There is a word in my vocabulary which stops me getting carried away – justify. I can’t justify owning several different motorbikes and nor can my limited bank account and garage space, says motoring writer Andy Russell.
So, as a one-size-fits-all biker, I need a single machine that can fill a variety of roles. An all-rounder that’s great to ride – sporty enough to put a smile on my face, comfortable enough not to be a pain in the backside. And it must not overstretch my budget nor my short legs when sitting on it!
Adventure bikes have fitted the bill but I fancy a change and a bit more bang for not big bucks.
One bike on my radar is the new Kawasaki Ninja 1000SX which, following three generations and a decade of Z1000SX, has a good pedigree as the brand’s biggest-selling bike in the UK and, latterly, Europe’s top-selling sports-tourer.
So I was keen to see if it delivered on the promise.
Well, it certainly looks the part without being too imposing given my short stature. It feels well balanced moving it around and an 835mm seat height saw me getting the balls of both feet on the ground comfortably.
I’m used to the upright riding position of an adventure bike but soon adjusted to the slightly more prone arms forward, feet back stance which is surprisingly comfortable.
The four-position adjustable screen offers good protection – not far short of my adventure bike at the highest setting and saving a lot of wind buffeting at 70mph even as its lowest. And a little wind resistance helps take any strain off your wrists.
My early days, before my back was creaky, were spent riding in-line fours and I’m still a big fan of them.
The 1,043cc engine in the Ninja 1000SX has been tweaked for Euro 5 but still develops 142PS at 10,000rpm and 111Nm of torque at 8,000rpm but this is no rev-hungry unit. It is immensely flexible with a smooth power delivery, pulling willingly from low revs in any gear before delivering strong mid-range performance.
So, if touring, you can leave it in top gear and roll the power on and off and it rewards fuel consumption with 55mpg on my test ride. If you want more fun, let it sing and snick through the six-speed gearbox which now benefits from a two-way quickshifter.
And for long journeys cruise control is useful and now also standard.
The Ninja 1000SX handles better than its predecessor with crisper, lighter steering and new tyres. Suspension is fully adjustable, front and rear, albeit manually rather than electronically.
The result is a taut, agile feel through corners and stable confident cruising. The suspension is supple enough to soak up bumps and lumps while retaining enough feedback to bring out the big Ninja’s sporty nature.
Twin 300mm front discs are reassuringly powerful and progressive with good feel and it also boasts cornering ABS and traction control.
The colour TFT dash is easy to navigate and digest data while multi-function switchgear is intuitive and also give access to full and low power modes (75%) and sport, road, rain and customisable rider settings.
The Ninja 1000SX is a lot of motorbike for the money with the standard model from £11,499. The £12,399 Tourer version gets two colour-matched 28-litre panniers, a larger smoke windscreen and a GPS bracket. The £12,549 Performance model has frame sliders, a smoke windscreen, gel tank pad, colour-coded seat cover and a sporty Akrapovič exhaust. Range-topping £13,349 Performance Tourer gets both kits and heated grips.
Ride the Ninja 1000SX and you soon realise its many talents and why it’s so popular. It’s a sports bike than can munch miles effortlessly in comfort. A real master blaster.
Check out the full Ninja 1000SX range at orwell.co.uk/kawasaki/new-kawasaki-motorcycle-range