Adrain Aaron Adrian
Castle Rock, CO
Cleaveland Chris Cleaveland
Plainfield, CT
Cook William "John" Cook
Huntington Beach, CA
Edwards Brian Edwards
Portland, OR
Hammond Mike Hammond
Warrenton, VA
Lynn Teri Lynn
Canton, GA
Mills Michael Mills
Pasadena, MD
Rosen Gary Rosen
Highlands Ranch, CO
Steelman Darlene Steelman
Hulmeville, PA
Wheatley Philip "Flip" Wheatley
Scotts Valley, CA
   
   
September 26, 2011

II too have had to return my Kawasaki Ninja 1000.  It's funny…it’s not even yours but you take mental ownership of it anyway. You don’t think you’re going to have to give it back.  You even delude yourself a little, hoping something will change; they’ll decide to let you keep it…something!

But no…the day arrived and I met Jenelle and Garrett from Cycle World, and Russ Brenan from Kawasaki over at Kawasaki’s office in Irvine.

So what’s it been like?  I understand I was selected because I elected to accept marketing communications from Cycle World magazine.  And I responded to the email asking why I should be selected…which was a little hard because I really wasn’t sure if it was real or a scam.  Then I understand they picked the best looking, smartest, and nicest applicants from the large pool! Okay, maybe I made that last part up...

My decision was to take advantage of the Ninja as much as I could. I commuted on it all but two days over the next three months.  I took it up to the Rock Store on Mulholland Highway, the Ortega, Palomar Observatory, all the way up through the Los Angeles basin on Highway 1, and all the way down to Mexico.  I picked up groceries, took my wife with me a few times, and attended sport bike club meetings in various cities around here.

The Ninja was universally accepted everywhere I went. I mean it.  I got thumbs ups (Yes, I’m sure it was their thumb) from Honda Cruisers, GSXR’s of all sizes, CBR’s, all other Kawasaki’s, and even at the more closed groups like the Ducati Club, Harley groups…the first comment was always about how good looking the bike is.  Not OMG gorgeous or “That’s a weird looking bike”, just really balanced and good looking to everyone I talked to.

Okay, I admit I’m pretty big so maybe people withheld comment if they didn’t like it but I don’t think so. J And I admit that I didn’t get anything from the Harley Ape Hanger /Keds group. I know they wanted to admit say they liked it but were afraid their friends would give them the cold shoulder! LOL

Even when I could feel the resentment seething from a young punk at a light; they would ride along with me for a bit, lane split together, check the bike out, feel out its performance, and give me the nod, knuckles, thumbs up…because this bike is different, good looking, cool but not extreme…at first they think that maybe it’s just another big sport touring bike but it doesn’t take long to realize that’s really not it’s core purpose.  Sure it can do it, but light this bike up and it can be brutal. It’s an old school sleeper. Its acceleration, cornering and overall performance are substantial, compared to just about anything out there.

Years ago I worked for Porsche and drove 911 Turbos for company cars.  I realized pretty quickly that there were other cars out there that were quicker, like 5.0 Liter Mustangs, but they were embarrassing to lose to…so I learned the art of intimidation…I learned to beat those guys psychologically…they thought I would cream them so they didn’t want to embarrass themselves and by the time they realized they might have…it was too late.

So what the heck does that have to do with the Ninja?  I’m not sure!

Maybe this…entering a tight road, lining up at the front at a light, I think the Ninja sneaks up on everyone;  They think it’s something it isn’t…and the first time it leaves everyone behind they don’t really know what happened. But the nice thing is that even when they realize it’s a beast they then realize it wasn’t just because they didn’t expect it…this bike is fast and the power is usable.  First gear full throttle I couldn’t figure a way to keep the front end down but every other gear was very controllable.

Now I know it’s not the fastest bike available, and I know that acceleration isn’t the most important thing, and Yes, I know I’m not in high school…but I think that these abilities are part of what many of us buy.  We don’t have to always use them but they’re there.  How many Ferrari’s, Porsche’s, BMW’s, Audi’s are driven like they are capable of…one of the luxuries of owning those cars is the capability and possibility…they just like to know it’s there.

