Not For The Weak of Heart

The Ninja ZX-14R ABS continues to serve as Kawasaki’s non-H2 Ninja flagship as we head into the 2019 model year. Essentially unchanged since this generation hit showroom floors back in ’12, the “14R” brings almost a liter and a half of four-cylinder supersport-goodness to the table along with the ride-quality and safety subsystems you’ll need to keep it under control. Make no mistake; this is a serious ride meant for experienced riders, and not another one of these racebike-looking commuters so popular with the masses right now.

  • 2015 - 2019 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-14R ABS
  • Year:
    2015- 2019
  • Make:
  • Model:
  • Engine:
    inline-4
  • Displacement:
    1441 cc
  • Top Speed:
    174 mph (Est.)
  • Price:
    14999
  • Price:

Kawasaki Ninja ZX-14R Design

2015 - 2019 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-14R ABS
- image 818672
It's great for 'stupidfast' rides, but for the everyday commute, maybe not so much; it just ain't that kind of bike.

No doubt about it, the body panels give the14R a very distinct look that seems to borrow elements from Kawi’s sport-tourer model, the Concours 14. The windtunnel-tested fairing leads the way with a ram-air port that shunts pressurized air from the entry directly into the airbox and a six pack of headlights to split the night. A bubble screen tops the front fairing to punch a hole in the weather, though you’ll have to tuck in all the way to get any benefit from it, and on either side, the mirrors ride in low-drag housings.

Down below, the front turn signals sit recessed into the edges of the cowl scoop in another move to maximize penetration, and it’s those blinkers and the quartet of ribs on each side that make the main design connection with the Concours. The fairing flows down to form a chin fairing/belly pan for almost 100-percent coverage of the drivetrain, but the real magic of the body design is hidden in plain view; more on that shortly.

Clip-ons pull the pilot forward and down over the 5.8-gallon fuel tank with jockey-mount foot controls to define a rather aggressive rider’s triangle that is entirely in keeping with the 14R’s race-tastic tendencies. Yeah, it’s great for stupidfast rides, but for the everyday commute, maybe not so much; it just ain’t that kind of bike.

The instrument panel rocks a pair of analog clocks with blackout faces bordered with bright bezels to display speed and rpm. An LCD screen displays its metrics against a backlit face, or you can flip the script and run with a blackout face behind light lettering. A fistful of idiot lights finish off the instrumentation, and the LCD screen doubles as a rider interface for the various ride-quality subsystems.

The seat rides at 31.5 inches off the ground with a narrow build where it meets the tank, but it quickly flares out with enough of a vertical offset in back to keep your butt where it belongs. Like the front blinkers, the rear turn signals are recessed into the tail so as to minimize drag, and the taillight and tagholder ride nice and high, tight to the tail and out of harm’s way. A rear fairing snaps on over the pillion pad to give the 14R a solo look if you so desire, but if you want to haul a passenger you can pull it off and flip out the subframe-mount footpegs to accommodate a friend.

Kawasaki Ninja ZX-14R Chassis

2015 - 2019 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-14R ABS
- image 818668
In spite of its bulk and weight, the 14R handles like a smaller, nimble machine.

The frame, such as it is, is of a monocoque design that uses the aluminum body panels as a stressed skin to complete the structure, kind of like a Piaggio scooter on steroids. Rake measures in at 23 degrees from the vertical with 3.7 inches of trail for some very nimble handling. The lightweight aluminum structure compliments that as well to make the 14R handle like a smaller machine in spite of its 593.1 pound curb weight and bulk.

Inverted forks float the front end on 43 mm inner fork tubes with 4.6 inches of travel and the full trinity of adjustments. Out back, a Uni-Trak monoshock delivers the trifecta as well with 4.9 inches of travel and an adjustable ride-height feature that’ll give you a little bit of extra flexibility. Symmetrical, 17-inch cast-alloy rims rock a 120/70 up front followed by a 190/50, and of course, the hoops come with a “ZR” rating so they can take whatever you can dish out.

Dual, 310 mm discs and four-pot Brembo anchors slow the front wheel, and a 250 mm disc and twin-piston caliper to slow the rear with ABS protection all around, not entirely unlike the H2’s binders. I’m a little surprised that the antilocks don’t seem to be switchable, but I guess it’s safer to leave them on, considering the performance envelope of this particular Ninja. Even the brake lines are off the top shelf with a braided stainless sleeve that delivers precise pressure and feedback, and radial-mount master cylinders and calipers to boot.

