Kawasaki launched its Ninja ZX-14R at the Tokyo motor show in 2005, replacing the outgoing ZX-12R at the time. Ever since, the big Ninja has won many hearts, going on to become a hot favorite with biking enthusiasts the world over. The ZX-14R is a purpose-built machine, a sports-tourer that aims to give the rider a powerful sportsbike feel, without making much of a compromise on comfort, as is required for sustained long-distance riding. Apart from this, the ZX-14R has a fierce reputation, being ranked amongst the fastest production motorcycles on the planet, and having earned itself a number of accolades while tearing up the tarmac at drag strips.
The Ninja ZX-14R is a massive, macho looking motorcycle, its nose housing a set of aggressively styled twin headlights, placed on either side of a V-shaped ram-air duct. The big Ninja provides riders an analogue speedometer and tachometer, along with a digital display with odometer, twin trip meters, range, engine and outside temperature, plus more. You can also select your power mode and traction control level from here. There’s a bulbous 22 litre fuel tank that offers adequate inner thigh support. The ZX-14R comes with a single-piece, broad riding saddle that kept us comfortable even when riding the big bike long distances. The ZX-14R sports an exposed drive chain. Its tail comprises a V-shaped LED taillight and clear lens turn signal indicators.
At the heart of the big Ninja sits its four-stroke, 1441cc, liquid-cooled, in-line, four-cylinder engine, which relies on Kawasaki’s ram-air system for added power at high speeds. The ZX-14R generates a massive dose of 210bhp at 10,000rpm, with equally fearsome peak torque output, 16.57kgm at 7500rpm, driving its beefy rear wheel. The ZX-14R runs like a sedate, very normal street going motorcycle if you ride it with a light, sensible hand on the throttle. It’s smooth and vibe free, and feels deceptively docile for a bike that packs acceleration credentials to literally blow away most rival superbikes. The rider has the option of selecting a pair of power modes, namely Full and Low, which restricts power by up to 25 percent high in the rev band.
Kawasaki has also given the option of a 3-level traction control system, 1 and 2 doing a good job when riding in the dry, with wheelie control, while level 3 is best left for wet riding conditions. With power mode set to ‘F’ or full power, and traction control at level ‘2’, we pushed on. There is obviously immense power available from the 1,441cc, in-line four motor that is rated at more than 200bhp, but the way it reacts around the 5,000rpm mark is truly mind-bending. The fuel-injected engine is allied to a 6-speed gearbox which shifts smoothly, with good feel via its toe shift lever. Likewise, clutch feel is fine, with the slipper function working unobtrusively when coming down hard through the gearbox and using engine braking. As expected, the 14R offers manic performance, the Ninja seldom feeling anywhere close to its limits, even though it will have most riders pushing theirs, with blistering acceleration at any point in the powerband.
On open stretches of highway, the ZX-14R is perfectly at home. The riding position doesn’t stress you out, and the speedometer keeps ticking past triple-digit speeds, twice over, without a hitch. You can ride along with traffic, and when you find a clear stretch, the Kwacker simply leaves everyone else in the dust. Eating up empty pieces of tarmac with great efficiency and speed is its particular speciality, and it does it a little better than you expect it to, every time. At tighter corners, the ZX-14R does incredibly well and urges you to push a bit harder. If you leave the traction control at level ‘3’, the electronics will ensure there’s no slippage at the rear wheel, allowing for maximum grip at all times, and if you can handle the power, you can set traction control to a lower setting, or switch it off altogether for some heart-popping power slide action.
Overall, the Ninja ZX-14R is an incredible mix of performance and ease of use. There’s no doubt about its performance credentials, with quarter-mile strips being dealt with in a bit over nine seconds; at the same time, it is also possibly the easiest superbike to use across a range of riding conditions. This macho beast would cost ₹16.9 Lakhs, if you're planning on acquiring this ninja flagship bikes.