KAWASAKI NINJA 1000SX (2020 - on) Review

At a glance

Owners' reliability rating: 4.9 out of 5 (4.9/5)
Annual servicing cost: £500
Power: 140 bhp
Seat height: Medium (32.9 in / 835 mm)
Weight: High (518 lbs / 235 kg)

Prices

New £11,145
Used £10,300 - £11,000

Overall rating

Next up: Ride & brakes
4 out of 5 (4/5)

Before this 2020 Kawasaki Ninja 1000SX, the Z1000SX was a phenomenal success for the firm: their biggest-selling bike in the UK for the past decade, and Europe’s top-selling sports-tourer for at least the past three years.

The Ninja 1000SX carries over the Z’s magic mix of sporty style, plentiful power and undemanding versatility, then fixes a few of its shortcomings. The biggest single improvement is handling – the Z1000SX had horribly heavy steering at low speed and flopped reluctantly into turns, especially on its OE tyres.

But all that’s been fixed for the Ninja. From mini-roundabouts in town to tight mountain roads to wide open countryside sweepers, the new 1000SX steers as easily and accurately as anything.

The improvement comes down to either the new tyres (a model-specific ‘G’ version of Bridgestone’s S22) and/or some small tweaks to steering geometry (the Ninja has half a degree less rake and 4mm less trail than the Z).

Kawasaki Ninja 1000SX side view

On top of that, the Ninja adds a few new hi-tech features, including cruise control, a two-way quickshifter and a colour TFT dash – and all come fitted as standard, not accessories or options that cost extra.

Last but not least, the Ninja’s more comfortable too, thanks to a thicker and wider seat that not only feels a plusher place to sit, but also lifts the rider up, creating a fraction more legroom.

So that’s sharper steering, more modern sophistication and a touch more comfort, without compromising the fundamental sports-touring recipe that made the Z1000SX so popular. And all this costs just £700 more than last year’s Z, meaning the Ninja continues to undercut rivals.

Ride quality & brakes

Next up: Engine
4 out of 5 (4/5)

The Z1000SX could feel a little harsh over bumps, but the Ninja seems more supple. Technical differences are only very slight – there’s an extra slit in the damping pistons inside the forks, which allows more oil to flow and softens low-speed compression.

At the rear of the bike, Kawasaki say they’ve "fine-tuned" the shock, but the unit itself is the same as before. Perhaps they’ve just had a fiddle with the preload and/or rebound damping adjusters…

Whatever the truth, the end result feels pretty good – plenty of support from the front while stopping sharply, no ungainly pitching around when cornering or accelerating hard, and generally pleasant bump absorption.

Brakes are unchanged from the Z1000SX, with a pair of powerful four-piston Tokico one-piece calipers up front. There’s plenty of feel for the front tyre too, and if it all goes wrong the backup plan is Kawasaki’s clever cornering ABS system, which adjusts its behaviour when you’re leant over to help you keep on your intended line.

Kawasaki Ninja 1000SX right side

Engine

Next up: Reliability
4 out of 5 (4/5)

Many inline-fours have a revvy power delivery, needing to be worked hard to release their potential. Not so the Ninja 1000’s. It’s virtually identical to the long-stroke 1043cc motor from the Z1000SX (which itself dates back to the 2010 Z1000), with a fat, flat torque curve, loads of midrange, and close ratios giving any-gear, any-rev, any-speed flexibility.

On open roads you can sit in third, fourth, fifth or sixth gear and it all feels equally natural. In top, you can drop as low as 20mph and it still pulls cleanly. If you want to feel the Ninja’s sporty side, it’ll scream on to 11,000rpm and deliver a claimed 140bhp – which is more than plenty.

Technical changes are tiny. Camshaft profiles have been modified to reduce the engine’s mechanical noise, but don’t appear to affect performance. Intake funnels have been altered too, with shorter trumpets for the outer pair of cylinders – Kawasaki say this suits the new 4-into-2-into-1 exhaust and reduces emissions.