The abilities of the Ninja 1000 are really that good.  There is nothing embarrassing about this bike.  It handles without surprises…I didn’t have one thing happen in three months that disappointed me.

If you are looking for a sport bike that is comfortable, where you don’t have to sacrifice your wrists or knees,  a bike that can pull quadruple duty and take you on longer trips, give you some protection from the wind and weather, be an excellent commuter, and show up anywhere and be admired, then this is your bike.




Steelman

August 26, 2011

WRAP UP BLOG – So Long NINJA 1000.. I will miss you.
The date was Friday, August 26, 2011.  I didn’t want to give back the bike.  But I was out of options. It was either give it back or high tail it out of Pennsylvania, bags tucked on board to the open road across the U.S.

There were flaws in my plan. The first flaw was that I was a coward that never got more than a parking ticket in my life. Even those parking infractions were questionable.

Second, I had work on Monday. 

I pondered my ability to get across the U.S. and back, hiding out in seedy motels along the way. Surely the torque and speed of the Ninja 1000 could get me across many state lines without a problem.

If someone did get on my tail, I’d maximize the potential of the diamond shaped mirrors to keep the pesky followers in my sights.

But what about gas? I thought of rewiring the system of the Ninja to run its powerful parts on 1% milk.  Again, more flaws.  First, milk spoils in heat. Surely my fuel would turn to cottage cheese. Second, I had no inkling just how to do all that technical mumbo jumbo anyhow. Plus, the Ninja got great gas mileage, so my drama looked quite foolish.

So, I had to give the bike back. Sure, I’d miss the well-lit gauges clearly seen be it night or day.  I’d miss the fuel gauge telling me just how much gas I had left. I would miss the cushy grips of the handle bars. 

How I’d long for the days of adrenalin surging through my veins as I cut turns at a high rate of speed, the tires gripping the asphalt with dominating force.  I’d miss the attention received as I cruised up to stop lights, flashing the red and black paint of the streamlined machine that came to be known as Thor.

I’d miss the sound of the exhaust pipes as the engine revved; throaty pipes that turned a lot of heads.

Most of all I’d miss the camaraderie of the other nine bloggers (and Jenelle) whom I came to befriend.  We shared video, compared notes on the bikes, a few of us even friended each other on Facebook and Twitter. The Cycle World Ninja 1000 Experience became much more than a kick ass bike to ride for 90 days. The experience morphed into an adventure I’d not soon forget.

***

I was going to do a wrap up video, but I returned the bike shortly before Hurricane Irene decided to grace the upper east coast with her presence.  We had to batten down the hatches and get supplies in case of an emergency.  The creek did flood and the power was out for close to three days. Our street here was under some serious water.  Check out the video of the innovative kayaker.

Have fun watching the video of thinking outside the box when a street floods.



August 17, 2011

Day 84 – Ride like a girl.
Sometimes it is tough to find new road to check out, especially when you are limited by how hot it is going to be in four hours! Last weekend I rallied the boys and we simply picked some roads that looked cool on Google Maps… I suppose a nice feature to suggest to Google would be a different color for PAVED roads! What you see before you is a three mile stretch of a twisty, “I thought it would be cool,” road that we tackled this past weekend:

Needless to say, it was a little stressful riding a bike that is not really mine, nor does it have knobby tires, down a twisty gravel road. On this journey we had Olive (my Ninja 1000), a Honda 1000 RR, a Suzuki SV 650, a Yamaha R6, and a Ducati Monster. There were a few of us that took the gravel confidently, yet cautiously... some of the others didn’t fare as well. I have to rave again about the body positioning of the Ninja 1000, it was easy to maneuver, while standing up dirtbike style; which is the best way to approach an unknown gravel section.  Bike, body positioning, and rider skill made all the difference in the world on this trip, a few came up short. I won’t name any names, but let’s just say I had to rub it in and remark, “maybe you should ride like a girl?”

Regardless of how well Olive and I did on this gutsy gravel experience, the boys will always outperform us in one area…

See the Photos>


August 16, 2011

Bellingham and Back
One of Mary’s business associates (a German to English translator) is moving to Germany this summer for what could end up a being a long-term stint in the old world. I saw this as the perfect excuse for a nice long road trip to say Auf Wiedersehen. Mary would take Amtrak and I would take the Ninja and we’d all meet up in Bellingham for a 4-5 day vacation. Bellingham is about 300 miles north of Portland, about 100 miles past Seattle not far from the border to Canada.

