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2014 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-14R Review
2014 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-14R
Prepare to experience performance in a way that only a Kawasaki can deliver. The ZX-14 is the ultimate blend of extreme excitement and everyday versitility. Feel at home traversing the mountain roads, or feel the ultimate rush hurtling down the dragstrip…
World-Class Performance Meets Real World Flexibility
Everything about the Ninja® ZX™-14R sportbike is big: Big displacement, big horsepower, big accolades. Life is pretty good at the top of the heap. When you make more power than any other production sportbike on the planet, as the ZX-14R does, the character of the power delivery is as important as the actual number of horses. To that end, the surface-milled combustion chamber shapes and polished intake ports provide the benefits of racing’s black art – porting – straight from the factory. Consequently, all elements of the induction system work in a coordinated manner, maintaining the Ninja tradition of smooth power delivery.
ZX-14R’s popularity doesn’t just come from the brawniness of its 1,441cc inline-four. The bike is as happy meandering two-up on a country road as it is screaming down the drag strip or dry lake bed. The secret to the ZX-14R’s broad appeal comes from embracing technologies, like rider-selectable ignition maps and traction control, that add more usability for a wide range of riders and riding styles. But yeah, the horsepower still has a lot to do with it.
The Ninja ZX-14R’s engine is more than supremely powerful; there’s also plenty of polish and refined manners to go along with it. The engine’s dual gear-driven counterbalancer setup has been optimized to work with the mill’s heavy-duty crankshaft and long-stroke dimensions. The end result is smooth power across the entire rev range.
High-lift camshafts are operated by a high-performance cam chain and tensioner system to help ensure high-rpm reliability. Lightweight forged pistons also help durability and are cooled by an oil-jet cooling system that pumps a continuous stream of lubricant at the underside of each piston. (Testing shows the engine runs considerably cooler with this race-spec system.) The impressive durability built into this high-compression powerhouse continues with its super-strong alloy connecting rods which have beefy small ends. Similarly, it uses stout 40mm crankshaft main journals. Transmission gears are heat- and surface-treated for smooth shifting and a long service life.
Feeding this class dominating engine is a large, high-flow, air-cleaner element that helps prevent debris ingestion without restricting performance and a Digital Fuel Injection (DFI®) system that offers automatic idle adjustment and helps reduce emissions. Exhaust exits through a high-performance system with large-diameter tapered header pipes and large-volume mufflers, each with an advanced catalyzer to minimize emissions.
The benefits of all this hot-rodding are substantial, as there’s class leading power virtually everywhere across the rev range. The advantages are most profound in the mid-high rpm range, but incredible acceleration is still available from as low as 4,000 rpm. This translates into the sort of thrust riders can appreciate in a wide variety of situations, whether it’s powering up a freeway on-ramp to merge with fast-moving traffic or cruising along a deserted backroad on a sunny, Sunday-morning ride. On the ZX-14R, total domination is just a twist of the throttle away.
Beyond just being impressively strong, the engine’s manners are also effectively managed by a combination of its back-torque limiting “slipper” clutch assembly, a three-mode KTRC traction control system and a two-mode Hi/Low power selector system. The first two KTRC modes are intended to maximize acceleration similar to the ZX-10R’s S-KTRC. The third mode is tuned for low-traction (wet/slippery) conditions, similar to the Concours® 14 sport tourer’s KTRC. The KTRC system can be turned-off by the rider and its settings and the Hi/Low ignition maps can be selected with the bar-mounted toggle/push switch. KTRC activity can be monitored on a seven-segment real-time bar graph in the cockpit’s LCD info-screen. The back-torque limiting clutch technology comes directly from the racetrack, and helps eliminate the wheel-hop and stability-eroding torque effects of energetic downshifting and braking while cornering, or during spirited – or emergency – stops. It also helps protect the bike’s drive train, for optimum durability.
