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Comparison: Ninja 1000 Vs. Concours 14 Part II

I thought that it might be best before launching into a comparison of two bikes to make sure that I introduce them. While readers of the Cycle World Kawasaki Ninja 1000 Experience blogs may already be familiar with the Ninja 1000, you may not be as familiar with, what I consider its big brother, the Concours 14.

Kawasaki describes that Ninja 1000 as an “open-class sport bike” that is “bred for the street”. With its 1043cc liquid-cooled, DOHC, fuel injected, inline-four power plant mated to a slick 6 speed transmission with chain final drive pumping out 136 horse power, the Ninja 1000 is all sport bike at heart. Add to that an upright sitting position, padded seat, and adjustable windshield and Kawasaki has created a great all around platform for whatever riding style you may be interested in. I can personally attest to the Ninja 1000’s capabilities as a commuter and back road blitzer. The Ninja 1000 could easily be modified with saddle and tank bags to make it an excellent sport-touring bike, with a strong bias toward the sport end of that segment.

The Concours 14 is categorized as a supersport-touring motorcycle by Kawasaki.  With a 1352cc four-stroke, liquid-cooled, DOHC, four valves per cylinder, inline-four with variable valve timing connected to a 6 speed transmission and Tetra-Lever shaft drive pushing out 102.0 lb-ft of torque @ 6,200 rpm and 133 horse power,  I think the designation is well deserved. The Connie is well suited, as I can personally confirm, for long distance touring and is also very capable on curvy back roads. Kawasaki have loaded up the Concours 14 with a plethora of gadgets and technology: traction control (KRTC), ABS, linked brakes (K-ACT with two modes), economy fueling mode, heated grips, electronically adjustable windshield, tire pressure monitoring, and a unique keyless ignition system (KIPASS) . All that and water proof had bags and you can understand why this is a touring bike to rival BMW, Yamaha or Honda. Voted Best Sport-Touring Bike by Cycle World in 2008, 2009, and 2010, the Concours 14 is truly a great bike.

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Comparison: Ninja 1000 Vs. Concours 14

I thought that it would be a good time to write up a comparison of the two bikes that I currently own. Both have roughly the same mileage on them since I bought the Concours 14 a few weeks after taking delivery of the Ninja 1000. I had considered writing up a comparison between my Harley Davidson Electra Glide and the Ninja 1000, but decided against it. There are too few similarities between the bikes and far too many differences. I felt that a comparison between the sport-touring bikes would be more appropriate and informative. I will say that making the switch to a sport-touring bike from the H-D was a pretty big one. I often feel like I’m learning to ride a bike all over again even with over 1,000 miles on the Ninja 1000 and the Concours. Riding position, shifting, lean angle, and power delivery are all vastly different between the two styles of bikes. I will, inevitably, make references to the H-D, and cruisers in general, in my review as that’s my primary reference from a riding perspective, but I won’t be making a direct comparison between the H-D and the sport-touring bikes.

Over the next few days I’ll be posting comparisons of specific features of the Ninja 1000 and the Concours 14. I plan to cover the following topics: windshield/wind flow, ergonomics, power delivery, general ride quality, fit and finish, and amenities. Since these two bikes are both manufactured by Kawasaki, and have a sport-touring bias, there will be some similarities in the areas that I plan to cover, but I can assure you that in most cases they approach them differently.

Stay Tuned …

 

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Get a Grip Miles: 564 – 663

Being new to sport bikes I noticed fairly early that the grips where thinner. This combined with the forward riding position on the Ninja took a little getting used to. I received some advice that really helped me be a lot more comfortable. Basically, never lock your arms, and grip the tank with your legs to help support your body on the bike. I know this is probably sport riding 101 for most. Having only owned crusers this was all new to me. The other thing that really helped me was some information I picked up from Sport-Touring.net. To help with the little bit of buzz that comes through the bars and the smaller grips they recommended trying Grip Puppies from California Sport Touring. These are slip on covers for your existing grips made of CE Foam. They really do just slip right on with a little water and dish soap. I rode to work today after installing them last night and they made a world of difference. The Ninjas grips are now more comfortable and thicker. Problem solved. Now … what to do about that seat ….

