Rosen
Gary Rosen
Highlands Ranch, CO

Age: 47
Experience: 15-20 years
Height: 6'3"
Facebook: guitarxgary

Twitter: @GuitarXGary
   
   

Saturday & Sunday, August 6-7, 2011

Odometer:  4726 miles
Gas Cost to Date:  $396.50                 
Gas Mileage, Last Fillup:  50.6 mpg
Gas Mileage to Date:  45.8 mpg (103.3 total gallons)
Best Gas Mileage to Date:  62.3 mpg
Worst Gas Mileage to Date:  35.6 mpg
Maintenance Cost to Date:  $1073.28
Cost / Mile (gas + maintenance):  $0.31

Lots of miles this weekend!

This weekend was really great for riding. The Ninja is up around 5000 miles now and runs like a champ. Absolutely no issues and it’s really a wonderful all-round motorcycle. It truly does everything well. 

My friends and I rode to Black Canyon of the Gunnison on Saturday and I ended up at 528 miles for the day. The saddle may not be quite as comfortable as the VFR1200’s but it’s certainly just fine for a long day, especially since we stopped enough for gas, sight-seeing, and lunch to keep it enjoyable. I know that other states have some good twisty roads but I have to wonder if they’ve got the sheer quantity that we have in Colorado.  It never ceases to amaze me!  I feel very lucky to live and ride in this state.  A bike as good as the Kawasaki really helps you take advantage of that.

On Sunday I went out with another group of friends and hit Golden Gate Canyon/Peak to Peak Hwy/Hwy 7 to Estes Park to Devils Gulch/Stove Prairie/and then over to Lyons, CO to hit the other side of Hwy 7 and that was a blast as well.  You hit so many curves of every variety on that route.  That ride was about 300 miles. I definitely had my fill on two wheels this last weekend.  Now all I can do is jones for next weekend!

Sorry for the short blog, but I just wanted to update my numbers and fill everybody in on the fun.  If you’re looking at buying a Ninja 1000, I’d say it’s a really great choice.  I’ve done so many different types of riding on the bike at this point and definitely put on enough miles to see what it’s like to live with long term.  I can’t imagine it disappointing you in any way.  It’s one of the best all-rounders out there, without a doubt.  The best way to describe it is simply by saying it’s the most comfortable sport bike on the market.  It may not be a “true” sport-tourer like the VFR1200 or Concours 14, etc. but it can do most of what they do while doing everything else a sport bike does as well.  Kudos to Kawasaki for designing such a great bike that can be so many things to so many people.

   
     
   
     
   
     
   
     
   
     
   
     
   
     
     



July 30, 2011

Odometer:  3898 miles
Gas Cost to Date:  $325.52                 
Gas Mileage, Last Fillup:  44.5 mpg
Gas Mileage to Date:  46.1 mpg (84.363 total gallons)
Best Gas Mileage to Date:  52.0 mpg
Worst Gas Mileage to Date:  37.7 mpg
Maintenance Cost to Date:  $1073.28
Cost / Mile (gas + maintenance):  $0.36

Bugs, bugs, and more bugs
I decided to go with the Honda this weekend, for comparison purposes now that I’m so used to the Ninja 1000.  Plus I missed riding the VFR and wanted to get back in the saddle.  I had almost forgotten what it felt like.  There’s a $5000 difference between the two bikes and it shows in many ways.  If the Kawasaki is a Japanese “Fast & Furious”-style tuner car, the Honda is an expensive GT sport machine.  It might be a bit heavier but the VFR never disappoints.  Perhaps it’s like comparing a Subaru Impreza WRX to a Nissan GT-R.  Both are fast and fun and handle great, but the Nissan is a step above (and should be for the price). 

The ride ended up being 580 miles total.  I woke up at 4:45 am and if you’re like me – not a morning person – that’s painful indeed.  I met two friends nearby while it was still dark and we took off at 6am for Lyons, CO to meet two others.  The 5 of us then headed off for some nice local roads which led us north to Wyoming and our destination of Snowy Range Road.  We then circled back through Colorado for more fun.  This was a fantastic trip and I’m ready to do it again.  Traffic was light, the roads were great, and the pace was spirited.  I got home at 7pm and immediately fell asleep.  I was beat!

So, I might as well get right to it.  Is the VFR1200 a better sport-tourer than the Ninja 1000?  For me, that answer is “yes”.  Is it $5000 better than the Kawasaki?  Only you can answer that question for yourself.  I didn’t pay that difference so it was an easier decision and I’m confident I made the right choice for my tastes.  I really do like the Ninja 1000 and would rather have it than pretty much any other bike in its price range.  It’s a fantastic motorcycle in every way.  If I didn’t already own the VFR, I’d buy the Ninja.
Here are my thoughts on the VFR:

Tires:  Mine still has the stock Bridgestone BT-021s and to be honest they are not a great tire.  They simply don’t have the grip of some of the other sport-touring tires out there and I don’t have full confidence on the VFR yet because of that.  Once I need new tires I’ll probably go with Michelin Road 3s as I loved the Road 2s on my old VFR800.  Most likely, that will not only inspire more confidence in the traction but will help with quicker turn-in in the tighter twisties as well.  Suffice it to say, the stock rubber is a weakness of the VFR but one that is easily rectified.

Wind Protection:  I’m not quite sure which bike wins in this category.  I feel like the Kawasaki might offer a less turbulent ride than the Honda, even with the windscreen in the lowest position where I keep it.  I definitely felt like I was getting a bit more wind buffeting and helmet shake than I have been experiencing on the Ninja.

Dashboard:  You get more information on the Honda’s dashboard and I like that.

Saddle:  The seats are very different.  Although I initially liked the Ninja’s seat very much I feel that it has compressed a bit with age and becomes less comfortable after fewer miles.  It has a more forward lean to it which seems to want to steam roll the oysters a bit more which gets uncomfortable quicker as you can imagine.  Plus I feel like I can feel the plastic under the foam after less miles as well.  The Honda’s saddle is more slippery which some folks may not like.  It actually helps when shifting your body into a turn very nicely though and I don’t mind it at all.  It’s more slippery with my nylon pants than it is with jeans.   After close to 600 miles I wasn’t uncomfortable on the Honda at all.  The seat is firm and nicely shaped.  It definitely wins this battle.

Power:  Hands down the Honda has more torque and horsepower and is delivered in a more even fashion due to the V4 engine configuration.  The V4 is less buzzy as well.  1237cc V4 beats the 1043cc I4, but that’s to be expected I would think.

Fit and Finish:  Again as expected the Honda wins.  For $5000 you should be getting a higher-quality feel.  If you’re not then something is wrong with that picture.

Handling:  This is not an easy comparison. The Honda is at a disadvantage due to the tires as stated above.  Even so, it’s no slouch in the handling department. The extra weight helps in straight line stability, mid-corner stability, and corner exit stability but it hurts it when it comes to quick side-to-side transitions. Different tires might aid there, but 88 extra lbs is 88 extra lbs no matter how you slice it.  Both bikes are great in the twisties but the Kawasaki feels more like a proper sportbike.

Long Distance:  Honda gets the nod here. The Kawasaki would have been less comfortable on a longer ride like this. And the more luxurious “GT” feel of the Honda was really appreciated.

