The massively more powerful, R-designated, Ninja® ZX™-14R made its debut last year as an almost entirely new motorcycle. It remains on-top for 2013, reigning as the undisputed king of the sportbike world.
New optional ABS brakes complement its amazing comfort and usability on the street, and help increase its appeal to a wide range of riders. It has to be tough competing against a machine like the ZX-14R, year after year, and continuous refinements have kept it several steps ahead of the sportbike competition, all while filling enthusiasts’ face shields with wild, ear-to-ear grins.
The motorcycle was built around a 1,441cc inline-four, liquid cooled, DOHC, engine that puts out more power than any other production sportbike on the planet. The engine is mated on a six-speed transmission and you also get a KTRC traction-control system that features three different selectable modes. Each mode can be easily selected using a convenient switch mounted on the left handlebar.
When I stayed in the power all the way through fifth gear—shutting off only because the dragstrip pavement was ending—the speedo registered 175. This motorcycle did an indicated 175 in just a half-mile, with a gear to go. When we let Road Test Editor Don Canet loose to top-speed test the 14R, he was stunned: “It was absolutely amazing how quickly and easily the bike reaches its electronically limited 185.1 mph top speed. The ZX-14R doesn’t roll over on top and eke out the last few mph like most production bikes do; it bangs into the rev limiter and begins to lurch—at 185 mph—as if it’s letting you know the 200-mph club would be well within its capabilities if it weren’t for the gentlemen’s agreement among manufacturers to keep speeds under 186.”
The ZX-14R has impeccable manners at any speed and is calm in an urban environment offering neither tantrums nor reminders of its potential. Yet, a twist of the throttle unleashes Mr. Hyde who, in this guise, is predictable and never surprises unduly. Fortunately, should your speed get out of hand, radially mounted Nissan calipers intuitively grasp the semi-floating 310mm discs. ABS adds to your confidence, as it allows you to pull the lever and push the pedal aggressively, without worry of skidding.
Kawasaki has taken this marvelous engine, which can produce 40 miles per gallon when ridden conservatively – plus a 5.8-gallon tank–and combined it with a glass smooth-shifting 6-speed transmission mated to a slipper clutch (the clutch lever is easy-to-pull thanks to hydraulics), all wrapped within a monocoque aluminum frame with 3-way adjustable front and rear suspension.
Long-stroke design, ported cylinder heads, lightweight forged pistons, and aggressive camshaft profiles provide more torque and power throughout the rev range than any other production sportbike
Piston jet system sprays a continuous stream of cooling lubrication to the underside of each piston for cooler running temperatures, more consistent power output and excellent long-term durability
Strong cam chain and tensioning system offers excellent high-rpm durability
Thick 40mm crankshaft main journals contribute to long-term engine durability
Surface and heat treatments allow the transmission gears to better harness the engine’s prodigious power output
Chrome composite-plated aluminum cylinder bores are lightweight, durable, and effectively transfer heat away from the combustion chamber and piston for maximum durability at high power outputs
Mechanical noise is kept to a minimum via special piston profiles and a urethane insulation sheet on the inside of the magnesium chain cover
Weight: tank empty 545 lb.
Weight: tank full 582 lb.
Fuel capacity: 5.8 gal.
Wheelbase: 58.4 in.
Rake/trail: 23.0°/3.7 in.
Seat height: 31.4 in.
Ground clearance: 5.0 in.
GVWR: 970 lb.
Load capacity (tank full): 388 lb.
Incoming search terms:
- kawasaki ninja
- ninja kawasaki