Frame: Aluminum monocoque
Front Suspension / Wheel Travel: 43mm inverted cartridge fork with adjustable preload, 18-way compression and 15-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/4.9 in
Rake/Trail: 23.0°/3.7 in
Front Tire: 120/70 ZR17
Rear Tire: 190/50 ZR17
Front Brakes: Dual floating 310 mm discs with dual radial-mounted Brembo® monobloc 4-piston calipers, ABS
Rear Brakes: Single 250 mm petal disc with opposed twin-piston caliper, ABS

Kawasaki Ninja ZX-14R Drivetrain

2015 - 2019 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-14R ABS
- image 818670
What does all this power get you? Well, in a whole heap o' trouble if you ain't careful.

The beating heart is still the showstopper here with its four-cylinder, liquid-cooled design that packs in a total of 1,441 cc. Bore and stroke measure out at 84 mm and 65 mm, respectively, and while the “resting” compression ratio is pretty high at 12.3-to-1, there’s no telling what the actual pressure gets up to once the ram-air effect really starts to make itself felt up somewhere near the 100 mph mark. Sure, that generates a significant amount of heat, but the forged pistons are kept cool by an oil jet that bathes the underside of the crown to draw off some of the waste heat.

Dual over-head cams time the 16-valve head, and this newest version features cams with higher lift and polished intake ports to aid in aspiration along with the ram-effect intake system. Kawi fitted 44 mm Mikuni throttle bodies to control the induction with its Dual Throttle Valve technology that helps smooth out transitions and stabilize bottom-end performance. In a final bid to maximize power, the factory used liberal bypass holes to reduce pumping losses as the pistons shove the air around the bottom end.

The electronic riding aids come off the top shelf with Kawi’s own Traction Control system to prevent excessive wheel slip and front wheel lift-up, and it gives you a choice between three levels of intervention. The Power Mode lets you dial in the full 120 pound-feet of torque that maxes out at 7,500 rpm, or tune it down to about 75-percent of that for a bit of a milder ride. Bear in mind; “mild” is a relative term here.

Power tops out at 207.9 ponies that flows through a slipper clutch and a six-speed transmixxer before it heads to the rear wheel via an O-ring chain drive. What does this get you? Well, in a whole heap o’ trouble if you ain’t careful. The 14R will top out somewhere around 189 mph with a 9.7 second (or so) 1/4-mile time that maxes at 147.04 mph. Like I said before; it’s a stupid-fast bike.

Engine: 4-stroke, 4-cylinder, DOHC, 4-valve, liquid-cooled
Displacement: 1,441 cc
Bore x Stroke: 84.0 mm x 65.0 mm
Compression Ratio: 12.3:1
Maximum Torque: 116.5 lb-ft @ 7,500 rpm
Fuel System: DFI® with 44mm Mikuni throttle bodies (4)
Ignition: TCBI, with electronic advance
Transmission: 6-speed return shift
Final Drive: Sealed chain

Kawasaki Ninja ZX-14R Pricing

2015 - 2019 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-14R ABS
- image 818667
At $15k, MSRP on the MY19 version is a bit less expensive than the outgoing SE model.

At $15k, MSRP on the MY19 version is a bit less expensive than the outgoing SE model. This year, the ZX-14R rolls in Metallic Spark Black/Pearl Meteor Gray/Emerald Blazed Green.

Electronic Rider Aids: Kawasaki Traction Control (KTRC), Power Mode, ABS
Warranty: 12 Month Limited Warranty
Color: Metallic Spark Black/Pearl Meteor Gray/Emerald Blazed Green
Price: $14,999

Kawasaki Ninja ZX-14R Competitors

2016 - 2019 Suzuki Hayabusa
- image 818664
2015 - 2019 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-14R ABS
- image 803451
Priced competitively, the designs are all about low-drag penetration for top-end performance.

As I worked on this machine, it became clear that the 14R makes a dandy competitor for Suzuki’s top-flight supersport; the Hayabusa. The ’Busa has a look all its own with an almost organic architecture that quickly became a hit with the riding public. Like the Ninja, the design is all about low-drag penetration for top-end performance, but it has a panache unlike anything else in the world.

