Getting in contact with a candidate for the “Ultimate Superbike” title can be a mind blowing experience, especially if you’re suppose to ride the hell out of the thing, but the 2010 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-14 adds a little more to that feel. It’s all about the imposing dimensions and the constant thought of knowing that underneath you grumbles this manufacturer’s biggest and most evolved motor to be mounted on a superbike-type motorcycle.
Kawasaki’s strategy for the 2010 Ninja ZX-14 is as simple, but as demanding as they get. To begin with, the inline four, DOHC, four-valve per cylinder engine is as light, compact and as silent as
203-hp fuel injected inline-four engine
possible despite the fact that it displaces 1,352cc. Being ram air inducted, digitally fuel injected and gear-driven balanced, this develops 154 Nm at 7,500 rpm and 203 hp at 9,500 rpm, so being competitive was clearly a priority. Meeting Euro III regulations was prior too from the logical reason that people won’t buy a bike which they’re not allowed to ride.
The biggest Ninja’s main advantage is that although being massive, it is designed to handle like a much smaller and versatile motorcycle and all the chassis components back up this impressive attitude in a way we just couldn’t possibly anticipate. Weight saving was a good point to start, so the monocoque frame features as many aluminum elements as possible while still offering proper resistance. The suspensions (43mm cartridge type front fork and bottom-link Uni-Trak rear) have been tuned for extreme sport riding, so apart from the performance brake package, there really isn’t much more to ask from the Ninja ZX-14, but carefully wait for it to deliver the unexpected.
Stylistically, this bike offers not many reasons to be impressed even though the bodywork was designed basing on results from wind tunnel testing. So the question just pops: was it always that way?
Yes, pretty much. When first introduced back in 2006 both as a replacement for the ZX-12R and a more powerful competitor for the Suzuki Hayabusa , the Ninja ZX-14 was based on the same recipe as currently. The engine was the same and it got fuel injection from the very first year of fabrication and the chassis was as light as possible while giving a new meaning to sharp handling for the class, of course. 2006 colors were Passion Red, Ebony, and Candy Thunder Blue.
The only thing that this bike really needed to stand out each and every year after was a new color range and nothing more. So in 2007 it featured the Diablo Black, Candy Plasma Blue, and Special Edition Pearl Crystal White coloring while 2008 brought the Metallic Midnight Sapphire Blue, Atomic Silver, and Special Edition Metallic Flat Spark Black/Metallic Persimmon Red. In 2009 it stood out thanks to the Candy Lime Green, Flat Super Black, Candy Burnt Orange and Metallic Diablo Black color schemes.
The only “thing” shadowing ZX-14’s success during these years was the Suzuki GSX-R1300 Hayabusa , but Kawasaki had assumed this possibility ever since deciding to create and launch their alternative to Suzuki’s ultimate sports motorcycle. In 2010, the situation is still the same as the Hayabusa is more potent and better looking than ever before. But while the Busa is THE most aggressive ride you get on two-wheels, the Ninja has sport-touring credentials too so it falls a little more behind in this comparison too.
We did mentioned before that the bike was literally designed in the wind tunnel, but it seems that Kawasaki designers try their best in dissolving any form of visual attraction that the sport bike lineup still may have exerted and the 2010 ZX-14 is probably the most conclusive proof of this fact.
Being a massive motorcycle, the Kawasaki ZX-14 should have at least featured less eccentric colors in an attempt to make it look sinuous. But, despite its size, it is being painted Candy Persimmon Red, so it is good that Kawasaki at least introduces the Metallic Titanium/Metallic Spark Black paintjob as a much more appropriate alternative. That’s just not the way of getting better looking than the notorious Suzuki Hayabusa , but at least it keeps the prices low.