It all came together this past weekend and worked out even better than planned. After arriving in Bellingham on Thursday night, we headed east with Hilary, James and their son Ronan and set up camp outside of the town of Winthrop. Turns out the town had burned down in 1890, but was rebuilt in 1893 to look like an old western town. I thought that 1893 was the Old West, but apparently I was mistaken.

Anyway, getting to Winthrop, situated in the Methow Valley along Highway 20, part of the renowned Cascade Loop Highway, was great fun on the Ninja 1000. The 170 mile or so route was incredibly scenic with smooth, twisty roads leading through alpine vistas of stunning glacier-covered peaks. 

Near the highest passes, there are signs warning about strong winds and indeed it was windy.  In the back of my mind, I was wondering if the wind might shove me around in the curves – nothing like getting blown down a 1,000-foot crevasse to put an end to the fun. But I didn’t need to worry. I could certainly feel gusts tugging at me, but the bike stayed perfectly planted banking through the bends – the faster the better it seemed.

The only bummer was all the construction work along Highway 20 and on some of the other back roads I explored during the trip. In the Pacific Northwest, summers are short and crews have to take advantage of the sunshine and lack of rain. I did take it easy through a 10 mile or so stretch where crews had sprayed some sort of fresh oil on the road. The word oil always makes me a bit nervous even though I didn’t notice any slippage.

For the ride back, Hilary pointed me to some back roads along the much-touted Chuckanut Drive and some great views of the San Juan Islands and the upper Washington coast. There were some twisty bits, but given the narrow road and many driveways and cross streets, I focused more on the view and enjoyed the pleasure of riding a motorcycle on a nice day as opposed to sitting at a desk. One could definitely get used to this.

After a stop in La Conner for coffee, it was off to battle Seattle traffic before turning off at Puyallup for a 50+ mile detour along the roads heading out toward Mt. Rainer. This only added about 10 miles total distance and avoided a lot of freeway miles. After sitting in traffic, I was amped for some spirited riding and indeed there were some very fun sections. And, of course, some construction delays.

Although the backroads are where the fun is – at least on a Ninja 1000 – there’s no way around a certainly amount of freeway around here. You either have to add a lot of extra miles, or slog through small towns, or both. I tried to find a decent compromise for the 900+ miles I logged over the last few days.

While the Ninja isn’t necessarily built for rolling down the interstate, you’ll be happy to learn that it does just fine on the open road. I just turned up the music and settled in with a group of cars going about 85 mph and thought about desk vs. Ninja. Very happy to be out riding.

See the Photos and Videos>


August 13, 2011

I was just in the garage washing and waxing, and checking tire pressures on the Kawasaki Ninja 1000 for my Sunday ride and weekly commute.  The 90 days of this experience are coming to a close soon and I’ll have to give the bike back or buy it.  There isn’t any question in my mind that I want to buy it.  The only possible reason I won’t would be financial.

I’ve been in the automobile business for almost 30 years and have worked with BMW, Porsche, Volkswagen, and now Hyundai.  We all know Hyundai has been very, very successful in the past few years.  Yes the product is incredible; Yes the quality is excellent…there are a lot of reasons for their success.  But one of the most important things they did was have the guts to try, to do something, to try to do something unique…not just follow the herd. If you remember back to October of 2008 when business practically stopped, Hyundai went on the offensive, taking risks and spending marketing funds when they weren’t what the results would be. 

Over the past year or so I was surprised to find manufacturers that were still selling 2009 motorcycles as new…and there was no 2010 or 2011 model. In my opinion, instead of being aggressive, trying to drive business, help their dealers, and improve the economy, they took the safe route.

So my hat is off to Kawasaki for taking a risk and trying something…taking a chance with this Ninja 1000 experience.  It would be much easier, and easily justifiable, to sit back and say “The market is down 70 bazillion percent, we’d just be wasting our money to spend the money on an idea like that”. But they did - They tried: No guarantee how it’s going to come out; no guarantee it would go well; no guarantee of anything. (We were given zero direction on what to write about in our blogs…we could write about anything we want.)

