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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Initial impression from a Honda CBR1000RR owner ... (06/23/2021)

Rode the bike back over a 22 mile route.

Riding comfort:
Coming from a 2005 Honda CBR1000RR and 2018 CBR1000RR SP background, if I'm only limited to one word to describe the N1K, it would be Smooth. The exhaust note, the steering, the suspension, the "featherbed" seat, all provide a plush riding environment that will coax you to go for long distance trips.

Rear view mirrors: These are actually usable (unlike the CBR and my previous Ninja 250). I can see clearly who is behind me. Perfectly located!

Light Steering:

Not sure what Kawasaki did but the front end is ultra light. So, road feel on the steering is quite low (isolated) compared to a much heavier steering of the CBR1000RR. I need to be more careful to use less push when doing counter-steering. I have yet to experience this light steering at freeway speed. I have an opinion on this but I'll hold my opinion until I can confirm it on the freeway.

Sportiness:
How does Kawasaki convince you that this bike has Sports DNA? Throttle input is picked up by the ECU and executed with such response rate that I cannot tell if it was cable or drive-by-wire. They have fine-tuned & polished this drive by wire feature beautifully. The throttle response is already close to instant at Road Mode and the engine responded very linearly as I increase my throttle input.
I heard good reports about the 2020 model regarding this and I think they have polished this up even further for the 2021.

Pushing it around in garage:
Moving it around when the engine is OFF is markedly heavier as the curb wt is 518 lbs vs 430 lb for my SP. When coming to a stop, my feet needs to be more careful in reaching for ground sooner as the bike is heavier and I really do not want it to tilt to the point of no-return.

Heat on lower right side:
Ambient temperature today was in the mid to high 70's. When I arrived home and still on the bike, my right foot accidentally touched the body and I got a rude burn scorch on the right calf. Obviously I was not burned but even with the riding jeans, it was hot shock similar to your bare hands touching a boiling kettle. Is this normal?

Unlocking the bike using a factory-issued code:
After all the test-drive & paper work were done, I told them I saw a solid CHECK ENGINE light during the test-drive. And, they said they need to key in a code to "release" the bike to the customer so there will not be any restrictions on the bike, unlike the demo ones for test-drive. It took them 1.5 hour futzing around and they finally called the Kawasaki factory and apparently the factory guy told them they just need to obtain the code from the factory. When asked, the dealer told me that they only started to add this step for the 2021 models. Have you guys come across this?

I'll post pictures and provide more updates in the weeks to come.

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UPDATE 6/24/2021

Bluetooth & Clock:
I know some complained that they cannot connect to the bike from the phone. My bike connected with my iPhone12 Max Pro through Rideology App at the first attempt. No issues at all and I could see all the revealed ECU numbers from the Bike. Tracked my ride/route and provided ride statistics nicely. Quite a useful little feature to have.

I only wished they have provided the ability for the bike's clock to be synchronized with the phone automatically since they are now connected. In the 21st Century, if there is a clock on any device, manufacturers should find a way for it to be synchronized automatically through whatever means they can. Even if there is no bluetooth connection with the phone, in the US, atomic clock time is broadcast nationally through radio waves.We are way past setting clocks manually.

Pillion compartment:
Key hole to remove pillon-seat is deliberately hidden from a casual glance. Nicely thought out.

Kawasaki Quickshifter (KQS):
By default, this feature is OFF so I was not able to use it when I rode back from the dealership yesterday. I checked out the Menu last night, and turned it ON. Today, on the way to the gas station, I tried the KQS. Upshifting is buttery smooth, I would say it is smoother than my CBR SP. Downshift, however, is really iffy. I closed the throttle completely because I was approaching a red light. The bike was moving at around 55 MPH at 6th gear and the downshift did not happened. I did not want to step too hard on it in case I break it. Further along in the journey, it worked sometimes. I'm not getting the same type of consistency which I get from the 2 Honda's. Are you guys seeing in this in your 2020/21 N1K ? Do you think it needs to be broken in?
Is there a way to set the sensitivity of the KQS to the pressure of my foot?

Brakes:
OK, they are not Brembo 4-calipers brakes like those on my CBR SP but neither are they junk and they certainly do not feel like single disk brakes. They still bite well when you apply enough pressure. I just need to adjust to the braking distance and the pressures needed when I am riding the N1K, no big deal.

