2012 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-14R Special Edition

2012 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-14R Special Edition

– 2012 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-14R Special Edition

2012 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-14R Special Edition Review

The -R- Designation Equals More Race Winning Power and More Refinement for the Ultimate Open-Class Sportbike

It-s gotta be ugly competing against the ZX–14 year after year. When it arrived on the big-bore sportbike stage in 2006, the big Ninja® blew everyone-s minds – owners, journalists and competitors – with its incredible thrust, sport-tourer comfort, agile handling and aerodynamic full-coverage bodywork. Continuous refinement has kept the 14 a step ahead of the competition, all while filling enthusiasts- face shields with wild, ear-to-ear grins.

Fortunately for Kawasaki fans (and unfortunately for the competition), there-s no let up for 2012. Not only is the newly R-designated Ninja ZX-14R Special Edition massively more powerful, it-s also almost entirely new, with more of the character, design excellence, and finesse you-ve come to expect from Team Green- – the company that-s been building legendary open-class motorcycles for more than 40 years.

Big power delivered smoothly has always been a big Ninja hallmark, so the changes for 2012 begin in the new ZX-14R-s engine bay. First off, there-s more displacement via a 4mm stroke increase; to 65mm (up from 61mm), with displacement now registering 1441cc (up from 1352cc). Combustion chamber shapes are newly optimized for 2012, and they-re surface-milled now, not cast.

Intake ports are reshaped and polished for maximum flow while working in concert with longer and more durable intake valves. Yep, the new Ninja ZX-14R Special Edition really does come -ported- right from the factory.

The camshafts working those valves are more radical, with increased lift and revised profiles, while a stronger cam chain and revised tensioning system maximize reliability at the stratospheric rpm levels this engine is capable of. Newly designed forged pistons with thinner crowns offer increased durability and less weight, and are cooled by a new 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 system.) There-s more: Compression is up from last year; connecting rods have beefier small ends, and are made of a stronger material; crankshaft main journals are thicker, from 38 to 40mm; a new air-cleaner element is larger and thicker, with 10% more surface area and 40 percent more airflow capability; and transmission gears have been heat- and surface-treated to be even more durable and shift more smoothly.

Feeding this class dominating new engine is a revised fuel injection system that offers automatic idle adjustment and reduced emissions. Burned hydrocarbons exit through a heavily revised exhaust system with reshaped, larger-diameter tapered header pipes and larger-volume, reshaped mufflers, each with an advanced catalyzer to minimize emissions.

The benefits of all this hot-rodding are substantial, as there-s more power virtually everywhere across the rev range. The increases are most profound in the mid-high rpm range, with notably stronger acceleration from 4,000 rpm onward. 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.

But the ZX-14R-s new engine is more than supremely powerful; there-s plenty of polish and panache to go along with it. The engine-s dual gear-driven counterbalancer setup, for instance, has been optimized to work with the new mill-s longer-stroke dimensions and crankshaft changes. The result is smoother power across the rev range.

That power is more manageable than ever, too, thanks to the addition of a back-torque limiting -slipper- clutch assembly and a KTRC traction control and ignition management system that features three different riding modes – full power, medium power and a third mode for low-traction (wet/slippery) conditions. The KTRC system is controlled by a bar-mounted toggle/push switch, and the system-s effects can be monitored on a seven-segment 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 streetbike engine ever built – and an engine this capable needs a similarly competent chassis in which to live and thrive. The 2012 ZX-14R is up to the job, and then some. Kawasaki engineers strove to retain the previous ZX-14-s light-handling and maneuverable demeanor, using the existing chassis design as a starting point for the new 14R and its increased power production.

To maintain this sweet-handling character but also pump up the sportiness quotient, engineers modified more than half of the previous frame-s aluminum castings and forgings, all of which have different flex and rigidity characteristics than the parts they replace. So while the new alloy frame bears a distinct resemblance to the previous unit-s over-the-engine, monocoque design, it is vastly different: stiffer in some places and unchanged in others, the net result forming an ideal balance for the bike-s weight, power and cornering ability. In back, the swingarm is 10mm longer than before and features more gusseting to effectively match the new frame-s rigidity balance.

