host of new features that make it even more attractive, all while only adding $ 200 to last year’s MSRP of $ 12,199.
Many not so small changes
The Ninja’s mirrors, fairing and front fender have been subtly redesigned, with the new “double bubble” windshield positioned at a steeper angle on a four-position bracket that can be adjusted via a hard-to-reach tab under the dash. . Other obvious alterations are the change from petal rotors to regular round discs and a change (thank goodness!) From two Sugomi-inspired raygun silencers to a single conventional silencer. The new tubing is Euro 5 compliant and is said to save four pounds, reducing the Ninja’s curb weight to about 514 pounds with its five-gallon tank filled with premium unleaded. That’s by no means light, but it only weighs 60 pounds more than a ZX-10R.
LCD dashes are as cool as wired headphones these days, which is why Kawasaki adorned the SX with a beautiful 4.3-inch TFT color dash that offers multiple display modes. The throttle action feels the same as before, but the wires go to a potentiometer, not the throttle plates. Going all-by-wire allowed for the addition of cruise control, an obvious advantage for a sport touring motorcycle, plus three preset riding modes combining different levels of engine power and traction control (KTRC is Kawispeak). A fourth Rider mode is customizable, which includes turning off KTRC.
The clutch has a rotary dial that makes it adjustable in five positions, but using it is optional once you’re moving, thanks to a two-way quick shift. Other changes include new foam for the seats, the latest Bridgestone S22 tires and the addition of bleed ports in the fork compression damping circuits to improve compliance.
The 2020 Ninja 1000SX on the streets of the city
Much has changed since I lived with a ZX-6R, but my love for long days in the saddle and winding roads persists. To scratch that itch and get a taste of this new Ninja, I toured the San Francisco Bay area, then raced through the Central Valley towards Los Angeles. The trip offered a nice mix of city, open road, and winding roads – exactly the kind of mix. for which the Ninja 1000SX was designed.
Cruising through San Francisco on an essentially foggy afternoon, the Ninja feels like a sports bike with a no-nonsense side. The clips rest on risers so that you sit fairly upright with no weight on your wrists, the footrests are far enough back to provide good leverage when cornering without knee cramps on the road, and the seat is adequately wide and provides support. The way the tank spreads your legs is the classic Kawasaki inline four, and a reminder that there’s a massive 1,043cc engine bolted between the frame rails.
The other reminder is… torque. There’s around 75 pound-feet of material, and much of it is available as soon as you release the stock clutch …