Suzuki relies on a more traditional skeleton with an aluminum twin-spar frame that rocks a steering damper for a bit of an advantage over the Ninja, and fully adjustable suspension front and rear. ABS comes standard, and the ’Busa carries a similar electronics suite with Dual Throttle Valves and Idle Speed Control on top of a Drive Mode Selector, but nothing in the way of traction control, so the Ninja comes out on top here.

Suzuki surrenders a few cubes to Kawi with only 1,340 cc packed away. This dips into the power a skosh with 97.6 pound-feet at the rear wheel versus around 102 from the Ninja, and top speed is 186 mph, not that it really matters, you don’t have the skills to handle that kind of energy anyway. The ’19 ’Busa rolls for $14,799 for a difference that is just a big nothing-burger at the checkout.”

He Said

“Woo-wee, this is one sizzlin’ hot machine. I generally don’t like the looks of Kawi supersports, but I’m digging this one, even if it’s so far beyond my skill and ambition it ain’t even funny. In all seriousness, only the most serious riders need even test ride one of these. It’s not going to make you look cool on your commute... I take that back, it will make you look cool, but you will not be comfortable. Plus, it’s more fun to ride a slow bike fast than a fast bike slow, and unless you have access to a closed-circuit race course or a salt flat in your backyard, you will never be able to open it up enough to do this machine justice.”

She Said

My wife and fellow motorcycle writer, Allyn Hinton, says, “Yes, this is a big, heavy bike, but the steering is precise and once you get up to speed, it’s in its element. It does not want to go slow and slow-speed maneuverability just isn’t there. Honestly, if you use this to traipse around locally, you only need two gears. This is a stupidfast bike that is not recommended for beginners.”

Kawasaki Ninja ZX-14R Specifications

Engine & Drivetrain:
Engine: 4-stroke, 4-cylinder, DOHC, 4-valve, liquid-cooled
Displacement: 1,441 cc
Bore x Stroke: 84.0 mm x 65.0 mm
Compression Ratio: 12.3:1
Maximum Torque: 116.5 lb-ft @ 7,500 rpm
Fuel System: DFI® with 44mm Mikuni throttle bodies (4)
Ignition: TCBI, with electronic advance
Transmission: 6-speed return shift
Final Drive: Sealed chain
Chassis:
Frame: Aluminum monocoque
Front Suspension / Wheel Travel: 43mm inverted cartridge fork with adjustable preload, 18-way compression and 15-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/4.9 in
Rake/Trail: 23.0°/3.7 in
Front Tire: 120/70 ZR17
Rear Tire: 190/50 ZR17
Front Brakes: Dual floating 310 mm discs with dual radial-mounted Brembo® monobloc 4-piston calipers, ABS
Rear Brakes: Single 250 mm petal disc with opposed twin-piston caliper, ABS
Dimensions & Capacities:
Overall Length: 85.4 in
Overall Width: 30.3 in
Overall Height: 46.1 in
Ground Clearance: 4.9 in
Seat Height: 31.5 in
Curb Weight: 593.1 lb
Fuel Capacity: 5.8 gal
Wheelbase: 58.3 in
Top Speed: 174 mph (est)
Details :
Electronic Rider Aids: Kawasaki Traction Control (KTRC), Power Mode, ABS
Warranty: 12 Month Limited Warranty
Color: Metallic Spark Black/Pearl Meteor Gray/Emerald Blazed Green
Price: $14,999

Further Reading

Suzuki Hayabusa

2016 - 2019 Suzuki Hayabusa
- image 804243

Read our review of the Suzuki Hayabua.

Kawasaki Concours 14

2015 - 2019 Kawasaki Concours 14 ABS
- image 738573

Read our review of the Kawasaki Concours 14.

Kawasaki Ninja H2 / H2 Carbon

2019 Kawasaki Ninja H2 / H2 Carbon
- image 814058

See our review of the Kawasaki Ninja H2 / H2 Carbon.

Kawasaki

no article
- image 795478

Read more Kawasaki news.

All images featured on this website are copyrighted to their respective rightful owners. No infringement is intended. Image Source: kawasaki.com, suzukicycles.com

Press release
What do you think?
Show Comments
Motorcycle Finder: