Kawasaki ZX-14 Ninja Review

Kawasaki ZX-14 – Specifications, History and test ride review: This page is all about the Kawasaki’s latest flag ship motorcycle the also known as the ZX-14R or ZZR1400. Released  in early 2006 to certain parts of the world the new bike indeed lives up to the Kawasaki name of the past I.e. Lots of power and good handling. Claimed to be the most powerful production motorcycle to date its specifications and reviews have all been positive. It is what it’s predecessor the ZX-12R should have been from the start. Further more I think I’m going to buy one…

The only thing about the ZX-14 that isn’t top spec is the overall look of the bike. It doesn’t look daring enough and where the design is different, namely front on it looks odd. (That said some of the color schemes work really well) Sure it follows the Kawasaki design concept and attempts to differentiate its models from the other manufacturers but I don’t think they have done enough. That said we should be thankfully that they have tried to do something different with the motorcycle but why do you think Ferrari, Porsche, Aston Martin and Lamborghini are bespoke cars? It’s not just their performance but also they look great.

Note that it is 1352cc so it should really be called the ZX-13! However I’m sure I don’t need to explain why they didn’t call it that – though I don’t see the point.  Speaking of which I have a problem with its advertising & PR. Their heavily promoting their aviation experience in the design of this bike – why didn’t they do that with the ZX-12 then? A monocoque frame has more to do with cars than aeroplanes – bikes, buyers in this category are generally enthusiasts – we know the difference difference between ‘planes, trains and automobiles’. Apart from the dubious PR I love the multi-media movies and wall-papers that have now been released. Nice to know they’ve made the effort and we should support this sort of stuff. The best part is that the pricing is finally competitive!

First off I felt the the new ZX-14 was a comfortable motorcycle which I rate higher than the Hayabusa. However as you should know by now that every body is different. Neither are near the original ZZR1100 or Blackbird – comfort wise I feel. The most disappointing thing about the ZX was that it feels slow. Despite the ads saying how powerful it is, ex-Hayabusa owners will not be impressed. The riding environment is the next issue I have. Why? does a range topper use materials from it lessor models? I think the instrumentation could have been so much better. I also noticed a few rough edges that you won’t find on a Hayabusa built in 1999! Yes the ZX looks newer but not 7 years worth newer. Finally – what’s with all the shiny bolts?

Despite the power issue the ride feel was great and similar but different ‘planted’ feelings and slight more vibration. Like hitting the Hayabusa’ vibration zone but at all revs. In isolation you wouldn’t notice. Cornering and handling around town is really good and on equal footing. It in unfortunate that my ZX’s suspension was turned to ‘hard’ and it felt and was skittish. When turned down it was very much Hayabusa in feel.

As for the design – each to his/her own. Some like it some don’t but the one thing was clear that it certainly doesn’t attract or hold attention of passer-bys.

Overall I came away smiling but without a big grin like I expected after the first ride. Maybe in the long term this might change but for now this is it. (Or a chance to red line the bike!)

Would I recommend the ZX14 over the Hayabusa? This is difficult – The Hayabusa is a proven and genuine 300kph+ production motorcycle – if you add the TRE to new ones it still holds true. The ZX-14 is the most powerful production motorcycle but does not feel that way – yet it has that solid feel of a better or indeed newer design. Sure its got the on paper power but street cred takes time to develop and hopefully it does get there – quickly.

So my recommendation: If you want the original get the Hayabusa for a genuine fastest motorcycle before the new model arrives. If you want the latest and just as good get the ZX. If you want the next generation wait for the Honda – 2012 and till waiting BTW)

No I won’t be developing a site for the ZX – just too much work but I will be publishing up to date news related to the ZX 14 and certainly cool stuff you won’t find even on dedicated sites.

Specifications for the Kawasaki ZX-14 Ninja

Engine :
Bore :
Stroke :
Displacement :
Compression ratio :
Air Cleaner :
Starter :
Lubrication :
Fuelling :
Overall length :
Overall Width :
Height :
Wheel base :
Ground clearance :
Seat height :
Dry weight :
GMV :

In-line 4 cylinder 4 stroke DOHC
81.0 mm
61.0 mm
1352 cc
12.0 : 1Electric
Wet sump
EFI with Mikuni 44mm Throttle Bodies (4)
2160 mm
720 mm
1170 mm
1490 mm800 mm
215 kg

Gearbox :

6 speed constant mesh
Wet multi-plate hydraulic clutch
Secondary reduction ratio 2.352
Drive chain
Primary reduction ratio 1.541 (94/61)
Gear ratios :
1 – 2.625 (42/16)
2 – 1.947 (37/19)
3 – 1.545 (34/22)
4 – 1.333 (32/24)
5 – 1.154 (30/26)
6 – 1.036 (29/28)
Final reduction ratio 2.412 (41/17)

Suspension  (front) :

43mm inverted cartridge fork with adjustable preload, stepless rebound and compression damping adjustments / 4.6 in.

