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Monthly Archives: August 2011

Returning the Ninja 1000

The time has finally come to return the Ninja 1000 to Kawasaki. It’s been a thrilling 3 months of riding and exploring the area around my house on what has proven to be an exciting motorcycle. I find it hard to believe that it’s already been 90 days. Time flies when you’re having fun. My only regret is that I didn’t have more fun. Life has a way of sneaking up and stealing time away.

Thinking back to my first ride out of the dealership on the Ninja 1000 and how different it was from my Harley makes me laugh a little. I’ve become very accustom to this bike and my Concours in a relatively short time. I can’t believe that I spent so much time shying away from sport and sport touring bikes thinking they would be uncomfortable or to much power to manage. The Ninja cured me of that by the time I got home on that first ride and convinced me that sport (touring) bikes are going to be a permanent part of my riding stable.

Living in Virginia in the shadow of the Blue Ridge mountains also gave me a unique opportunity to ride some of the best roads in the country. On these curvy and winding roads the Ninja was in it’s element. I also didn’t have to ride very far to get to those roads which helped. While I originally was unimpressed with the seat, and to some extent the riding position, as the bike and I got to know each other better I was able to put more time in the saddle with less frequent rest stops. This allowed me to enjoy the handling and performance of the Ninja more. Once we hit a groove, all the little niggles I’ve mentioned melted away.

My conclusions about the bike are a little mixed. Where I about ten years younger I would jump at the chance to own this bike. However, being a little older and moving into a different phase of riding, it just does not have the comfort and amenities that I’m currently looking for. As a second ride in my stable this would be a really fun day trip, around town bike. It does what it was built for well and I truly hope that it get’s the recognition that it deserves.

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Posted by on August 25, 2011 in Ninja 1000 Experience

 

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Comparison: Ninja 1000 Vs. Concours 14 Part IV – Ergonomics

Comfort is a subjective topic. Being an avid reader of all things motorcycle I’ve observed that one person’s perfect bike setup is another person’s idea of medieval torture. Having read a number of motorcycle travel books and blogs comfort is a key topic but the approach varies widely. I’ve seen everything from an almost stock FZ1 taken around the world to a KLR fitted with a Gold Wing seat by it’s owner to thousands of dollars spent on new seats, handlebars, grips and pegs. What this means to me is that what’s comfortable is purely a personal choice. Having ridden mostly cruisers up until recently my idea of comfort was grounded in the standard ergos for that segment of the market. Big and wide padded seats, floor boards, and laid back seating are all standard elements of the riders contact with a cruiser and the reason that this is such a popular motorcycle type. It’s familiar. It’s the way we are used to sitting in our office chairs all day. The feat-under-the-seat riding position of a sport bike is pretty foreign to most people unless they’ve logged some time on a horse and even then only if they’ve ridden English vs. Western (which is a whole other debate/discussion). I’ve been fortunate (?) enough to have experience riding horses both ways and now bikes too. So, what do I prefer? Motorcycles, but that’s a little off topic.
 
The differences in rider ergonomics between the Ninja and the Concours are really one of  scale. To make sure that I wasn’t just fooling myself into thinking this is true based entirely on the fact that the Ninja is smaller than the Concours, I rode them back-to-back down the same road. The Ninja has generally the same seat to peg to bars relationship that the Concours does, just more compressed due to the size of the bike. This ratio of the comfort triangle goes a long way toward the idea that this bike can be a sport-touring machine. It all but cements the Ninja as a great around town/commuter bike which I can attest to personally. As I mentioned before though, comfort is subjective. At 6′ 2″ the compressed ergonomics of the Ninja make an already small bike, for me, feel even smaller. In the twisty back roads and mountain passes near my home, this is a good thing. The Ninja feels small and maneuverable while also building confidence taking corners tight and exiting fast and planted. The Connie is more than capable of strafing the back roads too, however there’s a little more bulk to bustle around and as such greater effort needed to garner the same results as the Ninja. This puts the Ninja’s sweet spot, for me, at short or moderate length trips preferably on twisty fun roads or as an around town errand runner (like picking up some ice cream on a hot summer day after dinner).

                 

 
 

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