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UPDATE 6/28/2021

Cruise-ctrl:

I have never used cruise-ctrl on a bike in my life before so I have nothing to compare this bike's cruise ctrl with. Tried it early this morning and I'd say it worked as described, like car's cruise-ctrl, not bad and again, things are implemented in a smooth way.
I tried the Resume function, and the bike automatically brings the speed up from 43 to 49 MPH gradually and smoothly, like what a Tourer should. I'm quite impressed.

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UPDATE 07/01/2021

Seat Height:

Although the published seat height is the same as my '18 CBR1000RR SP, when I sat on the Ninja, I can almost flat foot on both sides. This is a positively surprising pleasure. I wanted a slightly lower bike and it turns out to be true, even though on paper it is not.

Kawasaki Quickshifter (KQS):
I think I have found out the idiosyncrasies of the KQS. Like I said earlier (above) that upshifting was a piece of cake. The reason for the reluctant downshift behavior I experienced is twofold:

  1. The RPM needs to be decently high for downshift to engage. On my bike, downshifting at a relaxed pace; say, under 3.5K RPM from 6th gear is not possible.
  2. The highest resistance I encountered is from 6th to 5th gear; even at higher RPM, i.e. above 4K. Once 5th is engaged, downshifting to the rest was easy.
Rideology App: Route tracking
I find it useful to start my ride with opening up the Rideology app > RidingLog > Add to start a new Route log. At the end of the ride, I get to save it and review all the interesting stats of the ride (distance, mapped route, ave MPG, min/max speed, lean angle, etc.)

Exhaust Note:
I'm sure many of you will probably not agree with me on this one but I'm most thrilled by the OEM exhaust note. It reminded me of the BMW R1250RT, the ones used by my local trooper patrols. It has this ultra smooth whizzing note that gives the impression that it emanated from a very well oiled machinery. I'm not a fan of loud grouchy rough exhaust note. Sorry, it's just a personal preference. This is same reason I kept the Honda exhaust for my '18 CBR1000RR SP.

Tires:
I checked the DOT code for both the tires and they were dated Feb 2021 for 2021 bike. That is a very nice thing, Kawasaki! You gave me very fresh tires. I have to say that the tires Honda gave me for my top of the line CBR1000 SP were dated front/rear (2016/2017) for a 2018 bike; albeit, they were expensive Pirelli Supercorsa tires.

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UPDATE 07/02/2021

I decided to take a longer trip since this bike is supposed to be sports tourer; at least, it was marketed that way.

Trip distance = 345 miles
Time taken = around 8 hours
Fill-up at gas station = twice (first one was a precautionary fill-up because we were heading into a national park where no gas stations are available for the next 73 miles)

Seat comfort:
Now that I have tasted what the seat is really like on a decently long trip, I get to tell you. I would say that trips under 150 miles (i.e. under 2-3 hours) should be fine and quite comfortable.
Now, for an 8 hour trip, it was a different story. On the way there, it was fine and I had no pains or aches. We stopped twice in 173 miles. But, on the way back, butt starts to ache, knees were crying for help but surprisingly, not a lot of backaches. There were minor backaches but not a whole lot. I think for a long trip, I really need to stop more frequently so that riding does not turn into a chore. And, of course, the damn juicy summer bugs that kept colliding on helmet shield and messing up my vision reduced the pleasure of riding quite a bit in addition to the aches on the knees and butt.
I would recommend getting an upgrade on seat if you are really into long distance trips (300 miles or more); otherwise, you are going to pay for it.

Advice about taking a new bike for a long trip too soon:
Don't do it. You need time to get used to a bike and I think it would take a couple of months with daily short trips. It was a mistake to take bike on such a long trip after riding it for only 4-5 times. I almost got into incidences a few times in this trip but somehow there are transcendent Powers above protecting me. They were close shaves but I got out of it.

Heat Issue (possible solution):
As for heat issue, I've developed a way to overcome this.
If you slide yourself rearwards, your feet will be just beyond the front fairings' protection and they will get plenty of wind to cool off. After a while, you can sit back in your original position.

