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Discussion Starter #1
I bought my N1K used with virtually no miles on it. I wanted it to replace my other “commuter” bike that my son was going to get. It had performed quite well for my commute but my son wanted a bike and I couldn’t really find anything used that was as good as my old bike would be for him. In some ways it was quite a contrast from the N1K; it is a Honda CTX700 with the DCT transmission, ABS and a fairing. I added the factory bags, topcase, taller windscreen, mini floorboards, raising links, and a few other things. Quite honestly it was one of the best bikes I’ve ever owned. I literally could spend 12 hours riding it continuously (and often did) and get off very refreshed. It isn’t a comfortable, nor does it have the creature comforts of my K16GT, but it is a great bike. Its limitations are basically once you want to start cruising between 80-100 or really strafe a backroad. Between those extremes it is quite a good bike.

I commute a long distance from work to home on the weekends due to a job change. I felt like I was really pushing the CTX out of its element on the interstates in California where if you aren’t doing at least 80, you are likely going to get trampled. At 75-80, there wasn’t a lot of reserve left in the CTX as its top speed is about 105-108 as I had it setup.

So I was looking for sort of a “disposable” bike to use on my commute as I didn’t really want to put a lot of miles on my K16GT as I want to use it more for my touring purposes. Not to mention it is a bit wide and splitting lanes isn’t its forte. I normally have to traverse both LA and San Fran traffic and I hit the rush hours in both places.

So ultimately I ended up with a N1K as my commuter bike. I read a lot of posts on this forum, all the road test reviews I could find, so I had a good idea in many ways of what I was getting into. As the adage goes, the proof is in the pudding.

I had a chance to ride it locally around LA before going this weekend on my first commute. I realized that this bike it truly geared way to short. I found the stock windshield to be basically worthless for me at any position but at least I didn’t get turbulent wind flow. I missed having heated grip. The lights suck and the list goes on. I found I couldn’t use a top box with the factory bags and I don’t really like wearing a backpack when I commute in general. Last thing I want do is potentially be in a crash while wearing one. The stock seat left a lot to be desired and the slope toward the tank was very annoying.

So I ended up with a list I wanted to change. Unfortunately I am living out of a hotel at work and I have no place on the other end of my commute to work on anything. My normal “residence” with a garage full of tools is about 1500 miles away. So I was limited to what mods I could do in a hotel parking lot or to find a shop that wouldn’t rip me off. I ended up doing a bit of both. I can wholeheartedly recommend Boyko Racing in Costa Mesa (Boyko Racing - Home) as a great place to go. They are really into building motors and doing a lot of work other shops don’t do but they have no problem doing some of the more mundane things I asked and didn’t rip me off like the other stealerships wanted to.

So the mods that were in before my trip were:

Done:
  • Factory bags
  • Oxford heated grips
  • 16T factory countershaft (rubber cushion so it is quiet – costs a bit more but worth it)
  • Hyperlites brake lights
  • LED replacement headlights
  • Vstream Tall Touring windscreen (aka Pope’s Hat)
  • RAM steering stem mount
  • Power port with cigarette lighter port and 2 USB
  • Battery tender plug (useful for heated gear, USB, etc.)
  • Fuse block with relay to add more powered devices at a later date
  • Sliders
  • Spools
To do before next trip:
  • Speedohealer (on order)
  • Ivan’s reflash (99% likely after my trip) - TBD
  • Delkevic slip-ons (will work with factory bags) – to order
  • Aux LED lights (have already – deciding on mounting brackets)
  • Mirror extenders – (have already but may use to mount aux lights after modifying)
  • Fender extender (to order)
  • Louder horn (to order)
  • Heatroller for heated gear (to order)
  • Top case and some way of mounting it (determine a design for mount)
  • Lowered pegs (maybe)
  • Auto chain luber
Day 1
The first part of my trip starts with heading across LA at the beginning of rush hour. I have to go from the southern end (down near Laguna Beach) ALL the way across LA, then up through San Fran and further north. So basically from SoCal to NorCal. This time I had a bit more time to make my commute and I planned to meet my son and ride the Pacific Coast Highway (PCH) up through Carmel and then on North. I had my bags loaded with stuff and even had a 25” rolling duffel bag strapped across the top. The N1K was definitely loaded up.