I’ve heard recently that the motorcycle business is up 7% this year.  Kawasaki as a brand has risen in my book, not just because I got to ride one of their bikes, but because they took a chance and tried something. They made an effort to stand out from the norm. They stepped up and took a risk when most others aren’t.  So I hope Kawasaki benefits from this and all their other marketing and product efforts and hope that the result is increased share of the improving industry.

My favorite quote comes from a speech by President Roosevelt in Paris, in 1910.  It’s now called “The Man in the Arena”.  I’ve attached that paragraph below.

And thank you Kawasaki for stepping into the arena!

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”


August 8, 2011

Day 79 – Too far for too long. 
I have been on the road, and unfortunately I couldn’t take Olive, although I certainly wish that I could have. Have you ever had the opportunity to visit Whistler, British Columbia in Canada? The beauty is that of which you would see in a movie, it was incredible. Unfortunately, I was there for work, so most of my exploration had to be done in the evenings, but what I saw during the day was lots of motorcycle riders!” Luuuuucky,” I would say to them and ask about their rides; there were even a few Ninja 1000 owners in the group. These three fellows (not riding together) all had similar rave reviews of this motorcycle; comfortable, fun, and more than they expected! Now that I am back to Olive it is time to twist the throttle, is has been too long and my time with her is coming to an end.

See the Photo>


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.

See the Photos>


Hammond

August 5, 2011

Comparison: Ninja 1000 vs. Concours 14 Part IV - Ergonomics
Comfort is a subjective topic. Being an avid reader of all things motorcycle I've observed that one person’s perfect bike setup is another person’s idea of medieval torture. Having read a number of motorcycle travel books and blogs comfort is a key topic but the approach varies widely. I've seen everything from an almost stock FZ1 taken around the world to a KLR fitted with a Gold Wing seat by its owner to thousands of dollars spent on new seats, handlebars, grips and pegs. What this means to me is that what's comfortable is purely a personal choice. Having ridden mostly cruisers up until recently my idea of comfort was grounded in the standard ergos for that segment of the market. Big and wide padded seats, floor boards, and laid back seating are all standard elements of the riders contact with a cruiser and the reason that this is such a popular motorcycle type. It's familiar. It's the way we are used to sitting in our office chairs all day. The feat-under-the-seat riding position of a sport bike is pretty foreign to most people unless they've logged some time on a horse and even then only if they've ridden English vs. Western (which is a whole other debate/discussion). I've been fortunate (?) enough to have experience riding horses both ways and now bikes too. So, what do I prefer? Motorcycles, but that's a little off topic.
 
The differences in rider ergonomics between the Ninja and the Concours are really one of scale. To make sure that I wasn't just fooling myself into thinking this is true based entirely on the fact that the Ninja is smaller than the Concours, I rode them back-to-back down the same road. The Ninja has generally the same seat to peg to bars relationship that the Concours does, just more compressed due to the size of the bike. This ratio of the comfort triangle goes a long way toward the idea that this bike can be a sport-touring machine. It all but cements the Ninja as a great around town/commuter bike which I can attest to personally. As I mentioned before though, comfort is subjective. At 6' 2" the compressed ergonomics of the Ninja make an already small bike, for me, feel even smaller. In the twisty back roads and mountain passes near my home, this is a good thing. The Ninja feels small and maneuverable while also building confidence taking corners tight and exiting fast and planted. The Connie is more than capable of strafing the back roads too, however there's a little more bulk to bustle around and as such greater effort needed to garner the same results as the Ninja. This puts the Ninja's sweet spot, for me, at short or moderate length trips preferably on twisty fun roads or as an around town errand runner (like picking up some ice cream on a hot summer day after dinner).

See the Photo>


August 4, 2011

Feeling comfortable
With the odometer fast approaching the 2,000 mile mark, I’ve noticed a change in my relationship with the Ninja 1000. Namely, I am starting to be more comfortable and confident on the bike. It’s like we’ve settled into a routine where I’m one with the machine. Jumping on the bike to run down to the gym or run errands around town feels completely normal.