As before there are two power modes: Full, which does what it says; and Low, which has a milder response and limits output to 75% (105bhp). These are now paired to one of the traction control’s three settings and pre-packaged into four intuitive riding modes: Sport, Road, Rain and a customisable Rider setting.

Overall, the Ninja 1000SX’s motor won’t implode your brain and turn your eyeballs inside-out like a ZX-10R or H2 SX, but it remains an easier, more useful, more forgiving and more rewarding engine on the road.

Kawasaki Ninja 1000SX exhaust

Reliability & build quality

Next up: Value
4 out of 5 (4/5)

There’s no reason to imagine the fundamental build quality will be any different from the previous Z1000SX, which scores exclusively four and five-star reviews from MCN-reading owners.

Paint looks deep, the engine has proven itself reliable over the past decade, and the general sense of fit and finish is excellent. Like the Z1000SX before it, the Ninja will continue to be built at Kawasaki’s Akashi plant in Japan.

We just need more time and miles to see how the new dash, switchgear and quickshifter hold up to long-term use before it deserves the full five stars.

Value vs rivals

Next up: Equipment
4 out of 5 (4/5)

Running costs should be a fraction lower than the Z1000SX, as service intervals have been extended. To be more specific, the Z’s (largely trivial) 3800-mile service has been dropped completely, leaving owners to deal with just an annual oil service, plus a mileage-based service every 7500 miles. Valve clearances are a generous 26,000 miles apart.

And as for the Ninja’s overall value? Given all the new gadgets (colour TFT dash, cruise control, two-way quickshifter) come included as standard, the £11,145 starting price looks pretty impressive.

That’s less than even the most bare-bones version of BMW’s R1250RS (£12,395) or Ducati’s Supersport (£12,141) and only £500 more than the revvier and less-complete Suzuki GSX-S1000F (£10,645). The only slightly cheeky catch is that the grey paintscheme in the pictures here is £200 more.

Kawasaki Ninja 1000SX TFT dash

Equipment

4 out of 5 (4/5)

Standard spec is high. Even the base-model Ninja 1000SX comes with cruise control, two-way quickshifter and a colour TFT dash with Bluetooth connectivity. And as it has since 2017, there’s also cornering ABS and traction control, as well as piercing white LED headlights.

If you want panniers (and the vast majority of Z1000SX customers did) then the Touring version of the Ninja 1000SX comes with them, plus a taller touring screen and heated grips, and costs £1000 more.

If you want a sportier look, the Ninja 1000SX Performance has a road-legal Akrapovic carbon silencer and a single seat cowl, for the same £12,145. And if you want both pose and practicality, the Performance Tourer version gets virtually the whole accessory catalogue (luggage, grips, exhaust, smoked touring screen, cowl and more) for £13,145.

Beware trying to compare ultimate gadget bragging rights with your BMW-owning neighbour, however. The Ninja 1000SX doesn’t yet offer electronic suspension adjustment, cornering lights, keyless ignition, hill-hold control or official plug-in microwave.

More seriously though, there are still two accessory oversights. The first is that there’s still no option to fit a centrestand – even though there is for the Versys 1000. And Kawasaki still don’t approve the use of three-piece hard luggage at once.

They’re happy for you to fit panniers OR a topbox, but not all together. For a sports-tourer, either of those could be seen as a fairly sizeable shortcoming.

Kawasaki Ninja 1000SX seat

Specs

Engine size 1043cc
Engine type liquid-cooled, 16v, inline four
Frame type aluminium twin-spar
Fuel capacity 19 litres
Seat height 835mm
Bike weight 235kg
Front suspension 41mm forks adjustable for preload, rebound and compression
Rear suspension Monoshock adjustable for preload and rebound
Front brake 2 x 300mm discs with four-piston calipers
Rear brake 250mm single disc with one-piston caliper
Front tyre size 120/70 ZR17
Rear tyre size 190/50 ZR17

Mpg, costs & insurance

Average fuel consumption 43 mpg
Annual road tax £93
Annual service cost £500
New price £11,145
Used price £10,300 - £11,000
Insurance group -
How much to insure?
Warranty term Two years

Top speed & performance

Max power 140 bhp
Max torque 82 ft-lb
Top speed 155 mph
1/4 mile acceleration -
Tank range 180 miles

Model history & versions

Model history

2011 Kawasaki Z1000SX – Fully faired sporty roadbike built around the frame and motor from the loopy Z1000 supernaked, but tamed and re-engineered to serve as a useable all-rounder.