Front and rear suspension revisions help maintain this balancing act of wheel control, ride compliance and maneuverability. Both the 43mm fully adjustable inverted fork and multi-adjustable single shock have improved bottoming resistance and revised internal settings, while new lighter and beautifully machined 10-spoke wheels look great and reduce unsprung weight by a whopping 3.3 pounds, further aiding acceleration, handling and suspension action. The new ZX-14R-s triple disc brakes are updated, as well, with more rigid disc material and revised pads for powerful, fade-free stops and a progressive feel at the lever.

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 this latest addition to a long line of sportbikes looks the part, with new bodywork tip-to-tail honoring the imposing, angular and flowing shapes that have made recent Ninjas some of the most attractive sportbikes in existence.

The nose is especially imposing, with a more aggressive nose fitted with a quad-headlight assembly and a large ram-air duct stuffing cool atmosphere into the intake system. The traditional 4-fin theme along the fairing-s sides has a more pronounced 3D design this year, 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.-spec models – boosting aesthetic performance.

The body package offers functional benefits as well as aesthetic ones. The reshaped seat, for instance, offers more thigh support and makes it easier for vertically challenged riders to reach the ground. The bodywork-s venting system is better at extracting heated air from the engine bay and away from the rider and passenger.

The new ZX-14-s instruments and controls have been reworked as well, with a newly finished gauge cluster and a new 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.

Every now and then a manufacturer builds a motorcycle that defines their brand in the marketplace. For Kawasaki, that motorcycle is the Ninja ZX-14.

Kawasaki’s most powerful motorcycle to date, the Ninja ZX-14 sets new performance standards with the most unbelievable, absolutely-jaw-dropping acceleration you have ever experienced. But what makes the Ninja ZX-14 even more incredible is the absolute finesse with which it commands this power. Smooth and linear from idle to redline, you don-t have to be a world champion to control this machine.

But it-s not just about horsepower; the Ninja ZX-14 combines its earth-shattering engine performance with exquisite handling and stability, sleek aerodynamics and superbly comfortable ergonomics, creating the ultimate long-range hyper-sports weapon.

2012 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-14R Special Edition Features and Benefits

New for 2012

– Massively more powerful 1,441cc inline-four engine features a 4mm longer stroke, reworked cylinder head assembly, polished ports and lighter, stronger pistons for more power across the rev range

– KTRC traction-control system features three different modes for varying conditions and is controlled by a handy switch assembly on the left handlebar

– All-new slipper clutch assembly controls rear-wheel torque effects while braking and downshifting

– All-new exhaust system features tapered and reshaped head pipes and an all-new muffler assembly for low noise and emissions

– Redesigned aluminum monocoque frame is narrow, strong and rigid

– All-new swingarm assembly is longer and features strengthening gussets to cope with the engine-s newfound power

– Transmission gears are more durable thanks to new temperature and surface treatments

– All-new bodywork package builds upon the slick aesthetic image of the previous machine, includes a rear seat cowl and adds better air management to the mix for improved rider and passenger comfort

– All-new 10-spoke wheels are more than 3 pounds lighter in total than the previous machine-s units; this reduces unsprung weight, which aids handling and maneuverability

– New disc material and pads improve the 14R-s radial-mount braking system

– Revised suspension settings front and rear add wheel control and compliance to an already plush ride

– Higher overall finish quality than before, including hidden bodywork fasteners

New 1,441cc Four-cylinder Liquid-Cooled DOHC Engine

– Longer-stroke design, revised (and ported) cylinder heads, lighter pistons, higher compression and more radical camshafts provide more torque and power throughout the rev range

– Piston jet system sprays a continuous stream of cooling lubrication to the underside of each piston for cooler running temperatures, more constant power production and better durability

– Stronger cam chain and tensioning system offers a higher degree of durability at stratospheric rpm levels

– Crankshaft main journals are 2mm thicker (now 40mm) for added durability

– More durable temperature and surface treatments allow the transmission gears to better harness the new engine-s prodigious power production

– Chrome composite-plated aluminum cylinder bores are lightweight, durable, and quickly carry heat away from the combustion chamber and piston for supreme durability at high power outputs

– Newly designed engine is compact and narrow, which allows the rest of the machine to be smaller, lighter and more nimble