Braking:  The brakes on the Honda are a bit stronger, or at least a bit more abrupt.  Braking into corners unsettled the bike more than those on the Kawasaki.  The Kawi has good brakes but they’re more progressive and you can scrub speed without having the nose dive on you.  I had to readjust my braking habits after getting back on the Honda.  The two bikes have very different front brake feel.

Seating Position:  It definitely feels like you’re more on top of the Honda and more inside the Kawasaki.  You lean forward a bit more on the Honda as well.  I could definitely feel more pressure on my wrists riding the VFR.  That was the most uncomfortable part of my body on the long ride.  I could live with it though.  You can always buy bar risers if necessary, and that’s a very popular modification to most VFR models.  I’m fine with the stock setup but riders with wrist problems may not be.

Cruising:  The VFR definitely doesn’t like to be lugged at low rpms. The Kawasaki is just fine with it and can lope along at 2500 rpm no problem. The VFR doesn’t like it much below 3500.

Gearing:  One thing that had me chuckling on the ride is the gearing on the VFR.  I really don’t know why they bothered with more than 3 gears on this bike.  4th, 5th, and 6th are all basically overdrive gears that simply lower your rpm a bit.  If you’re not paying attention you could spend all day in 3rd gear and not realize it.  Honda made the mistake of artificially limiting power in 1st and 2nd gears and those that drive in heavy traffic seem to notice this more than I do.  I’m still looking forward to de-restricting those gears once Bazzaz puts the Z-Bomb for this bike into production.

So there you have it.  Those are my opinions and your experiences may be different but for me the VFR wins.  Of course for the $5000 difference you can do a lot to the Kawasaki to make it faster and handle better, etc. and still have money left over.

Next weekend we’ve got a 500 mile ride to the Black Canyon of the Gunnison planned.  This is America’s newest National Park (about 10 years old I believe) and is truly amazing.  It’s Colorado’s version of the Grand Canyon and if you’ve never seen it…put it on your list of things to do.  I’ll probably take the Ninja 1000 on this trip.

   
     
   
     
   
     
   
     
   
     
   



July 29, 2011

Odometer:  3898 miles
Gas Cost to Date:  $325.52                 
Gas Mileage, Last Fillup:  44.5 mpg
Gas Mileage to Date:  46.1 mpg (84.363 total gallons)
Best Gas Mileage to Date:  52.0 mpg
Worst Gas Mileage to Date:  37.7 mpg
Maintenance Cost to Date:  $1073.28
Cost / Mile (gas + maintenance):  $0.36

Cost of Ownership Update

I just got the bike back from its 3750 mile service so I wanted to update my cost of ownership numbers.  Please note that you can keep it cheaper if you do some of the work yourself, or if you purchase a maintenance agreement with the bike.

I’m in a bit of a quandary for this weekend.  Saturday’s plan is a ride up into Wyoming for about a 600 mile round-trip.  I just don’t know if I want to ride the Kawi for this or if I should reacquaint myself with the VFR1200.  It’s been languishing in the garage during the Ninja 1000 Experience and I’m kind of itching to get back in the saddle.  I’ve become so comfortable on the Ninja that I’ve almost forgotten what the VFR feels like! 

It would certainly be a great time to take the Honda on a long trip and make some fresh comparisons to the Ninja 1000.  We’ll see…tune in same bat time, same bat channel on Monday to see what happened!

Be safe this weekend!




July 23, 2011

Odometer:  3891 miles
Gas Cost to Date:  $325.52                 
Gas Mileage, Last Fillup:  44.5 mpg
Gas Mileage to Date:  46.1 mpg (84.363 total gallons)
Best Gas Mileage to Date:  52.0 mpg
Worst Gas Mileage to Date:  37.7 mpg
Maintenance Cost to Date:  $722.74
Cost / Mile (gas + maintenance):  $0.27

Next Stop: Dealer for scheduled maintenance!

Per the manual, the next scheduled maintenance is at 3750 miles which seems to be a very minor service, just checking the brake system really.  I’m not sure if an oil change is even necessary at this point from reading the manual.  The brakes feel fine so I’m sure the bike is just humming along and nothing major needs to be done.

On Saturday two friends and I made a somewhat long day ride (~420 miles) and this time it wasn’t all twisties.  It was really more of a nice little touring-style ride with a few twisty roads thrown in for good measure.  It was sure nice to get to the higher elevations after being stuck in the hot weather in town all week.  We met at our usual place in Morrison, CO and headed out on 470 (interstate) to highway 285 which is a pretty road that takes you out west.  From 285, we took 24 north towards Vail stopping at a cool little BBQ place in Minturn, CO called Kirby Cosmo’s.  They put jalapenos in their macaroni & cheese and in the hush puppies as well. I’m getting hungry just writing this up and thinking about it!  Good stuff!

A quick jaunt west on Interstate 70 to Wolcott put us on highway 131 which was one of the more fun roads of the day.  A nice pretty ride on a fairly curvy road and then we took highway 134 east (Gore Pass) which was the curviest road of the day and always a lot of fun.  I believe you can check out my video selections for Gore Pass from a previous ride.  134 led us to highway 40 through Winter Park (see my videos for that road as well). On 40 a helmetless Harley dude got all frisky and let his ego get the better of him.  For some reason Harley riders don’t seem to be able to go the speed limit but they don’t want to get passed either.  I never quite understood the logic there.   It was interesting watching him almost wreck trying to give me the “thumbs up” sign though.  At least I think it was his thumb…might’ve been a different finger, wink wink nudge nudge.  The Ninja 1000 dispatched with him and his buddies in the blink of an eye, never to be seen nor heard from again after the first corner came and went.

It was a beautiful day weather-wise, and it was really nice to get some two-wheel therapy.  I’ll get the 3750 mile service out of the way hopefully this week.  The new Metzeler rubber is doing great by the way.  Something about these tires just feels “softer” even when riding in a straight line.




Friday & Saturday, July 15-16

Odometer:  3475 miles
Gas Cost to Date:  $294.33
Gas Mileage, Last Fillup:  43.9 mpg
Gas Mileage to Date:  45.6 mpg (76.181 total gallons)
Best Gas Mileage to Date:  52.0 mpg
Worst Gas Mileage to Date:  37.7 mpg
Maintenance Cost to Date:  $722.74
Cost / Mile (gas + maintenance):  $0.29

Baby’s got a new pair of shoes!

On Friday the N1K got a new set of tires, Metzeler M3s to be exact.  The stock Bridgestone BT-016s never gave me any bad moments but I was never in love with them.  They were changed at 3123 miles.  They still had a little life left but I was basically at the wear bars and didn’t want to push my luck on any of the more “serious” rides.  They were beginning to cup a bit as well, but nothing extreme or worrying.

On Saturday I was able to give the new tires a nice test.  Seven of us went on another Bishop’s Castle ride so the Metzelers were in for lots of corners, of every type.  They did great!  The bike felt very planted and perhaps a little more stable in the corners although that could well have been a combination of my imagination and simply having nice fresh tires on the bike.  I even got caught in heavy rain on the way home and the tires never complained.  I’m definitely impressed with the amount of grip and the M3s came recommended to me by a rider I greatly respect so I’ll be trying these on the MV and VFR as well.

 I have to say I really enjoy riding the Ninja 1000, it’s a great bike and perfectly suited to my style of riding.  With the new tires, I’m loving it even more.  I overheard some non-riders admiring its good looks at one of our stops, which is always a proud moment in a motorcycle owner’s day.