So we met in Morro Bay and started our ride together. My son isn’t a super experienced rider and since he was riding the CTX I kept the speeds pretty sane. I did a lot of road racing, MX, cross country, hare scramble, enduros, trials and taught motorcycle safety courses for many years so I am very at home on a bike. So I needed to be extra cautious as to not put him in a situation that would be beyond his abilities. He has taken both riders courses so that was a plus. As his comfort level increased, we picked up the pace a bit but always with a good safety margin. By no means would I say he was slow and we were never holding up traffic.

By 50 miles in and several hundred turns, he was feeling pretty good. The CTX did a great job in this. It doesn’t hurt that I have PR4 tires on it and they stick great. With the raising links it has quite a bit of ground clearance and the chassis is pretty decent. It may look like a cruiser but it is more of a sport bike underneath. It has a ton of torque at any RPM so he was always in the “right” gear.

For the N1K, I just pretty much left it in 6th gear. It would pull well from 30 mph on up to whatever I needed. It definitely helped with the fuel economy as well. The gearing change turned out to be an absolute must as well. It really reduced rpms at cruise speeds on the highway AND it didn’t affect the bike on the backroads. In a pure sprint I couldn’t really tell the difference. Since the PCH was pretty much deserted, we definitely were able to let the bikes loose quite a few times.

What I learned about the N1K on this trip was the Pope’s Hat was an absolute must. It has very good airflow management. It was cool in the morning and it helped keep me warmer. In the lower position I could easily tuck in and haul butt and a lower speeds it I put it max upright and blasted through the butterfly swarms. Unfortunately I didn’t put it up in time and got a direct hit of a big one with a 5” or so wingspan. It hit dead center in my faceshield and I couldn’t see a thing until I stopped. It was pretty close to being a panic stop.

It was about this time the seat was really getting to me. My legs were starting to cramp up as well. I’ll fast forward to my final comments on the seat. It isn’t as terrible as I first thought. By then of 24 hours in the saddle, my butt was never really sore. What I absolutely HATED was how it always put me into the tank. No ability to move around. Made the family jewels go numb as well. It is sloped down to much toward the front. I could easily live with it if it wasn’t for this. That means for me any replacement sit will need to be flatter and with a higher nose. So a stock gel seat won’t help me a bit. A flatter seat would also allow me to scoot around a bit and help my legs out.

Conversely this trip was the longest my son ever rode by himself and couldn’t understand why I was complaining and limping at the end of the day. He felt like he had spent hours sitting in a lounger and was very relaxed. So first thing I am doing this afternoon is going to a local upholstery place and work on a better design for myself. I’ll raise the entire seat a touch for more leg room and raise the nose more with a flatter profile. Then I should be good.

We stopped a few times and enjoyed the amazing view the PCH has to offer. I said they were “sightseeing breaks” but for me they were giving my legs some time to stretch a bit, even if just stopped on the bike with them down. It also allow my jewels to regain some feeling. This bike definitely vibrates more than my other bikes. It really gets annoy above 5.5k. Thankfully by regearing it, that meant I could at least cruise at 80 mph without going numb. My fingers were even going numb after a while. It took about 7 hours but I started to feel it.

One thing I really got to test out on this stretch were the brakes. **** they are good! This thing can stop **** near as good as my racebike and that is very surprising with how loaded the bike was. It grips right now and then is very easy to modulate. It was still nice to have the ABS and I used it a few times. This is one rider aid that I won’t buy a bike without any more. The other rider aid I really liked is the TCS (traction control system). It doesn’t work as well as my K16GT but it is pretty good and was really useful at times. I also got a chance to try out the rain mode in the return trip but I’ll speak about that later.

I love that I can easily switch on the fly. I can’t do that on my BMW. In generally it is more abrupt than BMW’s but gets the job done pretty well. I know my son could have used it a few times on the CTX, that is for sure. He was a bit aggressive with the gas and I saw it slide a bit. He is more used to dirtbikes than streetbikes but it is good he had experience there.

We continued on north, rode through Big Sur, Santa Cruz and then jogged inward a bit. We dealt with some more traffic, cool temps, boring highways and finally got to our destination. All in all it was a great ride. It was nice and sunny, a wide variety of turns, mountains, speeds, road surfaces, etc. One thing that was annoying for me is the slight stumble/non-linear throttle response the bike has just off idle. It is like a little hiccup and seems to be running too rich there. Most like Ivan’s tune will take care of it (I hope). I don’t really need more HP, but I’ll take it anyway.

