AWESOME... so effortlessly fast it's almost scary
fast... very fast, comfy, agile and great-looking
Parked at Tarlton International Raceway
If ever a brand of motorcycles was defined by the sheer power emanating from its long history of record-breaking sportbikes, Kawasaki would hold that mantel. If ever a brand would be expected to rightfully incorporate the meaning of the word “ultimate” into its newest flagship street carver, Kawasaki fits the bill. That’s just what the company has done with the Ninja ZX-14, a 1352cc motorcycle that is its most powerful ever, and succeeds in setting the performance standards for others to follow.
I took Dave Gayton's (multiple SA Drag
Racing Champion) brand new ZX-14 for a spin, and fuck, what a bike. This thing
hauls arse like... like... no other production motorcycle I've ever ridden. I'm
sure my arms are 3 inches longer than they were before I climbed on board the
Kawasaki engineers and designers have created a motorcycle that turns its Ram Air and fuel-injected engine into the core of a powerful, torque-producing, aerodynamic stunner that will draw attention from onlookers whether on the road, or parked on the roadside.
Its aerodynamics reminds us that Kawasaki is indeed an aircraft maker. The blending of form, power, and handling characteristics have delivered a bike that is so balanced in all aspects that the word "ultimate" seems barely adequate.
This all new in-line four has evolved from the Ninja ZX-12R and features a bore and stroke of 84 x 61mm packed into a purposefully designed compact outline that minimizes engine width, leaving it at virtually the same width as the 12R.
A twist of the throttle delivers a seamless spread of torque that is so smooth, the “power-band” ceases to exist. I was particularly impressed with the power that kicks in once the motor exceeds 6,000 rpm.
The engine uses a secondary balancer to tame unwanted vibrations, and a direct-actuation shift lever is lighter than conventional linkage-type set-ups, offering a more direct feel.
The ZX-14’s chassis design is every bit the equal of its power plant. It is an advanced version of Kawasaki’s unique aluminum monocoque frame, lightweight and very strong. This sophisticated approach gives the ZX-14 a responsive handling quality and incredible stability. By utilizing this frame technology, engineers were able to concentrate on delivering, as mentioned, a very slim, compact package. Inherently more rigid than twin-spar frames, and with the engine rigid-mounted, the monocoque’s strength is greatly increased.
With the engine positioned forward in the frame, engineers were able to carefully select the wheelbase and front/rear wheel weight balance to achieve both high speed stability and responsive handling. The ZX-14 uses an inverted 43mm cartridge fork and new Uni-Trak linkage rear suspension to complement the highly rigid frame, thus offering both great controllability at high speeds and superb road holding when riding on twisty back roads.
The engineers and designers sought to combine the utmost elements of today’s motorcycle technologies, yet still provide a package that is both approachable and usable. The ZX-14 delivers seamless power, a smooth ride, and friendly ergonomics. Together, these characteristics are manifested in a ride that still maintains the heart of the rebel so much a part of Kawasaki’s brand heritage.
Offering a very relaxed sport riding position, it is compact without being cramped, and the bars are positioned so you don’t have to stretch to reach them. The narrow engine, frame, and fuel tank make it easy for the rider to keep his knees close together. Footpegs are low-set to give ample legroom and the low seat height and narrow seat front make planting feet on the ground when stopped a cinch.
And when wherever you stop, the motorcycle will be the center of attention. Because the frame goes over the engine and doesn’t protrude through the fairing, the fairing design lines are uninterrupted, giving it a smooth, flowing appearance, from front to rear. Quadruple projector beam headlights adorn the ZX-14’s front cowl, with the outer lights containing position lamps and high beams. Low beams are located in the two center lights. The front and rear indicators are integrated into the fairing and rear cowl, and the all new LED tail lamp features a unique “V” design. The instrument cluster has an easy-to-read, white-faced dual analogue speedometer and tachometer, shift indicator light and clutch engagement light, multi-function LCD digital display includes fuel gauge, gear indicator, dual trip meters, odometer, and clock.
Large diameter petal brake discs, radial mount front calipers and a radial pump brake master cylinder for impressive braking performance and superb feel. Hydraulically operated clutch features a radial mount clutch master cylinder for worry-free, silky smooth clutch operation. Idling speed control system contributes to easy starting capability. Lightweight Denso radiator with high-density cores provides efficient cooling. Massive head pipe casting contributes to frame rigidity. Airbox located in the frame, contributing to a very compact layout.
Engine and chassis components designed to maximize mass centralization. All told, Kawasaki has brought its engineering and design expertise to the forefront of motorcycle creation. The Ninja ZX-14 lives up to its predecessors, and far surpasses them, as the meaning of the word “ultimate” has found a new definition.
loved the Ma-Rossa pipe
1,352cc Four-Cylinder, DOHC (KP) Engine. The most powerful production Kawasaki motorcycle engine ever. Tuned to provide smooth power across a very wide rev range while raising the legendary Kawasaki horsepower standards to a new level.
Chrome composite plated (KP) aluminum cylinder bores are lightweight, durable, and quickly carry heat away from the combustion chamber and piston for supreme durability at high power outputs. Gear-Driven Dual Engine Balancers (KP). Already in perfect primary balance, dual secondary balancers virtually eliminate unwanted vibrations for extremely smooth engine operation and rider support.