   
     
   



Saturday & Sunday, July 9-10

Odometer:  3113 miles
Gas Cost to Date:  $264.44                 
Gas Mileage, Last Fillup:  43.6 mpg
Gas Mileage to Date:  45.6 mpg (68.270 total gallons)
Best Gas Mileage to Date:  52.0 mpg
Worst Gas Mileage to Date:  37.7 mpg
Maintenance Cost to Date:  $382.12
Cost / Mile (gas + maintenance):  $0.21

Last weekend didn’t go as planned due to events of a personal nature so the bike sat unloved in the garage, mileage staying the same. 

This weekend I was able to put a few more miles on the workhorse Ninja and it felt great to get back in the saddle and spend quality time with good friends.  My last two rides were on the MV so the comfy ergos and no-drama, easy-going personality of the Kawasaki was a nice change.  The MV hates to go slow and bucks and snorts if you try.  The Ninja 1000 just takes any speed you wish to ride with aplomb and is just as easy to ride slow as it is to ride fast.  We got caught in a little traffic jam on another fun Deckers ride on Saturday and it was nice to just go into “cruise” mode and look at the scenery.  Once the 4-wheeled snails were dispensed with, it was time to get serious again and the Kawi hunkered down and went from Cruiser to Cruise Missile.  Liter bikes like this are a blast to ride anywhere.  You can be a prude with the throttle and just sit back and enjoy the chirping birds and canyon scenery, or you can have a bit more fun and blitz the sweepers, leaving other machines in your wake.   It’s truly all in your right wrist and your mood.  It will hang with just about anything, except the most skilled riders trying their best to lose you on higher-performing supersports.  But if their riders are not as adept in the corners, the Ninja will easily dispense of bikes with more horsies.

Sunday I crossed the 3000 mile mark.  The tires are definitely getting to the end of their lifespan and I probably won’t do another long ride on them at this point.  Just some shorter trips until they’re gone.  Sunday’s ride was really enjoyable.  It started out with those great waffles at the Speedtrap Café in Palmer Lake, CO again (awesome treat on a Sunday morning) and then yet another trip through Deckers.  I never get sick of that ride as it includes just about every kind of corner imaginable, gorgeous scenery, typically not much traffic, and even a great lunch stop (Zoka’s in Pine, CO). 

At 3000 miles the Ninja is running strong and I’ve got no complaints to report.  About 650 miles to go before its next service…and counting…

   
     
   
     
   
     
   
     
   
     
   
     
   



Saturday and Sunday, June 25-26

Odometer:  2800 miles
Gas Cost to Date:  $238.18
Gas Mileage, Last Fillup:  47.6 mpg
Gas Mileage to Date:  45.7 mpg (61.238 total gallons)
Best Gas Mileage to Date:  48.7 mpg
Worst Gas Mileage to Date:  37.7 mpg
Maintenance Cost to Date:  $382.12
Cost / Mile (gas + maintenance):  $0.22

Had another really nice weekend on the Ninja 1000.  The bike is running perfectly and the gas mileage seems to be steadying out at 47 mpg or so which is really great.  One thing I love about liter bikes is that you don’t need to rev them super high to have fun.  I rarely rev beyond 6500 rpm so even though I going faster than I should be (most of the time) my fuel mileage doesn’t suffer.   
  
At 2800 miles the tires are beginning to show their age so I need to figure out what to do for this coming weekend.  I’m not sure the original tires will make it for everything I have planned, yet I hate to spend the money on new tires before their time is up.  This Friday I’ve got a 600 mile ride planned and there’s the opportunity for a 500 mile ride on Monday, July 4th.  I don’t really trust the original tires to last for 1100 miles of sport riding so something will certainly have to be done if I’m to ride the Kawasaki for both rides.  Tires are your lifeline and once they start getting close to the wear bars, I don’t like to mess around for too much longer.  When you get to that point, the wear really seems to quicken.  I might need to take the VFR1200 out of cold storage for one of the rides.  It would be interesting to get some good miles on that bike now that I’ve become so used to the Kawi.

As far as this weekend goes, I got in some really nice rides.  On Saturday I had an enjoyable ride with a few good friends.  We went up Golden Gate Canyon which has some technical sections and is a nice road.  From there we headed to Nederland, CO and then on to Route 7 which is a favorite, especially on the side that goes to Lyons, CO.  One direction goes to Estes Park and is very beautiful from a scenery standpoint but it’s not as curvy.  The other direction goes to Lyons and you would swear the engineer who designed the road was a motorcycle enthusiast.  Heavenly sweepers, great road surface, and friendly camber.  I took some video which I’ll be posting soon.  I didn’t get all the footage I wanted for two reasons – we hit some slower car traffic so there’s no point in boring you with that and the camera started acting up so I gave up on it after a while.

On Sunday a short ride with a friend I haven’t ridden with in a while turned into a great long day with lots of different types of roads and tons of twisties.  We mimicked part of Saturday’s ride (Golden Gate Canyon, then “Peak to Peak” to 7) but this time we took 7 to Estes Park and had lunch at a favorite spot with gorgeous scenery.  While in Estes Park we decided to take advantage of the beautiful day and did the Devil’s Gulch ride which picks up right by the infamous Stanley Hotel (featured in The Shining with Jack Nicholson).  This is a great curvy road with a couple of the tightest switchbacks you’ve ever seen.  The road ends up on Hwy 34 so we took that through Big Thompson Canyon (see my Hwy 34 video) and then decided to do another Stove Prairie run (see my Stove Prairie videos).  We simply reversed the ride for the trip home and my hiney was feeling it by the time I pulled into the garage.  

Too much fun!

   
     
   
     
     










June 21, 2011

Odometer:  2305 miles
Gas Cost to Date:  $196.10
Gas Mileage, Last Fillup:  43.5 mpg
Gas Mileage to Date:  44.0 mpg (50.201 total gallons)
Best Gas Mileage to Date:  48.7 mpg
Worst Gas Mileage to Date:  37.7 mpg
Maintenance Cost to Date:  $382.12
Cost / Mile (gas + maintenance):  $0.25

Risk Acceptance

The motorcycle accidents my friends and I witnessed last weekend have been on my mind lately.  I also just found out that a friend I ride with lost her fiancé a year ago due to a motorcycle accident.  This plus the fact that a girl I dated about 10 years ago lost her father on a motorcycle has all got me thinking about the amount of risk we accept while riding.  That accident 10 years ago was something that led me to stop riding for a long time as it just didn’t feel fun anymore.  I’m fine with the risk, but the risk without the enjoyment just isn’t worth it.

Whether you’re a “sport rider” or not, we all take risks doing what we love.  I honestly think the commuter or city rider is in more constant danger than the sport rider who, although riding faster and pushing the limits a bit more in the twisty bits, isn’t surrounded by cars and trucks much because he/she rides out in the boonies most of the time.  I actually feel very safe while riding and I try to stay within my limits.  Of course, as we all know, those limits can be tossed out the window if something unexpected happens.  Hopefully as we gain experience the list of unexpected circumstances gets shorter and shorter as we learn to recognize the danger signs, and change our riding at any given moment based on the number of danger signs that rear their ugly heads.  I feel much safer and at ease in a wide-open triple digit sweeper than a slow blind corner, even though you’d think the much slower speed would give you a higher safety margin.  There’s simply more that can surprise you in a blind corner so my spidey sense tingles stronger.