I had some pretty strong impressions that I jotted down after that first night. Overall it is a great bike. I love/hate the factory bags. They look great, aren’t too wide to go through town, incredibly easy to take on and off BUT couldn’t they have found a way to squeeze a few more liters? Really 28 is enough? At least they fit my full face modular helmet. Why can’t they make a rack so I can use a top case as well? I had seriously thought about going with Givi’s mount and taking these off but they work so well I’ll likely stay with them. The bike is so clean without them and I like being able to use the ignition key to open and close them. If I can get a rack for a top box, I’ll be happy.

The seat has to go immediately but I’ll likely have to go with a custom one. It really isn’t that bad and maybe if I was smaller, it wouldn’t be so bad. The material isn’t terrible. My but wasn’t sore at all. Great motor but why does it have to be so tingly? I may put some more weight in the handlebars. I need more legroom for sure. I was in agony the night after the first ride. I could barely walk from the parking lot to the house. It was that bad for me. I am 6’2” and 240, with a 34” inseam. Stock lights were terrible, new ones are much better. The Hyperlites already saved me a couple of time and it definitely got my son’s attention. He knew if I braked, then he really needed to pay attention. Grip heaters should be standard equipment along with ABS on all bikes. :) Lack of centerstand is a PITA. I am definitely adding a chain luber ASAP. I used the Tirox motorcycle jack and that helped but still not as convenient as having an auto-luber.

Day 2
I don’t know if I was really looking forward to getting back on the bike. My legs were dreading getting back in the saddle. The weather was looking like my mood, cloudy with a chance of rain. Internet wasn’t working very well so I couldn’t get a good picture of the weather en-route. It looked like we might have some spotty rain but it shouldn’t last too long or be too heavy. Considering California has been in an extended drought I wasn’t overly worried about rain.

We loaded up the bikes and headed out. This time I had less gear to pack and no suitcase strapped on the back. We got a later start than planned so we blasted down the highway a bit. Topped of our tanks before heading into the more mountainous areas and it was then that the rain hit. It was more a light drizzle but it wasn’t too bad. As we headed into the mountains, it seemed to let up a bit so we had a decent pace. We rode to Alice’s Restaurant so I could show my son and then continued on to the serious twisties. Then we rode along Skyline Drive for a bit and had an amazing view of water on one side, mountains on the other and above the clouds most of the time. My son was really enjoying the ride even if the pace wasn’t super-fast. Fast enough to be fun but not so fast as to be too risky. He was sitting in a nice dry cockpit, I was feeling like a cat left outside in the rain.

I had given him my heated gloves to use on his bike and they have water barrier but he hadn’t put them on yet. His windscreen was keeping him pretty nice and dry. My gloves were soaked as the windscreen didn’t do much to help blocking the rain. The Pope’s hat did pretty well IF we were going fast enough to have good airflow. Often we were at 10-15 mph as the roads were so slick AND the turns were at times very tight. Even on a good day, I don’t think I’ve gone over 20 mph at times in the dry.

Just how bad it really was, was evident when we saw wrecker trying to winch a car up from a ravine that it had driven into not much earlier and the CHP had blocked off most of the road. I think that is when it got “real” for my son. He hadn’t thought too much about what would happen if he made a mistake but after seeing that, it couldn’t help but be on his mind. We pushed on for a bit and the rain got heavier, the roads tighter with trees being your boundary on each side. I could see lots of them with missing bark from vehicle impacts. Reminded me of the scars you see on Manatee in Florida.

To be honest, at this point I wasn’t enjoy the Ninja too much. There were a lot of slow speed switchback and the narrow bars required a lot more leverage to muscle the bike around. The CTX had big wide bars and my son was loving it. It’s lower center of gravity as a big plus. The DCT transmission (sort of auto/manual with auto clutch) was idea. No issues with throttle/clutch coordination. This is where the fairly heavy clutch pull of the N1K wasn’t a lot of fun. My hand was starting to cramp up after about 2 hours of this. My neck and shoulders were getting tense as well from wrestling it around at sometimes very low speeds. The limited steering lock was a pain at times as well. This rode was clearly out of the N1K’s element but it was making its way through it. My ADV bike would have been much better here. The bumps in the roads, often mid-turn, showed some of the weakness in the suspension. The suspension that seemed pretty good at higher speeds had too much compression dampening for these lower speed turns.

While looking at the map ahead, I realized I would have to do another hour of this if we continued on this path. I stopped for a quick chat with my son and we decided to backtrack a bit and try and get out of the rain sooner. Well the best laid plans of mice & men were ringing in my ears as we ran into even heavier rain. OMG – was a serious downpour as we headed through San Jose. Finally we stopped for a bit under a bridge and discussed with my son what he wanted to do. I was pretty much freezing. I had left my insulated liner back in LA as the temps looked good enough to not need it even if it was a bit colder. The unknown factor was the rain had totally soaked my pants and my boots. My gloves were so soaked that even with the grip heaters on high, my hands were still cold. My core temps were pretty low as well. We decided to dash down to Gilroy and stop some place to eat and maybe dry off.

