I have had the Ninja nearly a year and a half now. When I bought it I was debating something else, maybe a 300. Perhaps the ER-6n or its more dressed twin, the Ninja 650R (a.k.a. ER-6f.) And then I found the deal on this Ninja 1000.
Even then I wasn’t sold on it. Was I ready for a liter bike? My ex-wife had insisted that I was nowhere close, after all.
I’ve ridden lighter and heavier bikes, from a 300 pound ’05 Ninja 250 to an 800 pound ’98 Kawasaki Voyager XII, and ones with larger engines (1200cc,) but this would be by far the most powerful bike I’ve had. The only thing closest to the combination was a demo ride on a Triumph Street Triple a few years ago. I knew that it would be different than my R1100R, which could get the front wheel just barely off the ground if I did it just right. With the 1000 if I goose the throttle in 1st or 2nd it was going to a question of when, not if, that front wheel left the pavement.
I read and watched reviews, read the specs, and had a good idea of what to expect. In the first month I was cautious with it, not out of fear but respect that I could get myself into trouble with it that wasn’t possible with my prior bikes. With a single exception the bike delivered exactly as I anticipated. That exception was low-speed handling, where it was better than I had expected.
On Labor Day of 2017 I wrecked. I know what I did wrong – I screwed-up a turn and went a bit wide. I didn’t leave my lane but found some fine gravel similar in color to the pavement on the outside edge of my lane. I realize now that still had me shaken a bit until this week.
I began riding with a group in Houston who does faster pace rides. On Friday I was behind an S1000RR whose rider liked to slow a bit extra before turns and accelerate through and out of them. I started doing the same. He could pull away from me slightly if I did a top gear roll-on but if I clicked down to 5th I kept up fine.
We also found a county road that had an unpaved section. Recent rains and a lack of recent maintenance meant there were a few sections of mud which I had no trouble riding through it. When we got to our lunch stop a couple of my fellow riders expressed that they were impressed and I told them it reminded me of when I was a new rider in the mountains of Pennsylvania. I lived on an unpaved road so my rides began and ended with half a mile of dirt or mud and gravel.
200 miles later I realized I had regained my comfort with riding and, in particular, this bike. This Ninja is perfect for me. Sure, I’m never going to have it on the track or be a stunt rider, but those aren’t things I want to do. I know the perfect motorcycle doesn’t exist, but for my interests and purposes, this bike is almost as close as it can be. The only things that would make it better are an OEM top case and electronic cruise control, but I’m not going to complain too much here.