So where am I going with all this?  I have no idea really, just some random thoughts.  I suppose I could tie this in to the Ninja because it’s a very easy-to-ride, confidence-inspiring bike.  It handles well, brakes well, has decent power, and never really surprises you with bad manners.  You might be able to get into trouble with the bike but it seems like you can pull yourself out of trouble as well.  I like that about modern sporty motorcycles.  The limits are more in your head than in the bike or in the tires, so if you need to push a little further to get out of an iffy situation you can. 

I got a chance to ride today and it was real nice to take a quick jaunt after work.  There’s a fun road called Highway 67 only 10 miles from my home.  This road heads southwest out of Sedalia, CO and actually goes down to the Deckers area which you’ve heard me mention quite a bit.  Unfortunately, it turns into a dirt road well before you get to Deckers, so the dirt section is my “dead-end”.  One facet of the Ninja I won’t be testing is its adventure-touring capabilities.  This road is very twisty but you really have to be on your game because there is always some gravel in a bunch of the corners, as you’ll probably see in the videos, if the picture quality allows.  The pavement is not exactly smooth as a baby’s bottom either.  I definitely don’t push the limits on this road and like to leave a little extra in reserve. 

67 goes by an area called Rampart Range which is a favorite of the dirtbike/ATV crowd.  It has acres and acres of forest and paths and is quite beautiful.  After turning around at the end of the paved section I headed back and then took a road called 105 down to Palmer Lake.  It’s a gorgeous ride but tough to video as it has more straight sections and light bends than the others that I’ve shown you.  So it’s not as exciting to watch.  There are always lots of animals to see from this road, from the normal horses, cows, deer, and sheep…to llamas, bison, and camels!  Yes, I said camels.  And you’re scooting along next to the foothills of the Rocky Mountains the whole time.

Go have lots of fun and be safe! 



Saturday and Sunday, June 18-19

Odometer:  2211 miles
Gas Cost to Date:  $196.10
Gas Mileage, Last Fillup:  43.5 mpg
Gas Mileage to Date:  44.0 mpg (50.201 total gallons)
Best Gas Mileage to Date:  48.7 mpg
Worst Gas Mileage to Date:  37.7 mpg
Maintenance Cost to Date:  $382.12
Cost/ Mile (gas + maintenance):  $0.26

Pillion Talk

I tested a new facet of the Ninja 1000 thanks to a friend coming out to visit for a few days – the pillion experience!

I wasn’t sure how the Ninja’s passenger quarters would compare to the VFR1200’s so I took my friend for a shorter ride on Friday just to get a quick feel for her comfort level on the bike.  The Kawi was great on a quick 70 mile jaunt so we decided to take it on the 250 mile ride on Saturday.  She’s a rider as well and has an older Honda Nighthawk 650 with a Corbin saddle.  She actually liked the pillion seat on the Kawasaki better!

She was comfortable the whole day, never got numb-butt, and really appreciated the leg-room too (she’s 5’10”).  Both of us had some wiggle room on the bike and weren’t constantly hitting each other.  She also liked the big beefy metal grab handles which allowed her to sit up straight whenever she wanted.

We met some friends in Lyons, CO and headed out to Hwy 34 to do another Stove Prairie ride. Since I already took video footage of Stove Prairie you can check out those older videos at your leisure.  Like I said before, it’s a more technical road and if you’re not familiar with it or aren’t a real experienced canyon carver it can hold a few surprises. I did take a little footage of Hwy 34 and a little on Poudre Canyon just for some scenery shots, to give you all your weekly fill of beautiful Colorado.
Unfortunately Stove Prairie showed its fangs to a few riders on Saturday, thank goodness no one from our group.  As we were stopped for a short leg-stretch, a group of three sport bikes stopped for a few minutes and then took off before we did.  There was a CBR, I think a Yamaha of some sort, and a beautiful Ducati 1098.  As we got to the tighter section of Stove Prairie we came around a blind corner…and the rider of the Ducati was face down in the oncoming lane, not moving a muscle!  The Duc was nowhere in sight (had tumbled down the side of the hill).  Our hearts sank and we immediately stopped, some of us ran to attend to the fallen rider and some of us to slow down and direct traffic as needed.  One of our crew rode quickly to the nearest ranch house to use their phone (no one had cellular service in that remote area) and got the ball rolling with the emergency crews.

The rider was in shock and not feeling all the pain yet (thankfully). He had obviously broken his collarbone, possibly a couple ribs and some knuckles, and had some road rash on his hands and knees.  Not good, but it could have been worse. We waited with him and his son until the ambulance took him further down the canyon to the awaiting helicopter.  All of our prayers go out to the rider and his family.

Once we were back on two wheels, we headed to lunch at a really cool place on the Poudre River.  We sat on the deck watching the white water rafters go by on class 4 and 5 rapids!  The river was really moving and it was fun eating right next to it. This was a nice experience and took our minds off the accident.

We went back up Stove Prairie on the way home so got in lots more corners. I was taking it a bit mellow all day since I was riding 2-up. I love riding with a pillion but I like to share the motorcycling experience without scaring my partner.  My friend is from Maryland and was really digging all the twisties though. She doesn’t get a lot of that back east.

On the way back we came across yet another accident scene, this time a Harley couldn’t negotiate a corner and went down a ditch and through a fence. Fortunately we were not the first on the scene this time and the emergency crews were doing their job already.  We moved on, feeling terrible about all the carnage on such a beautiful day.

Sunday was less dramatic as far as rider errors, but just as gorgeous with amazing scenery.  We started off with killer homemade waffles and fruit at a little unknown spot in Palmer Lake, CO called the Speedtrap Café  I included a picture for you waffle connoisseurs.  My friend said it was the best breakfast she ever had.  After breakfast was a ride down to Colorado Springs via Highway 83.  This is a pretty ride.  Not too many twisties but it sure beats the super slab and you get a great view of Pike’s Peak for a good part of the ride. 

The destination in Colorado Springs was Garden of the Gods. If you’ve never been there, put it on your bucket list.  It’s breathtakingly beautiful and you’ve never seen anything like it.  I never tire of going there. Once we took in all the natural splendifery we took Hwy 24 through Manitou Springs on up to Woodland Park for one last blast through Deckers (see my previous videos), and then home via Turkey Creek and Deer Creek again.  

If you’re following my gas mileage reports you’ll notice that the Ninja 1000 is getting better and better as it has broken in.  So the Kawasaki gets two gold stars today – one for excellent pillion quarters and one for great gas mileage.  Have you gone out and bought yours yet?

 







Saturday and Sunday, June 11-12

Odometer:  1733 miles
Gas Cost to Date:  $152.13
Gas Mileage, Last Fillup:  43.4 mpg
Gas Mileage to Date:  44.9 mpg (38.583 total gallons)
Best Gas Mileage to Date:  48.0 mpg
Worst Gas Mileage to Date:  37.7 mpg
Maintenance Cost to Date:  $382.12
Cost/ Mile (gas + maintenance):  $0.31

Rocky Mountain National Park – twice!