So we blasted down the highway and I was able to really see what was working well on my bike and his. In generally I had pretty good protection other than hands and feet. Ever puddle splashed my feet so the fender extender is going to be on soon. Windscreen did quite well. Hand protection wasn’t as bad as I thought but not as good as I needed. With my cold wet hands I was VERY aware of the wind going over them. In my case, the mirrors actually blocked some of the wind. Not enough to do what I needed but it was helping. I am going with some sort of handguards like on an ADV bike.

I tucked in behind the screen, held the tank with my knees and tried to minimize my profile as much as possible and just gritted out the next 20 minutes. All was going great until we hit a major traffic jam. Picking your way through cars in the rain at low speeds made me feel like a cat that wasn’t just stuck outside in the rain but someone turned the hose on me as well. It has been a long time since I felt that miserable on a ride. A snow storm I got caught a few years ago in New Mexico comes to mind. I-40 was totally shut down and I had to pick my way through ice and snow and drive and extra 300 miles out of my way almost to get killed by some drunken Mexican in a pickup truck near the southern border but that is a story for another day.

We finally stopped at a restaurant and as I walked in, I just left pools of water draining from me. I was pretty close to being hypothermic and was really shivering. They had to send the mop guy after me to clean up the water trails. My son was remarkably dry except for his legs and his hands were finally wet a bit. Warmed up a bit, got out a little vest I had and used another windbreaker as another line and got ready to head out into the rain again. I must have wrung 5 ounces of water out of each glove. I then put them under the hand dryer to help a bit more.

So we cruised from Gilroy to Los Banos up through some lower passes and even more rain. Stopped to get gas and then on I-5 straight south. At this point I was just ready to gas it and get it over with. Rain or not, the N1K wasn’t affected much by it and the tires were good with no issues of hydroplaning. It was already dark and I had one last pass to get over (4000’) and I knew it would be cold there and I was already soaked. Each hour meant it would be even colder. My son was going to stop and see some friends so I kept the pace fairly low until he turned off about an hour later.

It was then I turned up the wick a bit. Now I was up into the 7k cruise mode and in short order my nether parts were numb and so were my fingers. Finally the rain stopped and I could push it a bit more at times. My gloves dried out a bit and my pants were almost tolerable in some places. Now I was glad the bike has a decent sized tank. I was tracking DTE (aka range) on the trip computer and it was pretty handy. It was clear I was getting the worst mileage of the trip but still not terrible for how I was running which was 80+ minimum and I won’t post how fast on the top end. I was rewarded with my worst tank since buying the bike but not too shabby. It was 38 mpg. It might have been a bit better as even with the 16T countershaft, the speedo still read high but I wasn’t sure about the odometer. My son kept forgetting to reset the CTX and from past experience was usually very close. The speedo on CTX was accurate to the mph.

The one time he did reset it, showed about 8 more mile on his than mine. This was about a 6% difference. So maybe I was closer to 40mpg. Best tank of the trip for me was 48 mpg. For him it was 62 mpg. We were riding at generally the same pace but there were a few times I was in the triple digit range and he didn’t go over 90. That was when I left it pretty much in 6th gear on the PCH and average speeds of about 55-60 mph overall. I had an overall average of 45mpg since I bought the bike. That is close to 2,000 total miles.

With my decent range, it allowed me to cut on a fuel stop I would normally have to make on the CTX. While the CTX gets much better mileage, it only has a 3 gallon tank. When I start running at 80+ my mileage is about 10 mpg better but the much smaller tank hurts my range. Some people get 70-80mpg on that bike. My best ever was 68. One of my complaints for it was its range (when pushing it). I can push the N1K and easily get 160 miles per tank and have a buffer. That is a plus and a curse with the stock seat.

Since I could stretch my range between stops, I was able to keep a faster pace and ultimately I rode out of the rain a bit sooner. Unfortunately I was still pretty wet when I hit El Tejon Pass north of LA. This is where the amazing low end grunt of the N1K was really felt. I could just leave it in 6th even when slowing down for some cars or trucks and just dial it back up to warp speed without much issue. I really appreciated the upgraded headlights here as well as in the rain. Even on the steepest uphill climbs there was never a reason to downshift. They did an amazing job with this motor. I am a big proponent of sacrificing a bit of top end power if it give you power more in the range where you can use it.

