Supersport or Sport-Tourer: You Choose

Kawasaki steps up its game ahead of the 2020 model year with new body components, updated electronics, and a smoother-running engine for its Ninja 1000SX. The factory also tuned up the ergonomics in an effort to improve long-range comfort and even chucked on an adjustable clutch lever for a little bit of lagniappe. Improvements in rideability, control, and aesthetics join the liter-plus engine and Ninja pedigree to deliver a refined product to the masses.

  • 2020 Kawasaki Ninja 1000SX
  • Year:
    2020
  • Make:
  • Model:
  • Engine:
    inline-4
  • Displacement:
    1043 cc
  • Top Speed:
    152 mph (Est.)
  • Price:
    12399
  • Price:

2020 Kawasaki Ninja 1000SX Design

2020 Kawasaki Ninja 1000SX
- image 871744
2020 Kawasaki Ninja 1000SX
- image 871751
The factory gave the sporty styling a boost with a more dynamic look to match its powerful and exciting nature.

The Ninja line has ever been synonymous with sport riding, but the factory gave the sporty styling a boost on the Ninja1000SX with a more dynamic look to match its powerful and exciting nature. A heaping helping of supersport style manifests itself in the full-fairing bodywork that nevertheless maintains a windtunnel-approved shape meant to maximize penetration and keep drag to a minimum. The slim cowling flows into an aggressive front fairing and extended chin fairing that together loom over and around the front wheel and suspension to give it a bit of an all-up-front look.

A double-bubble windscreen punches a hole in the wind to create the rider’s wind pocket. It comes with four positions from which to choose, and can be quickly adjusted sans tools for easy tweaks according to your taste and body style.

In a bid to keep to the improved race-tastic look without diminishing the aerodynamic excellence, the factory integrated the front turn signals with the fairing by tucking them in recesses located at the edge of the cowl scoop. Like so many modern bikes these days, the Ninja 1000SX has its instrumentation bundled together on a full color TFT display screen that comes with a Bluetooth wireless connection to network the system with your smartphone and turn it into a ride computer through the RIDEOLOGY THE APP software. This allows you to review the telemetry between rides, kind of like watching a fight tape, and it will allow you to make adjustments to the Riding Management modes through your phone. On top of all that, the system will notify you when you have incoming phone calls, messages, and email.

All of the lighting is powered by LED tech for the visibility and safety it brings to the table, and the tail fairing houses the red LED taillights behind a smoked lens for a clean finish. A swingarm-mount hugger and mudguard-style upper spray shield keep the fling under control, and typical of the breed, the latter mounts the LED rear turn signals on short standoffs with the license plate used as an extension to the coverage. Kawi combined the exhaust into a 4-into-1 system that places a single muffler on the right side of the bike for a final effort to boost the Ninja’s sporty panache.

2020 Kawasaki Ninja 1000SX Chassis

2020 Kawasaki Ninja 1000SX
- image 871760
2020 Kawasaki Ninja 1000SX
- image 871758
2020 Kawasaki Ninja 1000SX
- image 871756
Steering geometry is set to turn in the kind of performance in the bends that we've come to expect from Kawi's Ninja line.

A lightweight, aluminum, perimeter-style frame on the Ninja 1000SX provides the main structure and uses the engine as a stressed unit in a bid to keep overall weight down to 513.8-pounds soaking wet. The frame itself is comprised of five cast-aluminum members that eliminate the need for two of the usual side covers. This gives a narrow waist and an easy reach to the ground for shorter inseams in spite of the 32.3-inch seat height.

Out back, the die-cast aluminum subframe comes with a narrow overall design to match the middle of the machine. Measures were taken to tone down the vibration felt by the rider, and in the frame, this manifests itself in a combination of rubber and solid mounts for the engine.

The steering head sets a rake angle of 24 degrees with a short, 3.9 inches of trail to turn in the kind of performance in the bends that we’ve come to expect from Kawi’s Ninja line. Cast wheels round out the rolling chassis with the typical 17-inch diameter. They come lined with Bridgestone’s BATTLAX HYPERSPORT S22 hoops in a 120/70 up front and a 190/50 out back to make the connection to the concrete, and of course, they have to come with a “Z” rating to handle the power from the plant.

In order to control all that potential energy, the factory chucked on dual, petal-cut 300 mm discs and Monobloc, radial-mount anchors up front with a 250 mm disc to haul down the rear wheel. ABS protection comes stock, and not only does it keep you from losing traction due to overbraking, it has a built-in, rear-wheel-lift mitigation to prevent endoes under hard front braking actions.

Inverted, 41 mm forks lend their stiffness to the front suspension and provide the full trifecta of adjustments; same with the horizontal-mount, coil-over shock out back so you can count on absolute ride-quality control.