Suspension  (rear) :

Uni-Trak® with adjustable preload, stepless rebound and compression damping adjustments, adjustable ride height / 4.8 in.

Caster :
Trail :
Steering angle :
Turning circle :

23′
94mm

Brakes / Tyres / Tyre Pressures:

FRONT: 310mm Dual floating petal discs with four-piston callipers
REAR: 250mm Single Petal DiscFront 120/70 ZR17 Bridgestone BT014
Rear 190/50 ZR17 Bridgestone BT014ABS available in some countries!

Fuel tank :

22 Litres

Fuel consumption :

Est. 7lt per 100kms

Exhaust :

4 into 2 into 2 (standard)

Colours :

Model History

Prices :

US
2007: $11599
Ltd Edition: $11899

Ignition type :
Spark plug :
Battery :
Generator :
Headlight :
Headlight :
turn signal :
Brake light tail light :
License plate light :
Dash lighs all :
Battery Type :

Power :
Torque :

(Claimed) 190PS
(Claimed) 140Kw @ 9500rpm
(Claimed) 134Nm @ 10200rpm
(Claimed) 154 Nm @ 7,500 rpm
(Claimed) 15.7 Kg @ 7,500 rpmAt speed with RAM-AIR
(Claimed) 190PS
(Claimed) 147.1 kW @ 9,500rpmBased on manual.

Kawasaki ZX-12R Ninja review

Kawasaki ZX-12R Ninja – Specifications and History: This article is about the Kawasaki ZX-12R Ninja (this was the fastest motorcycle from Kawasaki) – in case you’re new to motorcycles or simply forgotten – it was the arch-rival for the Hayabusa. Specifications for the ZX12R listed here are primarily from the initial release but I have indicated any known changes in the list as well. I have also included my little story of what I know of the bike as it passed through the years. I recommend trying the bike out for your self before concluding rather than relying opinions from the internet. There are still plenty of ZX sites so don’t despair just yet!

I resisted doing anything on this particular motorcycle in the past (till about 2008) because I didn’t want to sit on the fence with any comment – but mostly I didn’t want to get any more anti-hayabusa mail. So now that the ZX12 is gone and over the years I don’t particularly care about small minded people emailing – since I get them anyway especially from the pro-car lobby. Getting a ‘customised’ book when you bought a ZX12 does not mean its a great motorcycle in fact – as many ex-ZX owners tell me you’ve been conned by marketing not what a better motorcycle. Regardless I also wanted to people not to forget the the ZX despite its flaws was one of the great motorcycles of the new century.

Back in 1999 Kawasaki intended to release it’s replacement for the ZZ-R1100 or ZX-11 Ninja and in all honestly this was the motorcycle I was going to get next (after my foray in 600cc) this was because I’ve always wanted the last of the 1100 series.

On the left is a picture of the ZZR-1100 otherwise known as the ZX-11 in the flesh it had real presence. Lovely and a classic.

Suzuki released the Hayabusa first and it was reported by the media from the first lot of tests that it was faster and certainly better than what Kawasaki had originally planned for the ZX-12. Kawasaki delayed the launch of the ZX-12 by about 6 months. Why? it is assumed that they needed to improve specs to be Hayabusa competitive. I think the real reason for the delay has been forgotten over time, but honestly when you rode one you can tell that it was half finished effort.

When the ZX was finally released there were a massive number of performance tests between the ZX and all the rest – it was assumed that Kawasaki had once again created a landmark motorcycle a replacement for the then famous ZX-11, continuing the long line of design themes and models that the company was known for. Namely lots of power but not necessary class leading dynamics but abilities that could be simply called perfect all rounders. Unfortunately this ZX was not the case.

The company had produced something that was extremely fast on the straight and in the bends but only if you rode it on the track. It handled better than the others on the track and hence faster around the track (not by much) BUT it could not reach the Busa’s top speed or in-gear performance. On the road it was sports bike figgitly and fueling gaps ie. didn’t run as well compared to the others. The ZX’s engine did produce more power than the others but it had other issues that prevented it from releasing its potential. Essentially Kawasaki had created a something that one would expect Suzuki (of the day) to create and vice versa.
More problems with marketing hampered the ZX! It was price higher than the Busa and the Blackbird (Approx AUS $2500-$3500). Furthermore it couldn’t go 321Kph – which was THE selling point at the time.

They also ignored the market which usually bought the bike – namely older folk who wanted the best of both worlds but ultimately prefer comfort followed by top spec and ahead of track handling. Even worse a new breed of 1000cc bikes where being released which the younger folk gravitated to for superior handling prowess. (Kawasaki didn’t have a 1000cc) The R1 of the day was the ultimate for handling!