I also had a fuel up today on my ride home from work. You can check out my stats at Fuelly.com:
MPG: 40.1
Miles: 163.0
Gallons: 4.066

 

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… by the seat of my pants: Miles 474 – 564

I love riding. I ride every time I get a chance as far and as long as I can. That’s the key phrase here … “as long as I can”. My H-D was a great bike for putting long days and many miles in the saddle. It’s not hard to enjoy a long ride when you have a seat like this:

The seat on the Ninja 1000 was a bit of a change for me:


It is really hard to compare the H-D to the Ninja because they are such different bikes. However I do feel that it’s fair to make the comparison since they are both street bikes and touring oriented. The similarities pretty much end there, but the overall mission for these bikes has the same roots. With that in mind I expected the Ninja’s seat to be softer and able to at least allow me to stay on the bike through a tank of gas. Unfortunately, at this point I can’t. I can do about an hour and then I need to take a brake, stretch and then I’m good to go. I never had delusions that the Ninja’s seat would anything like the couch that the H-D’s seat is, I did expect it to be a little more pliant. To be fair my backend has been babied by the H-D, so maybe it’s a combination of breaking in the Ninja’s seat and getting my rear toughened up. It’s still early in our riding relationship. I do hope that it get’s better because I think this is a terrific bike and I want to be able to ride the pants off it … just not the other way around.    

  

 
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Posted by on June 8, 2011 in Ninja 1000 Experience

 

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Wind: Miles 379-474

Wind protection is important for a number of reasons. My first two motorcycles didn’t have any wind protection at all. I remember going on day rides with my friends and just feeling exhausted at the end of the day. Fighting the constant pressure of the wind on my chest made my arms and shoulders tired. The wind sucked all the moisture out of my body leaving me more tired than I would have been otherwise. So when I bought my next bike I made sure that I had protection from the wind. I think I went a little too far though. With the H-D very little wind gets to the rider, which is fantastic in rainy, cold weather but is not comfortable in the heat, especially in Virginia where the humidity makes summers pretty harsh.

I was instantly impressed with the windscreen on the Ninja the first time that I rode it. The wind management is great. Airflow over the front of the bike to the rider is very smooth, and that’s just with the screen in the lowest position, there are two higher positions the screen can be set at. I generally prefer the second position in warmer weather. It pushes the air right into my helmet vents and allows a good amount of air to get to me, but in a good way. In its highest position the screen works well for highway travel, and really that’s about it. It dramatically increases noise and stops air from reaching my chest. The noise isn’t a big deal when I’m on the highway, but not having to pull against the wind at higher speeds is ideal. I get a good range of protection from the three positions with excellent air flow management. I suspect that the highest position would also be great in colder weather, but I don’t think we’re getting any of that anytime soon.

 
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Posted by on June 7, 2011 in Ninja 1000 Experience

 

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Tie Down: Miles 281 – 379

Most of the miles that I’ve put on bikes in the past few years have been from commuting.  It’s economical.  My fuel up this run put me at 40.1 mpg @ 165 miles since the last fill up.  It’s also a whole lot more fun than driving a car to work everyday.  I find that I arrive at work in a better mood and am better able to clear my head from the workday on the way home.  On my H-D I used to just slip my lap top bag into the side bag, latch it up, gear up and go.  Figuring out how to do the same thing, in a practical way, on the Ninja has been a fun challenge.

The easiest way, for me, to carry my bag to work has been to strap it onto the passenger seat on the N1K with tie downs.  I thought about trying to carry the bag like a messenger bag, but decided that was not safe with this bag.  Tie downs proved to be a really easy solution because Kawasaki have provided some great attachment points on the back of the bike.  There are two anchors/hooks located just behind the passenger foot pegs.  The passenger grab handles and expansive room under the back seat provide more opportunities for lashing items to the bike.  Here’s a look at my rig for commuting:

 

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Commuting: Miles 281 – 379

Commuting is the one of the primary uses of my H-D and so it will now be the primary use for the Ninja 1000. There are some challenges to commuting on a bike with no storage. The main one being that I have nowhere to put my lap top bag. Luckily I do have tie down straps and am able to lash the bag to the back seat without much trouble. This arrangement will work out fine as long as I don’t run into any rain. So far so good on that, but I am looking at alternatives that will be more weather proof/resistant and that look better than wrapping my lap top bag in a lawn trash bag. The Ninja is a very capable commuter. My commute is about an hour one way which, as I mentioned in my longer ride report, is about the limit for me before I need a break. The Ninja is very smooth and easy to manage in traffic. The power delivery is not abrupt when leaving from a stop light or in stop-and-go traffic. She certainly wants to go faster, but is content with a more sedate pace. I find that refreshing because one of my main concerns about using a sport type bike as a commuter was that I would get whiplash every time I twisted the right grip. I’m seeing better gas mileage now that the bike is breaking in. My previous fill up came in at 33.2 mpg and this last at 40.1 mpg. As I get better (more restrained?) at throttle control and shifting I expect the mpg to be much better. The fuel up information is available at http://www.fuelly.com/driver/redkamel/ninja-1000.

 
 

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