– Low mechanical noise via special piston profile and urethane insulation sheet on the inside of the magnesium chain cover

Revised High-flow Exhaust System

– All-new header assembly has tapered-diameter pipes for optimal power production and power delivery characteristics

– Newly designed mufflers offer lower noise emissions and, due to the dual catalyzers, are cleaner than before

– Airflow into the exhaust from the large secondary air ports in the cylinder head and head cover, plus a third honeycomb catalyzer in the collector, help meet strict Euro III emissions standards

– Internal silencer construction minimizes impact of emissions regulations while maintaining impressive top-end power

Gear-driven Dual Engine Balancers

– Revised balance weights keep the newly dimensioned engine (more stroke) in ideal balance, resulting in improved comfort for riders and passengers

– Already in perfect primary balance, the 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 in the newly shaped fairing 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

– New throttle body assembly featuring 44mm throttle bodies is fitted with ISC valve and sub-throttle valves controlled by the ECU. They provide precise response, smooth DFI® performance, automatic idle speed adjustment, and help the bike meet Euro III emissions requirements now and into the future

– Revised intake tract porting optimizes flow characteristics

– Injectors deliver lateral spray at a 20-degree angle to disperse the finely atomized fuel over a wide area

– Fine-atomizing injectors produce a 75-micron droplet size

– 32-bit ECU works with dual throttle valve system to further enhance throttle response and control

2-Mode Digital Ignition

– Rider selectable High Low 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 modes for varying conditions

– Modes are controlled by a handy switch assembly on the left handlebar

– Modes are indicated on the LCD cockpit display

New Back-Torque Limiting -Slipper- Clutch

– All-new back-torque limiting -slipper- clutch assembly controls 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

New-generation 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 new 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 slightly longer wheelbase and front/rear weight balance carefully designed to achieve high-speed stability and responsive handling

– Longer swingarm adds high-speed stability and is gusseted to better cope with the new engine-s power production

– 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


– Revised internal settings for the inverted and multi-adjustable 43mm cartridge-type fork allow more wheel control and improved ride compliance

– Stepless damping adjustment improves suspension performance

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– Excellent control and feedback from the fully adjustable bottom-link Uni-Trak® rear suspension

– Linkage rates allow linear suspension action and greater wheel control

– Bottom-link design helps create a lower center of gravity, which makes the motorcycle more nimble

Reshaped Petal-type Discs with Radial-mount Calipers

– Reshaped petal-type design brake discs provide better cooling and enhanced warp resistance

– Radial mounted four-piston front brake calipers use improved brake pads and 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 improves brake performance and lever feel

Aggressive New Bodywork

– Monocoque frame is positioned over the engine so the sleek new fairing is uninterrupted by protruding frame spars, adding to the extremely long and low styling

– New fairing venting offers improved engine-heat control for more comfort for rider and passenger

– 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 appearance

– Quadruple projector beam headlights in the new fairing give the ZX–14 a distinctive new 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

Full Instrumentation

– New 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 information via a 7-segment 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

2012 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-14R Special Edition – USA Specifications/Technical Details

US MSRP Price: $14,899.00 USD

Engine Four-stroke, liquid-cooled, DOHC, four valve per cylinder, inline-four

Displacement 1,441 cc

Bore x Stroke 84.0 x 65.0 mm

Compression Ratio 12.3:1

Fuel System DFI® with four 44mm Mikuni throttle bodies

Ignition TCBI with Digital Advance

Transmission Six-Speed

Final Drive X-Ring Chain

Rake/Trail 23 degrees / 3.7 in.

Front Tire Size 120/70 ZR17

Rear Tire Size 190/50 ZR17

Wheelbase 58.3 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.

Front Brakes Dual semi-floating 310 mm petal discs with dual radial-mounted four-piston calipers

Rear Brakes Single 250mm petal disc with twin-piston caliper

Overall length 85.4 in.

Overall width 30.3 in.

Overall height 46.1 in.

Ground clearance 4.9 in.

Seat Height 31.5 in.

Curb Weight 584.3 lbs.

Fuel Capacity 5.8 gal

Color Golden Blazed Green with special graphics (SE)

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