But where I really feel the difference is on more spirited rides. I’ve been doing a weekly Wednesday ride that often includes a number of pretty fast riders, led by Rob Blaque on his ZX10R. The first few rides, I felt that I was just hanging on by a fingernail. Now, as I log more seat time, I’m starting to feel like I can push it through the corners a bit harder. We’re still a ways from true knee-dragger pace, but not dogging it either.

One of the best feelings in motorcycling has to be the rush of leaning way over in a corner right through the apex and then getting hit with some strong g-forces as you nail the throttle coming out of the turn with the back end gradually pushing to the outside. Bonus points if the front end comes up a bit. Following right behind guys on ZX10s, Ducatis or even an Aprilla RSV4, the Ninja 1000 holds its own in terms of braking, cornering and acceleration prowess. I’m sure these guys would walk away if they really pushed the pace, but for most fast group rides the Ninja is a capable machine.

Some of the roads we ride, such as Logie Trail in the vid below, feature some tight bumpy corners.  Here the Ninja’s compliant suspension and precise steering are valuable assets. Given all my dirt biking and dual-sport experience, I’m most at home in the slower and tighter roads. That said, as I’ve logged more miles, I’m starting to feel more confident in the fast sweepers as well.

The versatility of the Ninja 1000 is impressive and I’m sure that’s one of the reasons I feel so comfortable on it in a wide variety of situations.

For all you motorcycle riders and music enthusiasts out there, I put together a playlist of some motorcycle tunes using the new (to the US) Spotify service which has some handy sharing features.  If you have some killer playlists for motorcycling, send them my way and I’ll add them to my Droid. I’m planning a 600+ mile ride to Bellingham, Wash. and surrounding areas next weekend, so I’ll need them!

See the Video>


August 2, 2011

I'm back from a vacation to Ashland, Oregon.  Every time I go there I wish I could have brought my motorcycle! The roads are beautiful, twisty, heavily cambered, and most are in good shape.

A few years back I made my two daughters suffer with two motorcycles in the back of our Van while we drove from Denver all the way out there with very little room left in the back for them and nice fuel and oil smells!  It was worth it, for me at least! My Uncle Lance, who lives in Randle, Washington, rode a bike down so we could get some riding time in together. Lance is a lifetime motorcyclist, a motorcyclist’s motorcyclist, and rides or drives long distances just for a short visit without a second thought or complaint.

Lance learned that I was without a motorcycle about two years ago and agreed to loan me one of his motorcycles until I could afford to buy one again, so he loaned me his 1996 BMW R850R. So he sold it to me for $1 with the caveat that I would have to sell it back to him one day...pretty nice huh?

That year that we hauled my Buell and Ducati up to Ashland, Lance and I took a ride from up to Crater Lake and back.  We started out in hot weather...but had to stop at one of the small stores near the Park and buy sweatshirts to supplement our light jackets.  We still froze but...it was a great ride.

Sometimes it seems that those trips under less than perfect conditions are the great ones. They are the ones that create the strongest memories.  Maybe that's part of the sense of being a motorcyclist is...going places, surviving rain, snow, or other difficulties...but still having a great time.  Sure there are times when I was freezing, soaked, and miserable (obviously with the wrong equipment) or boiling hot and pouring ice down my shirt in the Sonora desert...but those are the times I really remember the clearest, and smile when I think of them.

I've travelled many, many days through beautiful sunshine, but on those trips I remember the one windy day in Texas where I was leaning (motorcycle and me) way to the right to keep going straight, or my detour to Ruidoso where I learned it was a ski resort when I was creeping through the snow...

I'm a Canadian (and No I don't say Eh?) I have always held a belief that adversity builds community.  When a terrible blizzard blew through everyone was a little more helpful and a little friendlier. If you stopped in at Tim Horton donuts during a winter storm to get a coffee with triple cream/triple sugar everyone was extra friendly. If you were stuck in the snow someone always helped. My belief is that bad times...difficulties...overcoming adversity build comradeship (is that a word?).

So, when I pass someone on a sport bike, or a Harley with Ape Hangers, or an adventure rider on his BMW...it doesn't matter that they may not be as tough as me, or ride the same distances, or have gone as many weird places...they are all motorcyclists that choose to ride for some portion of their life out in the weather, exposing themselves to some degree of danger (instead of sitting in their car), and to me they all deserve a wave...I don't pooh pooh them because they've never been through everything I have...what's relevant is that we share one thing in common.