The result of all this refined and high-tech hot rodding is arguably the finest open-class sportbike engine ever built – and an engine this capable needs a similarly competent chassis in which to live and thrive. The ZX-14R is up to the job, and then some. Kawasaki engineers designed its chassis to deliver a light-handling and maneuverable personality. To provide a sweet-handling character coupled with real sport riding performance, the engineers designed the frame’s aluminum castings and forgings to have unique flex and rigidity characteristics. So, while its monocoque alloy frame and aluminum swingarm designs look similar to the original ZX-14, they have vastly different flex characteristics, stiffer in some places and unchanged in others. The net result creates an ideal balance for the ZX-14R’s world class power and acceleration capabilities.
Front and rear suspension tuning helps maintain the balancing act of wheel control, ride compliance and maneuverability. Both the 43mm fully adjustable inverted fork and multi-adjustable single shock offer excellent response throughout a wide speed range, while the beautifully machined 10-spoke wheels reduce unsprung weight to aid acceleration, handling and suspension action.
Triple petal-type brake rotors and radial-mount front calipers help provide powerful, fade-free stops and a progressive feel at the lever. The ZX-14R is also available with optional ABS brakes, for additional rider confidence on mixed or slippery surfaces.
Of course, with this much top-shelf performance, you also have to look good. Dynamic styling has been a Kawasaki hallmark since the days of H1s, H2s and Z-1s, so it’s only fitting that the pinnacle of a long line of sportbikes looks the part. From tip-to-tail, the ZX-14R’s bodywork honors the imposing, angular and flowing shapes that have made recent Ninja models some of the most attractive sportbikes in existence. The front is especially imposing, with a highly aggressive nose fitted with a unique quad-headlight assembly and a large ram-air duct to stuff cool atmosphere into the intake system. The traditional 4-fin theme along the fairing’s sides has a pronounced 3D design, while great effort was expended to hide hooks and fasteners as much as possible. The bike’s tail section is especially well-sculpted, with faired-in turn signals and a cool rear seat cowl – standard on all U.S. models – boosting aesthetic performance.
The fairing package offers functional benefits as well as aesthetic ones. The seat, for instance, offers excellent thigh support and helps make it easy for vertically challenged riders to reach the ground. The bodywork’s venting system effectively extracts heated air from the engine bay and away from the rider and passenger.
Instruments and controls are fully up to the latest standards, with a multi-function switch on the left handlebar that handles all system functions. You can toggle the LCD screen using the upper/lower buttons, and easily scroll through fuel consumption, remaining range, battery voltage, external temperature, traction control, etc., choosing and adjusting functions using the ‘select’ button in the center of the toggle switch. There’s even an “eco” indicator on the LCD screen that lets riders know when they’re getting maximum economy and fuel mileage.
The end result of all this technology and all these features is a dominating open-class ride – a supremely smooth, powerful and refined sporting motorcycle that’ll gladly go anywhere there’s asphalt and do it with an uncanny level of competence. High-aggression Sunday-morning rides? No worries. Two-up along the coast for the weekend? Easy. Commuting to and from work? Simple. Weekend bracket racing at the local dragstrip? Cake.
See? It’s difficult to compete with an open-classer this good at so many things. It’s a fact our competition knows all too well.