I rolled up on a guy with a 600cc sport bike. For some reason he thought I wanted to race. Maybe guys with luggage are an easy target to race. It looked like an R6. I was just rolling on in 6th as I went past him. He dropped a gear, I was still pulling away, he dropped another one, still pulling away. He dropped another one and finally held what he lost and then started to reel me back in. It was making a lot of noise and working pretty hard. It sounded like he was at about 12-13k when he finally started to pull me significantly. I have enough super sport bikes to know they typically make lousy street bikes. Since I normally end up riding for hours when I do ride (other than my daily commute) I want something that will allow me to ride where I want to go in reasonable comfort and enjoy my ride while there.

So why didn’t I buy a C14 Connie? It is still a pig, too close to my K16 but not near as good and not much fun in traffic either. I looked at the FZ09s but no ABS. So I considered at FJ09 and 1000 Versys. FJ09 still doesn’t have its suspension sorted out (but better than the FZ09). They also put a top speed limiter on it as well. I do like the engine though. When you saddle it with the extra weight that the FJ has over the FZ you do notice in the power to weight ratio. Same goes for the Versys. It is more portly than the N1K. The ADV ergos on both were more comfortable than the Ninja but I figured I could adjust that when I had time and still have a better street bike.

At this point in the ride though I was clearly wishing for more cockpit room. In generally the reach to the bars wasn’t bad. Don’t know that I’d want/need bar risers since they seem to lock the controls in a certain position unless you modify them from what I’ve read. My legs were definitely tired of being cramped but when I finally saw the lights of LA I knew I only had about 50 more minutes to go. I picked up the pass a bit just relaxed on the tank. I started to warm up and could finally turn off the grip heaters. Back at the speeds the Ninja likes to run, it suspension was much better. The roll-acceleration even at triple digits in 6th gear is very enjoyable. Even with the 16 tooth countershaft it still pulls well. I may ultimately play with the rear and go a bit lower there. I’d like to move the vibe free speed zone up to about 85 mph.

After a long day of riding I pulled into the hotel. I learned a lot about the bike in the last 24 hours of riding. It really has no evil side from what I could see. The handling is very good. Suspension is pretty decent out of the box after I dialed in the sag and played with the dampening a bit. I love the remotely adjustable pre-load for the rear. The rider aids work pretty well and the reduced output of the rain mode actually was good. It also seemed to soften the throttle inputs a bit as well. The fairing offers surprisingly good protection for not being a pure touring bike. The bike looks great. It did everything I asked of it and not a single issue.

For my riding and the reason I bought it, I can’t think of a better bike. The only bike that might be a solid competitor to it in this segment is the Suzuki GSX-S1000F ABS. The lack of factory luggage would have been an issue for me though. While I like the Givi approach, it isn’t as well integrated and sticks out quite a ways on all bikes I’ve owned that have used their system. When splitting lanes, inches matter!

There is one intangible thing about riding the Ninja that you can’t always quantify. It always seems like it can handle anything you throw at it. It may not like going at 15 mph in bumper turns, but you never feel like it is going to do something out of character and bite you somehow. It is a very reassuring bike to ride. Triple digits feels as comfortable as 30 mph. The bike just works very harmoniously when you ride. Even when you push it, it does a great job. Maybe on a track it might start to come undone but I am out to ride, not race most days.

Here are the key pros and cons for me.

Pros
Bang for the buck
Brakes
Motor power and flexibility
Handling
Mpg considering its performance
Rider aids (KTRC)
Factory luggage integration

Cons
Stock gearing (1/4 mile biased, not for touring)
Slightly notchy shifting
Headlights
Seat, seat, seat!
Insurance
Factory luggage size (needs to be bigger)
Lack of topcase option when using factory luggage
Why call it a Ninja? Apparently insurance companies hate (maybe love) anything with that in a name...


Are their better bikes? Sure, there are ALWAYS better bikes. The ultimate question is are they better for YOUR type of riding? My K16 is a better bike in almost every way except for a few that are crucial in my commute. At the essence of the N1K is a very good bike that just needs a bit more polishing to be a great bike. I think Kawi’s approach to having monster midrange power was the right one. Reminds me of some ways of a 1250 Bandit I had but with better handling and more top end pull. Whether a bike has 150 or 175 HP isn’t going to be a key decision point for me. Whether it does the ¼ in 10.3 or 10.6 really doesn’t matter for me on the street. Both are more than fast enough to have fun. I don’t really care about bragging rights.

