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.
2010 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-14
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.
2010 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-14
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.