High-rise clip-ons give a comfortable riding position, grunty engine has masses of useful midrange, but it still looks (a bit) like a ZX-10R (if you squint). No electronics, though ABS is an option, while wide accessory panniers need to be clipped to an external tubular steel rail. 136bhp, 81ftlb, 228kg and 820mm seat height. Steers stubbornly at low speed on OE Bridgestone tyres.

2014 Kawasaki Z1000SX – Generation 2 model gets heaps of nips and tucks, including new Tokico brake calipers, stiffer suspension, two power modes, three-level traction control, slimmer flush-mounting panniers, tiny tweaks to the intake cam’s lift and duration, thicker seat padding, a remote rear preload adjuster and more.

Power up to 140bhp, kerb weight up to 230kg. Still steers stubbornly at low speed on new OE Bridgestone tyres.

2017 Kawasaki Z1000SX – Third time lucky. Gen 3 inherits the ZX-10R’s IMU, which feeds information to the new cornering ABS and traction control. More suspension changes too, including a new shock linkage that drops seat height to 815mm, as well as damping changes at both ends.

New bodywork is an inch wider on each side and screen is 15mm taller for better weather protection. New LCD clocks finally get a gear position indicator. LED headlight is brighter and whiter than previous bulbs. Still steers stubbornly on OE Bridgestone tyres.

Owners' reviews for the KAWASAKI NINJA 1000SX (2020 - on)

7 owners have reviewed their KAWASAKI NINJA 1000SX (2020 - on) and rated it in a number of areas. Read what they have to say and what they like and dislike about the bike below.

Review your KAWASAKI NINJA 1000SX (2020 - on)

Summary of owners' reviews

Overall rating: 4.6 out of 5 (4.6/5)
Ride quality & brakes: 5 out of 5 (5/5)
Engine: 4.9 out of 5 (4.9/5)
Reliability & build quality: 4.9 out of 5 (4.9/5)
Value vs rivals: 4.3 out of 5 (4.3/5)
Equipment: 4.7 out of 5 (4.7/5)
Annual servicing cost: £500
3 out of 5 Ninja 1000sx review
30 August 2020 by Darren k

Version: Tourer

Year: 2020

Looks good but vague turn in to bends gives no confidence,going to change to pilot road 5 if that don’t work I’ll be going back to honda

Ride quality & brakes 5 out of 5
Engine 4 out of 5

To much intake noise,makes you think you need to be in a higher gear

Reliability & build quality 4 out of 5
Value vs rivals 5 out of 5
Equipment 4 out of 5

Got the tourer but power socket doesn’t come as part of the tourer pack

5 out of 5 Ninja 1000SX 2020
17 August 2020 by Tim McD

Version: Touring

Year: 2020

Superb bike, easily the best I've ever owned. It is both fast, and very comfortable, with a much better riding position than previous bikes. Although heavier than my previous VFR800, as soon as you move the weight goes, and it's easy to flick around.

Ride quality & brakes 5 out of 5

Ride is very good, have had pillion on back and bike was comfy for the whole journey. Handling is really good, and stable ( lean angle gauge is fun). At very low speeds I personally find it heavy to manoeuvre, probably because the seat height is more than my old VFR.

Engine 5 out of 5

Pulls like a horse when you want it to, and can easily be ridden sensibly when needed. Quick-shifter is excellent, and makes hard acceleration a whole new experience (to me anyway - my first Q/shifter experience), absolutely love it. Still does feel a bit low geared, which i see other people say too, but then the cruise control takes care of that if you are on a long run, which is another excellent feature on this bike.