I just want something that I enjoy and want to ride. I don’t care whether my N1K impresses you or not. I am the one riding it and so it is for the other bikes I own. On that basis the Ninja puts a lot of smiles on my face and I’ve now know what I need to tweak to make it a great bike for me. Maybe your riding needs are similar to mine and this review will have been helpful for you. If you are in the SoCal area (near Costa Mesa) be sure too stop by and talk with Ted @ Boyko Racing. Really a great guy and his sidekick Casey does great work as well.
 

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Great write up... you mentioned having to muscle the bike around in the twisties. Have you tried replacing the OEM Bridgestone tires? Running a 190/55 rear tire (I like Pirelli Angels) will make a huge difference in handling.

Thanks again... very thorough write up!
 

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Thanks for the feedback. When the stock tires wear out, I'll go with the 55 series tire. One more trip and the rear will be gone I think. I heard the Angels were good but I've had good luck with the Michelin PR4 on other bikes. I am definitely open though to trying something that will stick reasonably well and last a few miles.

I was reading an Aussie website and they said they had very good luck with going a 180 series tire. They said it transformed the handling of the bike. Very interesting read to say the least.
 

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Great write up! I've done the vstream tall windshield, 16T front as well as 39 T rear. Still has plenty of power for me. I've got heated grips and sliders but haven't installed yet. I'll be looking as seat options this winter.
 

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Thanks Dave - how long you been in Cumming? We might have been neighbors... Some amazing riding in that area.

I am glad I went with Oxford ones. They were more expensive but work great and very even heat on both grips.

If the bike lost any pull due to the gearing, I can't really tell it. Maybe it would be measurable at a track of if I timed it but seat of pants it feels as good as it did stock at least up until triple digits in 6th. If I really need to go, I can always downshift but what is the point when you have such a strong motor unless you are racing?
 

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Well Day Trippin that was a very interesting and frank assessment of the Ninja,Mine is a recent acquisition ,traded a Concour 14 on it,it was finally becoming too heavy to manoeuvre safely,though I think it would be one of the best powerful touring bikes around with phenominal durability,a friend has just completed 280k kms.
I find the 16 tooth and 39 tooth combination still gives more than enough acceleration,on a tour would be looking for another gear,I am more of a minimalist than you so apart from a pillion bag,GPS and a larger screen( pinched from a R1150 RS) will settle for that.
Your ride was particularly interesting to me it brings back memories of some Farrides in the past when rain and circumstances made the rides more than interesting.:cool:
 

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Day Trippin,

Been in Cumming for around 30 years. North of Atlanta and just below the Appalachians is a great place to live. Yes, great rolling hill and mountain rides...hense the Ninja. No interstate touring for me.
 

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@Donfre - I am a big time Connie fan. I had the original one, then a 2008 and then considered another one but bought the K16 instead. A lot of my rides aren't "pleasure" any more so I try and make them as pleasurable as I can. Getting across LA or San Fran at rush hour by car takes an extra 2.5 -3.5 hours in total time added to my commute if I take a car instead of a bike. As a result I almost always take my bike back North unless I need to carry even more crap.

So I try to enjoy the ride as much as I can. I don't have much time typically to dilly dally on the way and need to make good time. Each hour I waste is one less I spend with my loved ones on the weekend. Since I can't be making a lot of stops to stretch my legs or gas up, I need to make it as livable as possible. I also need a fairly slim bike to slice through the lanes at rush hour. So the wide "hips" of a C14 or my K16 don't really cut in the traffic. Yet I still wanted something that had some get up and go and would still be fun on the backroads. The Ninja is a very good blend other than the relatively tight cockpit.

So every weekend I'll be riding until I have to deal with snow. I can modify my route and go more along the coast to avoid a mountain pass but that adds to my time. Anyway it is a fun bike to ride and last night I really opened it up. I really like the new gearing even more. It still really pulls great from a stop and now I have less wheelies in first and I can now easily keep the front in down in second without have the KTRC in super "nanny mode".

@DDS - Yes, I know the area quite well. I lived on Lake Lanier for quite some time. Before that I lived by the Big Chicken. I lived a bit further NE (near Gainesville) before I moved to Lanier and spent most of my weekends riding around Dahlonega, Suches, Helen, etc with the occasional trip to tailgate at UGA, Ga Tech or Clemson. That area is one my favorite places I've lived. Was there for about 10 years.

