Usually when we mix two things together to make something different, there’s bound to be compromise. Reese’s got it about right with the peanut butter cup, but most fail when it comes to mixing and matching. Kawasaki, however, seems to have pulled it off with its Ninja 1000 ABS.
Originally introduced in 2011 in search of a compromise between the ZX-10R and the Concours 14, the Ninja 1000 has been updated with a closet full of improvements. And, yes, it has ABS in its name for a reason. While last year’s version was available with or without the braking aide, the new model will come standard with it. And for $11,999 – or just $200 more than last year’s with-ABS model.
And the $200 extra isn’t just to off-set the cost of doing business in bad times… Kawasaki gives you much, much more than $200 worth of additives with the newest of the Ninja 1000s.
For starters, there’s traction control. Yes, traction control.
There’s also two power modes, monobloc front brake calipers, engine upgrades… and an improved luggage-mounting system and subframe that will actually make you want to use the hard bags.
Kawasaki gave us the opportunity sample the Ninja 1000 recently with a jaunt up the California coast from Los Angeles to Monterey in time to catch the World Superbike round at Laguna Seca. And it wasn’t your standard, straight-shot, get-it-over-and-done-with ride as we ended up clocking nearly 500 miles over the two days, putting the bike through its paces on everything from the paved “goat trails” near Cambria to some of the best twisties the state has to offer. And a bit of standard highway riding in between. It was a good test of rear-end and machine as 80 percent of the riding came on the first day.
Since Kawasaki did more than just give the new Ninja a facelift, the ride was designed to show us just how much they had done. And to show us what compromise was all about. The Ninja 1000 isn’t a sportbike and it isn’t a touring bike, but it’s plenty of both and we left the one-way ride up north more than impressed.
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