Vibration and Buzziness:
Based on the journalists report, Kawasaki made a few improvements to manage vibrations using its new twin counter-balancers, revised camshafts profile and new dampers underneath the seat. What do all these mean in reality when I ride it? I have to say that below 4,000 RPM the rider's seat is quite a serene position to be at. I have not ridden on the previous generation bike, so I cannot tell you if they have improved in this RPM range or not.

At the 4500-5000 RPM range, I can most certainly feel vibrations emanating from the engine to the seat and to my butt. There are also some amount of buzziness on the pegs but they are mild. In due course, when I am through the break-in period, I will stretch her legs further to go higher on the RPM.

I have to admit that my '18 CBR1000RR SP has vibrations at certain RPM range (like 4.5K -5K) but above 5K RPM and below 4.5K RPM, there was hardly any. There are no vibrations which are distinctly felt from my '05 CBR1000RR across all RPM. As you can see, each bike has its own personality in this area. I'll report back when I have the opportunity to run the Ninja at higher RPM's.

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UPDATE 07/07/2021 (07/09/2021 edited Table)

Vibrations & Buzziness Experimentations:

Here's the scoop about the whole deal


RPM RangeVibrations/BuzzinessNotes
0 - 4,000Nothing (sweet spot)6th gear = 50's MPH
4,000 - 4,500Slight vibrations felt on seat and pegs
4,500 - 5,500Distinct vibrations on seat, some on pegsCan be distracting; 6th gear = 65-80 MPH (?)
5,000 - 5,800Most intense vibrations
6,000+vibrations dimmed down significantly
7,000Yet to be tested

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UPDATE 07/10/2021

Gas Consumption:
I have gone passed the initial break-in period with 9 fill-ups at the gas-station (obviously, not full-tank fill-ups mostly). So far, I'm getting around 45-47 MPG if I ride mostly in a relaxed manner with some higher-speeds overtakes to get away from slow & dangerous large vehicles. I'm hoping to see better MPG when the engine settles in over the coming months. On Fuelly, looks like the
highest number of N1K are getting 44 MPG, although some are getting 54 MPG.

Time to do an oil+filter replacement.



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UPDATE 07/11/2021

First Oil+Filter Replacement (~600 miles)
Although I heard about the horror stories across brand names regarding the factory-installed oil filters being overtightened by Thor or Clark Kent, my first oil change with my Honda CBR1000RR SP was fine, nothing of that sort. With the Ninja, I did experienced this kind of horror story. It was tight: too tight for strap-based or cap-based filter removal tools. I had to pull out my trusty
filter destroyer and after about 4-5 attempts, it finally moved. Of course, the filter was deformed by that time.

Curiously, why was the oil filter not installed according to Service Manual specs, which is 13 ft-lb ? My suspicion is that the bikes arrived at the dealers dry and the dealers are the ones that installed the fluids and over-tighten the filters. Some dealers actually read the manual and followed the specs but most do not. This is why we see inconsistent oil filters tightening that are not up to specs.
What are your thoughts on this?


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UPDATE 07/25/2021

OEM GPS Mount:
Even though it's a little pricey, the OEM GPS mount is designed by Kawasaki with bolts & attachments all brilliantly thought out and it came with perfect instructions (like the rest of the accessories I have installed so far). Do you need this? May be you have no intention to purchase a dedicated Garmin motorcycle GPS or other brands, I recommend that you consider this even if you are planning to use your phone. The base plate has a swivel and the solid metal base mount is installed into the tank mount with 2 long bolts and it provided a very solid foundation for your RAM Mount phone mount if you want to. Having tried the fork stem RAM Mount method, I can tell you that mounting the RAM Mount to the OEM plate is sold as a rock.

KQS Downshifting:
As expected, I thought the KQS needed some breaking in. It's significantly smoother now and a lot less notchy than when I first tried it.

OEM Instructions for Accessories:
Of all the vehicles (cars & motorcycles) I have owned in life, I would rank Kawasaki as #1 (the best) for providing the instructions in installing their parts and OEM accessories. Looks like they have tested their installation instructions with multiple people possessing different skill sets to make sure the steps are extremely clear and not dubious. They usually come with a picture of all the parts laid out & numbered. I would remove all the new parts from the packaging and place them on the floor like the picture so it will be easy to follow the instructions. I'm quite impressed with their well tested instructions. Bravo, Kawasaki!