Reliability & build quality 5 out of 5

Only done 1,500 miles so no comment here, but with history of high sales for years, that says something. Excellent finish on the paintwork especially on the (very) metallic Green.

Value vs rivals 4 out of 5

Only had its first service recently £165 at J.W. Groombridge in East Sussex, who did the service. (Although I felt the cost of the first service was on the steep side, at £160). Cant say much about running costs, as haven't done enough miles.

Equipment 5 out of 5

Panniers on this model are really good - from the small amount I've used them. New TFT dash is really clear - cannot fault it and with the addition of the Kawasaki "Rideology" app that adds something interesting.

Buying experience: Bought from J.W.Groombridge in E.Sussex, and really cannot praise them highly enough, the service was excellent. Very impressed.

5 out of 5
31 May 2020 by emaxt6

Year: 2020

Nice overall package in a not so crowded sport touring classic market.

Ride quality & brakes 5 out of 5

Steering is improved compared to '17. S22 are much better than the pathetic S10 of the '17 model. It is strange that now that the new model is out, only now MCN says that '17 had an "horrible steering"....

Engine 5 out of 5

140hp are sufficient for the road...

Reliability & build quality 5 out of 5
Value vs rivals 4 out of 5
Equipment 5 out of 5
5 out of 5 New kawasaki ninja1000sx
22 May 2020 by Neil Hodgkinson

Version: Gray and black

Year: 2020

Annual servicing cost: £500

Very easy to ride ,pulls in every gear ,i love the quick shifter,very comfortable on long distances

Ride quality & brakes 5 out of 5

Very good brakes

Engine 5 out of 5

Pulls very good loads of bottom end grunt

Reliability & build quality 5 out of 5
Value vs rivals 5 out of 5

The 600 mile service is 150 a bit expensive for an oil and filter change

Equipment 5 out of 5

Tft clocks ,quick shifter,cruise control 4 power modes

Buying experience: I got mine from Chris walkers kawasaki, I dealt with Kim there i went in beginning Dec's for the deposit, and payed the rest end Dec they delivered it end Feb, I would recommend them to anyone there that good ,very nice experience

4 out of 5
10 April 2020 by Ben

Year: 2020

Very good bike only thing is the insurance companies in the OK changing so much more because of the word ninja in it.

Ride quality & brakes 5 out of 5
Engine 5 out of 5
Reliability & build quality 5 out of 5
Value vs rivals 3 out of 5

It the insurance that get it marked down as I was quoted £400 less for a z1000sx on a 20 plate then the ninja 1000sx just because its called a ninja.

Equipment 5 out of 5
5 out of 5 Cracking bike
03 April 2020 by Neil Hodgkinson

Version: Standard

Year: 2020

Annual servicing cost: £500

Cannot fault it lovely ride very comfortable

Ride quality & brakes 5 out of 5
Engine 5 out of 5
Reliability & build quality 5 out of 5

Love the look and quality of finish

Value vs rivals 5 out of 5
Equipment 5 out of 5
5 out of 5 Mean Green Speed Machine!
18 February 2020 by Pierre from Vancouver

Version: Standard

Year: 2020

Cracking bike, perfect for roads here on the West Coast of Canada (Vancouver, BC). Limited time on the saddle so far, but very enjoyable. Not as heavy as it looks, even with the panniers; easy to move around. Love the new clocks, the quickshifter (still getting used to that...) and the cruise control! Seriously, for the money, Kawasaki Canada should install the LED turned signals...

Ride quality & brakes 5 out of 5

Brakes are powerful, especially coming from a 2015 Tracer 900. Suspension is good, not too soft.

Engine 5 out of 5

That's a lot of fun, but nothing really compares to a Yamaha CP3 ;-) Getting used to the lack of low RPM torque.

Reliability & build quality 5 out of 5

Absolutely perfect finish. Very visible clocks. Feels solid...

Value vs rivals 4 out of 5

No service yet, but a tad expensive to insure. Goes with the 1043cc territory, I guess.

Equipment 4 out of 5

Panniers are pricey, but reasonable quality. Didn't add anything else so far. Could REALLY use a better windscreen.

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