Even though the leaves are turning brown, the season is green…Kawasaki green. The company has pulled the covers off its new-for-2012 street models, which includes three sportbikes and its flagship touring cruiser.
For 2012, the mightiest Ninja has been reworked from stem to stern, earning an R-designation in the process. The ZX-14R’s in-line four is bigger and more powerful, with a 4mm longer stroke that boosts displacement from 1,352cc to 1,441cc, a revised cylinder head assembly, polished ports and lighter, stronger pistons. Big Papa also gets three-mode KTRC traction control, an all-new slipper clutch and an all-new exhaust system with tapered, reshaped head pipes and a low-noise, low-emission muffler. To handle the increase in power, the aluminum monocoque frame has been redesigned, the swingarm assembly is longer and beefier and the transmission is more durable. Sleeker bodywork, lighter wheels, new brake discs and pads, revised suspension settings and new instrumentation leave almost no part of the new ZX-14R untouched. It will be available in green, blue and black ($14,699; SE model with special graphics, $14,899).
A branch or two down the Ninja family tree, the Ninja 1000 returns largely unchanged for 2012, except that optional ABS previously available only in Europe will debut in the U.S. The Ninja 1000 will be available in green and black ($11,199), with ABS adding $700 to the price tag.
Having proven itself to be very popular among a wide range of riders since its debut in 2006, the Ninja 650 has well-earned a through going-over. Its twin-pipe perimeter frame and swingarm have been redesigned for more rigidity, better handling and sleeker styling. To boost midrange power, the exhaust system features a new connector pipe and a higher-volume three-chamber muffler assembly. Kawasaki says it’s easier to pull in the 650’s clutch, new brake pads offer better feel and suspension is more compliant thanks to revised settings and more front/rear travel (which contributes to a slightly taller seat height—31.7 inches vs. 30.9 inches). The handlebars are 20mm wider, the seat is thicker and wider, grippy Dunlop Roadsmart II tires are now standard, fuel capacity is marginally higher (4.2 gallons) and the instrument cluster is new. Lotsa bang for your bucks ($7,499), and available in green, red and black.
To improve the touring capability of the Vulcan 1700 Voyager, for 2012 it gets Navigation Audio Prompt Capability that plays voice prompts from Garmin Zumo 600/665 GPS devices through the motorcycle’s audio system or Kawasaki Genuine Accessory helmet headsets. Also, the all-new Kawasaki Air Management System (KAMS) improves rider and passenger comfort when stopped or riding at low speeds in warm weather. The primary part of KAMS routes radiator heat to the ground, below the engine, while the secondary part of the system draws heat away from the rear cylinder and exhaust pipe and directs it to the ground on the left side of the motorcycle. The Voyager will available in gray and white ($17,899; $18,999 ABS model).
For more information, see your dealer or visit www.kawasaki.com.