OEM Service Manual:
The Service Manual (around $100) is not as clear in terms of the photos. As a new owner, the first things you usually encounter would be the obvious fairings removal. Somehow, their pictures were taken with so much distortion angles that it was difficult to locate which fairing they were talking about. I have yet to do any repair so time will tell if the rest of the procedures are just as bad. I do not see an alternative to not owning the OEM service manual if you intend to do your own maintenance & repairs yourself. YouTubes are a good visual confirmation but they are not the official procedures.

Online Kawasaki store:
Although the orders are fulfilled reasonably fast, they will not hesitate to charge you a premium price for shipping. If there is any issues with the order, there is no email route to resolve this. You have to call in and wait. Customer Service on the phone is fairly well versed but not exceptional. Sounds like they are outsourced and are not Kawasaki employees. So, if your questions require an extra mile, you will not get it. They all have the "I just work here" attitude.



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Good Report, Thank You for your input.

Heat on lower right side:
Ambient temperature today was in the mid to high 70's. When I arrived home and still on the bike, my right foot accidentally touched the body and I got a rude burn scorch on the right calf. Obviously I was not burned but even with the riding jeans, it was hot shock similar to your bare hands touching a boiling kettle. Is this normal?
I haven't noticed this and have been in 115* ride days. However, I wear mesh riding pants over my jeans.

Unlocking the bike using a factory-issued code:
After all the test-drive & paper work were done, I told them I saw a solid CHECK ENGINE light during the test-drive. And, they said they need to key in a code to "release" the bike to the customer so there will not be any restrictions on the bike, unlike the demo ones for test-drive. It took them 1.5 hour futzing around and they finally called the Kawasaki factory and apparently the factory guy told them they just need to obtain the code from the factory. When asked, the dealer told me that they only started to add this step for the 2021 models. Have you guys come across this?
I've never heard of this before, but that wouldn't be unusual. I have a 2020. If it was only on the 2021 or even the 2020, if our dealers enter the code before we took delivery we would never know. Interesting to hear if any other 2021 buyers have any input on this.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
[...]
I've never heard of this before, but that wouldn't be unusual. I have a 2020. If it was only on the 2021 or even the 2020, if our dealers enter the code before we took delivery we would never know. Interesting to hear if any other 2021 buyers have any input on this.
Dealer told me some other manufacturers have also begun to use this kind of code to release new bikes to customers.
I hope they were not lying.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Looks like N1K Facebook Group has responded about this ...
Summary: yes the Factory Code release is a real thing and it is a new step which many Kawa dealers are not familiar with yet.
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I wear either LD Comfort shorts or tights under my riding pants. In the summer, when I have on mesh pants and the shorts, I do feel quite a bit of heat coming off the right side near my calf that makes the inside of my calf quite hot (so much so that I need to hold it out in the air periodically). I don't feel this if I have on the tights with mesh pants or non-mesh ballistic pants, so not a big problem.
 

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It all makes sense now, probably a good idea for dealers to have a demo mode.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
It all makes sense now, probably a good idea for dealers to have a demo mode.
But, if the odometer is not rolling in demo mode, then consumers may have bought a demo bike with 600 miles and he will never know.
 

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That is true, but from the dealers I have worked with, they will not put a new bike out for demo. They rely on the Kawasaki Good Times Roll events to demo bike and those bikes are provided by Kawasaki for those events. But I do agree, some dishonest dealers may demo a bike and then sell it as new.
 

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The odometer does roll in the demo mode. I put 20 miles on during my demo ride and that's what was on it when I decided to buy it two months later. I know I had to remind them to do the setup thing when I picked it up.
 

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I wear either LD Comfort shorts or tights under my riding pants. In the summer, when I have on mesh pants and the shorts, I do feel quite a bit of heat coming off the right side near my calf that makes the inside of my calf quite hot (so much so that I need to hold it out in the air periodically). I don't feel this if I have on the tights with mesh pants or non-mesh ballistic pants, so not a big problem.
+100% on the heat coming from the right side. I noticed it on my first commute on a warm day.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
I added ====UPDATEs==== to the original post.
 