"More low-rpm power, on top of the ZX-14’s already flawless smoothness, only adds to its abilities as a sport-touring motorcycle, if that’s your mission." – amadirectlink
“Even though I failed in my quest to become one of the cool kids, I learned that the new Ninja has a quite a bit more aggressive bottom end hit, which equates to approximately a tenth of a second increase in drag strip performance.” – motorcycle-usa
"But it’s no secret the super-Ninja is outrageously fast. Buried under that headline is how this wonderfully silky GT comports itself during typical street sorties. The riding position is sporting but not punishing, and its longish wheelbase handily sucks up mid-corner bumps." – motorcycle
"This big brute of a motorcycle continues to impress with its smoothness and comfort, as well as its power. For everything up to a brisk pace, whether in a straight line or in the twisties, Jeff found the bike’s engine character and suspension impressive." – motorcycledaily
"The low, narrow seat is plenty comfortable for a day’s ride, wind protection is excellent and the engine is quite smooth at cruising revs. Steering is light, linear and predictable, especially considering the bike’s heft, and the 14 is nimble yet stable at sane speeds." – sportrider
"...the distinguishing characteristic from the Busa, is its comfort. Yes, it sacrifices some handling, but the ZX-14 sports more comfortable and forgiving ergos. Although the two seats are similar, with near identical seat heights (31.5 Kawasaki, 31.7 Suzuki), the difference is in the riding position." – cycletrader
Regardless of paintjob, the 2010 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-14 comes with an MSRP of $13,999. This is guaranteed to pay itself up each time you open up the throttle on the drag strip.
Born on the speedway, the Kawasaki Ninja ZX-14 retains the drag bike aptitudes and improves the rest. Handling is now sweeter, comfort as well, while the engine has a much more adequate for street use power curve; in conclusion, everything the bike needs in order to be called an impressive model.
Engine and Transmission
- Engine: Four-stroke, liquid-cooled, DOHC, four valve per cylinder, inline-four
- Displacement: 1,352cc
- Bore x stroke: 84.0 x 61.0mm
- Maximum torque: 154 N/m 15.7 kgf/m 113.6 lb-ft @ 7,500 rpm
- Compression ratio: 12.0:1
- Fuel system: DFI® with four 44mm Mikuni throttle bodies
- Ignition: TCBI with Digital Advance
- Transmission: Six speed
- Final drive: X-Ring chain
Chassis and Dimensions
- Rake / trail: 23 degrees / 94 mm
- Front Tire: 120/70 ZR17
- Rear Tire: 190/50 ZR17
- Wheelbase: 57.5 in.
- Front suspension / wheel travel: 43mm inverted cartridge fork with adjustable preload, 13-way compression and 11-way rebound damping adjustment / 4.6 in.
- Rear suspension / wheel travel: Bottom-Link Uni-Trak® and gas-charged shock with adjustable preload, stepless rebound and compression damping adjustments, adjustable ride height / 4.8 in.
- Front Brakes: Dual semi-floating 310 mm petal discs with dual radial-mounted four-piston calipers
- Rear Brakes: Single 250mm petal disc with twin-piston caliper
- Overall length: 85.4 in.
- Overall width: 29.9 in.
- Overall height: 46.1 in.
- Ground clearance: 4.9 in.
- Seat height: 31.5 in.
- Curb weight: 566.7 lbs.
- Fuel capacity: 5.8 gal.
