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Ridden: 2022 Kawasaki Ninja 1000SX - the Express Tourer

The Ninja 1000 SX has been successful on the market for 10 years. In 2020, the perennial bestseller has been redesigned once again. With facelift number 4, the Japanese have once again refined the character of the dynamic sports tourer. Is the Kawasaki still up to date? We went into this question on the Route des Grandes Alpes
2022 Kawasaki Ninja 1000SX 34 photos
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When you stand in front of the aerodynamically arrowed Kawasaki, the first thing you ask yourself is what has been changed on the 1000 SX compared to its predecessor? Visually, the only thing that stands out is the huge and somewhat bulky muffler on the right-hand side. This was necessary for the Euro 5 emission standard certification and has unfortunately replaced the much more elegant left-right solution. So the evolution takes place more at second glance. And look: a 4.3-inch colour TFT has found its way into the cockpit in combination with smartphone integration via Bluetooth. Digitalisation doesn't stop at Kawasaki's sports tourer either
This allows the rider to refine the setup on the handlebars or remotely. It includes the choice between three riding modes (Rain, Road, Sport) as well as a freely configurable variant (Rider). Two power settings (full power or 75%) and three levels of traction control can be selected. Despite the presence of a multi-axle measuring unit, the anti-lock braking system is not integrated. Thus, the Kawasaki has cornering ABS, but only one operation mode.

New are some comfort features that curiously only made it into the SX after 10 years. These include heated grips (optional), cruise control (standard), a choice of various upgraded seats in different heights and comfort levels with seat heights between 812 and 835 millimetres. And for the first time an automatic gearshift. And last but not least, Kawa's sport tourer has been given a new name addition: Ninja.

As is well known, this stands for full-disguised sportiness in the brand philosophy and would have been appropriate for the SX for quite some time. But the ways of marketing are often inscrutable, but in this case they were consistent: the Z in the name was dropped, because only naked Kawas are entitled to it.

That's good: the engine remains the same

And it is precisely this claim to sportiness that the engine underlines, even though it had to be adapted to current noise and exhaust emission standards. The engine keeps its 142 PS from 1,043 cubic at 10,000 rpm. But what sounds like pure attack on paper turns out to be a pleasant companion in everyday life. In the city, the Kawasaki's in-line four hums along quietly and can even be driven in sixth gear at around 30 kph (19 mph). But if you shift down two or three gears of the relatively short-ratio gearbox at the end of town, the airbox seems to inflate underneath you, ready to attack with a roar.

This sounds spectacular, but unfortunately it is not quite as effective as the two-cylinder engines of the competitors. Due to the concept, the four-cylinder simply needs more revs, and that's exactly why the Kawasaki is more on the sporty side than on the touring side. You have to decide what you prefer: torque or revs.Quickly comfortable thanks to fine-tuning of chassis and tyres
Those who like this kind of power delivery will also be pleased with the slightly tweaked chassis. While the Ninja may feel a little nervous on the first few kilometres, confidence grows with every kilometre and you realise that the Japanese engineers have found an excellent compromise between stiffness and comfort with a sporty touch.

Those who also love to experiment or want to adjust the basic setup to their body weight have extensive opportunity to do so: Spring preload, rebound and compression damping can be adjusted on the fork, as well as spring preload and rebound damping on the rear shock by handwheel. In addition, we suspect that this precise handling improvement also comes from the newly chosen first tyre of the type Battlax Hypersport S22 in special specification "N", which is specially baked by Bridgestone for Kawasaki. This replaces the S20, which was trimmed more for straight-line driving.Cornering fun on narrow Alpine passes with a little getting used to
And how does the express tourer with its 2x 28-litre side case system move on narrow French Alpine passes? The short wheelbase and steep steering head angle make the 1000SX literally tip over into hairpin bends and tight corners.

You can feel the sporty descent from the Z1000. But due to the comparatively low handlebars, it also requires physical effort to keep it in the chosen radius. At first, this is not quite as intuitive as on the BMW R1250 RS or Ducati Super Sport 950 S, but after a short time it provides a lot of cornering fun.

Quick changes of lean angle are easy on the Japanese bike, even though at 235 kilograms it is not a lightweight. And so, even on bad tarmac, you can climb up and down the Alpine passes without much effort and certainly surprise some motorcyclists who think that such a thing is only possible with a touring enduro.

At the same time, the fuel consumption remains within reasonable limits. On our trip over about 30 passes, the four-cylinder consumed between 4.8 and 5.7 litres and thus remained below the consumption specification of 5.8 litres per 100 kilometres. So with the 19-litre tank, you can go on a relaxed and yet sporty journey.Verdict
It is the same trend with motorbikes as with cars: They are getting higher and heavier. As a result, crossover bikes and touring enduros are very much en vogue: on the other hand, the selection of sports touring bikes is getting smaller and smaller. Manufacturers who still offer such models usually place themselves in the premium segment, which is why the prices quickly move towards 20,000 euros with a little equipment. Not so the Kawasaki.

Despite extensive standard equipment, with prices starting at 14,045 Euro (in Germany), it manages not only to remain attractive in terms of price, but also to find a nice, more driving-friendly compromise for sporty touring.

Engine, suspension and brakes are superbly matched without hiding the fact that the Ninja 1000SX is a sporty bike at heart that has learned to tour better and better over the years. The only criticism of the Kawasaki Ninja 1000SX is that it does not make much of a secret of these good virtues and therefore tends to pale in character compared to the competition from Europe.

For this reason, we give the Kawasaki Ninja 1000 SX 3.5/5 stars.

Pros

Silky-smooth four-cylinder with plenty of power and torque
Effective brakes in every situation
Best value for money in its class
Cons
Conceptually, power only comes at high revs
Short gear ratio in higher gears
Cumbersome adjustment of the cockpit screen
Technical data
Model: Kawasaki Ninja 1000SX
Engine: 1,043 cc water-cooled four-cylinder engine
Power: 104.5 kW/142 hp at 10,000 rpm
Torque: 111Nm at 8,000 rpm
Drive: Chain, 6-speed gearbox
Fuel consumption combined (WLTP): 5.8l/100km
Test consumption: 5.x/100km
CO2 emissions combined: 135 g/km
Acceleration (0-100 km/h / 62 mph): 3.2 seconds*.
Top speed: 247 km/h (153 mph)
Weight: 235 kg* (ready to drive)
Base price: from 14,045 Euro in Germany

*manufacturer's data

 
 
 
 
 

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