2012 Kawasaki NINJA ZX-14 Supersport

Kawasaki has shocked and awed the motorcycle world with its big-bore streetbikes. From the arm-stretching 500cc H1 of 1969 to the legendary 903cc Z-1 of 1973, and from the high-tech Ninja ZX-10s and -11s of the ’80s and ’90s to the sublime ZX-12s and -14s of the new millennium, Team Green has continuously kicked butt and taken names in the large-displacement sportbike category. This year is no different, as Kawasaki’s awe-inspiring Kawasaki Ninja ZX-14 flagship continues the tradition begun by its legendary forefathers via its dominating horsepower, superb handling, significant comfort and all-around functional excellence. The Ninja ZX-14 is a true do-it-all sportbike, one as happy running up the coast for the weekend as it is commuting or backroad scratching on a Sunday afternoon.

2012 NINJA ZX-14
The key to this motorcycle’s substantial capabilities is its successful melding of engine, chassis and ergonomic elements, all of which are mated to a styling package that adds aggressive Ninja styling to the mix. The result is simply brilliant – which is pretty much how the enthusiast motorcycle press has described the ZX-14 over the last several years.

The ZX-14’s 1,352cc DOHC inline-four certainly fits the “simply brilliant” bill. The 16-valve, liquid-cooled engine is awesomely powerful and supremely smooth, thanks in part to dual gear-driven engine counterbalancers, and builds power seamlessly from idle all the way to redline, making it a highly satisfying and inspiring engine to use on the open road or in traffic.

2012 Kawasaki NINJA ZX-14
2012 Kawasaki NINJA ZX-14
High-tech and highly refined – intake and exhaust systems permit this impressive engine to comply with strict emissions and noise regulations even as its substantial low-end torque, mid-range thrust and truly impressive peak power place it firmly at the top of the sportbike food chain. Secondary air ports in the cylinder head and cover route clean air into the exhaust system and boost the efficiency of the three honeycomb catalyzers employed there. These devices, combined with a wide dispersal of atomized fuel from the fine-atomizing fuel injectors and optimized flow characteristics through the intakes, allow the ZX-14’s engine to offer amazing performance while meeting the toughest motorcycle emissions regulations.

In lieu of a more restrictive exhaust system, the ZX-14 cleverly meets noise standards by producing minimal internal mechanical noise. A special piston profile teamed with a urethane insulation sheet on the inside of the magnesium chain cover help quiet the engine and permit a freer flowing exhaust for greater power.

2012 Kawasaki NINJA ZX-14
2012 Kawasaki NINJA ZX-14
The ZX-14’s chassis is every bit the equal of its amazing engine. Using an advanced version of Kawasaki’s unique aluminum monocoque design, the frame is lightweight and very strong. Die cast aluminum sections on the main frame allow the use of lighter component parts, which minimize weight even more. Suspension at both ends – a fully adjustable 43mm inverted fork up front and a similarly adjustable shock in back with ride-height adjustability – offers exceptional wheel control and a compliant, comfortable ride, while powerful triple discs help haul the machine down from speed.

The narrow engine, monocoque frame and fuel tank provide a slim rider interface and a relaxed sport riding position. It is compact without being cramped, with its easy-to-reach bar position, low-set footpegs for ample legroom and a low and narrow seat that allows even shorter riders to plant both feet on the ground when stopped. Comfort levels are high enough to cause riders to think they’re on a dedicated sport tourer until the ZX-14’s throttle is twisted, of course. When that happens, confusion disappears like so many competitors in the bike’s rear-view mirrors.

Uninterrupted fairing lines give the 2012 Ninja ZX-14 a smooth, flowing aesthetic image, all of which is made possible by the narrow frame/engine design that’s completely hidden by the cowling. Quadruple projector beam headlights adorn the ZX-14’s fairing immediately beneath its menacing ram air intake duct. Turn signals are cleanly integrated into the fairing and rear cowl, with a unique “V” design LED tail lamp capping off a sleek, aerodynamic package that reinforces Kawasaki’s aircraft heritage.


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