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.