14R and 1984 Ninja 900
Introduced in ’84, the first Kawasaki to bear the Ninja name featured a variety of other firsts. At a time when manufacturers were experimenting with engine configurations other than the previously (and now) standard inline four, the 900 was the first motorcycle with a liquid cooled inline four. According to Kawasaki’s online museum, the company had considered and tested V four and inline six cylinder configurations, but settled on a narrow, lightweight inline four even though at the time Honda’s V four engines were looking like the future.
Other innovative firsts including moving the camchain to the left end of the cylinder block as opposed to placing it in the center, making the engine narrower and evening up the cylinder spacing to make the ports straighter. bike fairings The alternator was mounted behind the cylinders to keep the engine narrow, and a gear driven counterbalancer, six speed gearbox and hydraulic clutch were all used. And while other manufacturer’s were going bigger and heavier (think Honda Interceptor 1000, Suzuki GS1150, Yamaha FJ1100 and Kawasaki’s own GPz1100), Kawasaki was willing to sacrifice outright power to keep weight down. The Ninja’s engine wouldn’t be too far out of place in today’s world, and many of its features are now the sportbike standard.
The Ninja’s frame was just as innovative. 2008 cbr1000rr fairing It’s „diamond“ design was Kawasaki’s first to use the engine as a stressed member for a large displacement machine. While the main frame was made from conventional (at the time) round tube steel, the subframe was a bolt on piece made from square tubing. Consider too that while other sportbikes had smallish fairings and separate belly pans for bodywork, the Ninja had a full fairing at the front and a wraparound tailsection that covered the frame and subframe tubing completely. The remainder of the chassis was fairly conventional for the time: A 16 inch front/17 inch rear wheel combination, an air assisted anti dive front fork and Uni Trak rear suspension.
In Motorcyclist magazine’s April ’84 test of the 900 Ninja, the headline reads, „Suddenly, 2007 gsxr 600 fairings your two year old sport bike is ten years old,“ an indication of the step forward the bike represented. While the industry was in the midst of a quarter mile war at the time with manufacturer’s all hiring Jay „Pee Wee“ Gleason to ride the bikes and the results plastered in two page ads everywhere the Ninja 900 gave away some displacement and power to the other bikes. Motorcyclist’s Road Test Editor Jeff Karr posted a 10.96 second run, about two tenths slower than the then king Suzuki GS1150. Still, the editors raved about the Kawasaki’s power and handling, with this statement closing the test: „The Ninja is a very exciting motorcycle, a leap forward for large displacement sporting bikes. 2007 r6 fairings If you think the essence of motorcycling is the sensation of leaning into corners, you need one.“