On Saturday, a group of my best riding buddies and I met in Golden, CO and rode up Clear Creek Canyon and then took Hwy 40 through Empire, Berthoud Pass, Winter Park, and on up to Granby. From there we took Hwy 34 to Grand Lake which brought us to the entrance of Rocky Mountain National Park. A magically beautifully place that you must see sometime!

Elevation goes to 2 miles above sea level and there is still a ton of snow up there. Check out the fun pictures!  The park drops you out near Estes Park and we took Hwy 7 out of there (another amazing road). It was about a 250 mile round-trip.

The ride was a bit more sedate due to traffic but it was more for the views and scenery anyway.  We managed to wick it up a bit in a few favorite spots to get our ya-yas out.  We had a great breakfast in Winter Park on our way to Rocky Mtn National Park. Trail Ridge Road is the path through the park and is amazing to ride through on a motorcycle.

I never tire of the scenery in this state. The mountains and canyons are so magnificent, it really makes you feel lucky living here. I’m originally from the east coast and I can’t ever imagine leaving Colorado. 

I tried a new location for the video camera so you’ll have to see what you think. I used the handlebar mount but since the Ninja 1000 doesn’t have handlebars per se, I got creative and put it on the left grip next to the control pod. The left mirror is in the videos but it’s kind of cool because you can see some scenery go by via the mirror and my head pops in there now and then when I do a lane check. It’s different anyway and I didn’t want all my videos to look exactly the same.

On Sunday, another friend wanted to go see the snow so I did it all over again this time in the opposite direction!  We met a super nice Beemer rider up at the visitor center who had ridden there from Missouri. I should have gotten a picture of his bike – it was one of the BMW adventure touring bikes all custom-painted with U of MO graphics and loaded to the hilt with luggage.  It must have had every touring option available.  Totally cool bike and totally cool guy.

The entire weekend was beautiful (albeit a bit windy at the top of the park) and everyone had a great time. A long nap was in store for me when I got back home on Sunday. I was cooked.

I’m now at over 1700 miles on the Ninja and I like it more than ever. It’s a great steed for long day rides. 

More thoughts on the Kawasaki Ninja 1000:

Brakes:  I like the brakes on this bike. They’re very progressive and have a safe, easy feeling to them. They don’t make you feel like you just hit a brick wall but will surprise you as to how fast you can stop when necessary. Everything about this bike is drama-free, brakes included.

Windshield:  It’s one of my only nit-picks about the bike. I’d rather have a non-adjustable but more stable-mounted windscreen.

Mirrors:  The mirrors are very good. They don’t vibrate too much and give you a good field of vision. I’d like to see directly behind me better but I’m not complaining.  My MV’s mirrors are completely worthless so those on the Ninja are a godsend in comparison. For whatever reason, I get a better view out of the right mirror than the left.  I need to fiddle with it more.

Blinkers:  The front turn signals are really cool. They are clear and built-in to the front fairing. It’s a very nice set-up. They kind of look like those on the Concours 14 but are larger and stick out further. You can really see them well.

Dash:  The dash is easy to read and I like the configuration.  I never understand why most bikes don’t have gear indicators these days and I really dig that my VFR1200 has that.  Come on guys – you’ve got the screen and you’ve got the computer.  Just do it!  The Ninja doesn’t have a temp gauge for the engine either.  It doesn’t seem to need it though as the bike never feels like it’s putting out a lot of heat.  It’s just something I tend to like to look at, coming from the VFR and MV F41000 world (both models like to run hot).

Clutch:  I love the clutch.  It’s super easy to operate.

Transmission:  Still lovin’ the tranny.  It’s so smooth and gear changes are a snap.  You can find neutral in a heartbeat when at a stop and it just clicks right in.  Try that on an MV! 

The “Sound”:  I love a quiet bike, HATE loud bikes.  All you mental patients with annoying, obnoxious, loud pipes  - thanks for single-handedly ruining it for the rest of us.  Dump the pipes and work on your self-confidence.  This bike has a cool turbine-like whir that has a deep throatiness underneath.  It’s hard to explain, but sounds pretty cool.  I always run with ear plugs and I like the sound.  I’d keep it stock, were she mine.

Saddle:  I still think the saddle can handle the types of riding that I do. No qualms here.

Suspension:  I feel like I still need to tighten up the suspension at both ends a bit to get it feeling truly as sporty as I like.  The factory bits are probably a little on the soft side for those who really like a firm ride, especially those of us who weigh over 200 lbs. The way I have it tightened up feels okay but it can be better.  I just have to get around to working on it some more.

   
     
   
     
   
     
   
     
   
     
   
     
   
     
   
     
   
         
     















June 9, 2011

Odometer: 1222 miles
Gas Cost to Date: $105.50
Gas Mileage, Last Fillup: 45.6 mpg
Gas Mileage to Date:  45.8 mpg (26.706 total gallons)
Maintenance Cost to Date: $382.12
Cost/ Mile (gas + maintenance): $0.40

Bored!
This week feels like it’s going by like ketchup out of a bottle. Anticipa-ay-tion….

I’ve got a nice ride planned for Saturday with the normal cast of characters. Trail Ridge Road just opened up for the season in Rocky Mountain National Park. I’ll get some pics of Black Beauty next to the 20 foot snow wall for you! Sunday will probably end up being a nice fun riding day as well but nothing solid in the schedule yet.

This week has been a bit busy so no riding has occurred. How about some more personal stuff instead? Instead of gear talk this week, maybe some riding philosophy? Most of us are active on the internet these days and belong to at least one motorcycle-related forum or another. I’m active on a few and just a lurker on a couple others
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One thing that always interests me is how different opinions can be on the same motorcycle or piece of gear, or even on the same ride experience! Just like with movie reviews, you have to find the folks who have similar likes and dislikes as yourself and pay more attention to them…and ignore those who have much different riding styles.Separate the wheat from the chaff as it were.  So as you read my blogs and opinions, it probably helps to know how I ride and what I enjoy.  That way you’ll know that you might feel the same way, or just take what I’m saying with a grain of salt.

As you can probably tell by now, I’m a sport rider pure and simple. It’s what I love, it’s all I do. I live for the twisty road. If I’m on a straight road it’s only to get to a curvy one. I don’t commute or run errands, I don’t ride in the city if I can help it, and I don’t ride for hours on the superslab. That’s what cars are for. If I lived in a state with no healthy curves, I doubt I’d even own a motorcycle.  Pretty crazy statement coming from someone who lives for riding. I don’t enjoy riding near cars (although it doesn’t bother me) and I’m not an Iron Butt guy who will ride in a straight line for 1000 miles. Give me a 500 mile day in the twisties, close friends, great weather, no coppers, no traffic…and that’s my idea of motorcycle nirvana.

Please remember, this is purely a statement of the type of motorcycling I love. You may be completely different and that’s cool. I’m not looking for validation or agreement, it’s simply how it is. It’s just something to keep in mind as you read my opinions. 