Man I miss Waffle House at times. Nothing like "scattered, splattered, chunked & topped" and "real" sweet tea.
 

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It is surprising to hear about the Honda ctx. I dont think people are stopping business and holding celebrations for that machine, yet it is very capable.

For packing on so many miles, Yamaha's original fz1 or a Suzuki bandit 1200 makes a better bike than a current Ninja. The old Yamaha, especially. It offered just about all the performance of the ninja, but was in a full sized frame.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
I had a 1250 Bandit ABS that I sold about 18 months ago. I actually thought about picking up another one. It was surprising competent in a lot of areas but not exceptional at anything. Definitely loved the torque monster engine.

My biggest nit was the handling and suspension. It worked well enough as long as you weren't really pushing it. It wasn't a Barcalounger on wheels but was definitely biased more toward a moderate pace, not that you couldn't push it. I don't mind the cockpit on the N1K if I can get a bit more leg room or move around a bit on the seat. Hopefully after the seat reupholstering I can address that.

In general I really love the bike. I can always stop and get off a bit more often. I am also adapting a bit. My ride back wasn't as bad from a leg cramp perspective. Maybe a peg drop of 25-40mm might be enough or going with the non-rubber covered pegs from the Z might help out enough. On my in town commute it is great. No issues at all. It is after about midway into my 2nd tank of gas that I start to really feel it.

I like how the bike feels on the backroads and how it is a bit more compact there. It is about 95% of what I need.

As for the CTX, it has all the basic goodness of the NC700 but in slightly different cosmetic flavor. Even my son, who isn't a real long distance rider, never complained a single time about the ergos of the bike. It isn't like his body has been conditioned of thousands of miles per year so he would be pretty sensitive. If the bike had a 20 HP injection I think there would be a lot more interest in it. Most owners are getting close to 70 mpg which is better than a lot of scooters. It was great in heavy traffic in LA, low CG, good 0-60 and decent brakes. Too bad it is sort of labeled as a "beginner bike".
 

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Honda...easy to hate them, but their bikes are competent, aren't they?

Day, tell me this, You've had all kinds of bikes, and all kinds of experience.

So, with all that in mind, your out on this ninja and the traction control light pops on.

When I'm on a bike with tc, or abs I'm constantly reminded the feature is there. Yes, if I'm on an non- bike, its never an issue. I'm not locking my brakes, or wildly spinning the rear wheel.

I get the feeling this stuff is set up to intervene way, way early. What do you think?
 

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Discussion Starter #12
My experience has been that with rider aids, such as traction control, ABS, etc. that the Euro manufacturers tend to give you more "latitude" and not intervene overly early. I think it comes down to the Japanese mindset where they tend to be more risk averse. When I worked at Honda, it got so bad they were basically building refrigerators rather than take chances.

Also the type of the bike and its intended purpose seems to have an effect on the "tuning" of the systems as well. I recently rode a Yamaha YZF-R1 and its aids were better than on my BMW S1000RR that I had. That Yami rocks! If I was in the market for a 1000cc superbike, that is the one I would buy. Not as fast in a straight line as my 1000RR but MUCH easier to ride fast. The intervention of the aids was very subtle and progressive. On my N1K, you have NO DOUBT when something intervenes. On the Yamaha it was done a lot more deftly.

I would love to have one but my wife would kill me if bring another bike home anytime soon. I'd likely have to give up my K16 and I am not about to do that. It is the one bike I'd keep out of all I have. Sure there are some compromises with it as well and the rider aids with respect to traction control could be a bit more subtle but it is an amazing bike all around.

But in general your observations are dead on. In some ways it is because these aids are still in their infancy, especially compared to cars. BMW OTOH has a lot of experience with ABS systems and was pretty quick to adopt other rider aids. I have to say I am sort of spoiled by some of the systems I've tried and ridden so I have higher expectations than most. The N1K could clearly be better here. I am glad that it does have them but I'd sure love the throttle to not be chopped so abruptly when a wheelie occurs. It just slams the front end down and upsets the chassis balance. On the R1 it would wheelie quite nicely depending on mode and then gently set it down. **** it was good!

I still like having them even if they aren't the best sorted out. Really handy when I am tired and/or on road I am not as familiar with or in very quickly changing road conditions. I don't even want to recall how many times they've saved me. Even if you rode a road a 100 times, all it takes is one person dropping a wheel off a turn and splattering gravel, mud, etc. on the road to change it for that 101st time you ride through.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Forgot to add one key thing about rider aids. Most manufacturers are very litigation conscious and don't like lawsuits. Better to err on the side of overly cautious rather than risk getting sued.
 

