WRIST: Kevin Smith
MSRP (2014): $11,999
Mods: Acerbis hand guards
A 600-mile day won’t raise an eyebrow among the Iron Butt set. But it’s a great way to get to know a motorcycle. Hours behind you and more ahead amplify qualities both good and bad.
How did the Ninja 1000 manage an all-day freeway drone? Quite well, but let’s be realistic. Ten hours of Interstate 5 will leave you bored and butt-sprung no matter what your conveyance. Yes, I was squirming around and shifting weight an hour into every stint, but I don’t damn the Ninja’s seat for that. If I were going to do this a lot, I might investigate seat options, but sliding around to change pressure points—just like shaking out hands and flexing knees—is part of my long-range routine, and I do it on an FJR too. Eventually, nothing stops the burning buns short of getting off and walking around for 15 minutes.
But my run down California’s Central Valley did confirm what I already believed: The Ninja 1000 feels remarkably comfortable and accommodating. For as lean and light and responsive and maneuverable as it is, you’d be willing to make some sacrifices in all-day comfort, but you don’t have to make many.
True, our Ninja’s freeway-cruise prowess has been improved by tweaks. The taller gearing from Supersprox ( Doin’ Time, June, MC ) drops revs and vibration a lot, and the V-Stream windshield from National Cycle ( Doin’ Time, July, MC ) provides a nice-size calm-air space.
I got a further subtle improvement in wind management from hand guards. Dual Road hand guards from Acerbis (acerbis.com; $140) are small, but by taking the direct windblast off my knuckles, they create the impression I am more enclosed and protected. The catalog doesn’t show a Ninja 1000 application, so order a set for Kawasaki’s Versys. They bolt right on in place of the original bar-end weights (though serious impact-driver effort is necessary to remove the screws that secure those). You might have a little light contact with the leading face of the front brake lever and, at full lock, the guards gently touch the edges of the V-Stream windshield. (Cook was reflexively reaching for his drum sander.) The guards easily clear the stock and MRA shields.
At about 4,700 rpm, the Ninja makes right around 75 mph true speed, close enough to I-5’s posted limit of 70 to avoid official notice. It stretches a gallon of fuel across 44 miles at that pace. I found the throttle a little sensitive, especially with the improved control of vibration and wind, and road speed could creep up to 85 or bleed off to 65 without feeling a lot different. Another good argument for cruise control. Or at least an add-on throttle lock, which my right hand and arm would have appreciated somewhere around Stockton.