Some people call sport riders “adrenalin junkies” or “speed junkies”, etc. I take umbrage at that. Sure, going fast is more fun than going slow but that’s not what it’s about.  You can pretty much say that for any vehicle though, even non-motorized ones.  There’s something about taking a corner at speed, all leaned over, feeling one with the machine that you simply don’t get from very many vehicles or other sports. For me, it’s what makes me feel alive. Cars don’t do anything for me. Going fast in a car isn’t exciting to me and doesn’t really take as much skill.  You can be sloppy in a car and make mistakes that you don’t have to pay for. Cars lean the wrong way anyhow. You must be close to perfect on a bike and therein lies the challenge and the feeling of accomplishment. That’s where the fun is for me.  Make a small mistake on a bike and it lets you know.  Make a big mistake and pain may follow. I don’t like pain. It’s not about the speed…it’s about the perfection.  When your head’s not in the game you immediately know it.  When I get home from the ride (or the track back when I was doing more of that), I like being exhausted not just physically but mentally as well.  Concentrating 100% on what you’re doing for hours is exhilarating.  Making hundreds of decisions every minute, many of which can hold your life in the balance, is what living is about.  People who don’t sport ride (or take part in other adventurous sports) won’t understand but those that do, know exactly what I’m talking about. 

No need to go on and on…those are my basic thoughts on the subject.  Agree with it or not, no big deal.  I love the world of sport-riding and only want to improve my skills with every hour of seat time. One great thing about motorcycling is you’re never finished learning and improving.  Even a pro racer still learns something every time he or she gets on a bike. For someone down at my level, that’s a revelation. It’s great to keep that in mind when you think you’re getting better and you still make a newbie mistake every now and then!
 
Okay, how to tie this in to the Ninja 1000?  This bike is one of those great machines that can do lots of things very well.  It’s not a take-no-prisoners superbike like my MV is.  I haven’t talked about that bike in these blogs yet because there really are not many comparisons I can make to it with the Kawi.  The MV is hard-wired into your brain.  When you get on that bike, there is no relaxing allowed.  Not just because it’s not “comfortable” like the Ninja. The MV takes every movement, every rider input (conscious or unconscious), and translates it into a reaction.  If you cough, you’ll feel it through the motorcycle.  A fellow MV rider said it perfectly when he told me he could feel his pulse through the throttle.  It’s a very different riding experience and I’ve never owned another bike like it.  It’s certainly not for everyone.

And that’s where the Kawasaki comes in. The Ninja 1000 is definitely a bike for everyone. Even an (open-minded) cruiser rider would enjoy this bike.  This bike is very easy to ride and is good for all occasions. You’re a commuter? You’ll love it.  You’re a sport rider?  You’ll love it. You just like to take a little joy ride through the neighborhood once in a blue moon? You’ll love it.  You like long multi-day rides? You’ll love it.  Because the Ninja is such a great all-rounder, it’s very easy to love.

Hope you’re enjoying your week!



Saturday and Sunday, June 4th & 5th

Odometer: 1222 miles
Gas Cost to Date: $105.50
Gas Mileage, Last Fillup: 45.6 mpg
Gas Mileage to Date:  45.8 mpg (26.706 total gallons)
Maintenance Cost to Date: $382.12
Cost/ Mile (gas + maintenance): $0.40

Epic Ride #2!

Oh my goodness, where to begin?  Another amazing ride with great friends, and I’m more and more impressed with the Ninja 1000.  Today’s mileage total was about 465, and the roads traveled were incredible.  I left the house at 6:30am to meet the others at 8am. You know you’re in for something special when you ride for an hour and a half just to get to the start of the ride!  Got back home at 5:15pm; tired, hungry, and happy.

The views and landscape were all over the map today.  From beautiful wooded scenery to snow covered… everything. From Arizona-like rock outcroppings to national forests to flooded river and creek basins to snow-capped mountain ranges. From purple mountains majesties to amber waves of grain, well you get the picture.  And the weather was perfect all day. 

The bike was awesome. I heartily recommend the Ninja 1000 to pretty much anyone.  Not to repeat myself but it’s super comfortable, eats up the miles with ease, handles amazingly well (feels so nice and light in side-to-side transitions), and has a very usable amount of power and torque.  The brakes are very progressive as well and don’t give you any heartache if you need to grab ‘em quickly. 

Now that the break-in period is behind me and I can rev the engine normally, the bike is that much more enjoyable. For street use, I can’t imagine many bikes just running away from the Ninja 1000 (rider skill being equal).  It can do 95% of what a super-sport can do on the street, and do it MUCH more comfortably.  MUCH more comfortably (did I repeat myself?).

The more I ride the bike the more I love it.  The small nitpicks just keep feeling smaller.  I can’t really fault the Kawi for much. I can’t even think of much that I’d change if it were truly mine.  I’d definitely peel off the Ninja stickers and have an even more blacked-out look.  I don’t hate the license plate bracket so I doubt I’d change that.  The seat certainly doesn’t need replacing.  If you’re looking for a comfortable sportbike that can do double-duty as a sport-touring machine, just go out and buy this bike.  You won’t find one that does it better, especially at this price point.  It’s easy to ride, inspires a ton of confidence, and looks great.  What are you waiting for?

Comparing it to my previous VFR800, Kawasaki really upped the ante. The Ninja 1000 is more comfortable, faster, torquier, feels (and is) lighter, and handles better.  I would easily take it over that bike.  The VFR1200 is such a different animal that it’s hard for me to compare the two like that.  I can say that I miss the lightness and the handling of the Ninja when I jump back on the VFR1200 after a lot of time in the Kawi’s saddle.  However, once I get settled in on the VFR1200 again, I can’t help but think how great it is.  You simply have a different mindset on both bikes, but both satisfy me in many ways.  That’s a real tough one, and I definitely can’t pick a favorite between the two.  Certainly in the tighter stuff, the Kawasaki is more agile and therefore more fun in those sections.  But when you feel how dead stable the Honda is mid-corner and beyond…it’s just a blast to ride fast.  Both bikes have their strengths, and neither has many weaknesses.

I’ll be posting some videos from this ride so be prepared for the roller coaster ride.  We hit some great roads and the twisties will make you dizzy – I promise!  I still have a smile on my face.

Sunday the 5th was another ride through Deer Creek, Turkey Creek, and Deckers. Like I said, this is one of my favorite rides so I’ll be doing it a bunch. My video of Deckers didn’t get posted on the CW website, so here it isin case you didn’t catch it.  This is just part of the ride, there are other fun parts as well.



I’m already looking forward to next weekend. Black Beauty is washed and ready to go.

   
     
   
     
   
     
   
     
   
     
     














June 2, 2011

Odometer: 622 miles
Gas Cost to Date: $56.86
Gas Mileage, Last Fillup: 38.4 mpg
Gas Mileage to Date:  42.7 mpg (14.405 total gallons)
Maintenance Cost to Date: $382.12
Cost/ Mile (gas + maintenance): $0.71

I’ve got another nice day-long ride planned for Saturday and should easily have over 1000 miles at that point.  Hopefully I’ll get in an evening ride on Friday and a good canyon ride on Sunday as well. 

Since I don’t have a lot to say about the bike today as I didn’t go for a ride, how about some personal stuff? I always like it when Cycle World tells you what gear the test rider is using. I guess I’m just a gear-head in that way but I find it interesting to see what people choose to protect themselves with. So here are my main choices. I have some other stuff but I wear these all the time. I’m definitely an ATGATT (All The Gear, All The Time) guy.

Helmet: I go back and forth between a Shoei RF-1000 and a Shark RSI. Love both lids.

