Want to make a grown man cry? When he is eyeballing the price tag on that Ninja ZX-10R in the showroom, mention that Kawasaki’s first literbike, the 1977 KZ1000, cost just $2,575. But there is a solution to such wanton price creep: Refocus on the Ninja 1000. To the casual observer, the Ninja 1000 looks a whole lot like the track-shredding 10R and yet it costs 24 percent less. How did Kawasaki do this? By utilizing the Z1000 naked bike (now discontinued) as the basis of a more affordable open-class sportbike.
Although it doesn’t have super-trick ZX-10R features such as twin fuel injectors per cylinder, launch control, or a quickshifter, the Ninja 1000 ABS can hold its headlights high with a 1,043cc inline-four engine (5-percent larger than that of the 10R), a lower and friendlier torque peak (7,300 rpm versus 11,500 rpm), a comfier 0.9 inch more rear suspension travel, and standard versus optional antilock brakes. Boiling it all down, the Ninja 1000 ABS still delivers more performance than most riders can likely utilize at a much lower price. And that’s how you do it, homey.
Likes: LED headlights, comfortable seating position, subdued MSRP
Dislikes: Back to the Future exhausts. Also, black and gray are not interesting colors!
Verdict: Egregious performance, agreeable price