The ZX-12 was Kawasaki’s flagship. It contained the latest technology, the ‘monocoque’ with integrated airbox and fuel injection being its principle features. Although late in arriving (2000) due to late mechanical glitches. The theory of creating a 1200cc+ sports bike was the aim. To that effect it was a success. And yes, by all accounts it did handle better than its competitors. However it never claimed the crown of the fastest production motorcycle unless you have a short memory or arrived late to the motorcycle scene. There where countless tests between it and its competitors so I need not say more. It would be fair to say and still not shabby at all that it was the second fastest production motorcycle. This article I found was the best scientific explanation as to why: www.qsl.net/n5mya/aero.html

That said it still is arguably the most powerful production motorcycle of its day. Arguably because it produced more power but less torque than its rivals. Since most motorcyclists know the difference it was not a key selling point – only top speed mattered in this class.

The ZX-12 was not failure or a dud motorcycle. The main problem was that it had to compete with not only the Honda and Suzuki but the 1000cc range like the CBR-RR 919 and 1000 and GSX-R1000 and the YZF-R1. The 1000s where far superior in handling and usable performance. We all know that the R1 in the early 2000s was the bees knees. Kawasaki didn’t have a 1000cc class bike in their line-up either. The other critical problem was its packaging. It was a clear departure from its predecessor the ZZR1100 which was king when it came to high speed touring, luggage and pillions. Other issues include fuelling issues and build quality, although well made it just didn’t feel or look like a flagship model.

How fast is the ZX12? Of course the ZX was also subjected to the unofficial manufacturer agreed top speed limit in late 2000, which basically means that no-one can now never claim to be the newest world’s fastest production motorcycle. Which of course explains the lack of media over new ultra fast high capacity motorcycles. Media focus is always on the true sports motorcycles like the 600cc and 1000cc.

A significant update in 2002 acknowledged that there where short comings in the original release but still didn’t do sales much good. 2002 model revisions where extensive: Revised gearbox cogs and clutch damper, new fuel/oil pump, new drive shaft, revised ECU mapping, new steering angles and bearings, redesigned ram-air intakes, new fairing design – new screen, mirrors brake covers and so forth. However it is still my opinion that it didn’t look like a flagship model. If you are happy with the package then post 2002 models are the best one to get.

Towards the end of it life 2004 when I test rode one – I noticed a few articles showcasing the ZX-12 has having the racing heritage from the ZX-6 and ZX-9! What? Why was Kawasaki promoting their flagship has having technology from lesser models in their range? Anyway it was a sad end to a unique motorcycle. Hopefully with the recently released ZX-14, Kawasaki can claim back the reputation. Regardless of its particular history the ZX-12R is a decent but not great motorcycle, it is still one the fastest and certainly a joy to ride if you can live with it.

Engine :
Bore :
Stroke :
Displacement :
Compression ratio :
Air Cleaner :
Starter :
Lubrication :
Fuelling :
Overall length :
Overall Width :
Height :
Wheel base :
Ground clearance :
Seat height :
Dry weight :
GMV :

In-line 4 cylinder DOHC 16 Valve
83.0 mm
55.4 mm
1199 cc
12.2 : 1

Electric
Wet sump
Electronic Fuel Injection
2080 mm
725 mm
1185 mm
1440mm
120 mm
810mm
213 kg
 

Gearbox :

6 speed constant mesh
Wet multi-plate hydraulic clutch
Drive chain ???
Gear ratios :
             1 – 2.429
             2 – 1.824
             3 – 1.440
             4 – 1.250
             5 – 1.130
             6 – 1.033

Suspension  (front) :

43mm inverted hydraulic telescopic fork with 12-way adjustable compression and rebound damping, adjustable spring preload.

Suspension  (rear) :

UNI-TRAK® system with single shock, 20-way adjustable compression and 18-way rebound damping, adjustable ride height

Caster :
Trail :
Steering angle :
Turning circle :

23.5′
93mm

Suspension Settings :
(Front fork settings and Rear damper settings) 

 

Brakes / Tyres / Tyre Pressures:

Front – 320mm twin 6 piston calliper
Back –  230mm single 4 piston calliper
Front 120/70×17 Dunlop D207ZR 1999 (D208 2002)
Rear 200/50 ZR17 Dunlop D207ZR 1999 (D208 2002)

Fuel tank :

20 litres

Fuel consumption :

Est. 8lt per 100kms

Exhaust :

4 into 2 into 1 (standard)

Colours :

Grey/Silver, Lime Green/Purple, Red/Purple, Red/Black, Bronze/Black

GVM :

 

Frame :

Monocoque aluminium

Power :
Torque :

(Claimed) 178ps
(Claimed) 13.8kg-m

(Claimed) 131Kw @ 10500rpm
(Claimed) 134Nm @ 10200rpm

Based on Manual.

Notes :

1 PS = 0.98 HP