Features & Benefits
1,352cc Four-Cylinder, DOHC Engine
- Tuned to provide smooth power across a very wide rev range, while producing impressive horsepower numbers
- Chrome composite plated aluminum cylinder bores are lightweight, durable, and quickly carry heat away from the combustion chamber and piston for supreme durability at high power outputs
- Carefully planned engine design is compact and narrow
- Low mechanical noise via special piston profile and urethane insulation sheet on the inside of the magnesium chain cover-
- Airflow into the exhaust from the large secondary air ports in the cylinder head and head cover, plus a third honeycomb catalyzer in the collector help meet strict Euro III emissions standards
- Internal silencer construction minimizes impact of emissions regulations while maintaining impressive top-end power
- Exhaust connecting tube entrances are designed to enhance low rpm torque characteristics
Gear-Driven Dual Engine Balancers
- Already in perfect primary balance, dual secondary balancers virtually eliminate unwanted vibrations for extremely smooth engine operation and reduced rider fatigue
Ram Air Induction
- Central ram air duct draws the cooler, higher-pressure air from the face of the fairing and efficiently guides it through the air cleaner and into the engine for maximum power output
Digital Fuel Injection
- 44mm Mikuni throttle bodies are fitted with sub-throttle valves, controlled by the ECU to provide precise response, make DFI® performance smoother, and help meet Euro III emission requirements
- Intake porting optimizes flow characteristics
- Injectors deliver lateral spray at a 20 degree angle to disperse the finely-atomized fuel over a wider area
- Fine-atomizing injectors produce 75µ droplet size
- 32-bit ECU works with dual throttle valve system to further enhance throttle response and control
- Digital Timing Advance enhances low-and mid-range power
- Individual spark plug-mounted ignition coils fire each of the four sparkplugs independently to achieve the optimum timing for that cylinder at that instant
- ECU includes an idle speed control system for easier starting and warm-up
Radial Pump Clutch Master Cylinder
- Hydraulic clutch features a radial-pump clutch master cylinder for smooth and precise clutch engagement and feel
Next-Generation Monocoque Aluminum Frame
- Lightweight, monocoque frame is a hollow aluminum box that arches over the engine from the steering head to the swing arm pivot. It is narrow, strong, rigid and very light
- Frame’s cast aluminum sections - steering head and swing arm pivot areas – are produced with a die casting process for further weight savings
- Rigidly mounted engine is a stressed frame member, which increases the frame’s torsional rigidity and saves approximately four pounds
- Engine positioned forward in the frame, with the wheelbase and front/rear weight balance carefully designed to achieve high-speed stability and responsive handling
- Massive head pipe casting contributes to frame rigidity
- Frame houses the air box and air filter in a space-saving design that simplifies air cleaner maintenance
- Battery is also housed within the frame and has simple access through the back side of the frame
- Inverted 43mm cartridge type front fork utilizes damping rates that offer stiff initial action to resist front-end dive when braking
- Stepless damping adjustment improves suspension performance
- Excellent control and feedback from fully adjustable bottom-link Uni-Trak® rear suspension
- Linkage rates provide linear suspension action
- Bottom-link design concentrates helps create a lower center of gravity, which makes the motorcycle more nimble
- Wheel rim center ribs are slightly offset so tire balance weights can be located precisely along the wheel’s centerline
Radial Mounted Petal Front Disc Brakes
- Radial mounted four-piston front brake calipers offer greater rigidity than traditional caliper mounting, to improve brake feel
- A separate brake pad is used for each piston. Individual pads provide increased cooling efficiency and can absorb more heat without deforming, so they maintain a consistent brake feel longer
- Petal design brake discs provide better cooling and warp resistance
- Radial-pump front brake master cylinder improves brake performance and lever feel
- Wind Tunnel-Designed Bodywork
- Monocoque frame goes over the engine so the sleek fairing is uninterrupted by protruding frame spars, adding to the extremely long and low styling
- Both the front and rear turn signals are integrated into the bodywork and have clear lenses to enhance the appearance
- Quadruple projector beam headlights give the ZX-14 a distinctive front fairing. The outer lights contain position lamps and the high beams, while the low beams are in the center lamps
- Lightweight Denso radiator with high-density cores provides maximum cooling efficiency
- White faced dual analog speedometer and tachometer are easy to read
- Multi-function LCD digital display includes an odometer, two trip meters, fuel gauge, gear position indicator and a clock
- Programmable shift indicator lamp illuminates at pre-set rpm to signal rider upshift
- Programmable clutch engagement lamp illuminates at pre-set rpm to signal the rider to engage the clutch
- Controller Area Network (CAN) interface between the gauges uses fewer wires yet allows a greater volume of information, such as estimated fuel mileage, to be exchanged