Frame: Aluminum backbone
Front Suspension / Wheel Travel: 41 mm inverted cartridge fork with stepless compression and rebound damping, adjustable spring preload/4.7 in
Rear Suspension / Wheel Travel: Horizontal monoshock with stepless rebound damping, remotely adjustable spring preload/5.7 in
Rake/Trail: 24.0°/3.9 in
Front Tire: 120/70 ZR17
Rear Tire: 190/50 ZR17
Front Brakes: Dual 300 mm petal-type rotors with radial-mount 4-piston monobloc calipers and ABS
Rear Brakes: Single 250 mm petal-type rotor with single-piston caliper and ABS

2020 Kawasaki Ninja 1000SX Drivetrain

2020 Kawasaki Ninja 1000SX
- image 871765
2020 Kawasaki Ninja 1000SX
- image 871750
2020 Kawasaki Ninja 1000SX
- image 871757
The intake tracts come in staggered lengths, a move that deepens the torque well for a wider usable powerband.

The basis of the engine is the same as last year’s model, but with some important variations. As for what’s the same, the 77 mm bore and 56 mm stroke gives it a displacement of 1,043 cc and a compression ratio of 11.8-to-1. A quartet of 38 mm throttle bodies manage the induction, but here we start to see some of the improvements in the new electronic throttle valves. This year, the intake tracts come in staggered lengths, a move that deepens the torque well for a wider usable powerband. The inline-four maintains its 16-valve head, but the cams were reground for 2020 so as to minimize top-end noise.

The improved electronics suite rocks the new-for-MY20 Bosch inertial measurement unit that measures the forces acting on the chassis and modulates the interventions of the Kawasaki Cornering Management Function, the KIBS, and the Traction Control system to deliver the max in safety. Of course, no amount of electronics can replace prudent riding practices, but they’ll certainly help you keep it rubber-side down if you get surprised on the road.

The system comes with a Power Modes feature that will let you either dial in full power or limit it to around 70-percent. What kind of power are we talking about? Well, the factory claims 138 horsepower at 9,600 rpm and 81.7 pound-feet of torque at 7,800 rpm. That power flows through a slip-and-assist clutch and six-speed transmission, and in top gear at redline, you can expect 152.8 mph.

Engine: 4-stroke, In-Line Four, DOHC, 16-valve, liquid-cooled
Displacement: 1,043 cc
Bore x Stroke: 77.0 mm x 56.0 mm
Compression Ratio: 11.8:1
Fuel System: DFI® w/38 mm electronic throttle valves
Ignition: TCBI with electronic advance
Transmission: 6-speed, return shift
Final Drive: Sealed Chain
Electronic Rider Aids: Integrated Riding Modes, Kawasaki Traction Control (KTRC), Kawasaki Intelligent anti-lock Brake System (KIBS), Power Modes (2), Kawasaki Corner Management Function (KCMF), Kawasaki Quick Shifter (KQS)(upshift & downshift), Electronic Cruise Control

2020 Kawasaki Ninja 1000SX Pricing

2020 Kawasaki Ninja 1000SX
- image 871766
2020 Kawasaki Ninja 1000SX
- image 871749
2020 Kawasaki Ninja 1000SX
- image 871767
MSRP is $12.4k and comes in a gray and black two-tone colorway.

The 2020 Ninja 1000SX rolls only in Metallic Graphite Gray/Metallic Diablo Black this year, and it can be had for $12,399.

Special Features: Rideology the App Smartphone Connectivity, TFT Instrumentation
Engine Management Technology: Assist & Slipper Clutch, Economical Riding Indicator, Electronic Cruise Control, Electronic Throttle Valves, KCMF (Kawasaki Cornering Management Function), KTRC (Kawasaki Traction Control), Power Modes, Smartphone Connectivity
Chassis Management Technology: ABS (Anti-lock Brake System), Horizontal Back-link Rear Suspension, IMU-Enhanced Chassis Orientation Awareness, KIBS (Kawasaki Intelligent anti-lock Brake System)
Warranty: 12 Month Limited Warranty (optional Kawasaki Protection Plus™ 12, 24, 36 or 48 months)
Colors: Metallic Graphite Gray/Metallic Diablo Black
Price: $12,399

2020 Kawasaki Ninja 1000SX Competitors

2018 Suzuki GSX-R1000
- image 777263
2020 Yamaha YZF-R1 / R1M
- image 850026
2020 Kawasaki Ninja 1000SX
- image 871772
Unless you're a wannabe racer, or the genuine article, it can be hard to justify the extra expense over the venerable Ninja.

Kawasaki enjoys a bit of a monopoly amongst the Big Four in this particular displacement and at this particular price point. Sure, the other three hit the first half of that criteria, but land way off target as far as the second half is concerned.