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Kawasaki Quickshifter (KQS):
By default, this feature is OFF so I was not able to use it when I rode back from the dealership yesterday. I checked out the Menu last night, and turned it ON. Today, on the way to the gas station, I tried the KQS. Upshifting is buttery smooth, I would say it is smoother than my CBR SP. Downshift, however, is really iffy. I closed the throttle completely because I was approaching a red light. The bike was moving at around 55 MPH at 6th gear and the downshift did not happened. I did not want to step too hard on it in case I break it. Further along in the journey, it worked sometimes. I'm not getting the consistency I get from 2 Honda's. Are you guys seeing in this your 2020/21 N1K ? Do you think it needs to be broken in?
Is there a way to set the sensitivity of the KQS to the pressure of my foot?
I have heard similar complaints. However up and down both work for me. I seldom use the down at slow speeds as it isn't necessary or a benefit. At your 55 mph in sixth I can slam down through all the gears with ease. I don't think it has anything to do with break in, and I'm betting you will get a feel for it in a few miles, so maybe the break in period is us riders getting used to it.
 

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That is true, but from the dealers I have worked with, they will not put a new bike out for demo. They rely on the Kawasaki Good Times Roll events to demo bike and those bikes are provided by Kawasaki for those events. But I do agree, some dishonest dealers may demo a bike and then sell it as new.
Kawasaki does have a demo program for dealers just like car dealers have. They can put bike into demo service and get an allowance back. They don’t have to, and I’m sure many dealers don’t.
 

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However up and down both work for me. I seldom use the down at slow speeds as it isn't necessary or a benefit. At your 55 mph in sixth I can slam down through all the gears with ease. I don't think it has anything to do with break in, and I'm betting you will get a feel for it in a few miles, so maybe the break in period is us riders getting used to it.
My experience is the same. Especially us riders getting used to it.

As arthury noted, the KQS works only when the throttle is closed - when first using it I found it very hard to break my (very) old habit of blipping the throttle when pressing the shift lever.

The KQS also does not work while the clutch lever is being pulled - a few times when getting used to it I started to pull the clutch in but tried to depress the gear lever at the same time, so it didn't work.

And again I initially got caught out because of my (very) old habit of rolling off to slow down - because I was often below the required minimum of 2,500rpm, it just would not down shift.

Slowing down fast to keep the revs up (above 3,500 is best) helps in approaching slow corners out on twisty roads - I can now even do a quick-down-shift from 2nd to 1st (around 4,500rpm is good), which is great fun into very tight corners.
Approaching traffic lights/stop signs/etc in town I prefer the old fashioned rolling to a stop at lower revs using the clutch, which gives me a more relaxed and controlled ride.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 · (Edited)
[...]
Slowing down fast to keep the revs up (above 3,500 is best) helps in approaching slow corners out on twisty roads - I can now even do a quick-down-shift from 2nd to 1st (around 4,500rpm is good), which is great fun into very tight corners.
[...]
Just for the records, I have Quickshifters for my other 2 bikes (one DynoJet/PowerCommander and the other a Honda factory-installed) so, I'm quite familiar with not opening throttle and not pulling clutch when downshifting.

I'm curious how much pressure you used to depress the gear shifter to activate a downshift in comparison to an upshift. For upshifting, there is no effort, really; just a light upward push and it obeys the command. This downshifting issue was also, incidentally, highlighted in this MotorcycleNews review at the 1:45min mark on the timeline of the video). I'm glad you guys are not experiencing this so, I guess I'll play with it more and I have much to learn from you folks.

I just got back from an early morning (7AM) 36 miles short ride around a 19 miles lake nearby. The pleasure factor is really high with this bike for sure.
 

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If I don't have a proble with something and you do, it hard for me to understand what your problem is. If you have a problem with something and I don't, it;s hard for you to understand why I don't! Especially with this shifter thing based on your experience. Maybe there is something about the setup between the bikes. Perhaps your dealer, or Kawasaki would provide some input about it. I do have to apply deliberate pressure on the down shift compared to the up shift, but the transition on the down shift seems smooth to me. I only use the down shift at higher revs. And, even though I am happy with how mine is working, I'm interested in anything you determine about yours.
 

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I had not problems with the Bluetooth either. I don’t want to upset anyone due to their faith but, the 2021 N1K SX is proof there is a higher power and it loves us.
 
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