Some of us less than others...I admit!




August 1, 2011

The Art of the Motorcycle
When Mary and I sat down to plan our various summer activities, one of the must-see trips on the list was a visit to the Thunder at CAM exhibit showcasing some exquisite examples of rolling motorcycle art.  Even better, the exhibit was only running for two week at the Coos Art Museum in the little town of Coos Bay along the southern Oregon coast.

We had originally planned to go the weekend of July 16-17, but rainy weather and some conflicts led us to the push the adventure out a week. Turns out the exhibit closed on July 23 sharp at 4 p.m.  We had our marching orders. The ONLY way to go see a motorcycle art exhibit is via motorcycle.  No other form of transportation allowed.

Since the Ninja 1000 – at least in its current form – lacks touring accoutrements such as saddle bags or a tail trunk, the plan was to pack really light and stuff everything we needed in my touring jacket and a light backpack, the key ingredient being our debit cards.

On the appointed day, we motored out of Portland about 8 a.m., having plotted out a route that would include lots of costal vistas.  After about an hour, we pulled off into the town of McMinnville, famous for the Evergreen air museum that includes Howard Hughes’ Spruce Goose.  Even better, was the discovery of a breakfast and lunch spot called the Crescent Café. If there were a way to give a six star rating on Yelp, this place deserves it. One of the best breakfasts we’ve ever had.

Off to a great start. The weather gods were in our favor this day. The skies were blue and the temperature perfect, making for a lovely 225 mile or so ride past resorts, wind-swept dunes and charming beach towns.  There were plenty of vistas along the way, and a motorcycle is clearly the best way to take it all in. There is a huge difference between a car and motorcycle for rides like this. And while bicycling seems nice – there were plenty of bicyclists touring the Oregon Coast Highway — the constant traffic would be a downer.

Since we were two up, I kept the pace moderate, only tapping the Ninja’s bountiful power to zip past egregiously slow motor homes and campers from time to time. And besides, what’s the rush?  Oh yeah, the museum closes at 4 p.m.  Hustling down the highway, we started to notice some hotspots on our bottom ends.  Shifting around helped some, but we probably needed to pack a pair of padded bike shorts for this one. 

While the seat of the Ninja is comfy for two to three hours, it is a bit firm for longer trips. Were this bike to stay parked in my garage, I might consider a softer seat for touring, and keep the stiffer seat for canyon and in-town riding where it’s perfect.  In all other respects, the Ninja performed admirably as a touring rig.  It has plenty of power and stays perfectly planted even with a heavy dose of cross winds from time to time. The adjustable windshield is a handy addition, and there are no worries about vibration.  The bike is just smooth, and that’s a very good thing on the long and winding road. We were also most impressed with the gas mileage which was easily over 50 miles per gallon.

From a passenger perspective, the pillion proved to be comfortable enough for an hour or two at a stretch before needing a short break. Mary found that she could pull her tailbone in and use her legs to shift her weight around.  At 5’ 3” she’s on the compact side; taller passengers may find it to be a tad more cramped. 

Motoring into Coos Bay, at one point we ended up riding behind what turned out to be an older BMW R60 and what I assume was a new Indian made to look like a classic Indian twin – itself a rolling piece of art. Not surprisingly, this pair ended up in front of the Coos Art Museum and I managed to grab some shots of the Ninja 1000 (and Mary with her helmet hair and all) with the old bikes.  As you can see in the photos below, it made for an interesting contrast.

As for the exhibit itself, it was definitely worth the trip. Not to be missed was the 1914 Cyclone, one of only three known to exist. The other two are in museums.  I also tracked down the lone Kawasaki in the exhibit – a late 60s H1 Mach III, notable for being the quickest production motorcycle in its day.  In this case, speed equals art. Oregon Live has a great write up on the exhibit if you want to learn more.

Following a sound night’s sleep, we noodled our way back into Portland, leisurely poking along the coast highway and stopping frequently. In all we logged some 450 miles. It turned out to be a great way to spend the day and the weekend – a warm breeze and a cool bike. Thank you CycleWorld and Kawasaki.

See the Video and Photos>


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