Kawasaki Ninja ZX-14R continues to impress, proving a good option for those looking for a capable sports-touring bike

Bike maker Kawasaki has just brought to India its famous Ninja ZX-14R motorbike, reputed for its brilliant straight-line acceleration. Despite all its success, Kawasaki has still worked to further improve the bike. The current ZX-14R was launched in 2012 with aesthetic, engine and chassis upgrades over and above other minor tweaks.

The ZX-14R is a bulky motorcycle, its enormous nose housing intimidating headlights that feature dual projectors. Kawasaki’s ram-air system is standard, as is a massive visor, for excellent wind protection. The ZX-14R uses an old-school, analogue speedometer and tachometer coupled with a digital display that shows fuel capacity, remaining range, external temperature and time. The ZX-14R is flanked by elongated heat dissipation vents finished in black. At the rear, there’s a glazed LED tail-light. The ZX-14R gets Kawasaki’s golden blazed green paint scheme that contrasts with its blackened 10-spoke alloy wheels and engine.

In 2012, Kawasaki bumped up this displacement, giving the 14R a 1441cc, liquid-cooled, four-stroke and in-line four-cylinder engine. Maximum power output is 210bhp at 10000rpm, and you get a chain wrenching peak torque figure of 16.57kgm at 7500rpm. The ram-air system feeds air into the engine as speeds increase to generate extra power. And Kawasaki has gone the whole nine yards, ensuring this performance-ready engine includes a race-spec head, chromed bores, surface milled chambers, polished ports and an enhanced cooling system with under-piston oil jets, apart from a secondary cooling fan.

The ZX-14R comes equipped with Kawasaki Traction Control (KTRC), and a selection of three riding modes – mode 1 to optimise acceleration, mode 2 for acceleration and wheelie control and mode 3 for wet riding. The rider can also select full or low power modes, low being 25 per cent less power, after 6500rpm. Kawasaki is using a tall geared, six-speed transmission, that shifts in a one-down, five-up pattern, and a slipper clutch is standard.

The ZX-14R’s aluminium monocoque frame comes with a stiffer steering head. There’s inverted telescopic forks, and Kawasaki’s Uni-Trak shock absorbing at the rear, bolted onto a gusseted, now 10mm longer, swingarm. The Ninja ZX-14R comes with a less aggressive riding position relative to the more track focussed ZX-10R.

There’s generous rubber, a 120/70 section unit in front and 190/50 tyre at the rear, running on lightened 17-inch wheels. Kawasaki has upgraded brakes as well, the 14R using twin 310mm discs in front and a single 250mm rear disc, both ABS enabled. The radial-mounted callipers get individual brake pads for each piston, for good heat management.

The 2013 Ninja ZX-14R continues to impress, proving a strong option for enthusiasts looking for a capable sports-touring bike. Kawasaki has ticked all the right boxes, save for offering the bike only in Pune, to start with, and the CBU import route making this a premium priced bike, at Rs. 16.9 lakh (ex-showroom, Pune).