A Look At Kawasaki's Big, Bad 14R

Much has been written in the pages of Clutch and Chrome about Kawasaki’s amazing history and revolutionary moments over the fifty years the motorcycle company has been in the United States.

We looked back to 1969 when the radical three-cylinder, two-stroke H1 500 Mach III motorcycle's ride into showrooms. During the 1980s it was the game-changing GPz900R Ninja motorcycle, a decade later the astonishing Ninja ZX-11, and today it’s the supercharged Ninja H2 and Ninja H2R superbikes.

But what happened in the 2000s, during the reign of Von Dutch hats and The Governator? The Ninja ZX-14 sportbike, of course.

Up until the launch of the Ninja ZX-14 in 2006, the performance of sportbikes grew at a steady pace, until this particular green overachiever blew them all to pieces. At a time when most superbikes displaced 998cc, the Ninja ZX-14 offered 1,352cc of performance, 35% more than the fastest bikes in AMA Superbike racing.

Labeled as the ZZR1400 in some markets, the Ninja ZX-14 was capable of accelerating from 0–60 mph in 2.5 seconds with its top speed is electronically limited to 186 mph as a result of an agreement between the major Japanese and European motorcycle manufacturers

Gulping in air through two huge Ram Air tunnels in the fairing, its 11,000-rpm DOHC engine howled beneath an aluminum monocoque frame and it sported a 190/50ZR17 rear tire, the beefiest ever fitted to a production Kawasaki sportbike.

After its launch in 2006, the Ninja ZX-14 received various minor improvements until 2012, when a second-generation model debuted as the Ninja ZX-14R. The already dominant bike enjoyed significant advancements including a displacement boost to 1,441cc, three rider-selectable power modes, KRTC traction control, chassis and styling upgrades among other things.

These improvements caught the eye of the motorcycle press.

“The 14’s power dominates like King Kong in a parakeet cage,” Cycle World wrote “Everything else is officially slow.”

Now after a decade in the Kawasaki lineup, the motorcycle manufacturer is quick to note, one thing has stayed the same throughout, the Ninja ZX-14R sportbike still offers that kind of thrilling street performance.

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