Jacket: When it’s 30 to 45 degrees I wear a Scorpion XDR Commander in hideous “construction worker neon lime green”.  Colder than 30 and I stay home. Warmer than 45 and I’ve got my black Dainese Stripes jacket on. Unless I’m riding the MV; then I’m styling with my red/black Alpinestars One-O-One jacket. The Dainese has a Forcefield back protector in it which I move to the Scorpion in the winter. The Alpinestars has a Dainese back protector.

Gloves: Knox Handroids – killer full gauntlet race-style gloves, best I ever had. I also have a pair of Held Freezer gloves for the super cold weather. These are the only thick ski-style gloves I’ve had that actually keep my hands all warm and cozy. 
Thanks to the Helds and the Scorpion jacket, 30 degrees is no problem at all. I was able to ride every single winter month this last season thanks to having good gear. I truly believe you get what you pay for. Also, the Dainese jacket has an awesome thick full-sleeve liner that keeps me warm when most leather jackets would have me turning around to go back home. 

Pants: If I think I’m going to get hit by rain I’ll wear my KTM AQ Adventure pants. Otherwise I’ll wear jeans with either Bohn armored pants or Forcefield armored pants underneath, depending on my mood and the type of ride I’ve got planned.  The Forcefields are more “serious” but the armor is a little more bulky.

Boots: Sidi Vertigo Air. When these wear out, I’ve got my eye on the new Sidi ST Air. If you buy Sidis go with the Air versions.  You’ll thank me later… I’ve also got a pair of Sidi Way Rains. They’re more of a sport-touring, water-resistant type of boot.

So there you have it. I hope you have great riding plans for this weekend! 

   
     
   
     
     



May 30, 2011

Since I didn’t want to ride the Kawi again until getting the 500 mile service done I was back out on my Honda VFR1200 yesterday and today, enjoying the holiday weekend.  These bikes are so different and I actually found myself missing the light and flickable nature of the Ninja 1000. It took me a little time to get used to my own bike again after spending so many enjoyable miles on the Ninja Saturday.

Sunday was a solo ride over Squaw Pass. This is a tight, windy road that leads to Mt. Evans. It was the first day this road was open for the season (high elevation) and it was DIRTY.  And tons of road damage from the winter. There’s even still a lot of snow on the sides of the road at the top.  Fun, but challenging.

Today was way more fun. A couple friends and I got together on a lark and rode up Lookout Mountain in Golden, CO and then ran down through Deckers again. This ride will pop up a lot throughout these blog sessions as it’s one of my favorites. By the end of the day I was comfortable on the VFR again and was having a blast. 

I definitely look forward to getting back on the Ninja 1000 though. I’ve really come to appreciate everything that bike has to offer. Yeah I’ve complained about a few things in previous blogs but those were all very minor nitpicks and don’t taint the “ownership” experience at all.  I’d be thrilled to actually own this bike.  It’s really quite good-looking, it handles beautifully, it’s very comfortable, and is fast enough to get you in big trouble with Johnny Law whenever you’re feeling frisky.  Just make sure you choose the times you wick that throttle up wisely.

It’s funny, I still don’t consider it a sport-tourer.  Not in the sense that the VFR or an FJR or Concours is anyway.  It’s really more of a comfortable sportbike to me.  And I say that in a good way.  The bike is very capable and a ton of fun.  Any sportbike that has a decent level of comfort can be used as a “sport-tourer” with the proper gear. This one can just do it better than most because it’s probably the most comfortable sportbike currently in production.
 
Maybe if it came with the hard luggage…that would definitely change my thoughts. Wow, that would be killer. I would love this bike even more if it had the versatility of panniers. Of course, you can add those yourself from Kawasaki’s catalog. No big deal though, my soft luggage is working great.

I hope you all had a great weekend full of great riding as well. Now it’s back to work…and dreaming of next weekend’s adventures
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May 28, 2011

Odometer: 615 miles
Gas Cost to Date: $56.86
Gas Mileage, Last Fillup: 38.4 mpg
Gas Mileage to Date:  42.7 mpg (14.405 total gallons)
Maintenance Cost to Date: $0

Epic Ride #1 for the Ninja 1000!

After jonesing all winter for one of my absolute favorite all-day rides, a dozen great friends and I geared up and headed out for a beautiful day of twisties galore.  It seemed like at least half the bikes were Kawasakis.  I left the house at 7:00am to go meet them.  We took off at 7:50am and I got back home at 8:00pm!  That of course included the normal bs’ing at gas stops, food, and even a little sightseeing.

I learned a couple things about the Ninja 1000 on this ride:

  1. I was wrong about the saddle.  It did great on the longer ride and I had no discomfort. If I ever started feeling saddle-sore at all, I could easily just move back in the seat for a minute and it was gone. It might even do better than the VFR1200’s but I haven’t done a long trip on that one yet.

  2. I was right about the windscreen.  It’s a cool idea but doesn’t work in reality (purely my opinion). The tallest setting only adds noise and turbulence.  I like the lowest setting much better and see no reason to ever move it from there.

  3. Kawasaki has a real winner on their hands. This bike is perfect for the way I ride (canyon carving and long day trips with lots of twisties).  It swallows up the miles with ease, keeps me comfortable and able to concentrate on the road, performs like a champ, and is a ton of fun.  I can easily recommend it for any type of rider – from the cruiser rider who wants to experience the sporty side to the sport rider who doesn’t want to give up performance for comfort. It really doesn’t disappoint on any level.

Since I’ve got pictures and video from this trip, I’ll try not to bore you with a lot of text this time around. Our destination was a hand-built castle called Bishop’s Castle (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bishop_Castle), but it’s the route there and back that really makes the trip special.  Beautiful scenery and tons of twisties, and we had the welcome surprise of gorgeous weather all day.  The day couldn’t have been any better really.  The great bunch of people I went with made it special as well and everybody had a great time with no drama.  I can’t wait to do this again…soon!

Please take a look at my videos from the trip. They’re not all up yet but I’m getting there.

The 500 mile service is due so I won’t be riding the Ninja again until I get that scheduled. Hopefully that will happen this week as I have another nice day-long ride planned for next Saturday, 6/4.










   
     
   
     
   
     
   
     
   



May 27, 2011

Odometer: 169 miles
Gas Cost to Date: $15.67
Gas Mileage, Last Fillup: 39.6 mpg
Gas Mileage to Date:  39.6 mpg
Maintenance Cost to Date: $0

I’ve got a long ride planned for tomorrow so I wanted to get the bike out after work and ride some familiar roads and get the suspension dialed in a bit.  I’m getting to know the bike better and am learning its handling and braking characteristics.  I tightened the suspension both front and rear and the bike feels much better.  I revisited the road that I took Steve on (Deer Creek Canyon) and the bike felt completely more settled mid-corner.  No more pogo-ing over bumps. I don’t have it set up perfectly but it feels way better than when I first got it and I’ll definitely feel more confident hitting the twisties on Saturday.

I’m getting more comfortable with the Bridgestone BT-016s as well.  The tires are better than I expected and never gave me cause for concern.  It’s amazing to me how much the seating position feels like the Triumph Speed Triple (not the new 2011 model, I’ve not tried those).  If I look straight ahead and ignore the front fairing area, I could imagine myself on the Triumph.  I thought I’d be comparing the Kawi more to my old 2006 VFR800 and now my current 2010 VFR1200! 

