Unlike any motorcycle built before, the 2012 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-14R is about to take on the world, outshine all its competitors and leave the world spinning. Since the debut of the Kawasaki Ninja ZX-14 in 2006 it has been all about performance. It wasn’t enough for Kawasaki to own one of the fastest production bikes on the world market, Kawasaki has outdone itself again with heart-racing revisions to the big brother Ninja.
The major changes on the 2012 ZX-14R have centered around the inline-four engine. The engine’s dual gear-driven equalizer set up, has been enhanced to work with the longer-stroke proportions and crankshaft variations, resulting in level power across the rev range. Displacement has been increased through a 4mm stroke addition to give the ‘12 ZX-14R a startling total of 1441cc, with bore x stroke dimensions now measuring 84 x 65mm. Reshaped combustion chambers and intake ports maximize performance. The camshafts was revised with a reinforced cam chain, allowing the engine to withstand high rpm levels. The pistons also experienced a face lift to increase their strength while shedding weight at the same time.
Another monumental highlight is a new oil jet cooling system that will provide constant lubrication under the pistons. Engine compression equals a 12.3:1 and as a result connecting rods have been re-designed with a stronger material. The crankshaft main journals are 2mm thicker compared to the past model, and a new air cleaner has 10% more surface area and 40% larger airflow capability.
The fuel injection was updated with an automatic idle adjustment and lower emissions. Besides adding more power, the new ZX-14R also aims for better control with a dual-driven counterbalancer. It was engineered to complement the 4mm longer stroke dimensions, the setup is reported to balance power output.
While the new model does retain the former chassis design, more than half of the aluminum castings and forgings have been modified. The rear swingarm is 10mm longer and the result is an overall alloy frame that is much stiffer in places. The intended goal was to keep the previous ZX-14’s light-handling while increasing the sportiness and power. The suspension was upgraded with the 43mm inverted fork and adjustable single shock receiving improved bottoming resistance and internal settings. The overall weight of the bike is up, but the use of 10-spoke wheels helps reduce unsprung weight by 3.3 pounds.
The ZX-14R was equipped with a slipper clutch—helping to reduce wheel-hop and negative torque effects associated with downshifting and braking—and a KTRC traction control and ignition system. Included in the system are three different riding profiles: full power, medium power and third option for low traction conditions. The profiles are easily accessible to the rider via a bar-mounted toggle switch, with the system’s overall status displayed on the cockpit’s LCD screen.
Kawasaki didn’t stop with the mechanical, the exterior has been fully made over with a more aggressive nose section and a quad-headlight assembly. The ZX-14R keeps its hallmark side fairing fin design – accentuating the lines for a more dramatic look. The tail section was modified with faired-in turn signals and a new seat cover. Meanwhile, the seat itself was reshaped to offer more thigh support.
The 2012 Ninja ZX-14R reveals new instrument controls, a new multi-function toggle switch and select button on the left handlebar that gives full access to system functions. Riders will be able to browse through a variety of LCD screens, providing on-demand access to fuel consumption, remaining range, battery voltage, temperature, traction control, and more.
|Engine Type||Four-stroke, DOHC, four valve per cylinder, inline-four|
|Bore & Stroke||84.0 mm x 65.0 mm|
|Fuel System||DFI with four 44 mm Mikuni throttle bodies|
|Ignition||TCBI with Digital Advance|
|Final Drive||X-ring Chain|
|Rake & Trail||23 degrees/3.7 in.|
|Wheel Base||58.3 in.|
|Seat Height||31.5 in.|
|Front Suspension||43 mm inverted cartridge fork with adjustable preload, 18-way compression|
|Rear Suspension||Bottom-link Uni-Trak and gas-charged shock with adjustable preload|
|Front Brake||Dual semi-floating 310 mm petal discs with dual radial-mounted 4-piston calipers|
|Rear Brake||Single 250 mm petal disc with twin-piston caliper|
|Front Tire||120/70 ZR17|
|Rear Tire||190/50 ZR17|
|Fuel Capacity||5.8 gal|
|Dry Weight||584.3 lbs.|
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