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Test riding Kawasaki Ninja ZX-14R

The Kawasaki Ninja ZX-14R is the mother of all sport tourers, giving a riding experience like no other

What does it feel like to ride at nearly 300 km/h? This is just the first among many questions that the massive and bulbous Kawasaki Ninja ZX-14R gives rise to.

Even from a distance, the Kawasaki Ninja ZX-14R cuts an imposing figure. At over two metres in length and more than three-quarters of a metre in width, this bike oozes presence. This is no lithe Ninja at all. Rather, it has the curvy proportions of a sumo wrestler on diet. That menacing face with the four round lamps and that massive ram air intake is intimidating. When you’re told that the Ninja ZX-14R tips the scales at 269 kilos (kerb weight), there is no further room left to remain nonchalant.

Kawasaki Ninja ZX-14R

All this, however, begins to melt away once you get astride the bike. A seat height of 800 mm means that you can plant both feet firmly on the ground. The seat is wide and comfortable, with plenty of room to spare for a pillion or saddle-bags, or even both. The handlebars will have you crouch down a fair bit but comfortably. Enough to let you know that despite being a tourer this is, in fact, a ballistic missile.

There are some nifty bits that add to the bike’s touring-friendliness. For example, the retractable bungee hooks at the joint of the rider seat and the pillion seat. Or the digital multi-information display that provides information spanning fuel economy, range, ambient temperature and more.

Gaping hole in the fairing is the ram air intake
Gaping hole in the fairing is the ram air intake

At the heart of the Kawasaki Ninja ZX-14R’s mind-boggling performance (read a claimed 0-100 km/h in less than three seconds and a limited top speed of just below 300 km/h) is a liquid-cooled 1,441-cc in-line four-cylinder engine with four valves per cylinder and double overhead camshafts. Fuel-injection is via four 44-mm throttle bodies while transmission duties are taken care of by a slick shifting six-speed gearbox. Peak output is rated at 200 PS with 10 more horses coming in with ram air, taking the peak to a whopping 210 PS at 10,000 RPM. Max torque of 158.2 Nm kicks in at 7,500 RPM. Personally, however, it is doubtful if we would be reaching these high figures anywhere in India since the product specifications quite clearly say that the bike needs 95 RON unleaded petrol. We all know how pure the fuel at the regular petrol pump is.

Massive exhaust pipes mean compliance with current emission norms. Pics/Sanjay Raikar
Massive exhaust pipes mean compliance with current emission norms. Pics/Sanjay Raikar

While the engine is more than capable of propelling you into the distance with the alacrity of a rocket, it can also reward you amply when you choose to set yourself on a more relaxed course. Short shift through that slick six-speeder and settle into a comfortable 120-130 km/h cruising speed and you realise that while miles are being munched, you’re still fairly fresh and fatigue-free. Roll open the throttle just a bit and watch that car disappear in the wide and very practical rear-view mirrors. There’s virtually no need for downshifting.

Despite its intimidating bulk and 1,480-mm wheelbase, the Ninja ZX-14R is fairly fleet-footed. Part of this could be the fact that the ZX-14R shares its 25-degree rake with the much sportier ZX-10R. The weight distribution (although the exact figures weren’t available) seemed fairly neutral, too.

For the 2016 model year, the Kawasaki Ninja ZX-14R gets a suspension upgrade with the rear monoshock now being a fully adjustable Öhlins. The 43-mm upside down front forks, too, are adjustable for compression and rebound damping and preload. What all this essentially means is that you can pretty much customise your bike’s ride quality.

The new Ninja ZX-14R also gets a pair of 310-mm dia discs with radial mounted Brembo M50 monobloc four-piston callipers and a 250-mm disc with twin-piston calliper at the rear. Needless to say, there's life-saving ABS also as part of standard kit.

In India, the Kawasaki Ninja ZX-14R retails for Rs 18.68 lakh, on-road in Pune. Its closest competitor, the Hayabusa, retails for a smidge over Rs 19 lakh. In the world of these hyper bikes that sell for such incredible high value, these figures are rendered largely irrelevant. What remains relevant: the performance, the thrill and, of course, the pose value and associated brag rights that these motorcycles will get you.

Need to know
Kawasaki Ninja ZX-14R
Engine Type: 1,441 cc, liquid-cooled, in-line, four-cylinder, DOHC with 4 valves/cylinder
Maximum Power: 210 PS @ 10,000 rpm (with Ram air)
Maximum 158.2 Nm @ Torque 7,500 rpm
Transmission: 6-speed
Price: Rs 18.68 lakh (on-road, Pune)

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