Long-Term Kawasaki Ninja 1000: Service and Maintenance

Long-Term Update: After 16K+ miles on the road, we give the Ninja a thorough check and service.

WRIST: Kevin Smith
MSRP (2014): $11,999
MILES: 16,095
MPG: 40
MODS: None
UPDATE: 12

The factory's recommended 15,200-mile (24,000 km) service interval arrived for my long-term Kawasaki Ninja 1000, so we turned to the necessary checking and adjusting.

I had no specific complaints about how the bike was working. A very mild pulsation in the front brake has been there for a while, and we’ll maybe do a hard scrub and examination of the rotors when the front pads need replacing. There’s an occasional shudder from the clutch on leaving from a stop, but I’m not concerned yet. The drive chain is developing a few tight spots and will need replacing at some point soon. Chains, clutches, and brakes are all consumables, and none of this worries me on a bike with 15,000 spirited miles on it.

Overall, the Ninja has continued to perform flawlessly, through short commutes and longer travels, matching its impressive flexibility with excellent reliability. So this service check was just a matter of ticking the boxes on the chart in the service manual. The big operations involve valve clearance and throttle synchronization, so our shop guy, James Laub, rolled the bike onto a lift and went to work.

The tabs and screws and clips securing the Ninja’s bodywork are neither better nor worse than the typical fiddly arrangements we all deal with now, and once the plastic is off, the general access for service operations is quite good. The box-section frame on the 1000 arcs over the top of the cylinder head rather than wrapping around it the way twin-spar designs do, but there is plenty of room to work in there.

All but two of the Ninja’s valves were well within the specified clearance range, and those two were just at the edge (one was at the tight end, one at the loose end). Because they were in spec, and the bike is due to go back soonish, we left well enough alone.

One note about this procedure that James passes on: Although the service manual does not call for it, removing the throttle bodies does make the valve-clearance job go more smoothly, especially when it comes time to fit the cam cover back in place. It’s much easier to ensure the cover is fitting properly and not displacing its sealing gasket with the throttle bodies out of the way. Pulling them is small trouble if it saves you having to go back in later to fix a leak.

Synchronizing all four throttles was a routine procedure, using our Motion Pro vacuum set. Although the readings weren’t far off to start, bringing them all as close as possible has made the engine quicker to fire and smoother running at idle.

So we can report that scheduled service on our 2014 Kawasaki Ninja 1000 posed no challenges, and the bike seems ready for thousands more miles of dutiful service.