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(...clip...)
I am glad that it does have them but I'd sure love the throttle to not be chopped so abruptly when a wheelie occurs. It just slams the front end down and upsets the chassis balance. On the R1 it would wheelie quite nicely depending on mode and then gently set it down. **** it was good!
(...clip...)
A lot of this is programming and software driven. I wonder if they would do a software update as they become more adept in the system???

Just a thought/curiosity.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
It should be an easy fix ASSUMING the sampling rate of the sensors (typically ABS) is fast enough. If they only sample a few times per second, it might not be granular enough to get what we need. Lower tech systems typically have lower sampling rates. If the sensors are good, they could usually address it through programming.
 

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Considering the assumption then, a possible upgrade would be better sensors + programming.

I usually run with the system on F/1, and have found it cut the throttle like you described. It was a little disheartening. I do like that it will default back to F/1 even if I shut it off though.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
I am running the same settings as well. I like that it saves them too. On my BMW, I have to stop to change them and the when I disable the traction control so I can wheelie, it resets it every time. Apparently they don't want a 700lb bike doing insane wheelies.

I would be one of the first in line if there was an easy way to upgrade/refine it on the N1K. I want a soft touch rather than slamming the door shut. OTOH the good systems are so good that you don't think they are working. Then you switch them off and you are lucky you don't end up in the weeds.

With the very tractable power of the N1K, they could easily find a way to modulate it better. Maybe there is something in the ECU that Ivan could tweak... The TCS has to integrate with the fuel management so there might be a way. Probably something like:

If rear wheel speed > front wheel speed by (X); x=5 mph
Then; reduce throttle to (Y); Y= TPS value of 10%

Instead of just chopping the throttle they could reduce it by 20, then 30, then 50% or so from its current value. It seems like it reduces it down to a set value each time rather than a gradual reduction from where it is at. This really throws of the chassis balance far more than I would like. I was exiting a fairly low speed turn and was hard on the gas (on purpose). I was trying to invoke some wheelspin to sort of flatrack it through the turn. The TCS kicked in very severely, the bike caught and started to stand-up. I thought I was going to high-side for a moment there. I'd like to have just a bit more wheelspin before it kicks in.
 

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Heres the thing with traction control, abs, or any other rider aid.

If you run into that turn with diesel fuel, gravel, banana peels and ice all over it, you crash. Reason being is they are not traction creators. Zero traction equals just that, and you cant conrol wha tis not there.

The new systems are starting to work while cornering. This is the newer ktm's and bmw's. Probably the newest zx10. Not here.

If you study all of this, Honda does abs way differently than others. They have also been the very last to go with traction control. Theres a reason, and that reason is because what we have now is very limited and its not at 100%.

If its "saving you" on a regular basis, there will be a time when it wont. Notice the moto gp guys have systems that cost much more than we do and still crash.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
ABS is the one that has been most helpful for me by far. It car react far faster than human reactions can. On average I am riding 1500 miles a week. Even one incident every 100 miles means quite a few.

Today was a perfect example. I had to brake and swerve at the same time, not the ideal scenario for ABS but the bike was more upright than not. I was trying to avoid an object that fell off the truck in front of me. If I just braked hard, I would have been rear ended in the HOV lane.

Unfortunately I had to cross double strip painted lines which are very slick. ABS kicked in, released and kicked in again on the 2nd one. It would have been a very tough one on a non-ABS bike in street conditions.

I don't rely on it to save me but I am always glad to have it except offroad. Once you do lose traction it is harder to regain it. As they develop better bank angle sensors, steering axis measurements, accelerometers it will all get better. Tech is great when it works. Fortunately I grew up in a time and learned when there was none of it. Some of the most crazy fun I had was racing flat track bikes.

The first time you haul *** down the straight then then COMMIT to pitching it sideways is an incredible rush maybe only equaled by the fact that you actually drove through the turn and came out the other end as intended.

In general I don't like to push my luck too much on the street anyway. I've spent enough time in hospitals that I'd prefer to never return if I can help it.
 

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I like my front abs. On my concours 14 it will hold the tire to the point where its screaming. You literally can hear the screech. When you go back to look at the marks, you see the tire print.

Out back, its garbage. Its front performance almost makes up for it.

You guys that have abs bikes. I highly recommend you activate it. Its a different world when the front kicks in, and its all you can do to not release the lever.
 
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