2012 Kawasaki ZX-14R | Doin' Time

WRIST: Dave Sonsky
MSRP (2012): $14,699
MILES: 980
MPG: 37
MODS: Two Brothers slip-on exhaust, Zero Gravity windscreen, Givi T474 saddlebags

What’s the first thing you should do after taking ownership of the hardest-accelerating production bike on the road today? Make it even faster, of course.

That’s what my kneejerk reaction was to do anyway, as the ZX-14R joins our long-term fleet, but after some contemplation it made sense to ignore the devil on my shoulder (for now) and go with more practical mods. It’s going to be hard enough as it is to retain my “good driver” insurance status while I have the key to the ZX-14R in my possession, so the addition of significantly more horsepower can wait. Check out page 63 for the first set of mods committed as part of our "Power Trippin" cover feature.

Quite unlike any liter bike I’ve owned in the past, I simply haven’t gotten used to the massive power on tap in every gear, at every line on the tachometer. In fact, I noticed my hands trembling as I removed my helmet following a spirited freeway run recently—something that hasn’t happened since my first twist of a CBR900RR throttle back in the day. A shaky hand and an ear-to-ear grin are usually strong indicators that your bike is fast enough (for the time being).

Aside from straight-line, warp speed attacks, the ZX-14R seems capable of various disciplines; trackdays, two-up weekend excursions and an occasional drag night all seem within its realm. It’s my goal to install the mods that will make each experience more enjoyable, but I have to discover what the bike’s limitations are first. Will the stock rearsets offer ample ground clearance on twisty roads and racetracks? Are the tires capable of performing at the strip one day and hauling the wife and I to wine country the following weekend? These are the things I can’t wait to discover.