Let’s look at Yamaha first. The YZF-R1 rocks much the same supersport look with rather full body panels, and of course, the 200-horsepower CP4 powerplant and well-rounded racing electronics are nothing short of top-notch. Yamaha may be able to claim a slight edge in the above, but the $17,399 sticker for a bike that you’ll have to hit the track to feel much of an advantage over the Ninja may be a bridge too far for the everyrider who’s looking to stay on public roads.

Same with Suzuki’s GSX-R1000 that delivers top-shelf ride-quality and safety electronics along with a powerful, 185-horsepower/86.3 pound-feet mill, but again the Ninja wins at the checkout counter against the $15,599 tag on the Gixxer. Bottom line is, unless you’re a wannabe racer, or the genuine article, it can be hard to justify the extra expense over the venerable Ninja.

He Said

“Ya know, the Ninja has been a household name almost from its inception, but it’s interesting to see how Kawasaki finds itself in its very own price/power niche. I mean, let’s be honest; fast enough is fast enough, and you’ll never do any literbike justice on public roads, so with that in mind I’m inclined to think Kawi has itself a winner that should put pressure on the other members of the Big Four.”

She Said

My wife and fellow motorcycle writer, Allyn Hinton, says, “With an adjustable windscreen and cruise control, I think I’d have to throw on the panniers and call it a sport-tourer with an emphasis on sport. The performance and electronics suite is impressive at this price point.”

2020 Kawasaki Ninja 1000SX Specifications

Engine & Drivetrain:
Engine: 4-stroke, In-Line Four, DOHC, 16-valve, liquid-cooled
Displacement: 1,043 cc
Bore x Stroke: 77.0 mm x 56.0 mm
Compression Ratio: 11.8:1
Fuel System: DFI® w/38 mm electronic throttle valves
Ignition: TCBI with electronic advance
Transmission: 6-speed, return shift
Final Drive: Sealed Chain
Electronic Rider Aids: Integrated Riding Modes, Kawasaki Traction Control (KTRC), Kawasaki Intelligent anti-lock Brake System (KIBS), Power Modes (2), Kawasaki Corner Management Function (KCMF), Kawasaki Quick Shifter (KQS)(upshift & downshift), Electronic Cruise Control
Chassis:
Frame: Aluminum backbone
Front Suspension / Wheel Travel: 41 mm inverted cartridge fork with stepless compression and rebound damping, adjustable spring preload/4.7 in
Rear Suspension / Wheel Travel: Horizontal monoshock with stepless rebound damping, remotely adjustable spring preload/5.7 in
Rake/Trail: 24.0°/3.9 in
Front Tire: 120/70 ZR17
Rear Tire: 190/50 ZR17
Front Brakes: Dual 300 mm petal-type rotors with radial-mount 4-piston monobloc calipers and ABS
Rear Brakes: Single 250 mm petal-type rotor with single-piston caliper and ABS
Dimensions & Capacities:
Overall Length: 82.7 in
Overall Width: 31.5 in
Overall Height: 46.9 / 48.2 in (windshield high)
Ground Clearance: 5.3 in
Seat Height: 32.3 in
Curb Weight: 513.8 lb
Fuel Capacity: 5.0 gal
Wheelbase: 56.7 in
Top Speed: 152 mph (est)
Details:
Special Features: Rideology the App Smartphone Connectivity, TFT Instrumentation
Engine Management Technology: Assist & Slipper Clutch, Economical Riding Indicator, Electronic Cruise Control, Electronic Throttle Valves, KCMF (Kawasaki Cornering Management Function), KTRC (Kawasaki Traction Control), Power Modes, Smartphone Connectivity
Chassis Management Technology: ABS (Anti-lock Brake System), Horizontal Back-link Rear Suspension, IMU-Enhanced Chassis Orientation Awareness, KIBS (Kawasaki Intelligent anti-lock Brake System)
Warranty: 12 Month Limited Warranty (optional Kawasaki Protection Plus™ 12, 24, 36 or 48 months)
Colors: Metallic Graphite Gray/Metallic Diablo Black
Price: $12,399

Further Reading

Yamaha YZF-R1/R1M

2018 - 2019 Yamaha YZF-R1 / R1M
- image 788808

See our review of the Yamaha YZF-R1 / R1M.

Suzuki GSX-R1000

2018 Suzuki GSX-R1000
- image 777414

See our review of the Suzuki GSX-R1000.

Kawasaki

ALLYN IMAGES: DO NOT DELETE
- image 795478

Read more Kawasaki news.

TJ Hinton
T.J got an early start from his father and other family members who owned and rode motorcycles, and by helping with various mechanical repairs throughout childhood. That planted a seed that grew into a well-rounded appreciation of all things mechanical, and eventually, into a formal education of same. Though primarily a Harley rider, he has an appreciation for all sorts of bikes and doesn't discriminate against any particular brand or region of origin. He currently holds an Associate's degree in applied mechanical science from his time at the M.M.I.  Read More
About the author

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

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