Ram Air Induction( KP) Central Ram Air duct produces a straighter path to the airbox for maximum intake efficiency. Similar inlet design to the Ninja ZX-6R and ZX-10R gives the ZX-14 consistent Kawasaki Ninja styling.
This system takes cooler, high-pressure air from in front of the fairing and guides it through the air cleaner and into the engine for maximum power output.
Digital Fuel Injection (KP) 44mm Mikuni throttle bodies are fitted with sub-throttle valves (KP) that are controlled by the ECU to provide precise response and make DFI performance smoother, with response similar to constant velocity carburetors. 32-bit electronic control unit works with dual throttle valve system to further enhance throttle response and control.
A digital computer feeds the engine exactly the amount of fuel it needs for cleaner emissions and maximum fuel economy.
Digital Timing Advance enhances low-and mid-range power.
Four individual spark plug-mounted ignition coils fire each spark plug independently to achieve the optimum timing for that cylinder at that instant.
Hydraulic clutch features a radial-mount clutch master cylinder for very smooth clutch operation.
Evolved from the ZX-12R, the frame is a hollow aluminum box that arches over the engine from the steering head to the swing arm pivot. It is narrow, strong, rigid and very light.
Engine is rigidly mounted to increase the monocoque’s torsional rigidity. Plus using the engine as a stressed frame member decreases the frame’s weight by approximately four pounds.
Engine positioned forward in the frame, wheelbase and front/rear weight balance were carefully designed to achieve high-speed stability and responsive handling.
The monocoque section houses the air box and air filter in a space-saving design that actually simplifies air cleaner maintenance. Two screws hold a plate on the left side of the frame that allows air cleaner access.
The steering head and swing arm pivot areas are cast aluminum for superior strength and rigidity.
Inverted 43mm Cartridge Type Front Fork (KP) Damping rates offer stiff initial action to resist front-end dive when braking.
Stepless damping adjustment improves suspension performance. Bottom-Link Uni-Track Rear Suspension (KP) Linkage rates provide linear suspension action.
The bottom-link design concentrates the weight lower in the chassis for a lower center of gravity, which makes the bike more agile.
Radial mounted 4-piston front brake calipers. Instead of mounting the calipers with threaded tabs cast near the top of the caliper, the radial design utilizes integrated mounting points at both the top and bottom of the caliper, with the mounting bolts inserted through the rear of the caliper instead of the side/front. This makes the caliper more rigid, which improves brake feel over a wider range of operation.
A separate brake pad is used for each piston. One large pad can deform with the heat generated by hard track style riding, resulting in a loss of brake feel at the lever. Individual pads provide increased cooling efficiency and can absorb more heat without deforming so they maintain consistent braking.
Petal design brake discs provide better cooling and warp resistance. Radial-pump front brake master cylinder improves brake performance and lever feel.
Since the monocoque frame goes over the engine the fairing is uninterrupted by protruding frame spars, adding to the extremely long and low styling. Both the front and rear turn signals are integrated into the bodywork and have clear lenses to enhance the appearance.
Quadruple projector beam headlights give the ZX-14 a distinctive nose. The outer lights contain position lamps and the high beams, while the low beams are in the center lamps.
Dual analog speedometer and tachometer with white faces are easy to read.
Multi-function LCD digital display includes an odometer, two trip meters, gear position indicator and a clock.
Programmable shift indicator lamp illuminates at pre-set rpm to signal rider upshift.
those lights turn night into day
Engine Type: 4-Stroke, 4-Cylinder, Liquid-Cooled, DOHC, 4 Valve Cylinder Head
Displacement: 1352 cc
Bore & Stroke 84.0 x 61.0 mm
Maximum Torque: 113.5 lb-ft / 7,500 rpm
Compression Ratio: 12.0:1
Fuel Injection: DFI with Mikuni 44mm Throttle Bodies (4)
Ignition: TCBI with Digital Advance
Final Drive: X-Ring Chain
Rake/Trail: 23 degrees / 94 mm.
Front Wheel Travel: 4.6 in.
Rear Wheel Travel: 4.8 in.
Front Tire Size: 120/70 ZR17
Rear Tire Size: 190/50 ZR17
Wheelbase: 57.5 in.
Overall Height: 46 in.
Overall Length: 85.4 in.
Overall Width: 29.9 in.
Front Suspension: 43 mm Inverted Cartridge Fork with Adjustable
Preload, Stepless Rebound and Compression Damping
Rear Suspension: Uni-Trak with Adjustable Preload, Stepless
Rebound and Compression Damping, Ride Height
Front Brake Type: Dual Semi-Floating Petal Discs with 4-Piston Calipers
Rear Brake Type: Single Petal Disc
Fuel Tank Capacity: 5.8 gal.
Seat Height: 31.5 in.
Dry Weight: 474 lbs.
Color: Passion Red, Ebony, Candy Thunder Blue
Warranty: 12 months
Good Times Protection Plan: 24, 36 or 48 months
They say a picture says a thousand words
Words and photos by Kenn Slater
Thanks to Dave Gayton for the ride
The ZX-14 is the most awesome production motorcycle I have ever ridden