Calling the Ninja 1000 a sport-touring bike is interesting. It’s really a sport bike with comfortably high clip-ons and a cushier saddle. Speaking of that saddle, I have my concerns over how it will feel to my derriere on the 500 mile ride tomorrow.  It’s not bad but I do get a few hot spots even after 100 miles.  Although I haven’t done a 500 miler on the VFR1200 yet, I can bet that its saddle will fare better.

Comparing the performance and handling characteristics of the Ninja 1000 to the VFR1200 I would say the VFR has the better brakes; the Ninja feels lighter and nimbler, and transitions side to side much quicker and with less effort; and the VFR has a bigger rush of power at all RPMs and feels more solid and stable. How’s that for a nutshell?

I’d like to say that the Ninja 1000 is very impressive and I can immediately tell that the owners of this machine are going to really love it.  Anything I criticize in my blogs are going to be pretty minor nitpicks. Today’s liter bikes are incredible. They do everything well and are amazingly easy to ride fast…and even to ride slowly. They are barely breathing at a pace that some bikes won’t even reach.  If you haven’t ridden a modern liter sport or sport-touring bike, you owe it to yourself to do so. They really spoil you in all performance categories.

After riding some favorite roads with the Ninja 1000 (Route 67 from Pine Junction to Deckers, Turkey Creek Canyon, and Deer Creek Canyon), I came back and jumped on the VFR1200 and took a shorter ride down another very familiar road (Route 105 from Sedalia to Palmer Lake) just to get a quick comparison. 

As far as vibration, the two bikes are different as you would expect. The Ninja has an inline 4 and the VFR has a V4. The VFR’s engine is a bit more visceral – you can feel it more through the entire bike, not in a bad way. The Ninja is quiet and smooth and I think it deceives you into thinking you’re not going as fast as you really are. Both bikes have vibrations coming through the grips but the Ninja is easier on your hands because the upright riding position puts less weight on them. The VFR definitely numbs your right hand more quickly. When it comes to the footpegs, the VFR seems to isolate your feet a little better than the Ninja. I have to give the win to Kawasaki here, I’d rather feel a little more vibration at my feet than at my hands.

Another plug for Kawi – the transmission on the Ninja 1000 is fantastic. I give a big thumbs-up to their engineers. It shifts quickly and easily. First gear is not clunky and I haven’t hit any false neutrals. There is no drama whatsoever in the shifting. Very nice.

You might be wondering about that nifty windscreen with three settings. I can’t say I love it yet. So far I haven’t noticed an appreciable difference from lowest to highest setting.; And because there are no fairing pieces holding that windscreen up, it also feels a bit cheap. The plastic feels thin and moves around when you wiggle it. Because of that you’d think that it would move around while riding at higher speeds and in windy conditions…and it does. I wish they would have brought the fairing up around the screen like normal and just permanently attached it in the lowest position. That position looks the best and works fine even with my 6 feet 3 inches, and it would be much more solid. Again, remember this is a minor nit. It wouldn’t stop me from purchasing the bike. I just wouldn’t use the adjustable fairing capability much, if at all.

This is getting long so I better stop here.  I’ll take pictures and some video tomorrow. Thank you again Kawasaki and Cycle World!  This is a fantastic experience. The Ninja 1000 is a very sweet machine.



May 25, 2011

What an amazing day!  I went to Grand Prix Motorsports in Littleton, CO and picked up the Ninja 1000. I was handed the keys to an all-black version which was perfect because it’s the color I’d pick for myself if I was just walking in to buy one. I’ve looked at the Ninja 1000 before and have had a lot of interest in this bike but when you’re looking at the one that’s actually yours…everything just looks rosier. 

My first impression was that I really dig the angular styling of the bike.  In jet black, the thing looks mean and very sleek. The blacked-out bits and pieces and gunmetal frame look killer.  A lot of people seem to nit-pick at the shape of the exhaust. I don’t agree.  I really think the exhaust looks good and complements the overall design theme of the bike.  It looks great on the Z1000 and it looks great on the Ninja 1000. 

If I have to pick something to criticize it would be the fact that only one light comes on when in low-beam mode. I’ve never been a fan of that system.  I would rather have two low-beams and two high-beams. Certainly not a deal breaker though, and it’s not like you can see it while riding.

What really made the day special for me was meeting Steve Rapp. I live firmly in the sportier side of motorcycling and am a big race fan. Steve was amazingly cool and such a nice guy. It was truly an honor to meet him, I’m so glad I was one of the people he was scheduled to do the meet and greet with.

Just as amazing as getting the Ninja 1000 was getting to ride with Steve. I figured we’d just ride a couple miles down the road, get a few pictures and then turn around. I was able to take him to a close-by canyon and actually got to do some fun riding with him. I was so thrilled to be riding with him that I was barely paying attention to the characteristics of the bike. That will have to happen on the next ride!

I did notice that the stock suspension settings were definitely too soft for me. I’m about 215 lbs without riding gear. The bike felt a tad too plush for my liking and moved around a bit mid-corner. Not as much as my Triumph Speed Triple, but I could tell that some buttoning up of the suspension was definitely in the cards. 

I can tell that the bike will be a lot of fun in the twisties though. It feels light and nimble, and really flicks easily from side to side. It’s funny, I figured that the Ninja 1000 would feel more like my Honda VFR because it’s designed to be a sport-tourer that emphasizes the sport.  It actually reminds me more of my Triumph Speed Triple due to the “sit up and beg” riding position, the more nimble feel and flickability through the corners, and the way it feels mid-corner. The Ninja’s front-end feels more planted than the Triumph but it doesn’t feel like magnets are pulling you around a corner like the VFR1200 does. Not yet anyway…let’s see what some suspension adjustment does.

Next stop for the Ninja 1000: I’ve got a long day-trip planned on Saturday with some friends that will consist of every type of corner imaginable…for 450 miles or so!  Gotta love Colorado…

I’d like to give a HUGE thank you to Kawasaki, Cycle World, Grand Prix Motorsports, and Steve Rapp for giving me this wonderful opportunity and making it such a memorable experience. Just picking up the bike was a real highlight of my motorcycle “career”.  Riding it for the next 3 months will be even sweeter.



May 16, 2011

First, thank you very much for this opportunity. I would be an ideal tester for the Kawasaki Ninja 1000 as I currently own a 2006 Honda VFR800, which is a perfect bike to compare the Ninja to. The Ninja has similar design characteristics, as well as a similar audience, so it would be very interesting to see if the extra power and more modern accoutrements makes the VFR obsolete. I live in Colorado which means I have acces to some of the best motorcycle roads in the country. Not only would I be running the Ninja through some fantastic canyons, but I would plan on doing at least 1 (if not more) overnight trips to test the touring side of its sport-tourer personality. I would also sign up for track class with the one and only Ricky Orlando (local racer hero with WSBK and mucho AMA Daytona cred). This would be a great story in itself. The bike would most certainly NOT sit in the garage collecting dust, I ride a lot and have many riding parters of all skill levels, thanks in most part to a very active local riders forum (cosportbikeclub.com)I currenly own 3 wonderful and very different motorcycles – the aforementioned VRF, a 2007 Triumph Speed Triple, and a 2005 MV Agusta F4. The Ninja 1000 is actually a motorcycle I wish to own so the testing would be as much for me as for your readership, which would make it that much more interesting. Pick me! Pick me!


 
   
   
 
     
           
                 
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