2014 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-14R Totalmotorcycle.com Key Features
– One-of-a-kind 1,441cc inline-four engine is the most massively powerful motorcycle engine Kawasaki has ever produced, delivering the most power of any current production sportbike in the world
– KTRC traction-control system addresses varying riding conditions via three different modes controlled by a handy switch assembly on the left handlebar
– Slipper clutch assembly helps control chassis upset from rear-wheel torque effects while braking and downshifting
– High performance exhaust system features large-diameter tapered head pipes, a catalyzer and an efficient muffler assembly for low noise and emissions
– Aluminum monocoque frame is narrow, strong and rigid for impressive sport riding performance that complements the engine’s power
– Aluminum swingarm assembly is longer than traditional designs and incorporates strengthening gussets to withstand the engine’s substantial torque
– Supersport bodywork package embraces the visual cues of Kawasaki siblings, includes a rear seat cowl and adds better air management for improved rider and passenger comfort
– All-new 10-spoke wheels are more than 3 pounds lighter in total than the previous generation’s, reducing unsprung weight for better handling and maneuverability
– Balanced suspension settings front and rear for a comfortable ride without sacrificing performance
– Flagship-worthy finish quality with hidden bodywork fasteners
1,441cc Four-cylinder Liquid-cooled DOHC Engine
– Long-stroke design, ported cylinder heads, lightweight forged pistons, and aggressive camshaft profiles provide more torque and power throughout the rev range than any other production sportbike
– Piston jet system sprays a continuous stream of cooling lubrication to the underside of each piston for cooler running temperatures, more consistent power output and excellent long-term durability
– Strong cam chain and tensioning system offers excellent high-rpm durability
– Thick 40mm crankshaft main journals contribute to long-term engine durability
– Surface and heat treatments allow the transmission gears to better harness the engine’s prodigious power output
– Chrome composite-plated aluminum cylinder bores are lightweight, durable, and effectively transfer heat away from the combustion chamber and piston for maximum durability at high power outputs
– Mechanical noise is kept to a minimum via special piston profiles and a urethane insulation sheet on the inside of the magnesium chain cover
2014 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-14R Totalmotorcycle.com Features and Benefits
High-flow Exhaust System
– Header assembly has tapered-diameter pipes for optimal engine response and power output
– The internal construction of the dual mufflers minimizes the impact of noise and emissions regulations, while maintaining impressive top-end power
– Airflow directed into the exhaust by the large secondary air ports in the cylinder head and head cover, plus a third honeycomb catalyzer in the exhaust collector, help meet strict Euro III emissions standards
Gear-driven Dual Engine Balancers
– Revised balance weights keep the dimensioned engine (more stroke) in ideal balance, resulting in improved comfort for riders and passengers
– Already in perfect primary balance, the ZX-14R’s engine design features dual secondary balancers that virtually eliminate unwanted vibrations for extremely smooth operation and reduced rider fatigue
Ram Air Induction
– Central ram air duct draws cooler, higher-pressure air from the face of the fairing and efficiently guides it through the larger and more efficient air cleaner and into the reworked engine for maximum power output
Digital Fuel Injection
– DFI® throttle body assembly features individual 44mm throttle bodies fitted with an idle speed control and sub-throttle valves controlled by the 32-bit ECU. They provide precise response, smooth performance, automatic idle speed adjustment, and help the bike meet strict Euro III emissions requirements
– High performance intake tract porting optimizes flow characteristics
– Fuel injectors deliver lateral spray at a 20-degree angle to disperse the finely atomized (75-micron droplet size) fuel over a wide area
Dual-Mode Digital Ignition
– Rider selectable Full & Low power maps offer a choice between full power and approximately 50 percent power output to help suit changing conditions
– Digital Timing Advance enhances low- and mid-range power
– Individual spark plug-mounted ignition coils fire each of the four spark plugs independently to achieve the optimum timing for that cylinder
– ECU includes an idle speed control system for easier starting and warm-up
KTRC Traction Control
– KTRC traction-control system features three different selectable modes to suit rider preference and different riding conditions
– Modes are selected by a handy switch assembly on the left handlebar
– Modes are indicated on the LCD cockpit display
Back-Torque Limiting “Slipper” Clutch
– Back-torque limiting “slipper” clutch assembly helps control rear-wheel torque effects while downshifting or coasting to minimize wheel hop, chatter and reduce rider stress
– Radial-pump hydraulic clutch master cylinder offers smooth and precise engagement and optimal feel at the lever
Petal-type Discs with Radial-Mount Calipers
– Petal-type brake rotors provide better cooling and enhanced warp resistance than traditional discs
– Radial mounted four-piston front brake calipers offer greater rigidity than traditional caliper mounting to improve brake feel
– A separate brake pad is used for each piston. Individual pads provide increased cooling efficiency and can absorb more heat without deforming so they maintain a consistent brake feel longer
– Radial-pump front brake master cylinder provides excellent lever feel and feedback
Monocoque Aluminum Frame
– Lightweight monocoque frame is a hollow aluminum box that arches over the engine from the steering head to the swingarm pivot. It is narrow, strong, rigid and very light
– Many of the frame’s cast aluminum sections – steering head and swingarm pivot areas – are produced via a die-casting process for weight savings
– Rigidly mounted engine is a stressed frame member, which increases the frame’s torsional rigidity and saves weight vs. traditional designs
– Engine is positioned forward in the frame, with the long wheelbase and front/rear weight balance carefully designed to achieve high-speed stability and responsive handling
– Long swingarm design helps maximize forward drive and is gusseted to better cope with the engine’s healthy torque output
– Massive head pipe casting contributes to frame rigidity
– Frame houses the air box and air filter in a space-saving design that simplifies air cleaner maintenance
– Battery is also housed within the frame and is easily accessible through an aluminum frame cover
Comfortable Sporting Suspension
– Inverted and multi-adjustable 43mm cartridge-type fork provides excellent wheel control and without sacrificing ride comfort
– Stepless damping adjustment allows ultra-precise tuning of fork reactions
– Fully adjustable bottom-link Uni-Trak® rear suspension is a compact design that offers premium control and feedback
– Linkage rates designed to allow linear suspension action and excellent wheel control
– Bottom-link design helps create a lower center of gravity, which makes the motorcycle more nimble
Aggressive Supersport Bodywork
– Monocoque frame is positioned over the engine so the sleek fairing is uninterrupted by protruding frame spars, adding to the extremely long and low styling
– Efficient fairing venting offers excellent engine-heat control to help maintain rider and passenger comfort on hot days
– Standard rear-seat cowl adds aesthetic appeal
– Both the front and rear turn signals are integrated into the bodywork and have clear lenses to enhance for a more modern appearance
– Quadruple projector beam headlights give the ZX™-14R a distinctive look. The outer lights contain position lamps and high beams, while the low beams are located in the center lamps
– Lightweight Denso radiator with dual fans and high-density cores provides maximum cooling efficiency
– Black-faced dual analog speedometer and tachometer are easy to read
– Multi-function LCD digital display includes an odometer, two trip meters, fuel gauge, gear position indicator, clock, and many other variables, including traction-control and power mode information through its LCD indicator
– Programmable shift indicator lamp illuminates at pre-set rpm to signal rider upshift
– Programmable clutch engagement lamp illuminates at pre-set rpm to signal the rider to engage the clutch
– Controller Area Network (CAN) interface between the gauges uses fewer wires yet allows a greater volume of information, such as estimated fuel mileage, to be exchanged
2014 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-14R – Totalmotorcycle.com USA Specifications/Technical Details
US MSRP Price: $15,299 USD
Four-stroke, liquid-cooled, DOHC, four valve per cylinder, inline-four
Bore x stroke:
84.0 x 65.0mm
DFI® with four 44mm Mikuni throttle bodies
TCBI with Digital Advance
Rake / trail:
23 degrees / 3.7 in.
Front suspension / wheel travel:
43mm inverted cartridge fork with adjustable preload, 18-way compression and 15-way rebound damping adjustment / 4.6 in.
Rear suspension / wheel travel:
Bottom-link Uni-Trak® and gas-charged shock with adjustable preload, stepless rebound and compression damping adjustments, adjustable ride height / 4.9 in.
Dual semi-floating 310 mm petal discs with dual radial-mounted four-piston calipers
Single 250mm petal disc with twin-piston caliper
Golden Blazed Green / Metallic Spark Black,
Candy Burnt Orange / Metallic Spark Black,
Flat Ebony / Ebony
Kawasaki Protection Plus:
12, 24, 36, and 48 months
2014 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-14R – Totalmotorcycle.com Canadian Specifications/Technical Details
Canada MSRP Price: See dealer for pricing in CDN
See ABS version.
Specifications, features and prices to change by manufacturer without notice. Information from Total Motorcycle.com; All information correct as of posted date.